I’m looking for some…

I'm looking for some vibrant, rich, non-cliche fictional (or creative nonfictional) descriptions of people/bodies to use as examples in the writing book -- got any favorites? Maybe I'm just tired, but for some reason, I'm coming up blank tonight.

Erotic is okay, but not required. Outright porn probably not a good idea. Please avoid food similes and metaphors! No breasts like ripe mangoes, or coffee-colored skin. Bonus points if the work is in public domain, so I don't have to worry about copyright issues. Super bonus points with optional kisses if it's in the online Gutenberg Project, so I can quickly get a copy of the text.

Other than that, good day. Met up with Vivek, Lori, Satya at Book Cellar, and in between interesting conversations, managed to draft the welcome message for my online workshop, the first section, "Diversity", and a later section, "Where Are You From?" Here's the opening to the latter, in case you're curious...

People ask me all the time -- in class, on the street, at parties: Where are you from?

Most of my brown-skinned friends are tired of that question. They're usually too polite to ask in return, Why does it matter to you? Am I asking you where you're from? In casual American conversation, we don't tend to ask white people where they're from -- it's just assumed that they're Americans, and that's all that matters. My friends would like to be extended that same courtesy.

One way to approach the whole problem is to stop asking the question, stop marking that difference between the apparent foreigner (who may actually have been in America for more generations than their white-skinned neighbor). But as a writer, I want to go in the opposite direction. I want to ask everyone the question -- Where are you from? Because I am fascinated by character, and for many people, where they are from is a huge element of their character, their identity.


Came home at three, helped watch Kavi, gardened, and read Holly Black's Ironside, which I enjoyed, as expected.

Also sent out the first e-mails kicking off the online workshop. I wasn't sure how these workshops would go -- would anyone even sign up? But I have around ten+ folks for each one, so they'll end up making me around $3000 for the summer. Since Kavi's babysitting (which gives me the time to both teach and write) costs $250/week, that pretty much covers the babysitting. Good deal. Now I just have to be careful not to let teaching eat up all that cafe time -- teaching is sneaky that way. It'll take as much time as you give it and beg for more. But if I have roughly 30 hrs/week of cafe time, I think I should be able to reserve half of it for writing. That's the plan, at any rate.

Tomorrow, focus on getting the online workshop up and running, plus prep for Monday's in-person class. Sunday, relax and play with family. Monday -- definitely back to the memoir.

7 thoughts on “I’m looking for some…”

  1. Last year, I read “Blood of Flowers” by an Iranian author (forgot her name). It had lovely descriptions of people, very different from what I’ve read in the past. Also, the love scenes were very well-written – sensual and out of the ordinary.

  2. Curious. I am white, and I get asked where I am from quite often. Maybe it is my somewhat muted southern Appalachian accent. (And please: the third ‘a’ in ‘Appalachian’ rhymes with ‘at’ NOT with ‘ace.’)

  3. Am I the only one who automatically thinks “but how do taxes factor into that?” I would assume that $3K is before tax. Or can you deduct child care costs on income? $1,000/ month – wow.

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    $1000/month is pretty cheap as childcare goes, I think. We currently have Jarmila come five mornings a week, from 9-2, paying $10/hr, so $250/week. Kavi naps from 2-4ish, so we get most of a 40-hour work week that way.

    As for taxes, it gets complicated. If you have a childcare person who is willing to pay taxes hirself, then you may able to utilize a benefits program with your employer that lets you use pre-tax dollars to pay them. But something like 80-90% of babysitters/nannies don’t want to give you their social security numbers. (Licensed daycares, of course, do). So you may have to hunt hard to find a provider who will come to your home *and* be willing to pay taxes on the piddling amount you pay them.

    Also, there’s a cap on the amount you can do, and you need to set aside the funds in advance with your employer — or at least we would need to, and we didn’t this past year. We will be doing so in the future. But it means that for now, it’s all just straight out of pocket, no tax deductions.

  5. Which, umm, in my marginal tax bracket, would mean that the 3K is really more like 1.5K post-tax which means no writing time is being paid for with that.

  6. I wish I remembered the numbers, but in a higher-cola area, my sibling pays the same ballpark/month for someone who’s fulltime and cooks and cleans while she’s there. The last person was a live-in but didn’t drive; the newer person goes home evenings/ weekends but does drive. I’m sure it’s a little more than $1000, but maybe $1200 or $1400.

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