Sunday, December 05, 2004

Sunday Soliloquy

It has been many years since I last watched a real snowfall, a long, deep, heavy snowfall that blankets the ground, and cars, and bushes and trees and everything else outside the window from which I observe.
This thought came to me this morning as I read The New York Time Book Review. In an appraisal of Truman Capote, the author quotes an early Capote story, in which he wrote of footprints filled in and, thus, erased by snow.
There has always seemed to me to be a quiet and peacfulness about falling snow that has been a source of joy. It's one of the childhood images that stays with me, and one of the reasons I miss living in a climate that enjoys a cold winter.
Southern California's climate is wonderful in many ways. Even Florida, despite my complaints about the humidity and the bugs, has a wonderful, extended springtime in which flowering after flowering makes the landscape a beautiful riot of color.
But my favorite climate is that of the snowy North, where steel-gray skies loom close to the ground until they begin silently to yield those icy yet deliciously soft flakes.


That prose may be pretty purple, but, hey -- it shows that I definitely need the practice in descriptive writing.
Let's forget narrative for the moment.
It's been a long time since I really even tried to describe a scene in detail that evokes a picture for the reader. Have I ever really done that successfully? Even as a reporter?
Although I like to draw and paint, my writing -- even my architectural writing, oddly -- never has been long on pictorial description.
When I have tried my hand at fiction, it has been mostly in the form of inner monologues and -- as I think about it -- resentful assessments of characters perceived to be more privileged than the narrator.
Is that my theme?
Have I just discovered something about my attempts at writing?
The best stories I've written: "Rain and a Blonde," "Here Comes That Damned Nigger Again," the fragment of "The King of Nowhere," all written by resentful, middle-aged white men looking (sneering, then struggling to understand) an "other".
That I never have been that character in life is interesting.
I am the child who got the privileges -- well-educated, well-married, always with an interesting, if only sometimes lucrative, job.
Was my Dad that character?
Maybe, in part.
He fit the blue-collar mold, and certainly struggled to express his thoughts. I imagine he also struggled to understand the changes in the world he observed. But we never really talked about things like that.
Have I been, in all of these fitful attempts over the years, trying unknowingly to get at some idea about my father, and possibly the way he viewed me, struggled to understand me, the child to whom he had given so many privileges and who he very obviously admired but wondered about?
Maybe I need to write more overtly about my Dad to try to understand him and his world better.
Sadly, I don't have him around to talk to, but I have some vivid memories.
I'll try to go there.
But not right now.
I have the strange feeling that I've had some sort of breakthrough writing this morning. Let's stop now to think just a little more before starting the story of my father.