Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Seaweed as a Source of Inspiration

From time to time I take long walks along the beach. On one of these occasions, a particular type of seaweed rotting down there, on the sand, caught my eye. When I came home, I googled images of all sorts of algae and finally came upon the one I saw. To my surprise, it was named 'Dead Man's Fingers', which was so spooky, and so rich with emotions! It was, I thought, the perfect image for the contentious love-hate relationship between the father and son in my story. 

It gave rise to a scene in Apart From Love, where Ben and his father go back to the place where they used to walk, back in Ben's early years: 

So I am standing there a long while, long enough for my father to have overtaken me already—but then, nothing. Finally I rush back, and there he is, in shallow water, wrapped in his black wool coat against the wind, collar flapping, hem dripping. He takes it off, and thrusts it into my hands. 
Then, precariously, he takes a step deeper, and points, “Look, over there!”
Which is when I spot a beam of sunlight caught, somehow, by a grain of sand. It is shining there, as if through a diamond. Under that sparkle, protected from the surge by a jagged wall of rocks, is the pool: the tide pool, in which I used to splash my feet a long time ago, when I visited here as a child, with him. Dazed by the sight, and by the visions it brings out, in layer after layer of memories, I open my mouth and close it again, like a fish out of water. 

Meanwhile, my father wades out to the rocks, leans over the edge, and waves his hand to me with something cupped in it, part of which is dangling down. I am reluctant to ask, Well, what is it? So I glance at this thing, this seaweed which is dark green and somewhat fuzzy, because of the hair on its swollen fingers. One finger wraps around a second one, which twists around, coiling over itself, creating a loop through which a third one feels its way, nicking here, pricking there, trying to penetrate. “See?” he indicates. “Dead Man’s Fingers! Remember?”  

Ben in Apart From Love


This charcoal drawing was done a year before I started writing the story and it suggests erotic embraces between imaginary sea-creatures. Looking at it inspired the last paragraph in the excerpt quoted above.

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9 comments:

  1. From Margaret: "I think this writing and drawing is very lovely and evocative. Keep on giving free reign to your creativity! I too love to write, draw and paint and find they are mutually enhancing."

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  2. Excellent narrative, Hmm good insight into the author's mind!

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    1. Thank you Shyam. I am anxious for you to reach this point in the book!

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  3. I hesitate to read what is above, as I am reading "Apart From Love" now, and don't want any hints...but I will re-visit this post later!

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    1. This is so endearing, Britton. I am so glad you are reading it now, can't wait to hear your thoughts...

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