Saturday, September 30, 2006

Red Keds

When I imagine giving speeches as a famous writer, I explain fiction thus:

Writing fiction is like building a log cabin. Sometimes, truth is the log. Sometimes, it’s the sticky stuff between the logs. Either way, the fiction writer need not tell which is which. She gets off scot free with the claim, I made it all up.

I recently received notes on my last script which is a modern Western family drama about a World Champion calf-roping cowboy who injures his wrist and returns to the ranch where he grew up. He wants to lay low. Hide out. Think about what he’s going to do next. The family he left behind have troubles of their own which they are all too eager to hand over to him. Everyone in the story has a secret.

The script begins in 1977, the day an orphaned boy, the cowboy to be, is handed over to his uncle. The first glimpse of the kid is of red Keds pounding against a couch. Several reviewers mentioned red Keds would not be child footwear in the 70s. More 60s or 50s, they thought.

Now, I looked at a jillion pages on wrist anatomy to get my calf roper’s injury right.

Make a fist. Rotate your fist clockwise a couple of times. Know what you’re looking at? A miracle. That movement is accomplished over eight bones that look like chipped marbles.

And what did Miss Obsessive Researcher do, come time to shoe an orphan? Slipped him into the shoes I got every summer.

Nevermind when.

So, I’m building my fiction log cabin, see, hiding my truth behind logs and caulk, and what I don’t realize is that I’m standing there bare-assed because I unconsciously reveal myself in my writing no matter how many times I say, I made it all up.

Some might think footwear notes are inconsequential compared to the more important business of structure, plot, formatting.

Au contraire, she says.

Red Keds notes are important because nothing should strike a false note with a reader. Nothing.

And, one of these days, you can come to my famous writer speeches and I’ll tell you why.


  1. Exactly! "Red Keds" is great on so many levels, too. It's a memorable image, the words rhyme, it takes us back "when," plus it has tapped into "your truth," which is where the best writing comes from.

  2. My truth could make me look a little younger if I could keep it to myself.

  3. Stella8:59 PM

    Red Keds can still be bought today- u can b as young as u want;) plus ur not old anyways

  4. Wow, we wore keds all the time in NY, but always white with a blue label. I don't recall ever seeing red ones, but I like them.

    BTW,got here via candace. And we just moved to tx a few months ago- from glendive, mt. small world.


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