Monday, December 13, 2010

Fiction: the missing paragraph

Napoleon, after I edited out
The Paragraph
My mother was so complicated and so sweet; so strong an energy blocking any normal trajectory of a life (my life, specifically) and yet so supportive in other ways.

She loved my short stories. I know that alone makes friends, some writers, gape at me with envy. Let me have something, already.

As I've mentioned, I didn't start writing poetry until I was in my forties and by then my mother was well into her self-inflicted thirty-year march to death (a Christian Scientist's preventable death).

But I began fiction in my thirties, after I started teaching (thus ending ne-er-do-well-dom, at least for a time). My novel The To-Do List Manifesto, which I've rewritten enough times it really could be published, is dedicated to her. Today I thank her. She saved every story of mine up to about 1989, all of them typed. 

My sister sent me the batch after Mom died in 2001. I'd forgotten, and just chanced on the box yesterday. (I'm debating whether or not to hold onto two scrapbooks and that box was under the two scrapbooks.) I thought I'd lost work and now, ta da. I also thought I'd lost a paragraph that haunted one of my stories, first titled "Problems," finally titled, in 2010, "Napoleon on the N-page" and published in (Nov-Dec 2010).

A friend used to call it "The Paragraph:"

It was a big deal when I finally dropped or edited out The Paragraph. I now see it begs for a few deletions, periods or at the very least, semis.  But it is a tumbling leaf in autumn, something to admire, in my mind. The world seems to have managed, the fiction world, the greater world. Would Julien Assange not be facing trumped-up prosecution if I'd published this paragraph?  Would the common cold be, by now, a thing of the past?  Would infinitives split like geodes to reveal gleam and glitter?

We'll never know but at least the paragraph gets a little life on the shelf of today's posting.
It is the uncertainties, perplexities and difficulties of life that haul our spirits to the depths, that cause us to wallow in mire at the merest of disasters, and the removal of these leaden weights, these dark transmuters of our native golden selves, is the aim, the desired success of many people, each of whom employs a means, perhaps unbeknownst to them, and this search for an elixir of inner peace, this methodology of the psyche's self-purification, if you will, is what Vina was trying to discover, to isolate as would a scientist seeking a remedy, and her initial approach was to observe her milieu, to look at her friends' problems.

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