If it returns, keep it

A friend of mine once told me that the way to tell if you have a good idea is if it keeps coming back even after you’ve dismissed it. If that’s true, then I have a good idea.

I had made some notes (back in the days when I kept a hand-written journal more frequently) about a series of interconnected short stories built around a certain fact of life that weighs on the protagonist. I’ve found that there is an active sub-genre for this type of fiction, and I think I understand the protagonist sufficiently to write his story truthfully. I just never had a story to tell.

Relentlessly, though, the stories have kept presenting themselves to me. This one could be developed this way. That one could focus on such and such detail. I could introduce an important character in this manner. The protagonist’s fantasy life may be just about the best way to illustrate the troubles of his actual life. Certain metaphorical language I find myself using would fit perfectly in these stories. And so on.

Something deep in that creative part of me seems to be telling me that I have good material in these story ideas. What I lacked, though, was a plot to string them all together. What I actually lacked, in truth, was the brains to see the perfect plot that really does make a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Now that it’s dawned on me, all sorts of ideas flood in. (Mixed metaphor?)

And so it all now coalesces in my mind. I’ve gotten more diligent about centralizing my note taking, and some day soon I’m going to need to delve into my paper journals to find all of the notes I’d made for these stories. (This untabulated nature of a paper journal is probably it’s biggest drawback. I have more than twenty-five of them now, spanning nearly thirty years, so you can imagine how reluctant I am to dive in.)

I will never lack for material. I could write all day long, every day for the rest of my three score and ten years (actually I expect to enjoy five score years) and not run out of material that I’ve already conceived. That’s both comforting and intimidating.

Explore posts in the same categories: Humble efforts, Larger than Life

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