WHEN THE PEOPLE STOP TALKING
By Jill S. Behe
Today is Friday the 13th, and also a full moon. Tomorrow (as I’m writing this) is Flag Day. Last Friday was D-Day. In a couple more, it’ll be Father’s Day.
Where am I going with this?
Give me a minute.
Obviously someone felt these days were significant enough to want them celebrated. But each is just a day on the calendar. One where we get to fly the flag and be thankful for the sacrifices made, or an opportunity to stare off into the night sky to marvel at nature, or to honor our fathers (or not, depending).
Um, at this point I don’t really have one.
But … for those of us who write—because to NOT write is not an option—the four days mentioned above provides us with a multitude of story ideas. Some more prolific than others.
Writers are/can be a strange breed. We have characters (we call them people) living in our heads, usually all talking at once. ALL wanting their story told, RIGHT NOW! Our job, as the real human element (though that may be questionable) in this mishmash, is to isolate that one single solitary voice whose story is the most intriguing, and forcibly shutting the others up in the closet … until next time. Unfortunately, the confinement does tend to break open and allow a character, or more, to escape.
Then the fun begins.
There’ve been articles, stories and, I think, even a movie, about that dreaded disease writers get every once in a while called: WRITER’S BLOCK. Makes me shudder to think of it. And, don’t get me wrong, it’s a legitimate malady—depending on who you talk to. But writers ALWAYS have something to write about. We may not always be so inclined as to take advantage of all that potential. (That’s a whole different mindset). But there is as much of an unlimited source of material available to the artist with a pen, as there is to an artist with a brush.
Take the examples above:
D-Day is just such a tear-jerkingly horrifically awesome Holy Crap memorial day (for me), it’s hard to know what to say about this one. Watching all the documentaries that are available I can’t, as a U.S. citizen, be thankful enough for the selfless sacrifice those men and women made. A friend recently mentioned how it reminded him of the Bible verse (St. John 15:13KJV): Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Except that, these people laid down their lives for their entire country, and though (I’m sure) some grumbled about it, they did it without a second thought.
Okay, back on track.
Do you know why we have a special day, just for the flag? Why we even have a flag? How did it come to be? How did they come up with the design? All manner of questions come to mind, jerking on the ‘idea chain’ in our minds. Could aliens have had a hand in that?
Did you know that on June 14, 1777 the flag was adopted, by resolution, by the Second Continental Congress? Did you also know that June 14, 1775 is the U.S. Army’s birthday? (Just thought I’d throw that in there).
How about Friday the 13th? What hasn’t been written about this day? But what if it all hasn’t been written? (Obviously not). There’s all kinds of weird and wonderful beings associated with the 13th of anything.
Talk about endless possibilities.
A full moon? Yeah—wow—see above.
And Father’s Day? Another subject with an infinite number of options.
I know it sounds like a history lesson, but it isn’t, not really. It’s all about finding an idea, having a notion, getting a niggle about something, and writing it down, then expanding and expounding.
Next time that ‘person’ stops talking in your head, or starts to whisper too low to hear clearly—and the story just sits and spins its proverbial wheels—stick it in a drawer, or save it to a file, and then go write something else for that day, hour, minute, until the creative juices start flowing again, in the right direction. Taking a walk not only does wonders for the stress levels, but can enlighten, and sometimes even jiggle loose that one fragment of a line that opens up the whole rest of the story.
I understand the qualms.
It may not always work (sometimes nothing seems to), but it can’t hurt to give it a try, right? And, obviously, there are more potential idea makers out there than just those four days I mentioned. Fiction, or not.
Hmm, I guess I do have a point, after all.
Don’t let the trepidation of the blank page—or of having that loud aggravating disruptive person messing with your gray matter suddenly go silent—dissuade you from moving forward. Every word counts. Every thought put on paper counts. They may not be for the work at hand, but perhaps the next story, novel, article, etc., will benefit.
Take it, or leave it.
Don’t walk backwards—you never get anywhere that way. Persevere. March onward and upward, into the fray of the unknown piece of writing that only you can write. Take the … pen by the quill (nib?), and make something great happen.
Profitez de votre journée,