I've been dabbling in this new Thinking Ten concept, letting my fingers type away for ten minutes, letting the story unfold in front of me. Last week, I had to start my ten-minute piece with this sentence: "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink". Just to give you an idea, here's my piece:
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. Which is difficult, to say the least, since I have a big, fat piece of metal dividing the side with the garbage disposal and the other, regular drain. But I digress, it's all in a day's work. And today, I'm holding my breath, trying to pretend that someone, some unknown face, is on the other side of that swinging door. There's just a crack underneath the door, big enough for this mystery person to lean down on all fours, hugging the floor, and looking through to see my feet on the cold tile. I could just sit on the counter Indian style, but that wouldn't give me the full effect. My butt wouldn't be numb, my knees cramped, my toes a little wet.
"You have to get your toes a little wet," my Grandpa always used to say. "That's the only way to go through life." He was in the Navy, a real trooper, with a big heart and a knack for serving his country. And I know he said that metaphorically, at best, but I'm taking it to heart right now since I forgot to clean out the sink before I sat in it. There's a leftover puddle of water inside my cereal bowl from when I washed it out.
I call it Experience Writing. My villain, in this latest misadventure, is on the other side of the kitchen door, breathing so quietly I can't even hear him. That's what I tell myself, since you and I both know there is no villain on the other side. It helps me feel tense, keep the words flowing on the page. And the funny thing is, in a way, there is someone else on the other side of that door. A different kind of villain, maybe, but a villain nonetheless. It's my mother, coming inside from hanging laundry on the clothesline, and she's going to scream. Not out of terror though. I wish it was out of terror, but I'm not a very scary little girl. The scariest thing about me, according to her, is my tendency to dress and act like a boy.
"Mom," I tell her, whining. "I can be whoever I want to be. I'm a writer."
"So be a girl," she tells me, smacking me upside the head and demanding I get down from there right now before all the germs from my dirty feet infect the sink and she has to spend hours scrubbing it out.
I argue with her for a few minutes, reminding her that girls don't always get recognized for their writing. Not until they're dead. And I need to experience "Boy Life" because my latest story is about a boy. Girls don't worry about villains, I insist.
She shakes her head once more, firmly, and wraps both arms around me, pulling me out and setting me down.