I believe all of us have stories we’ll never write. That’s because the stories are too painful for us. They conjure up memories and feelings that distress us, make us unbearably sad.
Oh, they’d be good stories. We know that. And maybe one of these days I’ll have the inner strength and resolve to write some of them.
But for now, those stories will have to go unwritten. They are tucked away in my memory, and I think about them from time to time–usually very early in the morning before dawn. Sometimes late at night. Then I try to put them away, thinking that, yes, maybe one of these days.
I sometimes wonder what I would do without those little sticky notes. Oh, I’d do like I used to and use the 3X5 cards. Like everyone else, I use the sticky notes as a to-do-list, or to jot down a phone number. That sort of thing.
But what prompted me to write about those little notes today is what I’ve used them to remind me of–and that’s story ideas. I’ve got a box of the older 3X5 cards in the closet; I’ve got sticky notes on the bulletin board, in a folder, stuck on the rim of a no-longer-used monitor.
I was looking at some of the sticky notes the other day. Sometimes there’s a bit of dialogue I want to remember, or an overhead pattern of speech.
Among the short story ideas I’ve jotted down most recently–and frequently it’s really a title–is one called “The Tall Elegant Frenchman.” I know I will write that one soon. And an episode I witnessed in a nearby small mall’s parking lot is tentatively titled “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” with a bow to Willie Nelson.
The notes keep piling up. I’ll never be able to get to all of them, and some will be discarded because they no longer interest me. But some will be written.
I really love writing short stories, my first love.
Hemingway listed as good places to write: Paris, Key West, Cuba, Idaho. It’s interesting to me that as a young man just getting started, Hemingway went to Paris and wrote about Michigan, where he grew up. Then in Key West he wrote about his experiences in Italy during World War I. In Cuba he worked on A Moveable Feast, a memoir about his early years in Paris. While in Sun Valley, Idaho, he finished his work on For Whom the Bell Tolls about the Spanish civil war. The point is, it seems he was always away from the actual location he was writing about. It was if he had to get away to do his writing about a place. And I’ve found out that I struggle with the same demon, or whatever it is. When I lived and worked in the Washington, DC, area, I stole away from there to come to the Outer Banks to write. Alas, alack, but now that I live here (10 years this summer), I find I must get away from the Outer Banks to write my mystery series set here at the Outer Banks. I’ve been going to Paris, and I plan another trip his fall. I started by fifth novel of the Outer Banks series this spring while in Paris for seven weeks. Why this is true–the getting away to write–I don’t really know. But it does seem to work. I’ve even toyed with the idea of going into a different room in my home (upstairs over the garage in the “Crazy Aunt’s Room”) to see if that would work. And maybe I can find a less expensive venue than Paris in which to write. But for now, that’s the place that invokes the muse.
Ah, Paris is mid-March through April. It has been chilly much of the time here but is beginning to warm up now in mid-April. Of course the weather has helped in getting 1,000 words a day on my new mystery…yep, set on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Another Harrison Weaver mystery.
This morning while I was sitting across the street having coffee at an outdoor cafe, I got to thinking about all of the many visual stimuli that occur daily here…and everywhere else, but I’m here now.
Here are some examples:
A group of elementary grade school children on a field trip to Paris, walking along two-by-two and holding hands, with a teacher or guardian front and rear.
An elderly man with a full, flowing white beard and bushy long white hair speeding down the sidewalk on an old-fashion scooter, the kind you propel with one foot against the pavement.
A man in a business suit on one of the many for-rent Paris bicycles pedaling along in the light rain, holding a flowered-pattern umbrella over his head.
The skill the Parisians use to go in reverse up a one-way street; I guess if you go in reverse it doesn’t count that you’re going the wrong way.
The determined, no-nonesense click-clacking of young women in boots with hard heels on their way to work or some place apparently very important.
And of course, there is the occasional sound of police cars and their “ooo-eee, ooo-eee” sirens, just like in the movies.