Been mulling over the idea of stories as living entities. In the sense that all creative impulses are about bringing something new into the world, kicking and screaming in some cases; in other cases fully grown and punching above their weight, clamouring for attention like all newborns.
The thought came to me after I sent off my long short story (or novelette in the modern parlance) ‘The Last Will & Testament of George Archibald Moffat’ to a major US publication. It was a teary farewell at the school gates; a last fond look before it was manhandled by the post office clerk. Off to seek his fortune in the land of plenty, and hopefully return some day soon as the prodigal son and keep his old dad in the way he would like to become accustomed.
So, if ‘Moffat‘ was the infant child heading out into the world for the first time, as fully-formed as he can be (no parent is perfect), then what does that make my other stories? In particular the cot full of first drafts I have, mewling and covered in snot, all screaming for attention – some more so than others. Only now am I starting to placate them, feeding them, helping them grow up big and strong. I have been editing ‘Castle Street‘ into some form of life – hopefully out of the cot and into the proper bed of a second draft.
But that urge for creation is so strong – the act of producing them painful, exhilarating and ultimately rewarding. So then we come to the unborn – those ideas, half-formed and chaotic, swirling into shapes and calling like sirens to entertain their desires. “Write me,” they say. “You know you want to. I’ll be your ultimate creation – look at my possibilities.” Currently I have four of those particular phantoms whispering into my consciousness to be dragged from their oblivion and turned into something shiny and new. And every day, nay, every hour they change places in their level of importance.
And calling to me, in a plaintive voice, choked with dust, is the novel. The oldest first draft of all of them – outgrown the cot, now languishing in the locked dungeon of my hard drive. “Why have you forsaken me?” it cries, and I cast a guilty look in its direction until its sad voice is drowned out by all of the others. I can only give so much of my attention…
So, instead I turn to my blog, also sadly neglected, whimpering in the corner – pleading with me to drag a metaphor to its limits and far beyond, and enjoy it.