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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Friday, October 26, 2007

my clip show: bite

Still in vacation mode, I'm finding it hard to get to my blog-posting in my usual way. Late rising, changed routine--no post. Yesterday I became involved with research and didn't want to tear myself away.

In the production of TV series there's a phenomenon called the "clip show". These happen when the show has overspent or otherwise run out of money, and still needs to come up with an episode. So a meager, one-location script is written (characters trapped together in an elevator or something), and they reminisce about things that have happened to them. The reminiscences are then shown in the form of clips from previous episodes, now perhaps with a new context or voice-over commentary by the character. Result: a low-budget but hopefully watchable episode of the series.

As a viewer, I was always aware of the cheesiness and unsatisfactoriness of these episodes, and I used to wonder why they bothered dishing up stale rehashes of previous episodes. Well, in TV it can be hard to raise the production funding in the first place, then it can be hard to keep a tight control on it, no matter how tough or how experienced you are. I'm pleased to say that in season 1 of The Odyssey, we never had to resort to a clip show. Thanks partly to the cheapness of the creative talent (notably the writer-creators), we were able to have all-original episodes.

I thought of clip shows because I'd like to use a preexisting piece of writing to fill out my blog-post: another vignette from my early life, written years ago as part of my lifewriting project. It's not a true clip show, of course, since this material has never been published before. It's still all-original.

This "clip" I titled "Bite":

Naptime is over. Mrs. Dunsmuir turns the lights back on. We have to pick up our blankets from the floor. I don't know the word church but kindergarten is in a little white church a long walk from home. Mrs. Dunsmuir has a long sweater that buttons up and a long skirt. Mom walks me there and sometimes Grandma walks me there and once when it was raining really hard and it was almost like night Dorothy drove us there in her black car. I walk home by myself. It's a little way up then a long way down.

Mrs. Dunsmuir is playing music. We have to walk in a circle, two by two. We're holding hands. We hold our hands high, then we hold them low.

Suddenly there's a scream. I look around, confused. It was a girl's scream. We've all stopped. Two girls who were walking together are both crying. They're best friends. Mrs. Dunsmuir runs to the girl who's holding her own hand.

"What's wrong, dear?" says Mrs. Dunsmuir. "What happened to your hand?"

The girl, crying, says, "She bit me."

"Why'd you bite her?" says Mrs. Dunsmuir to the girl's friend. Mrs. Dunsmuir isn't mad. She is mystified.

The girl's friend is crying more loudly than the girl she just bit. She is scared and shocked. She is sobbing so hard that she can't talk. Mrs. Dunsmuir bends closer to listen. The girl chokes out her words between sobs.

"Because I love her."

Mrs. Dunsmuir doesn't seem to understand. But I understand right away. I know exactly what she means.

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