In me, a fire burns to create the story. When a concept for a story comes to me, it just comes. I might be standing in line at the grocery store or sautéing onions over the grill. It feels a little like a drive by shooter, but more like an exposed wire in the rain with electric sparks crackling in the wind.
After it passes I am never sure where the idea came from or why it came. Like the night, I was sautéing a pan full of onions when I met Jinx. She was sitting on the edge of the kitchen counter strumming her blood red colored lacquered nails on the tile counter, looking all that in her black leather pants and silk halter-top. I swear she said, Pour me glass of Johnny Walker, neat, in highball glass. I’m bored. Truly. But this is how it goes with my characters.
My stories vary in theme and voice. The length a story incubates inside of me is equally unpredictable. In some cases it is days in the making, whereas a good percentage of my stories will come alive on the page after I have meet the main character, as in Jinx’s case. Many a story unfold, word after word on the blank page as I am typing.
Between the Pages
An idea for a time traveling piece came to me one afternoon while I was sitting in Barnes and Noble. I was sipping a vente, no room for cream, coffee, taking a break from the story I was working on. The buxom redhead on my right stood, smiled at me as if to apologize for disturbing me, turned, and left. On her table, she left a stack of books she had been perusing. I continued staring at the stack of deserted books. Something about the pile had captured my imagination.
What if one of those books was magical, what if a voice in my head whispered…
Mom died today. It sucks. Nana says I have to write my sad thoughts in this book. It’s got like five hundred blank pages. How can one person have that many sad thoughts? I only have one. Mom is dead. It doesn’t get sadder than that.
I typed the above sentences in blank document and saved the file with the name Layla. I had no idea who she was only that she had possibility. A week later, I sat down to see where it might go if I let my mind wander. I followed the flame until it exhausted itself. This little story has a future, just wait and you’ll be able to read it.
A couple of years ago I was walking up Post Street here in San Francisco and happened upon the De Beers building. On the second floor, above the jeweler’s, was the Priscilla of Boston Wedding Salon. There were five individual life-sized display windows each showcasing a headless mannequin adored in an exquisite wedding dress, all unique, all Cinderella like.
The image burned itself on the back of my retinas. A few days later, I was sitting in a meeting with a group of developers who have questionable hygiene habits, talking about something oh so important. Instead of contributing to the discussion, I wrote:
BUZZ! The sound of Yahoo! Instant Messenger brings my focus back to my computer. My eyes confirm what my ears suspect. The message window is blinking red at the bottom left of my computer screen. I right click once, which brings up the IM window containing a message from Tobias Reed, my part-time lover.
I think I wrote Headless Ladies a half dozen times before it was baked and ready for prime time viewing. It will see the light of day next year in an anthology.
Buried Too Deep
I began my second novel after listening to Sweet Dreams, a Patsy Cline song.
Patsy Cline and I have been starting the morning together ever since I left Santa Fe. She’s old school, but even someone new to her music can’t help but swoon on hearing her emotionally expressive and bold contralto voice. Sweet Dreams shatters the silence in the kitchen where I am waiting for the coffee to finish brewing. She’s tied to my past, to New Mexico, to Harrison, and the daughter he never knew. All three hold me hostage.
I am grateful for the smoldering fires within me. I don’t know where they come from or why I am wired this way. I only know that it’s magic-like when a story takes hold of me.
We all have something we love more than anything else, besides lanky with come-hither eyes <insert your heart fluttering love>. I am mad about the stories in my head and the fire in my belly.