Last week I started doing something I’ve never done before. I started writing fiction.
I realize this does not sound shocking since I’m writing every week. My husband, Peter, says I write fiction all the time—every time I write about him. But the truth is, I have not written a word of fiction since I was in the second grade and wrote, “The 500-Pound Mouse.”
I can’t take credit for either the title or the protagonist, as they were assigned by my teacher, but I have to take full responsibility for the deeply disappointing conclusion of the story when our hero, the now very large mouse, threw up nearly 500 pounds of mouse vomit on the front lawn and was instantly restored to his original size.
You can now probably appreciate why I have avoided fiction since.
What happened last week was that I woke with a particularly vivid dream. I dream a lot and my dreams are usually weird, so this was nothing new. This time, it was a complete outline to a novel. This was also not a first. I have terrific stories plotted in my dreams and the moment I am fully awake they fall apart like cobwebs.
“Wait… was I on the couch or in a car? Was I rescuing my sister or a dog?” Poof! The idea is gone.
But this time, the idea stuck.
“Nonsense!” I assured myself. I decided to prove to myself what a really dumb idea it was by writing it all down. To my consternation, the idea looked better on paper than it had in my head. I promised myself I would let that idea slowly evaporate over the next 48 hours. I was certain there would be nothing left of it by then.
Two days later, I had characters jumping out of the woodwork and yammering at me night and day.
“Okay, fine!” I grumbled. I sat down and wrote 700 words.
“What the heck is that?!” I said to myself when I read it over. I generally think of myself as a fairly sunny person. This writing was dark, and ominous, and a little scary, and (at least to me) really funny.
So now it appears I’m writing a novel—with no training whatsoever, mind you, and no idea where I’m going. The story is spooling out faster than I can type it down and it doesn’t appear that I am inventing any of it. It feels as if this story has tracked me down, gotten my phone number, taken my pet bunny hostage, and demanded I write it… or else! (I made up the part about the bunny.) So, I’m writing.
The more I write, the more I have become aware of how much time I spend trying to talk myself into doing the things I think I’m supposed to be doing instead of doing something that doesn’t feel like work at all, but feels more like a guilty pleasure, more like eating chocolate than anything productive.
Still, there are now 10,000 words staring me in the face and I know that I will finish this thing—whatever it is. I now wonder how many other ideas I may have discarded because I thought they were silly or I was unqualified or I just didn’t have the time. I imagine there have been a lot.
But I’m not going to dwell on that now. Now I’ve got a book to finish and, while I don’t know how it ends, I’m fairly confident it will not involve a single ounce of mouse vomit.
Until next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.