Thursday, October 02, 2008

Creative writing

Paris: lacy bridges glimmering in gentle lamplight, content and angry ghosts crowding the cobblestones, lovers’ breath mingling in the crisp air, bistros redolent of espresso and Gauloises. Beam me up, Scotty.

Which reminds me only by contrast and wishful thinking, I am putting together a scene from Iraq, circa 1998, in the time of the UN’s Oil for Food program. Not romantic at all, from what I’ve heard so far. I’m looking for people to talk to who were there, so that I can write with some authenticity. Anyone care to volunteer their first-hand experience? What color was the sand? What smells drifted on the wind? What kind of people filled the streets? What were your favorite foods, restaurants, mess halls? What color is the sky at night?

There are some good books on similar topics. Right now, I’m reading Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead, which was also made into a movie. I haven’t seen the movie, but Swofford’s book is gritty, gutsy, and full of eloquent and unabashed detail. I still believe in first hand experience, though, like Rick is soaking up.

However, I’m going to have to pass up the visit to Iraq, at least for the next year or two, during which I’d like to finish the book. So I’ll talk to people (email me if you’re willing to share) and try to get it right from my little office. Creative writing, you know.

4 comments:

Charles benoit said...

Conan O'Brien is a fan of Jarhead and had the author on the show once. As a former army guy, I'm legally forbidden from reading anything about the marines, but I might just break ranks and give it a go.

Charles benoit said...

Oh and by the way, I was next door in Kuwait at the time. The weather, the desert, the basic geography would have all been the same there. And outside of Kuwait City, the smaller towns -especially the ones closer to the Iraq border- were probably a lot like the ones in Iraq. So if you need any local color, I might be able to help. First smell I can tell you you need to experience: "toffle sheesha" (apple-flavored tobacco smoked in a nagilia, aka water pipe.

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

Charles, thanks! Could I email you a few pages when I get the scene written?

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