Friday, September 2, 2011

The Stubborn Story

From the Speakers: EVERYTHING IS A MEMORY by Seneca
Just Read: SOVAY by Celia Rees--Really came to enjoy the characters and how well the period of this book was conveyed. Good read.

The best feeling in the world is when you're sitting on the couch, vegging out, nothing really going on, no brainwaves sailing through your head, not pondering anything, not worrying about anything . . . and suddenly, unbidden and out of the blue, comes this idea, fully-formed, dense with details, sprinting full-speed to take over all that previously unoccupied space in your mind. It is the spontaneous story, the one that practically writes itself, very little work required.

This is not what happened to me today.

I had everything right in my head--that is to say, I was spacing out, hoping a story might fly in there--but the only thing that came was this what-if question, the seed of a story but not really the story itself: You know how sometimes music can take over your mind, transport you, give you the chills, make you feel high almost? Well, what if you could listen to music like people do drugs? What are the limits?

I thought this was a very intriguing question, and a good springboard for a story. But . . . that was it. That was all I had. No characters, no setting, no motivation, nothing. But it was too interesting for me to ignore, so I sat down and tried. It's times like these you feel like you're not a writer but a miner, or maybe a paleontologist--you're covered in dirt, using every tool in the book, from jackhammer to toothbrush, to try to dig up this story, but it's just so deep and so fragile that unearthing it is mind-numbingly tedious. It's things like these I call the "stubborn story." You know it's there. You know it's good. And it knows you want to uncover it, but for some reason it refuses to let you. This is frustrating to the extreme.

I find that whenever this happens, other little bits of stories reveal themselves similarly, and then all at once I realize all these bits are part of the same story, and then . . .VIOLA! The story decides it's done teasing you, and appears fully formed.

So, until then, story. Until then.

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