March 6, 2018 at 10:30 am #196137
You are welcome. Regarding the shower and biblical reference: if the reader is familiar with that reference, then it will work. But many readers will not be familiar with it. You may lose some of the latter group of readers because lots of people do not like to not get what they are reading. I don't.
Regarding the numbers and otherwise, ask yourself regarding any detail that you insert in your story: what is the purpose of it? If the detail takes away from your main purpose then don't add it. Knowing that the character works in a field that involves numbers is superfluous, as I see it, doesn't add but takes away. The reason it takes away is because people with eating disorders do not … need to work at a job involving numbers to be obsessed with calories and weight. The obsession with numbers of calories and numbers of body weight needs no encouragement and exists for many who do not work at all.
anitaMarch 6, 2018 at 10:34 am #196139
Thank you for your input. I will edit my story as necessary and be sure to share my final product with you. I am working on the second half of it right now, and I want it to be to the point where she ends up in an eating disorder clinic.March 6, 2018 at 10:56 am #196141
You are welcome. In about an hour I will take a break from the computer for about sixteen hours or so, and be back to your thread then.
anitaMarch 11, 2018 at 7:53 pm #196779
I wrote some more of my story, trying to work on nailing the ending. I really want it to be heartfelt and meaningful, and I just can't seem to get it. As always, please let me know if you feel that there is something that I can change to make it better. Feedback is always welcomed.
On the outside, however, things were not going so great. I began to be ashamed of having to ask for a sweater on those hot July days, a sweater that while thick, could still not hide the bone thin exterior that lay over my rotting skeleton. At this point in my life, without sounding too disgusting, I was no longer 500, I was a vacuum. Like a black hole, nothing was going in or out of me, which often meant that I had to resort to laxatives to clean out my dilapidated intestines.
Have you ever had to use laxatives before? Well, if you haven’t, I envy you. Imagine for a moment that your asshole is spewing a chocolate fountain that looks like it could belong to Willy Wonka? Yeah, that is about the extent of it.
Being unable to drop the kids off at the pool was the least of my problems, however, have you ever had the misfortune of seeing the smile of someone who had been smoking for years and years and never stopped? Maybe it was the hick next door or your weird Uncle Fred who never seemed to understand basic hygiene skills? I hope you haven’t, but needless to say, stomach acid and teeth enamel do not mix very well, and if you’ve been known for your Kodak-moment smile in the past? Well, yeah, you can pretty much guarantee that will be taken from you, too.
I think romance novels and chick flicks get it wrong. They would like us to believe that love is the only infinite thing in the universe, but I find that this isn’t often true: it is far easier to find things to hate about our lives, ourselves, our circumstances than to love about them, and just when we think that it’s impossible to degrade ourselves anymore, we turn out to be very wrong.
It wasn’t many months until after Margie appeared that I began to realize that I hated something even more than my own body: my blood. I didn’t think it was possible, but it was. Looking back on it, I think the practice of cutting into the deep fleshy part of my forearm was a way to remind myself that I was still alive, that I could feel pain. I’d like to think of pain as being like something we develop a threshold to. After being exposed to it for so long, we don’t even recognize it anymore. I think it was some weird dude with a mustache that murmured something about “existing is suffering?” It seems counterproductive, but on some level I feel that he was right. I feel that we seek out pain on a subconscious level as if we are pinching ourselves awake, to remind ourselves that we are still here. Our blood is our tears that we are crying, but no words are coming out.
I do not mean to ever trivialize the experience of anyone who has ever been through such a hell as I have, but I want them to understand personally that they are not crazy, stupid, or anything else that they think they are: they are just a confused blob of consciousness trying to make sense of this fucked up acid trip called life. I think if a lot of us understood that, we could live, would live in a much kinder, much gentler world.
I think when it comes down to it, we are all doing the best that we can with what we know that we can do. In this sense, I no longer blame myself for those years wasting away as a human skeleton in a suit: it was how I dealt with how I viewed myself, how I viewed the world.
I’d like to think that our lives are a bit like shopping for clothes: we never know the value of what they’re worth until they are marked down to the lowest price, a clearance sale we like to call it.
We’re going through Macy’s or Target or something, and we see a nice skirt or shirt, and think to ourselves: “oh, that shirt is rather nice. I think I’m going to buy it.” Then we go to the cranky apathetic- looking clerk at the cash register, the universe we call him, and try to pay for it, only to find that all those years of accumulated mocha frappuccinos, Aristotle merchandise, and Nike shoes have left us with a big fat zero on our credit cards. Whoops! Life lesson number one: we all have an overdraft fee on our credit card of life, so it’s important that we aren’t too hard on ourselves.
I wish I would have followed my own advice back then. I could see it in the mirror, my body becoming as thin and cadaverous as a Halloween skeleton that I used to dress up as when I was a girl, but I was on an express train to hell and Margie was driving in the passenger’s seat. If she hadn’t controlled every aspect of my life before, she did now.
Phone calls went unanswered by friends asking why I wasn’t attending the office party; being sick was no longer an excuse to avoid work- I was sick, almost every day of my life. My sickness became so commonplace that It became difficult for me to even do so much as take a shower. My muscles creaked like the spokes of an old bicycle tire as I lay sobbing, the droplets of water from the faucet mixing with the droplets of water from my face.
I knew then that I didn’t have to worry about planning out my inevitable suicide. It was clear from looking at my own body that I was already dead, a ghost of the person that I used to be, a haggard cadaver staring back at me from my bathroom mirror. Threats of being fired from my job did not stop me from continuing to fade away into nothingness. As far as I was concerned, I was already fired–from my own life.
There was only one way to end the torment that Margie had over me: I had to end myself.
I remember the day quite well. To be honest, I think I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. It was a Friday in August, but it wasn’t just any Friday in August, it was the type of Friday where no news was good news, where people from all races, colors, and creeds, got together and sang in unison that song of old “thank God It’s Friday, and that next door neighbor is having an all-night basher ,as if she is attempting to tell the world: be right back, I need to go drown out the utter disappointment in my life to the tune of Etta James, Lesley Gore, and Pink.”March 12, 2018 at 7:33 am #196833
I would edit out “without sounding too disgusting” (this is your response to the direct account of the main character, and it interferes with the reader's response to the direct account).
I would also edit out “I was no longer 500, I was a vacuum. Like a black hole” (over stressing, an excess, the account without these words is strong enough)
I would edit out the questions to the readers (may come across as confrontational to the reader)
“I do not mean to ever trivialize..” – is that part of your story, your writing piece? If so, I don't like it. So far, before this paragraph, with the editing I suggested, I like your writing very much, believable, simple, affective (creating the desired affect you were aiming at, I believe).
anitaMarch 12, 2018 at 8:04 am #196841
Thank you very much for the feedback. I guess when I was saying that I don't ever mean to trivialize, I am saying that I don't want the humor added to the piece to take away from the seriousness of the situation. I feel that 500 is more relateable when she adds some humor and sass to a situation: it makes the subject matter easier to deal with.
One person that I shared this with said that the story is incredibly sad, and it's made even sadder by the fact that the author is using humor to deflect her pain. In many ways, I think I personally relate to my character. Most of my life, I have used self-depreciation and humor to deal with depression (it's really the only thing that has made it bearable).
I am a male, but I know all too well the feeling of wasting away. I purposely made a stylistic decision to exclude any other main characters except for 500 and Margie from the text because I wanted to illustrate how the ultimate antagonist in our own story is ourselves, but we can also be the protagonist as well.
As for the questions to the reader, this is mainly to establish a bridge between 500 and the reader. They say that one of the best ways to establish a relationship with someone is to ask them questions about themselves. In this way, I feel that the questions help establish a relationship between the reader and 500, but I will take your suggestions into account and see if I cannot tweak some things to make them flow better.
On a side note, it is interesting to note that humor actually developed as an evolutionary coping mechanism to stress (laughter was a way to tell those around us that everything was okay).
I guess I wasn't intending on necessarily creating a simple story, but more of a genuine one: I wanted the reader to really feel like they could imagine what it would be like to be 500, to be someone with a severe eating disorder, as like many mental illnesses, it isn't understood very well by many people.March 12, 2018 at 8:12 am #196845
As far as asking the readers question so to establish a bridge with the readers, better ask open ended questions than asking did you ever think this or that way, or feel this or that way because if the reader did not, he or she may feel excluded from your experience and less motivated to keep reading.
Regarding your comment to the reader that you don't want to trivialize the issue by adding humor- if you believe that you are trivializing the topic by adding humor, don't add the humor. Telling the readers that you don't mean to trivialize the topic does not take away the trivializing affect, if it exists.
I like your writing, I think you are talented this way.