Posted by Lisa
In a conversation with a lovely writer friend last week, I asked her if she had ever read Peter Pan. “I haven't,” she replied thoughtfully. I wasn’t surprised. We know the story of Peter Pan, we’ve seen the movie, we’ve read abridged four page versions tucked into children’s anthologies, but few of us have delighted in the prose and the limitless imagination that is the work J.M. Barrie penned in 1911.
Peter Pan is suddenly relevant to me and my writing, so it was important I pick up the original text. I was in for a shock.
Last week, Lynne discussed how revision paves the way for limitless possibilities in fiction. In the Grub Street Muse & the Marketplace conference last spring, Michael Lowenthal (delightful in so many ways himself and then some, but I digress) presented a session entitled Astonish Me. J.M. Barrie astonishes. In Peter Pan, the reader is astonished in many ways.
I must share a passage from Peter Pan as it inspires me. Perhaps it will inspire you. The cleverness is stunning, the manner in which character is revealed is brilliant, the dialogue rocks, plain and simple.
“Oh Peter, no wonder you were crying,” Wendy said, and got out of bed and ran to him.
“I wasn’t crying about mothers,” he said rather indignantly. “I was crying because I can’t get my shadow to stick on.”
“It has come off?”
Then Wendy saw the shadow on the floor, looking so draggled, and she was frightfully sorry for Peter. “How awful!” she said, but she could not help smiling when she saw that he had been trying to stick it on with soap. How exactly like a boy!
Fortunately she knew at once what to do. “It must be sewn on,” she said, just a little patronizingly.
“What’s sewn?” he asked.
“You’re dreadfully ignorant.”
“No, I’m not.”
But she was exulting in his ignorance. “I shall sew it on for you, my little man,” she said, though he was as tall as herself; and she got out her housewife, and sewed the shadow onto Peter’s foot.
“I dare say it will hurt a little,” she warned him.
“Oh, I shan’t cry,” said Peter, who was already of the opinion that he had never cried in his life. And he clenched his teeth and did not cry; and soon his shadow was behaving properly, though still a little creased.
“Perhaps I should have ironed it,” Wendy said thoughtfully; but Peter, boylike, was indifferent to appearances, and he was now jumping about in the wildest glee. Alas, he had already forgotten that he owed bliss to Wendy. He thought he had attached the shadow himself. “How clever I am,” he crowed rapturously, “oh, the cleverness of me!”
Ah, how clever.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Posted by Lisa