On This Day, So Many Years Ago

Eighty-six years ago today, December 27th, 1930, this article by Emilie Loring appeared in The Editor. As she often quoted, “The gods provide the thread once the web is started.” 

***

black-satin-slipper
“The hundred eyes of the rhinestone buckle blinked at him with a what’s-the-answer challenge in their shallow depths.”

So many years ago that the paper on which it was printed has yellowed, I clipped from a newspaper the following:

LOST: Sunday night, black satin slipper with buckle.

I dropped the advertisement into my notebook, sure that sometime it would make a story. Occasionally I would come across it, say to myself, “It’s good,” and put it back. One day it struck a spark in my imagination. I decided to use it. Problems arose at once. How? Why? Where?

EL writing desk – Version 12
Emilie Loring’s typewriter

I sat down at my typewriter and stuck the clipping in front of me. I gazed unseeingly at the black letters and numerals on the keyboard of the machine. Then, as clearly as you see the print you are reading, I saw:

Fifth Avenue. In that quiet hour before dawn when for a trifling interval the city dozes, it never sleeps. The gleaming asphalt, blanched to silvery whiteness by arc lights, stretched ahead illimitably between looming sky-scrapers, phantoms of concrete and steel, brick and glass, shadowy and unreal as the back-drop in a pantomime. In the middle of its polished surface, like a dark isle in a glistening ribbon of river, rested a slipper. Black, satin, buckled with brilliants which caught the light and threw it back transmuted into a thousand colorful sparks. A slipper of parts, unquestionably.

street-at-night-wallpaper-3
“Twenty-four hours more of this and he would be on his way to the wilderness.”

So far so good. I had planted the slipper. Now what? Almost before I could answer the question:

Bruce Harcourt stopped short in his long stride to regard it incredulously. How had it come there? He looked up and down the broad deserted avenue before he salvaged it. A spot of red light was dimming eastward.

Lighted Windows wprIt was not all so easy as that. I spent almost a year writing the story. Enthusiastic readers of “Lighted Windows” (Penn Publishing Company) write me that they sit up all night to finish it. That is the result for which I worked. When I commence to tell a story, like the Ancient Mariner who held the Bridegroom with his skiny [sic] hand and glittering eye, I say to my reader:

“Now listen Don’t move till I get through.”

Even then, when a person says to me, “I couldn’t put the book down until I had finished it,” the remark is like fingers at my throat, I am so touched and thrilled.”

***

Stars in Your Eyes is up next. Ready for a late-night read? 


4 thoughts on “On This Day, So Many Years Ago

  1. This is quoted from a letter Emilie Loring’s granddaughter Linda Loring Loveland wrote to me a few years ago: “She was adventurous too, took a trip on a sailing ship with her brother and later, after marrying, the family traveled to Alaska one summer to see the glaciers. She used Alaska for a setting of Lighted Windows and the scenes she described, tho a bit exaggerated, are absolutely correct.”

    Liked by 1 person

Please write your comment here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s