Friday, January 3, 2014

Different Pictures: Interpersonal Relationships

One of the driving forces of many life stories are changes in interpersonal relationships.  After all, many of us are writing for our families, which, in and of itself, implies a tightness of relationship.

Often, however, when we are writing our stories, we are so firmly fixed on what is happening that we don't take the time to tell or show what that means to us (to quote a member of this group, "What does it mean?" and "How did you feel?").  To make the story and its action matter to the reader, you have to be able to show both--and showing doesn't always mean with your eyes.

In this blurb here, I want to give an example of showing through feeling.

"Beth, what are you doing?"

I could feel my cheeks redden even before my sister-in-law finished her question.  I could almost see my sweat steaming up in front of me before I sank down on my butt from my all-fours position to face her.  I twisted my shoulders toward her and felt my back groan as my spirit sank.  I had wanted to do her a favor so that she could rest, but, like everything else in my husband's house, I was now certain I had done this wrong, too. 

Or maybe not.

Sister-in-law's eyes crinkled, and she stroked my baby nephew's soft cheek with one finger.  He blinked bleary eyes at me.

"I just wanted to clean.  You can rest."  My fingers, suddenly itching, twisted the cool rag I had been wiping the floor with.

"Thanks," she said.  Her lips didn't smile, but her eyes did as she and my baby nephew turned and headed back up the stairs.

I let out the breath I'd been holding and turned back to the floor.  My cheeks cooled to their normal temperature as everything else went back to sweating in the South Korean August heat.

In this section, my feelings are amplified by my physical feelings.  While this section isn't perfect by any means, I hope it shows my internal turmoil regarding my relationship with my in-laws as well as challenging it with my sister-in-law's response.

Assignment:  Select a memory that reveals something about one of your relationships.  Write your story of that memory and use your senses to amplify your feelings regarding that interaction.


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