How good is it when you can really get into a story?
I love that moment when you leap into the ocean of your imagination and start swimming around in the moments of your story. These times are magical, and good.
Sometimes they are fleeting, these moments, or the story stubbornly resists re-entry. Sometimes it’s a matter of patience, other times it’s just because the story has died.
I’ve recently returned to a story that I started over two years ago, when I was living in Germany. The story had beckoned me a few times over the passing time, back in my own land, but then stubbornly resisted re-entry when I got there.
The drill with my writers’ group is that we come with a project and for three allotments of 25 minutes each, we shut the fuck up and write. The day before I first attended, I randomly opened my story files, and this story (working title, Yabbie and the Big Spear) beckoned to me again.
It was of course, a problem of transposing a third person point of view into a first person pov, and finding the way within the character’s voice into the story that I’d already written.
Lo and behold, when I opened up that document the next day and the timer started ticking, a wide blue vista opened up, and with my fish tail firmly in place, I leapt on in.
Now what has really surprised me (and this probably indicates more about my lack of discipline than anything else) is that for four weeks running now, that wide blue vista has been shimmering, and I, in full fish tail glory, have been swimming, deep in the clear blue waters of a story that is working.
I don’t think I can adequately explain how exciting this is. (I’ll refrain from using exclamation marks.) Sometimes I have even worked on the story outside of my writing group time (see what I mean about self discipline?), and it has worked again. There is some kind of magic going on here.
I’ve gone beyond the initial burst that was inspired, albeit in the wrong point of view. Now, when I open up that story, the story is revealing itself, in its right voice, in its right point of view. The story has started carving into the vague, formless mass that held its possibilities, and is making a shape for itself in there.
It is also turning into a longer work, and looking to be my longest work so far. I think it’s falling in the three to five thousand range. Maybe longer. (My stories have traditionally hit the 1500 word mark, or less. Perhaps it’s the legacy of writing predominantly poetry in my long dormancy.)
What’s really nice too, is that every time I open it and read over it, tweaking a word or sentence here or there, I enjoy reading it. I’m not looking at it and thinking ‘this is shit’. I’m not wondering where the hell it’s going next. I’m reading it and realising that it’s a good story, and something that I would like to read myself. I have faith in this story. I believe in it.
The language, the character, the people in his world, it’s all fitting together in a way I can’t explain but is right for his story. I know where it’s going; the end was already written a little while ago, one time when it opened up briefly and then snapped closed again. And the simplicity of the story – I am in love with what has been found within its tight little walls.
And I’ll shut up now because I’m waxing not very lyrically about something which I am not going to demonstrate with an example, and that is very boring. (I intend to publish this baby, and get paid for it. Sorry.)
But isn’t it great when you can sink into a story? What a beautiful world it is down here, way down in the imaginal deeps.