Two weeks ago, I was sitting next to a woman at the informational session for numerous University of Washington certificate programs that begin this fall. She was there for the fiction section, I was there for the editing section. As we waited for our respective groups to be assigned rooms, I commented to her that I was never one to write fiction and that my imagination wasn’t up to snuff in that regard. I admired her penchant for creativity and she, my affinity for detail. We parted amiably and the conversation has stayed with me since.
Visually, I think my mind can make great leaps and show imaginative flair. Give me some scraps of paper, some glue and something to adhere said items to and I’ll offer you a colorful collage in no time flat. With words, however, I feel that what I dream up outside the realm of reality is boring. The dialogue and characters flat. When writing non-fiction, facts are your friends and your job is to dress them up, make reality pretty and accessible to your audience. Though difficult at times, non-fiction is low-maintenance.
I was combing through some of my Word documents this evening and thought I would, with utter humility and candor, share some fiction I was spurred to write back in December. Probably fueled by too much caffeine and the incessant dopamine bursts that accompany much of the holiday season, I decided to create a cast of characters that represented an amalgam of my closest girlfriends. Past and present. I wanted to see if I could create a work of fiction. Please don’t laugh — too much…
“A nod and knowing smile from her favorite barista heralded that Cassie’s Saturday morning had officially begun. As the dark, curly-haired, blue-eyed fantasy of many a patron tamped down the two shots of espresso in front of him, Cassie scanned the restaurant for her friends. Ali, a struggling, but often-recognized actress, was easiest to identify in a group. Standing just over six feet-tall, with siren-blonde hair, to say she stood out in a crowd was an understatement. Her inherently shy nature demanded she pare down her attire so as not to draw further attention, but her beauty and height more than made up for her self-inflicted humble duds. Ali could wear a potato sack and still draw more attention, from both men and women, than her female friends. A fact that none of them held against her, but that caused Ali more than a bit of chagrin.
Cassie caught Ali’s cornflower blue eyes and crinkled her own brown eyes in a wave of relief and acknowledgment. Ali’s warm smile assured Cassie that the group was not mad at her for being late. Cassie’s tardiness was notorious in the group of young women. Friends for over a decade, they knew one another’s rhythms well.
Sophia was the accountant. Punctual, Type A, the organizer of the group. She corralled the women to theater events, happy hours, excursions out of town, and a myriad of other pursuits that kept the ladies’ social lives humming along at never a dull pace. To see a message from Sophia in your email inbox meant that something fun was about to unfold and you had better respond in a timely fashion so she could get the show on the proverbial road.
Among the childless women, Sophia was universally thought of as the most likely to be a mom before any of them. Her maternal instincts were visible in many facets of her life – from caring for her elderly parents, to the occasional suitor that graced her life for periods of time, to her clients that kept her business running at non-stop pace – down to her girlfriends. Women who loved her to pieces, but secretly felt (though they didn’t tell her) that the world would be deprived of Sophia’s destined-to-be-amazing children should she decide to have them. Sadly, a life trajectory she denies wanting.”
As always, thanks for reading.