Expecting To Fly 8 / by Lorraine García-Nakata

 Artist:  Lorraine García-Nakata
Detail of larger self portrait drawing (alter ego"Lucy")

As with drawing sketches,  "sketches" in written form also require letting go. The more you let the words come forward without too much thinking, the more you'll trust the process. The more you trust the process, the more you'll see what ends up on the page is not stupid stuff. Letting go leaves room to really hear yourself instead of being intimidated by, what I refer to as, your self-critical "sergeant." That sergeant doesn't leave very easily, so I just tell her to take seat at the bench and let other parts of me have a turn. Knowing I'm not asking her to leave altogether, she begrudgingly takes a time out. These days my "sergeant" doesn't have to be asked to leave when I write. She does it automatically because she knows there are so many other hours in the day to nag me.

When I write, I call on more than my brain to drive the words, phrases, and thoughts that step forward. Again, I sit, wait, and the process begins. Like meditating, you're both conscious and unconscious at the same time. What I mean is, you relax the brain and let other parts of your body, your history, your future, your present, help pick the nouns and verbs.

I have a general idea of a writing format as I begin whether it's a short story or chapter of a larger work. In 2006, I initiated another format that I coined as my Children's Stories For Adults. It is also the title of this collection of writings. Scribed with adults in mind, these written sketches mirror a children's book format and the honest simplicity of their speech. The approach utilizes very basic vocabulary, repetition, short sentences, and simple punctuation. Also, the entire arch of an adult tale is laid out in a very limited number of words. Getting to the point with less, is key. At first, writing this way was an exercise yet I began to enjoy what came forward because it was revealing and often very accurate.

On December 18, 2006, I wrote the first of these tales. This initial one was about a fellow writer named Tony Long. "Lucy,"my alter ego, represents the person I was at about ten years of age. A tomboy, she is direct, authentic, and doesn't mince words. Tony and I would kid about her. When he'd ask me a tricky question, I'd reply, "So, do you want Lucy to answer or another?" He liked Lucy, so he'd get a straight-down-the-middle answer. I read the following piece to him over the phone. He said that I'd "definitely nailed him." I thought so too.

Here it is:

My name is Tony.
I write in the morning.
I write at night.
Words are not always my friend.
Sometimes words hide from me.
Sometimes words fill my head and I can’t sleep.

On warm days, I write about cold lemonade.
When it is cold, I write about hot soup.
I live in a neighborhood I hardly ever leave.
I need to get out more.

I met Lucy.
Lucy lives in my town, but not in my neighborhood.
Lucy writes and I like to read it.
Her stories make me smile.
Her stories make me wonder about other places.

Lucy likes it when we sit together quiet.
Lucy likes to hear me laugh.
Lucy makes me want to know more about her.
Lucy likes science, music, and dancing.
Lucy makes friends easy.
Lucy said she likes me.
It scared me and I don’t know why.

I write in the morning.
I write at night.
I write near windows.
I write at work.
I write and write.
It is what I do.
I write and write.
It is what I do.
I write and write in my neighborhood.
I really need to get out more.
I wonder what Lucy is doing?  

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

Usually I write three or four of my Children's Stories For Adults in one sitting. In this way, written "sketches" share a similar pattern as drawing sketches. In both, the element of surprise is fun. I wrote about my son and daughter. When I read these word "sketches" to them, they chuckled and felt I'd captured them. Sometime in either 2009 or 2010, I was invited to be interviewed as part to the national Storycorps program. I wanted to have my son Kanichi and daughter Monica, included. During the interview, I read the pieces I share with you below. It was fun to hear their comment and have it captured.

From the time my son Kanichi was two years old, he showed interest in both science and music. I like to read about physics and one day as I was reading about black and white holes. Two-year-old Kanichi begged me to read to him out loud about these vortexes. So I did. Between three and five years of age, he was almost obsessive about anything that formed a funnel, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, water going down the drain, and of course black and white holes. Earlier, when he was three months old, he liked the piano and would get very excited when I'd hold him on my lap so he could play the piano keys. I was glad to see he had a special attraction to music. Kanichi also retains information in a way most humans can't. So with all this in mind, I wrote the following "sketch" about him on December 18, 2006. Again note the repetition, as is needed for children's books, as well as the short sentences with simple vocabulary.

My name is Nichi.
My real name is Kanichi.
I live in a city that does not get hot.
I don’t like hot weather.

I like to know how things work.
I watch water go down the drain.
I watch clouds make shapes.
I like volcanoes.
I like tornadoes.
I know what to do when earthquakes shake my house.
I leave notes for everyone about the frost.

My friends ask me about the weather.
I sometimes know.
I like history.
I like to read about the Middle Ages.
Back then people were scared about what they did not know.
People get scared now about what they do not know.

I like music.
I can hear notes.
I play the piano.
I play the clarinet.
I play the saxophone.
I am learning to play guitar.
I like to write music.

I sleep well at night.
I like to sleep long, because my brain works hard.
I like to know how things work.

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

There are different ways writers scribe. Some prefer pen to paper. I feel the most freedom when all ten of my fingers are participating on computer keys. Maybe that's because I'm calling on more than the brain to create.

I wrote a piece about my daughter Monica the same evening that I wrote about my son Kanichi. From a very young age, Monica had poise and navigated with people very easily. Her name literally means, "an adviser," which is true to her nature. As a two-and-a-half-year-old child, I observed her in an outdoor day care play area. It was her first time with this new group of kids. In the center of the play area sat a small house structure with windows and small table with chairs inside. Walking out onto the play area, Monica entered the little house, climbed up on the table so she could look out the little rear window opening. What she did next told me a great deal about her inclinations. Leaning out she asked without hesitation, "Does anyone want to talk?" Two little boys, who'd been running about, stopped in their tracks obviously taken by the question. Curious, they entered the little house structure, found a seat, then proceeded to sit and chat with Monica for some time. I knew then that she would do well at this day care, and more importantly, I became aware that she would be good at getting others to take important time to stop, open up, and consider things. This is an important aspect of what she now does for a living. 

As a young child, Monica revealed many things to me. In her teens, she expressed her love of the Spanish language. I payed attention to what Kanichi and Monica both revealed to me about themselves and their interests. At one point, I felt that in their lifetime, they would be called on to do something together that would be important and needed. I have shared this with them on several occasions. With all this in mind, I wrote the following piece about my daughter Monica, which also references her younger brother, Kanichi:

My name is Monica.
I live in a city.
The city is what I know.
I like to be with people.
I like the quiet.

I listen to people.
They listen to what I have to say.
They think I can help.
I am not always so sure.
I listen to people.

I speak two languages.
It is my favorite thing to know.
If I don’t practice the words.
They start to disappear.
That makes me sad.
When I speak two languages,
There is more room in my heart.
When I speak two languages,
It makes me happy.

I have a little brother.
I like him more now that he is older.
My little brother has a good brain.
He learns things fast.
He learns to play music.
He wants to learn two languages.

When my brother and I are older,
My brother will help me.
When my brother and I are older,
I will help my brother.
We will do something together,
To help other people.
This is what our mother sees.
We will speak two languages.
We will have happy hearts.

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

Capturing people in written form is a challenge. Writing a piece about yourself can be difficult, especially when being very economic with words.  It requires letting go for sure and not over thinking.

The written sketch about me again references my alter ego "Lucy" who is depicted, below, in my large drawing. There is a reason Lucy is important to me at this later juncture in my life. Calling her forward these days gives me permission to not mediate for others so much, to let others know what I'm thinking and what I need, and to have more fun. I also mention Wayne Williams in the written sketch below. He was my best friend during this period. Wayne moved away and I didn't see him again. We shared a lot of time together making potentially boring days, very interesting.

 Artist: Lorraine García-Nakata
Self portrait drawing (alter ego"Lucy"), 7' x 41/2'
I wrote several self portrait sketches. This first one was written on
December 21, 2009:

Lucy likes to climb.
Lucy sees a tree. She climbs it.
Lucy sees a hill. She climbs it.
Lucy sees a rock. She climbs it.
Lucy likes to see things from up high.
It is quiet up above.
Up above, Lucy is still.
Up above, Lucy is quiet.

On the ground, Lucy is busy.
Lucy runs.
Lucy catches baseballs.
Lucy studies.
Lucy draws.
Lucy sings.
Lucy laughs.
Lucy makes things happen.

Lucy is not so sure at home.
Lucy’s mother works and works.
Lucy does her homework.
Lucy helps sisters with homework.
Lucy cleans dishes.
Lucy watches Twilight Zone.
Lucy puts bandages on knees.
Lucy breaks up fights.
Lucy wakes up first in the morning.
Lucy flies in her dreams.

Lucy has a best friend named Wayne.
Lucy and Wayne plan adventures.
Lucy and Wayne plan shows.
Lucy and Wayne catch lizards.
Lucy and Wayne build forts.
Lucy and Wayne watch cells in a microscope.
Lucy and Wayne wander over seven levees.
Lucy and Wayne crouch down as a gun shoots overhead.

Lucy coughs today.
Lucy cannot breathe well.
Lucy’s skin has red welts and itches.
Lucy’s doctor says she should go to camp.

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

My mother was a nurse, so seeing a doctor was a little easier for us. When I was about ten years old, I had a period when when my stomach hurt. I'd get hives, and once in a while my airway would clamp up. One symptom would lead to the other. Luckily that ensemble didn't continue to plague me indefinitely. Mom took me to see the doctor. After his examination, he pulled my mother aside to ask her a few questions about my home life. He prescribed some medicine for immediate relief, but also pushed her to send me to camp. People just didn't go camping in our neighborhood. Time, money, and equipment were needed for that. Also, I didn't understand why I was going to camp. I was too young to know the doctor really meant that I needed to get away.

 Artist:  Lorraine García-Nakata
Detail of larger self portrait drawing (alter ego"Lucy")10 years of age
Anyway, I found myself at Bear Valley Camp which was a distance from my Central Valley home. I had a borrowed sleeping bag, my clothes, tooth brush, comb, and few other essentials. I was used to being out roaming orchards, river bottoms, railroad tracks, climbing up trees, and generally exploring, so camping wasn't a huge adjustment. It was just more structured and having three meals a day was something new. Here is a written sketch about that two week get-a-way:

Lucy is at Bear Valley.
Lucy does not know why she is here.
Lucy stands in line with a sleeping bag.
Lucy will be at camp for fourteen days.
Lucy signs up for archery.
Lucy signs up for hiking.
Lucy is in a tent with kids she does not know.

Lucy uses a flashlight.
Lucy uses bug spray.
Lucy must sing prayers before she eats.
Lucy sings, “Come to the church in the wildwood.”
Lucy hikes.
Lucy steps around cow poop.
Lucy likes shooting arrows.
Lucy sits near a fire.
Lucy feels at home.

Camp teachers see Lucy as a kid.
Teachers show Lucy an inchworm.
The worm stretches and lifts.
Teachers wait.
Lucy thinks.
Lucy says, “Oh, my goodness.”
Teachers say, “Did you hear her say ‘Oh, my goodness’?”
Lucy and the inchworm roll their eyes.

Lucy has camp friends.
One friend is Allie.
At home, Allie lives in a very big house.
Allie is sometimes sad.
Lucy makes Allie laugh.
Allie comes to camp each summer.
Allie must stay thirty days.
Lucy leaves camp.
Allie must stay thirty days.

A car brings Lucy home.
Lucy walks inside the house.
Lucy’s family sits on the couch.
The family looks the same.
The family looks different.
Lucy feels different.                         

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

I'll close with one last sketch of a friend of mine, Jim Kerwin, who is well known for his terrific playing on his upright bass. We had the occasion to hang out a lot in 2010 and during that period I wrote the following piece that describes him in this short writing format. When I read it to him, he tilted his head back, lifted his brow, and smiled. It was scribed on August 25th, 2010. Again, writing about someone else is easier than writing about yourself.

My name is Jim.
I play notes.
I stand and play notes.
My fingers pull big strings.
My fingers move up the strings.
My fingers move down the strings.
My brain smiles when I play.

I see Lucy.
Lucy hears my notes.
I see Lucy.
Lucy only hears my notes.
I see Lucy.
Lucy sees me.
Lucy sees me in spaces between the notes.
My notes and spaces make her brain smile.

My name is Jim.
My face pinches when I play notes.
I stand and play notes when I worry.
I stand and play notes when I am glad.
I stand and play notes when I imagine.
I dream in spaces between notes.
Lucy sees in the spaces between my notes.
My notes and spaces make Lucy smile.

©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata

In outlining this abbreviated writing format, I realize I've shared a lot about myself, probably more than intended. Yet, that is both the strength and reward that comes with sitting down, clearing the head, and letting the writing carry you, rather than holding back or over controlling the nouns and verbs. That's not as interesting to me. I like the element of surprise that comes with relaxing, trusting yourself, and letting go. So, you might want to try writing a quick sketch about any subject that suits you.
You might enjoy it.

Best to you, from me!

YouTube (music): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWQuvSgGjsU
blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.