“If anyone from the country club/asks if you write poems, say/your name is Lizzie Borden. /Show him your axe…”
Tess Gallagher“Instructions to the Double” (1976)
I’m writing my own obituary.
It was an exercise I was supposed to do for a writing workshop I took some years ago.The scary thought is that I had been secretly doing that long before I was given the exercise.Don’t ask.You know how I can be; if you don’t, let this exercise be a bit of an introduction.
In blatant defiance of the workshop leader’s idea that the exercise would “open” me and the other participants to the honesty of memory more than the part that is imagination (the latter of which most of us writers are so good at), I wrote a simple one liner.Because, I mean, really what is there to say without sounding like a creation, a sort of Barbie of yourself you know?My one liner: She lived and now she doesn’t.
Okay so it wasn’t just defiance or laziness.Frankly, I wrote my one liner because I hope whatever is happening to me when the doctor or whomever “calls it” is so good that I won’t be caring what my survivors are reading or saying about me.
Then again I am a writer and I think about posterity a goodly amount.
If I learned anything in my writing workshops other than being defiant (or creative depending on how you see it) doesn’t always endear you to your instructor, it is that good art has an appeal that transcends its author.Beyond time, the place s/he lives, the personal experience.
What about me, my life has been important to the universe?Where do I fit in it?Had to write that exercise too for an undergrad course.In that exercise I admitted that I really don’t know which may be why I got a C on that assignment or if I was lucky a B-.Sound pathetic?Rice-a-roni homey, I’ve been called worse.
The struggle continues.If I find myself I’ll let you know.If you find me first, remove what’s in my pocket—wouldn’t wanna embarrass my mama.
Next Time: The Obituary