Thursday, July 26, 2007

Less than perfection


A long while ago, when I was on holiday in Brighton, England, I was burrowing through a box of old books and prints and found a dirty crumpled up sheet wedged in the bottom of the stack. When I unfolded the thick piece of paper, I realized I held an Ackermann's fashion plate in my hands. I was still at college and didn't have much spare cash, but when I asked the lady who was working at the bookstore how much the print would cost, she gave it a cursory glance, wrinkled up her nose, and said 5p.I was totally happy to pay her that for my less than perfect prize!

I felt that despite her crumpled appearance, I still held a piece of history in my hands. If you look carefully at this print, you can see a myriad of flaws beyond the grime. Her neck is incredibly long, her shoulders narrow and her arms too big for her delicate frame, but I still love it. Her tiny feet aren't even on the floor so she appears to be leaping off the page. She kind of resembles my family gene pool.

I tried to wipe most of the dirt off her, (trying very hard not to think too much about what it was) but some of it must have been there for a long time. I wondered whether some young lady with fat arms and heavy thighs had held onto the print because it made her realize that not everyone had to be thin to be beautiful, or, even worse, had she been ripped out and discarded because she wasn't perfect enough? Or even worser, (remember I'm a writer I have a very vivid imagination) maybe her lover was shot in a duel while he held this very piece of paper close to his heart? (that might explain the reddish brown gunk on the left)

Why do I keep this less than perfect piece of the past? Because she was the first Ackermann's print I'd ever been able to touch and afford And because now she reminds me of my writing process. I thought up a thousand stories just staring at her. My first drafts are often ungainly, badly sketched and definitely out of proportion-but beneath the flaws, and with a lot of work, something usable and magical can emerge.

I'm wondering is anyone else has pictures or quotes that inspire them to keep writing or simply living their lives?

It was a pleasure to meet all the Crumpets in Dallas. Pam and Jane's workshop was delightful, although, as the moderator, I felt a bit mean having to tell everyone to hurry up. Personally I could've sat there and listened to them all morning.

4 comments:

Celia May Hart said...

Kate, it was a blast meeting you! I don't think I use an image or anything to get going with stories. More often, I'll be happily reading some nonfiction and then WHOA! The things I could do with such-and-such an historical tidbit....

Pam Rosenthal said...

Yes, I loved meeting you guys as well -- and thanks for moderating, Kate.

Shelli Stevens said...

I'm not a crumpet, but I enjoyed meeting you, Kate!

I love owning any piece of history. Very cool.

Kate Pearce said...

Hi Shelli and congrats on your P.I. win! (I was lucky enough to be one of Shelli's judges)and was close enough to her at the luncheon to congratulate her in person!