I mentioned that I was having trouble writing this short story, that I felt like I kept writing and writing and it wasn’t going anywhere. This was stuck in the back of my head even as I wasn’t writing, a fuzzy ball of lint sort of thought that kept clinging to the back of my mind as I drove and did chores and showered, that kept muttering, “What’s wrong with it? Why can’t I get it moving?”
And then it hit me, suddenly and unexpectedly, when I was in that hazy shadow space right before falling asleep two nights ago. The character was supposed to be a girl.
The thought passed in and out of my head quickly, but still it felt certain, right. I thought it over for a brief second and then promptly fell asleep.
The next day when I sat down to write, I stared at the story in front of me. And then I began to type, jumping right back into the middle of things, changing the name of the character and the ‘him’ to ‘her’ without going back and revising, just doing it. And suddenly, everything started flowing.
It was such a strange experience. The other characters in the story suddenly seemed more comfortable. Everyone could talk with more ease. They were learning from each other where before they were simply going through the motions. I wondered briefly if this is what authors meant when they say that their characters sometimes take on a life of their own. I wasn’t forcing them to do things anymore; they were speaking for themselves, they were helping things move towards an end goal.
And then I hit the end. Boom, finished. Two weeks of trying to write a simple short story and all it took was changing the ‘he’ to a ‘she’ to give it motion.
I feel crazypants now that I’m writing the experience down, but that’s how it felt. And I think what I can learn from this is to sometimes let my gut and the sleepy, quiet part of my mind do the thinking. I was trying to jam all the pieces together and make them fit, but I think sometimes you can’t hulk-smash fiction. Yeah, I have to be strict and diligent with myself if I want to get anything done, but it’s okay to let in a little bit of the koala-brain. You know, since koalas are sleepy little things, chomping slowly on eucalyptus leaves with half-closed eyes. Koala-brain was all like, ‘yo, baby. s’okay. You know how you’re falling asleep right now? How you all sleepy and fuzzy right now? Here, I’m gonna sneak this idea in while you are in this state. Nom nom. Eucalyptus.”
And on that note, I leave. Because I’ve hung my crazypants up on the line to dry and the whooooole world can see it now.