… Or how stories sometimes appear out of the fog.
Sitting in the hot tub, steam rising around me, I looked up and noticed a great rent in the plaster above my head. Consciously, I made a mental note to jot one more item down on our extensive home improvement To Do List
Subconsciously, however, something completely different happened. Weebit, the tiny leprechaun that sits inside my skull and insists on trying to turn everything into prose, sat up and suggested:
“There’s a great rent in the plaster…”
Nice rhythm, I told Weebit, but not much of a story seed yet; fitting my thought to a pleasing meter does not a story make, and I’m no poet, as you well know. What’s next?
”… where her portrait hung.”
Not bad, I decided. “There’s a great rent in the plaster where her portrait hung.” Nice rhythm, a suggestion of drama; perhaps a good start to a story. Got anything else, Weebs?
Throwing me for a loop, Weebit added:
“You hurl denials at the ceiling while I laugh at your defiance.”
What? Weebit, what do you think you’re doing? First and second person POV, and in one sentence to boot? You’ve got to be kidding me.
Weebit fell into a huffy silence. But his bits of prose kept echoing in my mind:
“There’s a great rent in the plaster where her portrait hung. You hurl denials at the ceiling while I laugh at your defiance.”
I had to give it to Weebit: he’d given me two intriguing, rhythmically pleasing sentences. I felt my writing muscles twitch. I’d have to take him to task for his point-of-view no-hitter later, but for now, there seemed to be no other choice but to drain the tub and rush to my keyboard.
As I waited for the draining water to slowly give me back my weight, I mused upon the kind of story that might follow. Due to some heat-induced mental confusion, I combined the fact that there were two characters in these sentences with the fact that I was clearly alone in the bathroom, and concluded that one of the characters had to be a ghost.
A day later, I had written an 800-word ghost story, in first and second person.
So if you ever feel like asking me where my stories come from, be forewarned: the answer might involve leprechauns and badly maintained bathroom ceilings…