Stories are Everywhere

Returning from the depths of the college world, I bring you a sparkly new blog post.

The "instructional" book I am reading for Intro to Creative Writing said that writer's block does not exist because stories are everywhere.

While I disagree with that statement, it also makes me think.

Stories are everywhere.

Take the short story I had to write for my creative writing class. We were told it had to be between 7-20 pages long and there were two rules. Rule number one it had to be real events happening to real people (basically no genre fiction) and rule number two, nobody could die in the story.

Taking those rules I started thinking about what was going on in my own life. I thought about the possibility of a move to the opposite end (north-south) of the country. I thought about my Nana with Alzheimer's and her struggle as well as my Granddad's struggle in helping her. I thought of my Dad's feelings about leaving a community that has become our home even though we've wandered far and wide.

I thought about family and what it means to love someone. In thinking about that I thought about a father's decision in who he loves more: his daughter or his dying, soon to be incoherent mother.

And that's when it hit me. I had a story to write.

My life became that of Zoey's. Zoey became an estranged college student who only talked to her mother. My father became Steve, the man who wanted to give everything to his daughter and failed in the one way she needed him to excel. My Nana became Ruth Hutchings, the woman who needed her son but barely recognized him.

The problem then became, not writing it, but deciding how the story should go since it is so symbolic. Should Steve not move to Alabama to be closer to his mother? Should he keep trying to reconcile with his daughter? Should he do somewhere halfway? (In case you were wondering, it's an eleven hour drive from Huntsville, Alabama to my university.)

Where should the ending be? Should there be a common theme throughout the story?

Finally, I finished. It took me three days. 1 day for the first draft, a day of rest and then 1 day for the second, longer draft. My tying together thread was Zoey and Steve sitting together at the local football games, stuffing themselves with peanuts and explaining over and over and over the rules of football.

See, maybe Mooring was wrong in that there is no such thing as writer's block. But they were definitely right when they said Stories are EVERYWHERE!

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Brittany said...

Ooh, is that the story that you posted on SI? I promise I'll read it and critique it soon. :)

In every Language Arts/Writing class, every year, when we get to the short story unit, the teachers say you have to write "realistic fiction". So if for some crazy reason in the future, if I become a writing teacher at a middle school or high school, I'll let the kids write genre fiction. :P

Brittany said...

Hi Ann!

I've awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award. Here's the link to it on my blog:

K.D. said...

I completely agree that stories are everywhere. I blogged about it today actually. I mostly get my ideas from dreams, but I also feel that if you stare at something long enough and say "what if" and "then what" enough, you'll get a story.

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