Posted by: Elizabeth Anne Mitchell | July 16, 2014

WIPpet Wednesday–Memoir

I am leapfrogging again to a different WIP.  All three that I have posted are in various stages of writing, and yes, I do hop around according to my mood.

This is from my NaNo rebel project in 2013, a memoir begun as catharsis, but which moved into exploration of early relationships.  10 sentences figured out thus: 7+16=23-14=9. The extra sentence is a gimme, to finish the paragraph without using a semi-colon (I love semi-colons, overuse them, and blast them from my writing as much as possible).


 

By the age of two, I’d perfected invisibility, without magic potion, industrial accident, or cloaking device. When my mother noticed my presence, her eyes narrowed, her lips thinned, reliving the difficult and unplanned pregnancy that produced me.  My father’s eyes skimmed past me at the breakfast table, the “extra” child who set awry his careful budget planning.  I had tried the “cute puppy” route with my siblings, but that had banished me from my brother’s room, and my sisters were almost magically inoculated against my charms.  “If you wake me up, I’ll tell the tigers under the crib to eat you,” my sister’s version of a bedtime prayer, made me a light sleeper at 18 months.  With nothing to recommend me to my siblings, who had to share already strained space and food with me, my best course was to disappear.

Poster child of being unseen as well as unheard, I hid under draped tablecloths, sidled along walls, never looked directly at anyone and only spoke when questioned.  I loathed winter.  Small, thin, and perpetually cold, I crept near any heat register hidden from the open sight line of parent or sibling.  In summer, I’d burst outdoors at daybreak to hide in the back yard’s pine brush and soak up the warmth of a Southern day.


 

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of KL Schwengel.  Check it out–a supportive group of writers to be found here.

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Responses

  1. Glad to see you’ve joined WIPpet Wednesday! It’s a great way to keep at the WIPs, knowing you have to post something every week. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing such difficult and intimate memories.

  2. This is heartbreaking, but so well-written!

    • Thank you, Kate. I have to separate myself from the little girl to write about it, in some strange way, but it still helps to exorcise it.

  3. Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday! That was very well-written and awesome.

    • Thank you, Sirena. I knew so many people who were involved in WIPpet, that I decided to add the accountability to my writing.

  4. Oh, Elizabeth….
    As always, your writing is strong, thoughtful, specific to the heart. In reading you, I pinpointed something in me that has been poking around. Thank you for that.
    Karen

  5. Oh, that makes my heart ache. But I agree with the others, it’s so well-written.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one with multiple projects!

    • And I’m happy to find someone else who has multiple projects, too, Amy! I’m finding the hurt is released by writing about it, so it is helping me.

  6. Well-written and so tearfully sad.

    • Thanks, Adrian. I have to distance myself to be able to write about it, or I’d find it too sad.

  7. I love that first line. Despite everything, it did make me chuckle a bit. In context I doubt it would have. That last line struck a chord with me, because I spent a lot of time as a child hiding from my siblings. I wanted to learn invisibility, but that came from being the youngest. A common line in our family was, “You have to listen to me, I’m older.” By the time whatever chore was getting passed down the line got to me…I’d be gone.

    • Actually, Kathi, I chuckled when I wrote it, so I can’t fault your reaction. Often I approach my memories with humor, as it seems to help. And oh man, did I hear that line about having to listen to them, since they were older! Fleeing was definitely the better part of valor!

  8. Welcome! This is such a deep excerpt, thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you, Rachel. It’s actually sort of selfish for me to share, since it helps me so much to put it out there.

      • It isn’t selfish at all. If it helps you, that’s all the more reason to share! I’m a big believer in sharing when it makes a difference to how you’re feeling about things!

  9. […] five sentences everyday on my fiction. Well, I posted ten sentences today on WIPpet Wednesday here.  I also wrote some more sentences, so, wow, is this a success, […]

  10. Invisibility is a two-sided blade… things is, we never realize we’ve been cut, deeply, usually until we’re already bleeding out. So many hugs… (and a shared love of semi-colons)

    It is written masterfully.

    • Thanks for the hugs, Eden. It is a two-sided blade, indeed, and I’m still learning not to hide. Another semi-colon lover, yes!!

  11. Add me to your list of lovers of semi-colons; I can’t resist!

    I found your excerpt moving for the poignant, yet sharply focused introduction that immediately brings empathy and connection. At two years old so we learn to survive, and I would read all the rest of your memoir with this beginning.

    Your commitment to Weds WIPpet is encouraging because I find it difficult to post each week yet another ‘reveal’. Perhaps I shall find this round easier as participating in WIPpet is one of my ROW80 goals. May your writing go well.

    • Another semi-colon lover, yay!

      Thank you for the comment and encouragement, Beth. I’ve been lurking on WIPpet for sometime, and figured I should stop dithering and jump in. I got cold feet a few weeks ago, and skipped it, then wondered why. It’s such an encouraging group, but I do worry about having something to post, but then that means I have to write something!

      I may well add WIPpet to my goals, as well–what a good idea!


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