Stories come like clouds, usually when I least expect them and usually when I’m attending to other things, like brushing burrs out of my cat’s fur. Some of these clouds are dark and filled with the promise of a storm; others are those lovely white ones that come in spring and mist the air before scudding out of sight. Some look like mythological creatures or rabbits or faces that shift expressions while I watch. Once a cloud has settled in my brain it pretty much stays there until I do something about it.
The problem is it stays day and night, mostly night, so when I’m trying to sleep it’s shifting around in my brain, storming or misting or behaving like a unicorn or a satyr. Then my bed starts to fill with characters. They talk to me and to each other. Locations like cities or forests or horse ranches pop up like movie sets and suddenly those characters are in a place, their place, the one they expect me to create on a page, so they’ll be able to have somewhere to live.
Then the question of “What’s this story about?” starts nagging at me. Who are these people yammering at me, and what do they want or need? I usually wrestle that down in a one or two sentence premise. Once I have that I can start entering the words into a file. I do almost all of my writing on my computer, but during the early “wrestling” stages I’ll make notes on just about anything, including the back of my hand--really.
The rest of the process is daily grind or euphoria, depending on how the writing goes. I look forward to plowing through to the end, so I can start the real delving and expanding. Rewriting is my all time favorite job, and I’m not being sarcastic. I have the main threads woven from beginning to end; next it’s all about embroidery and texture. It’s at this stage I really feel free from the mechanics of who, where, when, how, and why. I don’t know if that makes sense, but this is the closest I can come to explaining how I feel.
While this topic of “where do you get your stories” keeps coming up, I don’t think readers or writers tire of hearing about the creative “process.” Each writer is unique and that’s what makes books the treasures they are. We can enter those writers’ worlds, look at life from a different perspective, and learn or enjoy so much every time we turn a page.
I love to hear how other writers “find” their stories and what their process is, so if you’re one of those writer types, please share.
Thanks for this opportunity to appear on your blog. It’s been great to be here.