Sunday School for Sentences #9: Thread the Grommets, Lace the Corset, Feed the Rabbits

This week’s Sunday School for Sentences adheres to the principle ‘show, don’t tell’. Sorta. I’m starting with the showing (a story I wrote called Love, Fury, Lola) and then I’ll move on to the telling (the technique I used in that story and how you can use it too).

love, fury, lola

Lola, my daughter, is a fire-cracker. Part of it is age three; part of it is who she is meant to be.

Between us: friction.

Every feeling she has is grand. Every thought she has is big. She likes to run around and entertain and she loves to lasso and marshal and make you bend to her will, which is endless, intense and disconcertingly effective.

My baby: she’s fierce.

In her circles, she’s the boss, the star, the sun, the Empress. The rest of us are satellites, lesser planets or possibly minions.

But Lola’s a lover, too.

It is her mission in life to torment me all day with unreasonable and non-negotiable demands, and then at night, after all of that, she rounds her small body into my corners. She starts off in her own bed but almost inevitably finishes sleeping on my head. She sleeps curled in the small of my back. She slumbers with her cheek on my shoulder while her small fists clutch handfuls of my hair. Wherever I move or shift or try to draw a border between us in the bed she remorselessly colonizes, her body tracks me and finds me – even through the depths of sleep. We are magnetic.

It is what saves us.

Her extravagant moods, dogged determination to challenge everything, and commitment to charming and owning the souls of every creature she encounters is modulated only by the generosity of her affection.

I submit to you the events of last Tuesday.

I was fried. My last nerve had been cooked and eaten by two cannibals two days earlier.

In short, I wasn’t negotiating bed time.

Bed time, however, was under formal protest, and I met that one-person riot with beatific resistance.

Thank you Gandhi. Thank you MLK.

I told her I simply couldn’t, and wouldn’t, read stories to people who yell at me.

And left her in her bed. She was story-less, and mad as fuck.

She screamed. She raged. She wanted a story, she wanted a new mommy, she wanted to live with daddy, she hated me.

Yes she did. She screamed, “I hate my mommy!”

My baby hates me.

Distraught. Both of us.

I lovehated her right back, right then.

Tantrums and time have a curious relationship.  Time slows with each raised decibel. I waited forever. She screamed for a millennium.

Then Lola wanted her mama – the beloved mother she hates – who enrages her and torments her with bedtimes, vegetables and non-violent revolution. Only a mama can calmly surf a tidal wave of going-on four-ness. Sometimes only the one who hurts you can heal you.

My baby was drowning in grief. She’d swam too far out to get back on her own.

I went to her. I knelt beside her bed and put my arms around her. She put her hand on my cheek, and her teary, tired eyes met mine. Her face was wet.  Her heart was unravelling with each raggedy breath.

“I love you, but I hate you,” she sighed. It escaped her like the last of the air in a furiously deflating balloon.

She spoke without malice. She spoke the truth.

Lola’s sighing surrender to love and rage felt like emotional organization, to me. I rocked her while she  sorted her passions and catalogued her surprise at the fierceness of her feelings.

Then she let go and melted into me. And she slept.

——————-

How To Thread the Grommets, Lace the Corset and Feed the Rabbits

There’s something I do, or try to do, in most things I write, and when Dave Doolin of Website in a Weekend and I talked about it, he called it ”threading the grommets”.

Were I a less poised and polished lady-type, I would have growled. That name is purrrrfect.

I have a small but rabbit-like collection of corsets (it fervently and frequently reproduces), and Dave’s image makes me think of lacing and unlacing them. And, if you like that sort of thing – who doesn’t??? – you’ll understand why lacing the corset creates shape and builds emotional tension.

And you can do that in a story, an article, a blog post.

Here’s what you do:

  • Repeat and expand upon one or more metaphors or modes of explanation. These are your threads.
  • Lace them through the piece.
  • At the end, tie up the piece with a twist on one or more of those repeated metaphors, images, or explanations.

I did it in the piece above – Love, Fury, Lola – with allusions to seas, revolution and sleep:

Sea

Only a mama can calmly surf a tidal wave of going-on four-ness.

My baby was drowning in grief. She’d swam too far out to get back on her own.

Revolution

Wherever I move or shift or try to draw a border between us in the bed she remorselessly colonizes, her body tracks me and finds me – even through the depths of sleep.

Bed time, however, was under formal protest, and I met that one-person riot with beatific resistance.

Thank you Ghandi. Thank you MLK.

Then Lola wanted her mama – the beloved mother she hates – who enrages her and torments her with bedtimes, vegetables and non-violent revolution.

Sleep

It is her mission in life to torment me all day with unreasonable and non-negotiable demands, and then at night, after all of that, she rounds her small body into my corners. She starts off in her own bed but almost inevitably finishes sleeping on my head. She sleeps curled in the small of my back. She slumbers with her cheek on my shoulder while her small fists clutch handfuls of my hair. Wherever I move or shift or try to draw a border between us in the bed she remorselessly colonizes, her body tracks me and finds me – even through the depths of sleep. We are magnetic.

Then she let go and melted into me. And she slept.

And that last example – sleep –  is how I started and ended the piece. I laced the corset and tied it in a knot.

That was gratuitous, yes, but now my tightly-lashed corset is a business tax deduction.

Gotta feed the rabbits.

——————————-

Sunday School for Sentences will be a sixteen-part series. Missed one? Here they are:

  • Prologue: God, Sex and Dazzling Sentences
    1. Sunday School for Sentences #1: Explain the Expected in Unexpected Ways
    2. Sunday School for Sentences #2: The (Textual) Reverse Cowgirl
    3. Sunday School for Sentences #3: Object Lessons (from Kanye West and JD Salinger)
    4. Sunday School for Sentences #4: How to Give Good Quote
    5. Sunday School For Sentences #5: Why You Should Write Bad Poetry
    6. Sunday School for Sentences #6: Two Damn Fine Writing Tips
    7. Sunday School for Sentences #7: There Are No Magic Words
    8. Sunday School for Sentences #8: How To Execute a Climax or Series of Climaxes. I’m talking About Writing. Mostly.
    9. Sunday School for Sentences #9: Thread the Grommets, Lace the Corset, Feed the Rabbits
    10. Sunday School For Sentences #10 – Work It
    11. Sunday School for Sentences #11: The Pigs In Space Edition
    12. Sunday School for Sentences #12: Screw SEO. I Write (Wackadoo Titles) for PEOPLE, Not Search Engines. And So Should You.
    13. Sunday School for Sentences #13: How to Write an Intimate Cosmology of Cheesecake, Cheesecake Shots (or not) and Shoplifting
    14. Sunday School for Sentences #14: What Picasso And Dave Chappelle Know about Writing. For Realz. 
  • About the author

    Kelly Diels I'm Kelly Diels. I'm a writer, the founder of Cleavage (The Lines that Shape Us), and I wrote this blog post just for you. You can also find me on Twitter and darlin', please do. xoxo, K

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