Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Writing

Where Have I Been?

Not jam, just canned peaches. These came _after_ the jam.
Not jam, just canned peaches. These came after the jam.

Um, yeah. I’ve been “not here” for quite awhile. Sorry about that. Various things in life (peaches, canning peaches, canning peach jam, gluten episodes, family stuff, reading) have gobbled up all my free time. The little time I had left I reserved for actually, you know, writing. If you’ve been looking for me over on the Online Writer’s Workshop, I apologize; I haven’t even been there! I hope to rectify that soon. Really.

And what has changed during this time, you ask? Unfortunately, not much. I’m still beating my head against a wall, trying to figure out how simply “telling a story” seemed so easy before, and now seems like a task of Herculean proportions. Everything I write seems so … ridiculous, so clumsy.

Still, I have two small successes to report in this regard. First and foremost is the very fact that, despite this, I am still writing. My head my be sore from the pounding (glad we don’t have interior brick walls here), but my fingers still find their way to the keyboard (or the pen and notebook on occasion). Second is a more sublime moment that needs a touch of backstory:

So, you see, I had this amazing idea for a story. It would be so awesome! It’s to be a story told in four alternating points of view about something that happened to a fifth, now missing, person. The final bit would fill in all the blanks and make everything crystal clear to the reader, who would have this “Ah-ha!” moment as the pieces came together. I had the characters, their ages, genders, favorite flavors of ice cream–you name it! I had the setting, including the tree that would fall over. I had what the characters witnessed happening, and when, and which of the characters saw what. All that was missing was the actual story. Why did this thing happen to this man? What was he attempting to accomplish, and why?

In the MRK class, we delved into the MICE Quotient, taking them apart to fully understand them (which, let me tell you, although I’d heard of MICE before, until this exercise, I didn’t fully “get” the concept). Afterward, we created our own short (3-5 sentence) story synopses, one for each Quotient plus one blend of any two. I got them all pretty well, except the Idea one. I’ve never been a great reader of mysteries, you see, and a mystery story is always the example used. So my “Idea” was really a “Character” story in (cheap) disguise. And this latest story? In the end, it’s an Idea story. My weak link. But an appropriate challenge for growth.

Still, two weeks went by as I groped for the Idea that would lift the story from “if only I had a story in there” to “hey, this could really work.” And then came the influx of the peaches. We picked them ourselves, so I have no one else to blame. But, come on, fresh peaches. Who can resist? So there I am, stirring peaches into jam. You have to keep the heat low and keep stirring and stirring until the jam reaches the setting point. It’s tedious, and hot, and potentially splattery. The end result is yummy jam, but this isn’t the fun part. (hmm, sounds a lot like writing, no?) So I’m stirring, thinking about nothing but the jam for long minutes. And then I mentally wandered over to the story-missing-a-story. And the story came. It needed a touch of refining, of rejecting the first, simple thoughts, but in the end, it’s there. I  have a story for my story.

Now I only have to write it (queue hysterical laughter; see the second paragraph if this puzzles you).