Before I started writing SUCH A PRETTY FACE, I asked myself, ‘What would it be like to lose 170 pounds?’
For years I was a freelance writer for The Oregonian. I wrote about homes, home décor, people, events, and fashion. When I started freelancing I had three kids under the age of five. I was buried in diapers, the housework was crushing, and I rarely slept like a normal human. I tried to remember to brush my hair. My most glorious of days occurred when I realized I did not have spit up on my shirt. My three little sweethearts were dear and wonderful, and oh, how I loved them and their sweet smiles, but the Role Of Mommy was all encompassing. I felt myself, I felt Cathy, slipping away, down a rocky cliff, out into the shark-filled ocean, no life raft or calm and serene, pineapple – filled deserted island in sight.
Until I started working as a freelance writer.
Freelance writing gave me something else to think about. It gave me an identity. It gave me something to do that I loved doing – write. I had a new, part – time job, complete with interviewing and photo shoots, and it did not involve seeing how lickety-split fast I could change two diapers in a public restroom.
I loved going into people’s homes and writing about them and their remodeled, glittery kitchens, their tiny pink house with a red and yellow Scandinavian bed, or how they decorated their kids’ bedrooms with jungle animals. I loved meeting all of them and learning how others were living their lives. The fashion article assignments never ceased to amuse me because I do so hate shopping and have zero fashion sense, but it was fun. Yep, fashion was fun. Anyhow, I digress.
During my freelancing years I also wrote an article for a local hospital on patients who had had bariatric surgery. They would usually lose a hundred pounds in a year and more after that. They were whole new people. I talked to many of them and was truly touched by their stories and fascinated by what their doctors had to say about the new lives these people were leading. However, not all parts of these new lives were happy.
That always stuck with me. We so often want change, but change doesn’t mean all will be well and dandy. It certainly doesn’t mean all problems poof into thin air like magic dust. In fact, a lot of these now thin people had a whole new set of problems, including some seismic shifts in their relationships with others.
Anyhow, the character in my book, SUCH A PRETTY FACE, Stevie Barrett, has bariatric surgery, then a second surgery to lift and tuck and remove excess skin. She loses 170 pounds and starts her life over. But all is not perfect. It is not dandy.
As a writer I had to figure out why Stevie let herself get to 320 pounds in the first place. What’s behind that? Who is she now? Who was she then? Why? How is she changing?
I gave her a past…and then I gave her a future.
In between, well, that’s the story. SUCH A PRETTY FACE is about an old, white schoolhouse that was remodeled into a home. It’s about a farm, a field of corn, a vision named Punk, a damp cave, a schizophrenic mother, a bridge on a frothing night, planting a vegetable garden, blood, fantastical wood chairs, roller derby, grief, falling in love, a green house with a white picket fence, dead people in cans, a hope chest, daring to dare, finding home, blow up dolls, Trash Heap, a dark and terrible room at the end of a dark and terrible hall, an ice sculpture of a mermaid, and Amazing Grace.
I hope you like it.
To comment on Cathy’s blog please click here.