Story-telling is a gift that some people have, and most people don’t.
I like to brag to the stock girl at Target, the UPS dude, and my dog about my first published work. I’m quick to tell them of the formal book signing, my hand cramping from endless covers autographed, my prestigious spot in the literary world of bookshelves. Scout, Fred, and even the red-shirted *Linzey* (who surely took a few creative liberties in decorating her name badge) see through this desperate act. Truth be told, I understand just how pathetic reliving my glory day sounds man, woman, and dog.
I wrote a measly essay at the age of 9. It was printed in Proud To Be From Middle Tennessee, a collection of short paragraphs from local school children. I wasn’t a finalist, just stuck on page 35 after The Kid Who Went To The Zoo. Quite frankly I can’t get through the second sentence of the page before I involuntarily begin to gag. But it had a glossy cover and solid, black words pressed onto paper, and that was the closest I came to professionally telling stories.
What the thirty-minute brush with fame did give me was an unabashed confidence in my writing abilities from age 10 to 13. These years were notebooks filled with magenta and neon ink. I just knew I had the wordy capabilities to hit it big in the book world. There were my early chapters on princesses, dragons, and ice cream truck drivers (thrown into the mix to make the characters more relatable to pre-boobed readers. My dark phase prompted me to write a disturbing tale of teen pregnancy involving cheerleaders and (miraculously) more dragons. I’d not so much as held a boy’s hand. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue how one went from knocked down to knocked up. So my rambling tale (thirty-one pages from start to end…including cartoon doodles) eventually sounded like The Virgin Basket Toss Chick touched by Immaculate Conception. I think she rode the dragon to an inn where she clapped or did jumping jacks or whatever swollen Betties did to have a baby back in 1999.
With the new millennium approaching, I vowed to retire my fiction talents and focus on daunting Junior High papers and the occasional whiny post in my diary. This straight A, stick-to-reality thing suited me well through high school and college and motherhood and blogdom. I write about fewer dragons and (God Bless Birth Control) fewer babies day in and day out and I feel the communal sigh of relief from the universe.
Recently, a dangerous trend emerged that threatens to ruin the nonfiction foundation I’ve built. People are celebrating the make-believe, the fictional, and the beautiful art of a story’s woven word. To you talented authors I say DON”T WAKE THE DRAGON, FOOLS! With each passing day, another brilliant story told, I am one step closer to caving in and whipping out that scary, scary weapon known as Imagination.
It all started with Tricia of The Domestic Fringe. During a daily
stalking perusing of her blog, I discovered she was kicking off a creative concept to encourage herself and others to kick their story-telling bums into high gear. Fiction Friday was born, and every single Friday since her arrival I’ve been biting my lip and twitching a pinkie. Each week I read of new plot twists, of original characters and vibrant scenes. I opt to admire these authors’ work from afar, writing blurbs about bowel movements and neti pots on my site. I want to write about The Virgin Basket Toss Chick. I don’t. I hate everything.
I stumble across a fascinating collection of writers and artists on Story Bleed. This catalogue features stunning essays, poetry and art. I make a mental note to submit something to the site. Maybe I could explore the exact moment The Virgin Basket Toss Chick discovered the bun in her uterus oven? Was she mid-air? Was she just wrapping up a stellar tumbling pass? Did she grab her belly and yell “Ow! Sweet Baby Jesus!” only to slowly look down to her gut and mumble “Seriously. Sweet. Baby. Jesus.”? I felt inspired to tell a story for a moment. That moment lasted 2.3 seconds. I moseyed back to my blog and typed out a thrilling post about my uncanny fear of being abducted during a morning jog. I want to write fiction. I don’t. I hate everything.
Then Lisa from Woman Wielding Words went and sealed the deal. She rattled my cave, poked my
scaly stretch-marked mama pooch, and had me writing fire in no time. If this sounds confrontational, fret not. I aim to allude to a dragon, not to punch Lisa in the nose. She simply wrote and wrote quite well. Her newest endeavor is to self-publish a fictional work, and she posts wonderful tidbits to let readers follow along. Or was she posting just to wake the dragon? And why did that stupid dragon fail to roast The Virgin Basket Toss Chick on the arduous journey to the inn? Would you play piggy back with a pregnant girl? Ah! It was too much. I decided once and for all to let my Fiction Flag fly.
Prompted by writers who knew not what horrid hobby they were prompting, I started jotting down the bones of a fictional work. It goes as follows:
Tory Nielsen finds herself living in sin: a baby, a boyfriend, and an affection for short shorts all piled in a house surrounded by cow fields and Baptist churches.
I realized my original plot needed a little oomph, something to excite readers and keep them flipping the page:
Tory Nielsen finds herself living in sin: a baby, a boyfriend, and an affection for short shorts all piled in a house surrounded by cow fields and Baptist churches. She sports her Baby Mama tee, laces up her shoes, and heads out for a jog. Tory encounters wild dogs, a suspicious Nissan Maxima with poor taste in music and bass levels, and a neighbor churning butter (or is it Meth?!?) on his front stoop. “These are troublesome lands,” she remarks before a hitching a ride home on the back of a docile dragon.
I shook my head in approval, wondering if the neighbors would see my patting myself on the back as a sign of narcissism. Just moments later I realized that I am both an idiot and writing about myself. The thrill was gone for then but not forgotten.
In the end, this gnarly beast has a hunger for fictional conflict and catharsis. If story-telling is a gift that some people have and most people don’t, then I will be most people, penning horrible stories but penning them nonetheless.
*Join Fiction Friday at The Domestic Fringe to submit your fictional work-in-progress. I know I will. Consider yourself warned.