Yesterday, I had a visit from the Story Stork. While driving home from work, a song came on the radio that prompted that blessed question writers live for: “what if?”. From there, the story hit me in a wash of visual; scenes, conflicts, characters and maybe even the ending (but who knows what road that the muse will send me down).
This isn’t the first time a story has HIT me (all caps because I do feel bombarded by it). In addition to finishing out the Phoenix trilogy, I have another adult novel (maybe more on the psychological thriller side) and a YA percolating. But, this is the first time since the story of Phoenix that I’ve been hit – no, blindsided – with a story so strong that begs me to write it. Right. Now.
These flashes of creativity fuel a writer to spend hours away from her family, letting dogs go unwalked, dishes go undone and running shoes to go unrun. But these flashes are gifts from our Muse, something that begs to be written, something that only we can write.
Stories are like children. Sometimes you try really hard to get pregnant and it’s when you stop trying that it happens. I think the Universe gives authors stories when we’re ready, and like children, it’s a precious gift that us writers have to cultivate and nurture. There are some bad parents and there are some bad writers. Some writers try their best to keep a story in line, but try as they might, the story is just a bad seed – hanging out by the dumpster, smoking cigarettes and cutting school.
A few weeks ago, I finished my re-read of Pardon Falls. I felt disheartened when I read it. Knowing that I can do better, frustrated with myself that I had to force the story, that it didn’t reveal itself to me like Phoenix did. I started to question my talent. Was Phoenix it? Was that my one chance to write a novel? Was I hitting my sophomore slump before I even finished my freshman phase?
Then I realized, not every story comes riding in with white horses and angles trumpeting. Some need to be teased out of their hiding places, coaxed into coming into the light. These stories are the shy siblings of the more outgoing tales begging to be noticed. And, like a family, they have their place in the world – reminding the author that some stories are worth the work, that nothing worth having is every easily achieved, and stretching the author outside of her comfort zone.
So tell me, do you get a visit from the Story Stork when a new idea comes to your mind, or do you lure it out with milk and a soft voice?