Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Morning Reading: Marisa Silver

excerpt from Joanna Mulder's interview with Marisa Silver from Ecotone:

How do you know when you’ve got the germ for a story? Does it begin with a character, an idea, a relationship? What about your story “Leap,” featured inEcotone’s “Fifth-Anniversary” issue? Did it begin with a predator at the lemonade stand, the notion of animal suicide, a relationship altered by infidelity?

This is the question I never have a good answer for! I don’t know how stories come to me. They certainly don’t come to me as fully formed narratives—that much I know. What I have noticed about my process is that I work more like a collagist might work. Small, seemingly disparate ideas come to me at around the same time and I try to figure out how they are connected. I maintain a certain kind of faith that if these ideas are in my brain at the same time, and if they move me in an emotional way, and if they take up residence and won’t leave, then there must be some underlying way in which they are in dialogue with one another. My job, I guess, is to figure out what this dialogue might be, how these ideas relate to one another, and what story can be told that makes sense of them.

I started “Leap” with a collection of random thoughts: a dog that leaps off a cliff, a scar from heart surgery, and the ease of mistaking danger for love. I don’t know how the lemonade guy came to start the story off. Only when I wrote that scene, I found the voice of my character and her particular point of view on desire and danger. This moment at the lemonade stand seemed to crystallize something she would be struggling with during her adulthood. And so then I gave her a husband, and that dog, and that scar, and tried to figure out why I did that.

When I write, I am generally in a very associative place in my mind where I let notions and images swim in and out of my thinking. Stuff comes, like the lemonade guy, and then I keep writing until I figure out why he is there, which in the case of this story didn’t happen until the very end, when the main character’s husband is carrying wrinkled brown grocery bags, which I then associated back to the lemonade-stand guy and his wrinkled bag full or not full of clothing . . . and then I made the connection between those bags and danger, and between danger and love . . . so you see it’s a pretty vague and un-willed process, hard to explain, harder to do!

To read the rest, click here.

To read the opening of Silver's story "Leap," click here.

This is how it begins:

The girls were manning a lemonade stand—a medium-size Dixie cup for fifty cents, or a cup with a Hydrox cookie for seventy-five. Sheila, who was twelve, her older sister, Trudy, and Maggie and Jeannie, ten-year-old twins who lived down the street, sat on folding chairs behind the small card table the twins’ mother had loaned them. The backs of Sheila’s thighs burned from the heat trapped in the metal of her chair. She wore culottes, a combination of miniskirt and shorts. Sometimes she thought of the outfit in the opposite way, as shorts mixed with a miniskirt. But today it was the first version because Maggie and Jeannie were both younger, and because, for once, Trudy was not pressing down on Sheila’s soul as if it were a thumbtack.
The man standing in front of the table bought a glass of lemonade. He said, “I have a problem. Maybe one of you girls can help me.” He’d driven up in his car and parked at a reckless angle to the curb, like the boys at school who refused to hang their coats on the hooks provided at the back of the classroom but let them fall to the floor in arrogant puddles. The man said his problem was that he needed to change his clothes. He gestured to Sheila with a wrinkled paper bag that she assumed was filled with his new outfit. He had a job interview, he said. A very important job interview.


No comments:

Site Meter