Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Village Fool

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Meet Lolita. About six years ago she showed up in the yard. She was so little she fit inside my husband's shoe. I remember that because when Allen saw her he said, "We don't need another cat." I don't remember how many cats we had at that time, but it was a lot. He set the kitten on the ground, patted her behind, and sent her on her way. The next morning we found her inside his shoe, fast asleep. That was it, of course. She belonged to the place after that. I named her Lolita because she walked about sexily, as though on high heels.

So that's Lolita, lying on her back next to the water basin. That's what I saw when I glanced out the back door this afternoon, Lolita lying as though dead next to the water, as though she'd bent to take a sip and then simply gave up on any other plans right there. It's been that kind of day.

Whoo-ee, it's been hot. Lolita should take care of any doubts you have about that. Of course I had to snap the photo through the window: to open the door may have disturbed the pose. It's a bad snapshot, but you get the idea.

So it's been one of those days. Hot and lazy. We don't have central air at our house. We have a little unit sticking out of the bedroom window. The rest of the house is hot, hot, hot. I've been moving listlessly around, reading a bit, journaling a bit, scrapbooking a bit. Thinking more about being a writer than being one.

This is one of things I thought about.

There are all kinds of writers. I'm the kind of writer that almost always writes from the perspective of "not knowing."

I thought about this today when I ran across a delightful little story called "The Bull's Eye."

A long time ago, a nobleman who was a student of military matters, passed through a tiny village where he saw a hundred circles drawn on the side of a barn--and in the center of each circle was a bullet hole. The nobleman was amazed and asked who the expert shot was. "Oh," someone said, "that's Nar, our town fool!" The nobleman was amazed and said he should like to shake Nar's hand, even though he was a fool, because such expert shooting was rare indeed. "Oh no, no, no, you don't understand," said the villager, "Nar doesn't draw the circle first and then shoot. He shoots first, and then he draws the circle."

There are times, of course, when a story comes to me full grown. I draw a circle on the side of the barn, and take out the great big rifle, and POW. I mean, really, POW! Nail it. Right through the heart of it. I stand strong the whole time in the knowing, in the soundness of my ability. But most of the time I just don't have a clue. I take out my little 22 and shoot the barn first with a little idea, then I try to draw circles around it. It feels a little like cheating, Anyway, I don't feel smart while I'm doing it. Also not particularly smart after I've finished. I mean, for heaven's sake, shouldn't I be able to aim and fire by now, and hit the big idea right through the middle?

Sometimes I can't even draw the circles around the bullet hole. My hand shakes and everything goes awry. But if the story is sound, I will end up with what LOOKS like a perfect bull's eye. Invariably, someone will say to me, "Wow, how did you do that?" I will smile enigmatically. I won't tell them I shot the barn first and then drew the circle around it. I don't want them to know I'm really just the village fool. I'll let them think I went POW!!!! The big gun, yeah. Like one of those really great authors. POW. Yeah.

Whew, is it ever hot in here.


beths front porch said...

When you wrote this entry, did you POW and then draw a circle? Or vice versa? Or...a combination of both? The entry seems perfectly drawn.

But you know, what if there is beauty and mystery of not knowing, of being the town fool, because then we can go into the land of the unknown and create something new? Perhaps how wonderful to languish by the water bowl and sleep in a shoe.

I like this entry very, very much. It's very rich!

Theresa Williams said...

Beth, I shot first and then drew the circle. :)

I think you're right. Little Lolita really is the epitome of how I write. More intuition than volition. Not doing what I'm "supposed" to be doing at all. Sleeping in the reader's shoe, hoping they will take me into their heart.

Anonymous said...

Theresa, I love little Lolita's pose, thank you for sharing it. And, I laughed out loud when I read the bit about the circles drawn around the bull's eye. Wow, I really needed that. It's been rough lately. I am so tired of having my mss come back with glowing comments and still no sale. And you're right. It's hot, and I don't think well in a sauna. Teagrapple. PS Have you or any of the other bloggers heard about the push to take away Internet neutrality? Two tiers or highways--the fast one for high paying customers, and the slow one for the rest of us?

Cynthia said...

I simplyl love this entry, and I identify so much with it. I'm definitely a shoot first fool, and I was reminded of a quote from the Bible I can only paraphrase -- God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.

ggw07 said...

Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.
Charlie Chaplin
The fool doth think himself wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Delightful story and cat- thanks!

V said...

It seems to be the writer`s fate:

Sometimes I can`t even draw the circles around the bullet hole;

But if the story is sound, I will end up with what LOOKS like a perfect bull's eye;

There are times, of course, when a story comes to me full grown. I draw a circle on the side of the barn, and take out the great big rifle, and POW. I mean, really, POW! Nail it.

Don`t you see? It takes the endurance of the true artist to continually struggle with the first two tasks. If they were anointed, as you, they at times arrive at the third place. .......
I went POW!!!! The big gun, yeah. Like one of those really great authors. POW. Yeah....


Erin said...

I oh my goodness LOVE this entry. It's so well written and funny, but also very meaningful. POW! You hit the nail on the head. I definitely shoot first and draw the circle later. I'm not proud to say so, but I sometimes come up with a title first and build a story around it. :)



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Northwest Ohio, United States
"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


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The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

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