Thursday, July 29, 2010


ON THE DAY I WAS BORN, my parents were moving into a new house. My father did all the heavy lifting--or maybe they had movers. This was Portola Valley, still one of the most beautiful places on this earth.

My mother needed a break from the hard work of helping my father make decisions. She went down the road to Rosati's. We called it Rosati's but really it has another name. It's an old Saloon--old enough to have posts outside with which to tie up your horse. I think maybe I was shot here in a past life and came back to the scene of the crime. This would explain why I have always felt like I belonged in the wild wild west and why I felt compelled to raise hell for a good many years of my life.

Maybe it was a hot day. There is no asphalt in the parking lot at Rosati's even now. Mama's feet would have ground the gravel when she walked in the door, heavy with my body inside her. Maybe someone held the door for her, the screen slapping shut behind her. The jukebox in the corner is always playing but at least it's country. Mama don't rock and roll.

The doctor told her that if she walked around she was likely to go into labor. She wasn't due yet but, as hard as she had worked to have this baby, she was done carrying it around. The a/c must have felt good. Mama overheats in summer, her pale skin lets all the sun in, has no shield for light. All day moving and giving directions had worn her out. That, and a nagging sense of doubt. I think I knew she was going to leave me, even then.

Inside Rosati's there are stickers from radio stations and old photos and beer signs covering almost every inch of the walls. The pic-nic tables are whittled with names and symbols. The old man behind the counter (he would have been a young man then) is the owner. He makes the burgers and fries himself. In the corner there is a pool table. And this is where my mother went into labor--with a cheeseburger in one hand, and a pool cue in the other.

My father (where was he then?) doesn't like the idea. He says she must have gone into labor later at the house. This was only afternoon. They did not go to the hospital until nearly midnight. But my mother knows, Rosati's makes a better story.

This exercise from Janet Burroway's WRITING FICTION: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Think of a family anecdote that is particularly meaningful: it might reveal something about the nature of a specific individual or relationship, or perhaps some truth about families or relationships generally. (This doesn't have to be something you experienced or witnessed; it could be a story about your great-grandparents' courtship, or your mother's childhood.)

a. First, write the story in the form of a letter to someone close to you (if he already knows the story pretend he doesn't). Explain explicitly what you think the story reveals/means, and why. Try to convey why this story is so compelling to you.

b. Depict the story in scene. Instead of explicitly explaining your interpretation, try to suggest it through subtle hints.

note: (I then combined the two for this post).


  1. Love "mama don't rock and roll". You're on a roll- keep the pages coming. Holly

  2. Fantastic writing, as always! Love the description of Rosati's! You rock, Dufflyn! I can't wait to buy the book!


  3. Thanks so much for the comments ladies. It really keeps me going knowing that someone out there is reading my work!!!