Thursday, October 28, 2010
Basque Sheepherder Hijacks Story!
Oct. 28, 2010
Oh my. I am obviously not getting out enough. In fact, I'm not getting out at all. Later this afternoon, Ruthie the residency manager/goddess is going to take us for a tour of the ranch and this little tenderfoot will be going along, taking pictures.
But back to the headline for this blog. NEVER EVER trust a reporter. EVER. Even one who once was a reporter in a former life. Because we are all magpies. We will dive after any old tired piece of tinsel, foil, frayed ribbon or dirty shoelace to line our nests with. Last week I posted a picture of a loyal border collie named Pippin who followed his owner with fervent adoration. Ruthie said the man was probably a Basque sheepherder. Which makes all kinds of sense.
Think of all those sheep in Brokeback Mountain. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger obviously weren't Basques (unless it was the Beast with Two Basques) but the Basques have been living in Wyoming (and other parts of the West) for nearly 100 years.
But here's the deal. One of my characters, Misty Cotton, the world's neediest, mouthiest, most insecure student in the universe, has somehow wrangled an invitation to an artist's colony in Wyoming. She's staying at The Double DD Ranch and she's supposed to be working on a series of "linked" short stories set around a bar.
Backstory on The Misty One: Misty and her husband, who runs an up-and-coming real estate company, are having marital problems. He's fed up with her self-dramatizing; she knows he's got a thing for his assistant, Carla. He doesn't understand her need to get published, her desire to turn their front yard into a labyrinth, or why her office has become a shrine to Billie Holiday.
Oh, relationships are all so complicated, aren't they?
Misty has recently had a big fight with her creative writing teacher, Rory (the main character), and has since decided to bag writing classes and strike out on her own. Now she's in Wyoming. It's January. Her muse has taken a vacation in Florida. Misty is struggling. And that's when she lifts up her eyes unto the hills and spies...Sebastian "Sabie" Messalina and his dog, Sparky, no, I mean, his dog, Pippin.
Is it The Silence of the Lambs meets Heidi?
Should Misty trash her short stories, which are going nowhere, and aim for a little New Journalism with the sheepherder in the red woolen cap? Honestly, I don't know. I guess I will figure it out.
And no, I never did get back to that sex scene on the prairie with Rory and Nils. His lower lip is still trembling. Rory is still wondering when he's going to pull his hand out of her bra and make his move. Maybe that is the move. Lower lip action.
Now I've got to contemplate a possible romantic scene in the barn. With sheep and a Type-A border collie. And a man in a cherry red cap. And with Misty, who is overdue for something big in the Wild Thing Department. I'm telling Misty keep her powder dry--but let's face it--the woman has terrible boundary problems! In fact, most of the people in this book have terrible boundary problems, which is why they're getting into trouble all the time.
In the real world, I have eight more days of this residency. Eight days. It's going really well, for the most part. I'm contemplating a trip into Sheridan tomorrow for, um, supplies.
I miss Ohio and am looking forward to re-entering the world of family, dogs, Jon Stewart, people who like me, students (yes, they're out there), and many many leaves in the front yard.
Dear ones, wherever you are, remember: no one will ever walk in your moccasins but you. Sorry to go all Sherman Alexie on you. But. You know what's going on. Walk in it.