1.28.2008

reading makes practice makes future imperfect

I had an idea for a story the other day.

That last sentence should not shock, being that this is a blog on writing fiction. Yet, it does. It shocks.

I have been so filled right up to the brim of the brain with everythingelse but writing. All that lifestuff: workkidsmarriagehousebills(You know: You have your own version of it) that my brain hasn't even caught its breath to turn to writing. To think about character. To imagine scenes.

This thinking of writing is a habit, and one we can lose, running the marathon we sometimes run to meet our obligations.

That's not okay with me. I don't want to be out of the habit. The habit of thinking of stories, thinking about stories, is what leads to writing stories. And that, despite all appearances, is what I'm ought to be doing.

What lead to this tiny door of fiction opening in the jam-packed trainstation of my thoughts? This tiny red door, only four feet high, with a solid red handle, warm to the touch?

Well, the answer is reading. I had been wrinkling the pages of The Best American Mystery Stories in the bathtub, as is my wont, after a long day of everythingelse. A storm raged outside the window (really, it did). The water in the bath was near-painfully hot, like I like it. I looked out from my steamy repose, into the living room, and through the windows there out at the storm, and I imagined a plot. Or the start of a plot. A pl. Not quite the ot.

The door had opened! Incredible. Quicklike I stuck my foot in before it slammed shut again. I made my brain take that breath, and I worked on the plot till the water turned cool.


The truth is, there are very few things that give us real personal pleasure and accomplishment. If we find them, we're lucky. Writing is the one for me. So I'll keep my foot in that door despite all the everythingelse life piles on. It's worth it.

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