little gray birds

I made another trip down to the cabin last weekend, leaving town Friday afternoon then returning only after the thunderstorms began Saturday afternoon. (Sunday was given over to yard work.) It was good for the creative ferment in the old brain because on Sunday morning I sat down and wrote the first draft of a complete short story. I’m calling it “Little Gray Birds,” which feature in the story, but like so many other details in my pieces, they do at least double work. Someday, if I ever finish it and see it published, maybe you’ll take the chance to see what I mean by that.

In any case, the story thus far stands at 1400+ words, which is small by my norm (“Superman” is 4,800 words), but I expect it to grow as I revisit it in the days and weeks to come. It’s the second work in my Fathers and Sons cycle, and that fictional universe is beginning to flesh out more for me. In fact, by writing this story, even as unfinished as it is, I’ve seen the possibility of another story for one of the characters. It popped into my head — literally when I was in the shower — and it developed itself quickly, with implications reaching back and forth across the decades my stories will involve.

I don’t outline my novels, and with my short stories I sometimes don’t even “know” where the story is headed when I start out (which I don’t think is literally true or at least consciously true), but there seems to be a coherent universe in which my Fathers and Sons stories take place, and the obvious development of a plot or the certain reaction of a character is already “determined” by this universe. I’ve said several times here that I don’t want to know too much about my creative process, and I don’t, but I can’t avoid these kinds of little revelations about it that come to me sometimes. Am I making any sense?

“Little gray birds” is a term used by non-birder types (which would be me) for naming the birds in the trees that you can’t properly identify. You know at least those three qualities about the flitting feathers, but they’re not all that helpful when you dip into the field guide. I play around with that thematically, but I’m probably already saying too much.

I’ve also reached the point where I suppose I need to come up with names for my characters. They’re taking up enough space in my old brain that we should probably get better acquainted. N’est-ce pas?

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