That Bittersweet Autumn of the Body

Posted: October 7, 2011 in Uncategorized
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So what’s up with the title?  It is a daily prompt from my special writing book, “A Writer’s Book of Days”, by Judy Reeves.  She put together some wonderful writing prompts.  She starts the opening sentence and you take it from there.  Every week’s worth of prompts is separated with short articles that give you inspiration, ideas on technique and experiences from other writers.

So here, for you, is the beginning of a short story that I started with that prompt.  Caution:  the story isn’t done yet, so you’ll either have to finish it yourself or wait until I publish it some day…..

“That bittersweet autumn of the body”.  I read those words written so long ago by May Sarton and reveled again in the lyricism of her language.

Bittersweet autumn of the body.  Wow.  How I wish I had written that.  Magnificent.  The truth of it brings me to the edge of tears.  Writers can have word envy, you know.  Happens to us all the time, although we don’t like to admit it.  Bittersweet autumn.  The fading glory. Everything is shrinking into itself.  The same, but less so.  Faded.  Tired.  Ready to drift quietly away. I love it.

I sigh and try to pull myself back on task.  Not easy to do.  I’m getting distracted easily these days, a sure sign that I’ve written myself into a corner and can’t figure out how to get out. Yesterday I found myself researching islands owned by famous people.  It’s amazing what movie stars can find to plop their money down on.  I stumbled across the most interesting hotels in the world, too.  Do you know that there is an underwater hotel in Fiji?  Wouldn’t that be great to wake up in the morning and watch the fish swimming by?  Maybe catch a glimpse of a mermaid?

See what I mean, just too distracted.

I’m Frances Hunting-Smythe, the famous crime novelist, by the way, but you can call me Franny.  I don’t think we’ve met.  Yes, those are my fourteen best selling books on your bookshelf.  Thank you, thank you, glad you liked them.

Today I’m feeling the bittersweet autumn of my body.  Unfortunately, my bittersweet body houses my equally bittersweet autumnal mind, which at the moment is at a loss for words.  Why, oh why did I ever create this insipid character.  The public loves Tom Nelson, Private Investigator, but he’s become Tom the Terrible, Tom the Twit, Tom the too big for his own britches.  I’m sick of his insipid running at the mouth.

When I first created my dashing hero I wanted to be able to poke fun at him, and, yes, I’ll admit it, at all men.  Know it alls.  Protectors of the weak and infirm.  But, like all the other men in my life, he’s turned the tables on me and become so ingratiatingly popular that he rules my life.  Argh!

I’ve left him dangling on a cliff somewhere while I contemplate his untimely demise.  Will my publisher let me knock him off?  Will my public scream in outrage and shun me forever?  Do I have enough saved up to buy my own island and escape this mad man?

More sighs.  I’m getting really good at them.  I’m starting to recognize that I have a whole language of sighs, deep ones, shallow ones, stuttering ones.  Sighs that come involuntarily when I’m overwhelmed.  Sighs from the depth of me.  Who knew you could sigh in so many ways?  Quite astounding.

Stop.  There I go again, letting myself get distracted.  I’d better refocus before I write a whole treatise on sighing.  Focus, Franny.

What is that you say?  Being a best selling writer must be the most fun thing in the world?  Being rich and famous must be cool?  Well, I’m only so-so famous and less so rich, but I’ll let that pass.  It is fun at times, I’ll grant you that. But most of the time, it’s like any other job.  It’s a lot of work.  I have deadlines and interviews, articles to write, book signings.  It’s work.

But I shouldn’t tell you that. It’s never good to reveal what goes on behind the curtain.  That was the best part of “The Wizard of Oz”, wasn’t it?  Seeing behind the curtain.  We mustn’t show you the work that makes the magic.

I start my day by writing in my journal.  I still like to keep track of me.  I’ve been journaling since someone gave me a diary on my eighth birthday.  I don’t remember the person, but I sure remember the book. It was pink, of course, as all little girls’ diaries are supposed to be, with “My Diary” stamped in gold leaf on the front.  The page edges were gilded with gold as well.  It was quite the fancy book.  Inside it had two lined pages for each day of the year, with little cutouts on the edge of the page for the month so that you could always find the time of your life to read about.  There was a red piece of braided cloth attached to the spine that you could put in the crease of today’s page to save your place.  You know the thing, like in prayer books at church.  And saving it all for posterity and protecting it from prying eyes was the requisite lock, a teeny little thing with a key just big enough for miniature feminine hands.

That diary got me hooked.  I loved and cherished it.  Alas, I have no idea where or when I lost it.  It would be quite funny to me now, I suppose.  Endearing.  Full of innocent, little girl things.

Oh, dear, I have to get back to rescuing Tom.  Where have I left him?  Ah, there he is.  Dangling from a balcony of a posh hotel, six floors above ground, overlooking the pool.  I suppose I can have him fall into the pool and escape.  Sigh.  Then I would have to deal with him some more.  Knowing him, he’d not only survive but also find at the bottom of the pool the magnetic key card to the hotel safe wherein he would find the plans to the dirty bomb that his enemy is trying to recover in order to destroy the eco-lodge that houses the Middle East peace summit.  Damn him for being so good.

Or I could let him fall and miss the pool, doing a face plant on the concrete deck.  That would serve him right.  Smoosh that pretty boy face of his and be done with him.  My three husbands were easier to get rid of than this schmuck.  But it’s only page 25.  What would I put in the rest of the book?

(notes to me… this can be great fun to develop.  I can have Tom find out that Franny was trying to kill her and he can sabotage her writing.  Turn it into this Escher-esque running dialogue that blurs reality and fiction as the creation tries to kill off the creator who is trying to kill off the creation.  What fun that could be!)

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