After the second day of my ninety (90) day program, I am reminded about how much fun it is to slip into a character’s skin and be someone else, even just for a little while. The assignment for day 2 was to mine two (2) memories and write a scene depicting various sensations about the memory.
As I said yesterday, I decided that I’ve done enough of my own memory mining and I wanted to mine my main character’s memories. I wanted to delve into Mikey’s mind and see what it is, exactly, that made him who he is. So, the two (2) memories of Mikey’s that I mined were: 1) When he first realized that he was an artist; and, 2) His lack of a memory of the day his daughter was taken.
I chose those particular memories because I felt they were most informative to the overall story arc. As I though more and more about other memories Mikey carried, I thought about what it was like to be a money-making artist, what it was like to travel in new York art circles, and what it was like to lose all of those contacts and money. I’ve never really had financial success as a writer and, really, I’ve never really thought it was likely that I’d ever see a dime from these words I pour onto pages. In a way, I suppose, that Mikey was a financially successful artist was an exercise is wish-fulfillment for me.
So, from Mikey’s perspective, here’s what he remembered about the day he realized that he was an artist:
Life was good. I would sit and watch my father pray. And I would pray. And his hand would begin to move, forming shapes and filling them with pigments he just prepared from minerals and plants that lived on our land. And he prayed in thanksgiving and hope that all the good that God made would come together into its own image on the canvass in front of him. The air in his studio had a garden wetness. I could taste the pigments mingling in the air. Colors stuck the piece of wood until, eventually, a saint appeared.
One time, I must have sat and watched for some hours. The sun was still high above when I entered my father’s wood shack behind our home. My father became a vehicle for God’s hand to create images of beautiful proportions. When I left the shack, the moon had already begun its decent.
In those days, the retablos were unlimited in worth. My father would take a freshly painted retable and be able to trade it for a month’s worth of supplies. I don’t think he ever knew I was there, watching. He sat in front of his creation, guided by God, and sing an old alabado:
Cordero de Dios
Cordero de Dios
Que quitas el pecado del mundo…
He never would have known I was there. Or cared. But those nights and days of watching and praying in the shack filled me with a tranquil peace. I was a lake still and untouched by the day’s winds. And life was good. In that goodness I knew that, even though I had yet to begin my training, I was an artist, like my father before me.
* * *
So, that’s MIkey’s memory of the day he knew he was an artist. As a note, an “alabado” is a religious hymn common in Northern New Mexico. The words, “Cordero de Dios” means “Lamb of God” and “que quitas el pecado del mundo” means, “who takes away the sins of the world.” I am Chicano from Northern New Mexico and all that I do and create derives from my experience and it always will.
Today’s assignment is a set of ten (10) character bios. Again, I usually don’t carry more than five (5) characters, but I’ll do the best I can to find five (5) other characters. Peace.