I am an observer, a wanderer, wonderer, and dreamer. I have been called a sponge, and while a comparison to something yellow and squishy is not something I relish, I think it is quite accurate. I absorb the nuances of everything around me – because you never know where the next story idea is going to come from.
Like an overful sponge, eventually this information tends to leak out – all muddled together and not very concise. Words, sentences, paragraphs, ideas, snippets of conversation, impressions, questions – sometimes these bond to form ideas, characters, plots, stories. Sometimes not.
Sometimes the stuff dripping out of my spongelike brain onto the page refuses to become a coherent story, despite my efforts to push, shove, or cajole it in something worth sharing. Then it gets relegated to the overflowing folders on my hard drive. One day it may make sense, it might find a place in another story, or I will find the missing spark that will ignite it into something wonderful.
When the characters won’t stop talking to me, or the plot just falls into place, or the story has a proper beginning, middle and end – then it’s golden. Then it is time to roll up my sleeves and get down to the fun part of writing – the actual writing. The wrangling of sentences into shape, obsessing over the correct word, sifting through grammar rules to polish the prose until it shines, and then sending the story out to see if it will find a home.
But sometimes the characters refuse to see things my way, the plot is so complex it makes my brain hurt, or the middle is so muddled that it bogs me down. Sometimes, even when I am determined to wrangle it into shape, I can’t figure out want is missing or how to make it right and my head hurts from banging it into the keyboard. It’s then that I realize I’ve squeezed the sponge dry and its time to go and do something else.
During these times it helps to have a camera on hand, because the story still wants to be told and will find a way to push through to the surface.