Nonfiction beginnings #004: When reality hits hard!

color power punch

First, read…

THE BITCH IS BACK, by Sandra Tsing Loh, from The Atlantic

During menopause, a woman can feel like the only way she can continue to exist for ten more seconds inside her crawling, burning skin is to walk screaming into the sea—grandly, epically, and terrifyingly, like a fifteen-foot-tall Greek tragic figure wearing a giant, pop-eyed wooden mask. Or she may remain in the kitchen and begin hurling objects at her family: telephones, coffee cups, plates. Or, as my mother did in the 1970s, she may just eerily disappear into her bedroom, like a tide washing out—curtains drawn, door locked, dead to the world, for days, weeks, months (some moms went silent for years). Oh, for a tribal cauldron to dive into, a harvest moon to howl at, or even an online service that provides—here’s an idea!—demon gypsy lovers.

But no, this is twenty-first-century America, so there is no ancient womyn’s magic for us but rather, as usual for female passages, a stack of medically themed self-help books.


In Loh’s opening above, notice all the imagery and concrete details she uses. She doesn’t only want us to UNDERSTAND or have pathos for menopausal women, she wants us to EXPERIENCE the same feelings ourselves, even if we’re male! “Crawling, burning skin,” “walk screaming into the sea,” and even “eerily disappear” put us directly into the situation. We know the person doesn’t know how or if she can deal with it for even a minute more, and, not wanting contact with others, she disappears into the bedroom, “like a tide washing out.” She’s washed out by the intense physical, psychological and emotional pressure she’s been surviving (so far).

Try this:

Take an extreme emotion and think of an activity or situation that may cause it. Then PILE in the images making the readers feel those intense moments themselves…

Coming tomorrow: Our final day, 5 of 5, of nonfiction openings that can give you ideas for your fiction and narrative poetry…

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *