Tuesday, 23 October 2012

This month's writers meeting.

The theme for this month's writers meeting is ' The Picture Reminded me of Someone.'   I thought I would try out my entry on you lot - do let me have some feedback before the meeting so that I can alter it or re-write it.   Lots of heads are always better than one.

It was during a visit to the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, where I had gone to look at a particular Degas painting of dancers.   Outside it was snowing heavily and the light inside was perfect for looking at the amazing purple that Degas had employed on the canvas.   I had dreamt of seeing this picture for years and it did not disappoint.

Two hours later I was still wandering round the museum's collection of work by my favourite artist.   I sat down to rest my feet and looked at my watch.   Still half an hour to go before my taxi turned up to take me back to my hotel.   I decided to look round one or two other rooms.

It has always been my habit to look at only one painter when I visit a gallery - otherwise I become satiated with art and nothing sinks in.   But, as I was unlikely to visit here again I made an exception.

I stepped through the door of the next room and stopped short with shock.   On the wall opposite the door I had come face to face with myself.   So that was where it had ended up.   The gallery would no doubt have paid a huge price.

The artist and I were at Art School together.   In those heady days we thought we could conquer the world.   We were going to sacrifice all for our art and we spent hours talking about it.

I was his first muse.   At the time I convinced myself that it was love and that we would be together forever.   He painted me whenever he wanted;  there was never a time when I would not pose for him and now, looking back, I realise it was probably because I was free, whereas paying a model would have cost money he didn't have.

We imagined outselves living in a garret, almost (but not quite) starving, working all day, having exhibitions, becoming famous.   I now realise he had far more talent than I had but at the time we were young and we had fervour.

Of course it couldn't last.   And it didn't.   I fell in love, married, had three children in quick succession and now have six grandchildren.   I paint them with delight and hang the finished works on the walls of my house.

He, on the other hand, never married.  He had a succession of muses, fathered a dozen or more children, became famous until his works fetched millions and his name was a household one.

I had not thought of him for years now, but as I looked at my youthful self, my slim figure, the confidence of my pose, I was taken back to those days.   I am almost sure that this was the first picture of me that he had ever done and for a moment I desperately wanted to own it, wanted - through it - to try and recapture some of that elation of that time.

But then I looked at my watch.   My taxi would be waiting.   The artist was dead now.   I was alive and happy and had had a happy fulfilled life.   Each to his own way, I thought, as I turned and walked out of the gallery, knowing that her eyes would follow me until I turned the corner and our connection was broken for ever.      


Crafty Green Poet said...

This is excellent, a very engaging story!

Heather said...

Don't change a thing - it's perfect and rings with truth even if you have contrived it.

Mac n' Janet said...

Loved it! Had an experience once when looking at one of Rembrandt's paintings of his wife, it looked just like our daughter. She couldn't see the resemblance, her father and I could. I went home and painted a small copy of it, when she saw it she finally saw the resemblance.

Irene said...

It's beautiful and I wouldn't change a thing about it. Well done!

MorningAJ said...

It's an excellent tale and I hate to criticise, but I hope it's constructive. The word 'painting' or a variant of it, appears eight times in 11 paragraphs.

I was taught (as a journalist) not to repeat myself if I could avoid it. It's good for special effects, if you are trying to mark the passage of time, or a bell tolling, or similar, but repetition can be distracting for the reader.

It doesn't help that 'painting' is both the verb and the noun, so you have many opportunities to use it.

I can tell that you enjoyed writing the ending, because you don't do it there.

Try using picture, portrait, canvas, work, sketch, etc to replace a few, and see how much better it reads.

Do you read your work out loud? It can help you notice repeat words. (Newspaper offices are very noisy places!)

angryparsnip said...

I was very engaged in this story and the surprise in the museum was wonderful.
I didn't notice, when I read your story, what @MorningAJ mentioned but I understand from a writers perspective what she said.
Lovely story.

cheers, parsnip

Rachel Phillips said...

I love it, love it, love it.

Woman Seeking Center said...

This drew me in, intrigued me. I found myself attempting to anticipate the ending you had crafted. I couldn't wait to see where you would take me in the final line(s) (and it did not disappoint)! A very enjoyable read in both detail and the backdrop of the decades long timeline.

For what it's worth, as I read the closing line my heart whispered this small (tho unnecessary) addendum:
"As the taxi pulled away I wondered if she, the canvas of my other self, would now ponder her first view of me"?

This came to mind because your writing beautifully reminded me of a truth. That truth being that while we change we retain the layers, the history, of who were were alongside who we have become. And all thru our lives each of those selves gaze both forward and back at each other....

Thank you for sharing!!! More please!


Gwil W said...

"He painted me again and again"

Mmm, I sincerely hope not.

Pat, I hope you have another enjoyable session!

jill said...

Oh how lovely Pat you had me hooked.xxx

Penny said...

Well done, I enjoyed it and really didnt think any thing needed to be changed.

mrsnesbitt said...

Wow Pat! Blew me away there.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great too but can see where MorningAJ is coming from when I re-read it with the constructive criticism she's given.I think she has a point - A lovely story whatever you decide to do with it - thanks for sharing it! (It's funny, I used to be a radio copywriter and we were known to appear a bit crazy as we read our copy out loud to ourselves in the office, so I know what she means!

Rachel Fox said...

A tight little piece of work - a lot said in a few words.

Dave King said...

I'm with the majority. It's cracker. Don't think of changing a thing. Wish I'd written it!

Dartford Warbler said...

A great short story. It certainly gave me a shiver.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for reading it and for the constructive criticism. I will be back later to take on board AJ, Gwil and woman seeking center. It is always good to get ideas from others. Incidentally - we do read all our work out at our meetings.

Cloudia said...

excellent piece; worth reading-

Warm Aloha from Honolulu
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Golden West said...

A great short story, Weaver - really an enjoyable read! One writing exercise utilized on my blog these past 4 years - I write there without using the word "I". It forces me to rethink sentence structure and choose my words more carefully - it makes the writing less about me and more about the subject, fwiw.

ArtPropelled said...

What a wonderful piece of writing Weaver!! It held my attention from beginning to end.