Shaping Your Story, Week One: What’s Your Angle?

I’m taking another blogging class. It’s a writing one, so I’m taking a leap putting up some of my recent writing project I just started a few months ago. I’m taking a piece out of it near the beginning. I tried to edit it. What’s my angle? It’s kind of memoir but it’s about a job, it’s a loss, this program doesn’t exist; my angle is connecting with people with chronic mental illness, close to the homeless person you saw on the subway today. Not sure yet what makes it unique, what I’m doing to make it my story and a different take on a same old same old. Here is the excerpt:

The subway, if you’re alone you could go to the end of the line, the last stop, it’s where I would go if I was homeless sleeping on the subway, I’d pick the F line for Coney Island; I’d have one of those old supermarket carts, the red kind, there would be pieces of paper all over or maybe notebooks.. I think once in Boston I went to the end of the line. It was a horse race track, maybe actually a dog race track; yes it was a dog race track called Wonderland, well it would be; that’s my special book, doesn’t everyone have one book that they keep inside them for life, a book that is a place more than a story. I’ve never been to dog races or the horse races, but there are so many great movies you don’t have to go to the real one. I mean they stick horse races in good and bad and in between movies and those are the best scenes. The last one I saw was a movie you only watch cause your kid wants to watch it with you. This girl goes to the horse race because someone told her to put her money on a certain horse. It had only 3 legs, and she knows the place; it’s not the races, its where her grandfather bets all his money where you get betting tickets for your money and there are small old TVs you watch the races on those TVs. It’s always a kind of shabby place and it’s filled with all these people who bet all the time- they can’t stop. Of course she wins cause the money is to take place of the rent money her grandfather bet on and lost. He gets so excited when she wins and that she has the betting blood in her, it’s a great moment. He doesn’t really want her to be a gambler like he is. He just is so excited to see her win. Of course he loses all the time without her.

Then this reminds me of this guy I worked with a long time ago at that job, the day treatment place for people to go to and could even eat breakfast there so you woulnd’t stay in your room at your residences just staring at a wall. I get so mad when I think about how they got rid of all the continuing day treatment places I want to smash something it’s disgusting. A place much better than hospitals and not a place you had to leave after two weeks or a month or a year. It was a place to find and stay at and make your day home and that’s what the clients who stayed long term did. Wow to be part of that was magical every once in a while I’d be stunned by it. All the people there you just loved every one of them, the nasty ones and the sweet ones. You could have a great moment with anyone usually in the hallway or waiting for the elevator or in the kitchen helping the lunch expert clients with lunch.

This one guy I worked with he was a gambler. He was quiet, quiet like you know he is there but nothing can come out really he has no words he’s in a very small room in his head and I don’t remember him in groups at all, I just remember sitting with him I think in my office but maybe it was in the art room.

It was something else to watch him draw; I don’t know if I realized it at the time, but that was the one thing he had that nobody could take away from him that he could do it and keep doing more not like losing on a gambling ticket I can’t even remember what he gambled. His gambling wasn’t some big loud kidn of cowboy gambling; it was the kind where you use any money to buy a lottery ticket and scratch off looking for a few dollars. Maybe he had a secret life where he went to some racetrack. He used a pencil and colored pencils. He drew these buildings and trucks and I wish I could remember them exactly they were just great drawings the kind of drawing where watching him make them I felt like nothing else existed for a moment it was just him drawing and me watching him. Those drawings were of a city but it felt really peaceful; you could step into one of his drawings any one of them and, all the noise would be gone, all that noise of the world that made him sick and was making me sick too; he’s probably dead by now; still there I the same noise of the world and I feel sick just writing abou it. That is partly why he didn’t put people in his drawings. Putting people in there, it would be disgusting. He didn’t want to draw people, he was quiet but his not wanting people in there was good and loud; There was nothing sloppy about him but there was some softness. I was amazed I was there with him it was like being in a church with him his own mind’s church. When you don’t want to draw people, you just want to draw things or buildings it can last for years or it can be forever, but don’t tell the person to put people in a drawing where it’s like so peaceful you are in a part of the Twilight Zone.

I hate when people tell you to put something in your painting. Like I’m outside in the park on a beautiful day, and I’m drawing, filling a square with shapes. Someone says I should go outside and draw the landscape and I can’t draw landscapes: of course what I’m doing will not anything to do with the park and the sun; it might even be a lot of black. I can do dots forever and a day and they will not be in a park.

Yesterday I did birds. When I made my birds picture, I put too much in it and I still don’t know if it’s too much. Did I step over the cliff of too far same as talking too much. Was I into my too muchness there is so much in here it’s like you put a ton of paint on a piece of paper and the middle just goes and the paper can’t hold the paint, if you let it dry it’s a pile of paint and the paper sticks to the table anyway so you rip it pulling it off the table. I copied my birds from an IKEA tray, except I made two tracks so it’s like it’s outside, but you see birds on the first and second floor.

I love the birds on the IKEA tray; it’s black and white. I could get crazy wondering who the hell drew those birds because I know I’m connecting to that artist; I like that drawing on that tray better than some famous stuff in the museum. I put cartoons and the birds were saying things, and I don’t have a clue if it would have been better to have no words. It was already the kind of road on the way there where you stop and sit in a field with stuff in it not too much and you take a quiet nap there. Sometimess I just fill the paper with so much in there it just becomes patterns, and I don’t care; it’s a drawing. Like for the guy I worked with. He didn’t care when he was done. He had to draw the shapes that were the building and cars, so he wouldn’t shut in so far, when you get tuna out of a can and the top doesn’t go all the way off so you make the tuna come out the sides.

 

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