Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chasing Stories

My fingers itch.

My last manuscript lies completed, except for some minor editing I still wish to do, and the last month has been filled with non-fiction work. My fingers ache to hold a pen again, to scratch out the fanciful imaginings of a new story.

But what should that new story be? So many ideas fill a notebook. So many characters walk the corridors of my mind, each with a story to tell. So many images and fragmented scenes flash through my mind’s eye. Which story is the next one I am to pursue?

A one-liner in the notebook captures my attention. The protagonist presents herself, but she remains half-hidden in the shadows, as if afraid to fully show herself, as if the villain of her story still lurks nearby. I try to coax her out, but only minor fragments that seem to have little correlation come together.

Another character hovering nearby calls out to me. She is a friend with whom I’ve already spent some time, learning her quirks and testing out different parts of her story. Perhaps it is time at last. I start jotting notes. She is abruptly pulled away. The flow dies. There are things that must simmer a while longer.

With a sigh, I continue on my way. I pause here or there to chat with a character or chase a particularly intriguing idea. But nothing lasts very long, and I soon flit onward, confused, restless. Where is the story God wants me to do next?

The first character, the one with the single line in the notebook, calls to me again. She steps out of the shadows a little more, though most of her still remains concealed, and with words more urgent yet cryptic, begs me to attempt her story.

I hesitate. Blind stories with so many unknown factors are not my specialty. I want to glimpse the end, the place where I head, at least. But she insists such details are not hers to give. Not yet. There are other lives involved here beside her own.

What should I do? I am tired of starting stories that I cannot finish.

A scene plays out in my mind—a bedroom at night, danger lurking in the shadows. Lightning flashes. A woman, an intruder behind her, a child huddled under the bed…

But what does this have to do with the character standing before me? Yet I sense a connection, one that goes beyond the surface.

I agree to start the story. Where it will lead, I do not know. But there is a sense of rightness when I place the pen to the page.

Only time will tell if this is the story I am to complete.

1 comment:

Alexander Field said...

Chawna, I know that feeling. The fingers itching to write, I totally relate. Best of luck with that! Connected through the CSSF Blog Tour... : )