Thursday, January 31, 2013

When Words are like Ninjas

I recently lamented, to anyone that still listens to me, about my having pieces of a story I was unable to make whole.

It happens frequently, an idea slams my brain leaving me unable to focus on the task of living, instead filling my thoughts with potential beginnings and endings. I'm good at that - bookend thoughts, without any real filling.

It also started me thinking about how I create what I call a story. It begins as a glimmer, something fluttering in on tiny fragile wings, hoping to take a breath and become flesh. I've written a number of things I call super short stories, which in reality are likely just drafts of a story - words flung onto paper because they were just too fidgety for me to keep inside my head until they matured. They aren't really stories yet, they could just linger in this stage forever. Well, actually, only until I wake up the next morning and forget everything. So, these ideas do, apparently, have a shelf life. 

Beginnings are my specialty, I start things like a boss. It is the follow through, in depth thought and completion where I, like all of it really. This brain fog that settles in, refusing to evaporate, doesn't help. I feel as if the completion to my ideas is forever out of my grasp.

But I still try, because I cannot escape the words, those little ninja acrobats that bounce around in my head, and I've come to think of myself as a Story Starter. Maybe I'm someone who writes a draftory (draft + story ='s brilliant, I'm a genius) and offers it up to the world, sparking a story idea in someone who isn't bound and gagged by their soggy brain. Someone who can actually put a story together. Do people pay for this sort of thing, draftories?

The creating part is so frustrating, especially for someone like me who is so UN-trained in  the art. The idea spills forward like a flood, I edit all the misspelled words, glaring grammar errors (while ignoring those that I deem cute) and then hit 'publish'. That's it. What results is whatever people perceive it to be.

However, it's really just a draft. It needs fermentation, to bubble and toil and be made just right. I have little patience (or skill) for that. And, is the danger zone. I've hastily written down great story ideas and then let them sit to contemplate. I edit - and wait. I edit some more, because I've done some thinking - ALWAYS a bad idea - and then edited some more. Now, my story resembles nothing of its former self - it has now become Frankenprose, a monster story that I don't like anymore.

It could be I've been impatient, yet again. Maybe I'm not giving my edits enough time, I'm not fermenting the changes long enough to evolve from a tart, juicy thought to a smooth finish. Perhaps.

I feel as if I'm bound within a glass box, where I see the end - but can only dream of it. My stories deserve a writer who can pump oxygen into them. Not all of my ideas are good, but some of them are. Alas, we may never know.

I'll leave you with the latest idea that's been plaguing my brain. It is still a draft, a story in its infancy. We'll see if it grows up some day.


Every day after school this is where Gracie stops, the 6th stair. One foot tentatively touching the 7th, one foot up, one foot down - straddled between what is and what may be.

Every day she hesitates, steadying her breath, going over the plan: who to call first? Her best friend or 911? To call a friend means a comforting hand when the paramedics arrive. The one friend who knows everything, who knows how hard it is for mom to make it through some days. The one friend who was there for Gracie through each attempt. The one friend who knew Gracie's pain from Mom begging her not to tell anyone about what she tried to do, explaining them away as accidents, the mishaps of a klutz. Mom could be so persuasive, pleading like a heartbroken child. She was, really, so very heartbroken. Something was so wrongly shattered in Mom that no amount of love or good grades Gracie showered upon her would bring light to her eyes - only shadows lurked there.

One more step and a turn of the knob. One more step to know if fates will be changed forever and whether two people will finally be set free. A turn of the knob and quiet shout, "Hi mom. I'm home. Was today a good day?"


  1. Anonymous9:48 AM

    A) "Draftory" is awesomeness. What? Totally a word.

    B) I think it's a brilliant plan.

    C) Shine on, you crazy diamond. Keep putting those figments/fragments/fractals on paper.

    D) Love.

    As always, A. for anonymous and for Aliesha

    1. "Shine on, you crazy diamond", oh...I just love that! Love, back at ya!

  2. Anonymous10:39 AM

    I really love this

  3. Brava!!

    In this era of attention spans measured in nano seconds, I think this is perfect. You captured a moment with all it's drama, uncertainty and angst beautifully. You told a story in that moment. It needs no more. You captured the readers imagination and now that moment haunts the reader.

    Love it! More story moments please ...

    1. Thank you for breaking it down into something manageable! I wonder if people who write stories ever look at the finished product and actually think of it as finished? Perhaps minds like that are always revising?

  4. I love this little glimpse. So rich, already!

    1. Thank you! I'm not sure it will ever grow up. I haven't been able to sit down with it again and shape it into anything more. I don't think I'm capable of a longer story. :-(

  5. This is great - and I love it! More, please!

    Also, I know what you mean about never being able to end a story...I have the same problem. Which is why I only ever tell stories about things that actually happened - because I know how they end!

    1. Thank you! Telling real stories is always the best, but those others? Oy...they just needle and needle my brain until I release them...or forget. :-)