Last night, I started to think of a story for an upcoming anthology I want to submit to. It wasn’t a new idea, but it snuck into my head with a first paragraph, a hard-edged character, and emotions–emotions tight-dammed behind walls of concrete, emotions desolate and sweeping like winds on the tundra, emotions as despairing as the sun winking out.
This was a story that said, LOOK AT ME!
So, I did and thought, Hmm, this might work for my intended market. I lay in bed, turning it over and dropped off to sleep, I presume, still thinking about it.
When I woke up this morning, it was gone.
I couldn’t remember the opening words that had grabbed me. I couldn’t remember the story. I couldn’t even remember if I had had a story, or if it was something that I had just dreamed up. All I had was this small hole, this nagging sense of loss.
I gave the story up for lost, or at least, misplaced. I probably wouldn’t get it back in time for that market, and so I went back to my original idea and did some mind-mapping for it while I was out in the yard with the kids.
Then I sat back at one point, shut my notebook, and stared at our beautiful immense willow. This is the tree that dominates our plot, that provides privacy without blocking out the sun, that I both love and fear (especially on windy days). It’s a tree I’ve known for five years, and yet today I looked at it as if seeing it for the very first time.
I looked at its deeply ridged trunk, at its thin whippy branches like long fingers, at the leaves dripping off the ends of their tips, trailing, veil-like, lace-like, hair-like.
Like a woman’s hair.
And I had it.
My lost story. And the picture it was based on.
One tree, one metaphor, linked to another tree in another picture, brought my story back to me.
It was like being given a gift.
So here I am, with a lesson: If neat story thoughts come to you right before bedtime, take a moment to jot them down. They might not stick around for the morning.
Any serendipity in your life recently?