That’s what my mother asked me, her mouth caved-in like a dried apple, just as she was being wheeled into surgery last January. I shook her dentures in a plastic cup and chomped my own teeth clownishly, too terrified to say anything as her gurney disappeared into the operating room.
Thankfully, those weren’t the last words my mother would ever say to me. And as an added bonus, I get to keep that weird exchange in my brain for some future use in a novel or short story. Don’t give me that look. Writers are opportunists when it comes to pearls of dialogue like that, and I’m no different. This one is already flagged under the label, “Dialogue, sub-heading Crazy shit people say.
What will I do with it? Who knows? It might find its way into a soul-searching look at helping my mother through illness, but it might take years for me to figure out how to tell that story. Besides, it would work just as well as a line for a hockey player to his girlfriend. Or an actor playing Dracula. Or…oh, I don’t know. One thing is for sure, those. Those dentures are going to get immortalized one way or another.
I bring this all up because this Saturday, March 10, I’ll be leading a free writing workshop at WriterHouse in Charlottesville on how to take these million scraps of personal events and turn them into fiction — especially fiction that captures culture and voice. I’d love for you to join me.
The workshop is part of the James Madison Regional Library’s Big Read Celebration. This year, the Big Read has a Latino flare; their book choice is the 1972 Chicano classic, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. So I’m especially happy to drive to the lovely Virginia mountains to talk about those little scraps that give our readers a peek into the world through the Latino lens. After that, we’ll try our hand at using our own family memories, regardless of our cultural background, to shape pieces that cross over for universal appeal. Now that’s where the magic is…
I hope you can come. It’s free, although you do have to sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring along anything you think will jog your memory: a photo, a memento, an old letter or poem. We’ll go from there!
See you then!
Mark your calendars for Meg’s upcoming book launch: March 17, 2012, 1 pm, bbgb, tales for kids, 1 pm, 3100 Kensington Avenue, Richmond, VA