Make a list of some key scenes related to your memoir’s story or focus, summarizing each scene in just a few words.
– Meeting Bob at John’s party.
– First date with Bob.
– Conversation with Bob’s ex-girlfriend.
– Lurch loses his patience
– Getting dumped
– Robbie’s break with reality in Baltimore
Choose one of the scenes you listed for Exercise 1, and write part of the scene. Try to weave in some descriptive details.
My first husband (let’s call him “Lurch”) turned out to be a handful. To illustrate my point, let me tell you about the night he brought his friend home for a “feed of mackerel.”
I was already in my baby-doll pajamas and in bed when they arrived, though not yet asleep. I heard them coming, their footsteps loud and echoing on the linoleum floor of the common hallway of our apartment building, their voices raised in drunken good humour.
When they entered our one-bedroom apartment, they went directly to the kitchen and began cleaning the mackerel, breading it and then frying it in the pan. There was a cacophony of clanging pots and pans, jovial laughter and strong fishy smells emanating from the kitchen and wafting into the bedroom where I lay, growing more and more resentful of their inconsideration and thinking about the fish guts and spilled flour I would have to clean up in the morning.
When his friend finally left, Lurch came to bed, smelling powerfully of fish and beer. Without a word, he immediately fell asleep. Although I tried to keep my distance from him and his clouds of fishy beer breath, his body just seemed to fill all available space in the bed as he lay with arms and legs splayed out. It seemed as though he was out cold, and I heaved an ill-tempered huff or two.
On my second huff, his arm shot out and he grabbed me by my long hair, abruptly dragging me out of bed and onto the hardwood floor. My nylon baby-dolls slipped easily along on the polished hardwood as he continued to drag me down the hall to the apartment door. Opening the door to the common hallway, with a final fling he let go of my hair, sending me sliding out of the apartment on my back. Before I scrambled to my feet, he slammed and locked the apartment door. Trying the doorknob, I heard him say,
“You can stay out there until you’re ready to apologize for your temper.”
Cowering on the linoleum floor of the hallway in my bare feet, terrified that someone would come along at any moment and find me in my state of undress, I was less afraid of Lurch than I was of the potential embarrassment of my predicament. I didn’t have to think it over (I was not exactly dealing from a position of strength here) — I quietly knocked on the door and in a low voice told him I was sorry.
The apartment door opened and I scurried back in.