Not only is Green Tea an awesome beverage, one that makes me think of times with my grandmother; it’s a presumed health drink. Certainly my memory holds a healthy glow–sitting at one of Nanny’s kitchen tables and watching as she measured out the rolled dried leaves into a tea-pot. She would have a pan of water heating on the stove and just before the water reached a boil, she would pour some over the dried leave, rinsing them. This acrid water she disposed of after swishing the pot once or twice to warm it a touch. Then she would pour in the rest of the heated water, go get cups for us while it steeped, rinse them with other warmed water she had waiting . Finally, she would bring the tea over to sit between us. She never actually sat down. My grandmother’s maiden name is Sparrow, and it suits the way she flutters about her kitchen even now almost into her 90th year.
The resulting drink would be a pale, crisp golden green, a touch sweet. I remember not liking it at first, but wanting so much to be a “big girl”, I drank it readily. I did not appreciate tea for years, even well after my grandmother could no longer enjoy the drink she prepared with such love. A few small strokes and a prescription for Coumadin limited her chance to enjoy many of her favorite foods including green tea.
But this isn’t about my childhood memories or even the limitations of medication and diet. It’s about a short story by the Irish writer Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu–or rather about my rediscovering Le Fanu’s writing.
“Green Tea” by Le Fanu turned up in the book (Dover Editions Great Irish Short Stories) I picked up for my #readsprint on Wednesday. It had been quite literally over 30 years since I’d ever read anything by Le Fanu. But, even so, I sensed something in “Green Tea”… The name of the Dr.Hesselius. It was warm and familiar.
Yes… “Warm and familiar” is an odd description for a story involving ghosts and paranormal destruction.
Turns out, Le Fanu also wrote my favorite vampire story “Carmilla”. That story, that I’d read sometime around 4th grade, made enough of a mark on me that I drew upon it when I was in college. Using amber-screen vt220 terminals in the various basements of SUNY Albany, I hung out on early social networks such as MUDs and MUCKs, usually in FurryMUCK. I had two characters. One named after my cat Ishkabibel who was, quite accurately, a ball of white fluff with eyes that bounced around excitedly and left strands of hair wherever she went. The other was a shape-changer: a sleek black cat/frail girl/lycanthrope based on Le Fanu’s Carmilla; my own character’s third anagram named was Lalmirca.
“Carmilla” also introduced me to the joy of word play in a sense I’d never known before. And while “Green Tea” was a pleasing story in its own, I find myself more delighted by the memories that looking up details for this post inspired.
The joy didn’t end there. In doing a Google search to get the link , I found other stories of that name. Short stories are a bit of a passion this month, since this is Story A Day month here at Chez Mabee. And so I also found this little gem: Green Tea by Nasir It is rough. There are mistakes. Pronouns shift for characters; there are clearly places where the author was thinking in one direction then wrote another. But it was sweet. Sad, but sweet.
Now skipping away from Green Tea to savor a cup, I have an idea…
Similar to Kait Nolan’s wonderful Test Mile, I find myself committing to getting at least five sentences of new story written every day. It wasn’t so much an intention of mine but something I began suggesting to other ROWers after I realized I’d been doing it automatically every day even on those days I felt I too busy or (worse imho) “blocked”.
The idea came from trying to write more in my WiPs. This unnamed, unspoken goal stated “write five more new sentences in the story. Just five…” These sentences had to be part of the story I was working on(not a new story), and they had to try to break the block. If I couldn’t manage more than five, that was fine. I went on to new things. If I could write more than five, I would keep going until I found myself blocked again.
Sometimes I wrote paragraphs of complete and utter nonsense or character sketching, scene sketching, minor character creation or even just ranting into my blank page before I came up with those five sentences. Sometimes five sentences resulted in pages of backstory, new secondary and tertiary characters, new story ideas…
The “Unnamed Story” I have posted in my Tuesday Snippets developed out of many of these sessions. Now it is a story in its own right; it is not the WiP I want to work on. And in the manner of exploring the unknown, it has a multitude of flaws. I overindulge myself in describing scenes. The story splits and goes in different directions as I reconsidered the effects of a character’s actions and followed those possibilities further…. It was/is an exercise–I’m still writing pieces in it. It and the Was Long Variation are my scratch pads for those five sentences, places where I can explore a character and effuse details that I need to know, but perhaps the reader does not.
But for every paragraph there–indeed for every several paragraphs there, I draw a sentence that I can use in my Writing In Progress. Maybe not as a sentence itself, maybe as just an idea… I still have that sentence to write. But it is there.
And when I have five sentences, my day can be done…or not.
But I know I’ve written.
The ROW80 check-in however…
Well, since my goals for the rest of May are fairly limited in scope: a story a day and maintain my regular comments and sponsor duties, I can say with delight that I am meeting those goals with almost no problem. Even days without internet have not really interfered much, since I am rediscovering my joy of writing with pen and paper (I am not as eagerly looking forward to typing everything in before the 30th).
So everything is going well. Sort of… As some people may have noticed, my update on Sunday (made via a short post on Facebook) was not the happiest thing. Most everything is better now, but it reminded me of something… The ROW80 is a challenge that is more that writing; it’s about living as a writer.
And the ROW80 is about supporting each other as writers. My ROW80 teammates were there for me this past week. Please, never hesitate to ask when you need support in your ROW. It’s what makes this such a wonderful challenge.
And speaking of support…. here’s the linky! Why not stop in and meet a few of these wonderful people?
- This time it’s green tea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- Illustration by Michael Fitzgerald for Le Fanu’s story Carmilla in The Dark Blue (January 1872), electrotype after wood-engraving, reproduced in Best Ghost Stories, ed. Bleiler. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- Recent Reading – Camilla – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (itsonlyerica.wordpress.com)
- ‘Best Ghost Stories of J. S. Le Fanu’ (patospapa.wordpress.com)
- Carmilla, Mircalla, Millarca, whatever (lifesahaiku.wordpress.com)
- Five Beautiful Uses For Green Tea (bellasugar.com)