making things up

A few months ago, a story idea landed just about fully formed in my brain, like Athena leaping out of Zeus’ consciousness into mythical reality. And she gave off a rebel yell while she did it, too. Much like my nascent idea.

This story is one of those that came out of nowhere in that it’s not necessarily something I would “choose” to write about. What do I love, find fascinating? Horses, desert, slickrock, wild canyon country, and so on. (If you’ve followed this blog even remotely you probably have a vague inkling of what incites my passions.) Well, I’m here to tell you that this story is not about characters I might have chosen to write about, when framed by my usual references. Of course not. Why? Because the characters choose us. The story chooses us. We are merely vessels through which said stories pass.

What amazes me most about this whole thing is that the entire storyline unfolded as if by magic, title and all. Yes even a title (which are usually the bane of my existence.) “Lambing Season” is the name, and of course it’s all kinds of pertinent to the story. Do I know a single damn thing about lambing except that it happens around the world wherever lambs might be born? And that it happens in Wayne County? Nope, not a hell of a lot other than that. This lack of knowledge doesn’t phase me, though. Why?

Two words: 1) Research. 2) Fiction.

I’m all about details, writing as close to truth as possible while letting the imagination soar, hunkering down for the research and gnawing at the very bones of the tale. But then again, it’s called fiction. Fiction means made up, a story, not real. I can make it up as I go along. And so I will. (Although, of course, I will be looking up all sorts of details about lambs and lambing along the way.)

Research and making things up: it’s astounding how they go hand in hand.

At any rate, I was rather excited by this already. Then this morning as I lay in bed, refusing to move despite the insistence of my alarm that I do so, the story sauntered through my brain and offered up those small details that flesh out a tale, make it relatable and gorgeous and full and intense. I know about the characters. I know what makes them tick. (Although I’m sure I’ll still discover more amazing things about them as we progress further together.) I know their hair color, eye color, mannerisms. I know what happened when the heroine was nine. I know the make, model, and color of the car she drives as a young woman. Let me tell you, it was a pretty cool morning as I lay in the half-light, caught somewhere between dream, sub-conscious, and alert wakefulness urging me to write it all down before it fled back to wherever dream stories arise.

In short, I know my story, and it’s got me excited to write it. This hasn’t happened to me with a “literary” (someday I’m going to blog about labels and how I often despise the pesky little things) story for years. But it’s making me itch to take out my old, unfinished stories, dust them off, and breathe life into them once again.

After I finish this one. Which will undoubtedly rattle about my brain even more, brandishing a sword like Athena, and demand entrance into the wider world until I grant it.

Am I Zeus, the creator? In a sense, yes. But I am also my own muse, the muse of the story, and it came to me for all the convoluted and unknowable reasons such creative things do. Plenty of very intelligent, thoughtful people have tried to explain the writing process, the creative process. I’m not about to tackle that. Not now, at least.

For now, I have a story to write.


photo: derekGavey/Flickr

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