Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in the West Houston RWA Emily Meeting -- a full day of writerly camaraderie, awards, and way too much food. In the afternoon, Colleen and I did a Boxing the Octopus session on challenges of the writing life. The AM session was my workshop on "Fat Nude Writing", which was actually Colleen's idea, inspired by a post I did about a year ago.
The gist of Fat Nude Writing or “The Lord never gives us more than we can bare.”:
One of the few genuine regrets I have about my youth is that I turned down a role in the musical Hair, singing “My Body is Walking in Space”, one of my all-time favorite songs, in the nude. I didn’t turn it down out of modesty; I turned it down out of shame, which was stupid. I thought my body was just too, too mortifyingly awful. I was young, six feet tall, a size nine! I had an awesome body! The director tried to tell me that it was my vocal and physical uniqueness that made him want to cast me. But my tall, flat-chested body was not like other girls’ petite, busty little cheerleader bodies. And different equals wrong. Right? Different is bad. Ugly. He ended up casting a coloratura soprano who weighed about 250 lbs, and the song was one of the most stunningly beautiful moments of theatre I’ve ever witnessed. That fat nude chick blew the doors off the place. The song soared; her fearlessness was mesmerizing. I have mourned missing out on that moment of tastefully lit abandon onstage, and I try to avoid that chicken-livered mistake as a writer. Different art form. Same dynamic.
An older, wiser, more zaftig woman now, I doubt that I will ever have the courage to visit the nude beach, but I aspire to bare my soul through my work. For any artist, fear is a weakness. Uniqueness – abnormality, even – is a strength. And so is regret, I suppose, because at the core of good writing – plump, juicy, fat nude writing – is the torn and mended heart of the writer. Ungirdled, unbridled, unadorned.
During the workshop, I challenged participants to write a paragraph or two on a fat, nude moment from their own life -- a moment that was not particularly earth-shattering or news-making but life-changing in an intensely personal way -- and submit it to us here at Boxing the Octopus. I'd like to expand that and invite any and all Box Octo visitors to submit a Fat Nude Writing sample. Let's use the "comment" section here to post entries (500 words or less, please). I'll snag a few highlights, do a Fat Nude-a-palooza post on Saturday, and send our favorite Fat Nude Writer a signed copy of my memoir, Bald in the Land of Big Hair (definitely the fattest, nudest writing I've done in my career thus far.)
(Above: "La Grande Odalisque" painted in 1814 by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.)