My story, “The Fifty Dollar Sewing Machine” appears today (Sept 19, 2016) on Literally Stories.
The story is an imagined adventure. It takes disparate ingredients like my Toews Grandparents’ personalities and my knowledge of downtown Winnipeg and combines them; setting the elements loose in a stressful situation.
Allowing this hybridization of fact and fiction is why (I think) authors talk about characters taking on a life of their own. The overall direction of the story is plotted but the step-by-step pathway is extemporaneous. Storylines jump off course and pinball through obstacles and perceptions that are themselves fluid and may not have been fully realized when the story began.
At least, for me they do. That could be part of the reason why I have to re-write so much as I collect disintegrated bits that are flying off into space in a most Kryptonian way.
This story, originally titled Complex Pacifism, came into being when I saw a faded yellow sign painted on weather worn bricks. I saw the Crown Zellerbach sign from my comfy chair in Chilliwack. Google Images transported me back to Winnipeg, as I researched a different story online.
The Zellerbach name leapt out at me – it was familiar from countless cardboard boxes of supplies in Steinbach Bakery, a place in which I grew up and where I had my first job. The bakery is a receptacle for many honey-glazed memories.
Grandpa’s quiet stoicism and subtle humour together with Grandma’s Annie Oakley style of directness came together in the exchange district of Winnipeg. The area was my territory as a “cub reporter” with Dun & Bradstreet in the late Seventies and I spent many hours in my little Datsun, trying to find businesses in the hodge-podge of mossy brick and decrepit alleyways.
Bakery ingredients; the feel of a late fall evening in Winnipeg; how to throw a punch — these are things I experienced but I never imagined that they could be combined to create a story.
My Grandma Rose Toews (nee Zilkie) was a Steinbach institution and she lives large in my memories. A favourite story is told by my out-of-town, female cousins who boarded with her while going to school in Steinbach. Grandma, strict and direct, might ask the pretty girls upon their late-night return from a date, “Did you let?”
Years later, when Grandma remarried in her eighties following Grandpa’s passing a decade before, one of her Grand-daughters pulled her aside at the Sunday after-wedding faspa, the day following the octogenarian wedding.
“Grandma,” my cousin – then in her thirties – whispered conspiratorially, “did you LET?”
Literally Stories is an outstanding online journal — it is a great site for writer and readers alike. Try it when you want a quick story to read – there are some gems here on this UK-based site! The header image above is from the LS website where the story is posted.
I hope you enjoy The Fifty Dollar Sewing Machine and invite you to share your comments below or on the Literally Stories website!
…allfornow – Mitch
Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016