Finding a story

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The world is decked in white and green.  Spring is tipping into summer and the earth suddenly seems more vibrant.  Lush greens laden with the clotted cream of hawthorn.  Cow parsley frothing in the hedgerows.  Horse chestnut flowers, service tree and rowan blooms, dandelion clocks.  Even the butterflies are all white today.  Cherry blossom, nearing its end, is snowing in the breeze, lazy petals floating to the ground.  Tiny seeds, encased in fluff dance in the air.   It’s a quiet, lazy day.  The ducks are sleeping or preening, the birds are singing but invisible.  If they’re working at spring, they’re doing it out of sight.

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Spring has been like treacle.  May has been an endless month.  I’ve been be-set by disquiet, unable to settle to anything.  My work in progress is finished.  I have revised it twice and there is nothing more to be done until it’s had its first reading and I have some feedback to work with.

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I’ve been in mourning for the story that has ended.  We spend months, sometimes years, with a story.  We live with the characters.  They are family, friends, sometimes closer than that.  As much as they can be difficult at times, I find it a comfort to return to their world.  So there is a celebration at the end of a story, but after the celebration is the mourning.  I’ll tinker with it, I’ll revise it, but I’ll never write that story again.

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At the end of my story there’s a gap where the writing of it was.  I slipped into a habit of writing every day and without that there’s something missing.  I feel the need to begin again, but I’m struggling to find a story.  I start, with an idea that was always going to be my third novel.  I write a prologue with gusto and stop.  I attempt a first chapter but it stalls.  The characters are poised to embark on a story if only I can tell it.  But this is where doubt seeps in.  Am I stuck because I’m following the wrong idea, or because I don’t yet know what the story will be?  Or perhaps – and this is the real fear –  I don’t have another story in me.

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Winter is my time for dreams.  Perhaps this brazen spring light is too harsh for dreams to flow.  But the solstice will soon be upon me, the time for empowerment and renewal.  And today the vibrant earth and the freshness of those whites and greens stirs something.  I watch a mother and daughter playing beneath a cherry tree in the park.  They shake the branches to make a snow storm of the blossom.  I watch them laugh, lost in their own game.  There’s a story there.  There are stories everywhere.  Back at home, I find the thread of the story I’m seeking and follow it.

106 thoughts on “Finding a story

  1. Andrea: Yesterday, I nearly wrote to you. I hadn’t seen a post from you in a while, and missed your beautiful storytelling. Then I realized that you’re probably working on your book, and decided not to bother you. How lovely to get this post today and to hear your thoughts about having finished the draft! Thank you. You write so well, and I’m looking forward to your novel.
    My best wishes,
    Cynthia.

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  2. Oh Andrea, there are endless stories within you.
    But I do know (all too well) what you mean. Words await. I know the story, yet I just can’t write. An artist friend you may have seen at my blog (Janet) once said that people become “fractured.” I realized that was precisely what my noveling difficulty is.
    Huge congratulations on finishing your latest work. That’s wonderful! Mega hugs.

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    • Thanks Teagan, sometimes there are too many stories and it’s difficult to know which one to follow. I suppose getting to know stories and characters is just like getting to know someone new – it takes time before you ‘click’.

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  3. Wonderful white May! Here of course, the time is spent poking the winter fire trying to make it give up its warmth. When I finish writing something I’ve lived with for quite some time, and “can’t get rid of it” from my head, I simply start “writing for the rubbish bin”. And then suddenly something different happens – like the whiteness of May! Glad to hear that Songster Andrea is back on the flowering cherry branch!

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  4. Andrea, I think I have an idea how you feel. I sent my memoir manuscript to someone for a read and until it comes back, it is kind of haunting, the feeling I have. Then I finished the poetry chapbook and am dealing with sending it out. I might want to go back to my play, but am not quite ready. I am between projects, really. Your photos and descriptions of the beauties are stunning.

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  5. What a beautifully written post, Andrea. There are stories inside you just waiting to get out! Sometimes I get that block after finishing a story, but you need time to let things settle and for new visions to emerge. I love your photos 😀

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  6. Beautiful writing and photos. What an interesting transition with all the feelings. I grasp this on an instinctive level and from experience as well. Both an interior and external search and an evaluation of one’s own awareness and consciousness during a particular season of life. All best for the next journey!

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  7. “At the end of my story there’s a gap where the writing of it was. I slipped into a habit of writing every day and without that there’s something missing,” — All your writing is beautiful, but this is a particularly lovely thought. I, too, miss my characters, or the space of time I’m writing about, when ‘the end’ is reached.

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  8. My time coming, too… This post made me so happy, and sort of wistful because there’ll come a day soon when I’ll feel that same empty space where my characters once played. But I also found myself thinking — seeing all the white blossoms — of the bride’s white, the veil and the gown falling to the floor, giving way to future joys.

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  9. Your situation made me think of the expression ‘lost the plot’ and made me wonder how it came into being. I didn’t find a satisfactory answer but you may agree with this article which mentions the importance of stories in our lives. http://www.johnsadowsky.com/on-stories-meaning-and-%E2%80%9Closing-the-plot%E2%80%9D/ The interpretation of Peter Pan is new to me but I like it. I am glad you haven’t lost the plot but have found the thread. 🙂

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  10. I was thinking about you at the weekend, Andrea, and now there’s a post 🙂
    Like you, I’m drifting while waiting on beta reader feedback. Re ideas — I’ve not had any worth developing for ages but then one day last week I said to my family that it was about time I wrote something that fitted a genre instead of my usual niche stuff. That night, I had a long and detailed dream about two new literary characters. I now have a few pages of scribbles in my notepad that might possibly trigger my first crime novel. What I’m saying is that we have our fallow times, to let the literary soil rest and recover its strength — a time as valuable as the planting and growing time, even though it can bring on fits of restlessness if you let it.
    I love your white flower pictures, although cow parsley makes my eyes itch and my nose twitch, but no full-blown hay fever to show for it, thank goodness.

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  11. Have you read Liz Gilbert’s book on creativity? I’ve not yet but I read an interview where she talks about the creative void at the end of a project. You’re sure you will having nothing left. And you mourn. She thinks it’s part of the process. So, I guess you’re where you should be!:)

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  12. I always feel completely nuts when I finish a book. There’s a technically useful term for you! I thrash about a bit, walk, often go to art galleries do things that are not wordy and keep my finger’s crossed. There’s a sort of decompression required before anything else can come in. At this moment I always regret not being someone who has lots of projects on the go at the same time. I’m pretty linear – start, keep going, finish, start something else. I always used to fear that there would be nothing there … no ideas for anything new but there always has been so far. I’ve come to realize that I have a very strong need to be absorbed in a story and so something tends to come in alarmingly quickly to fill the void!

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  13. Indeed, there are stories everywhere – if we open ourselves up to seeing them, that is! I like this phrase in particular that you wrote, “Spring has been like treacle.” I don’t mean that I like that it was slow for you but more that the comparison is such a creative one that displays what you mean. I send you a big hug for the new month

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  14. oh Andrea! Even in my short stories I hate say good bye too! I can’t imagine what it is to live for so long inside a story as you have. But, I know your heart muse will keep putting up new shoots to be nurtured and watered. Even though seeds sprout up voluntarily, It’s hard work to keep a garden!! lol. Lovely images and post Andrea!

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  15. Congratulations on finishing your story, the loss of something done daily is always a challenge but with the way you write it was only going to be a matter of time until something came your way and I am glad it did. Perhaps sometimes the whole idea that stories are everywhere makes it difficult to find the ones right for us.

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  16. Andrea, this post is stunningly beautiful! In addition, I think you’ve been reading my mind. Just this morning, I was moved to tears, melancholy over my two book series coming to an end. You describe my emotions exactly. 🙂

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  17. What a lovely post, Andrea.
    I particularly love your use of colour …
    Yes, creativity is fraught with pitfalls – beginnings, endings, the letting so that your creation can fulfil its destiny away from you.
    And yet we cannot not create.
    It is the freedom that creativity brings – that timeless other world that we can inhabit and which envelopes us and allows our spirits to soar.

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  18. So lovely to read your beautiful words and feast on your gorgeous photos again Andrea. I am still working on the rewrites of my memoir (why is it taking me so long…) and have yet to send out my manuscript for that first, all-important read, so I have not experienced the feeling you share here, but I can imagine it as even the thought of after over 30 years letting my memoir out into the world, even with that first read, terrifies me to be honest because I wonder if I will ever be able to write something else again. Yet…I am inspired greatly to read on and discover that you found your next thread for your story after your visit to the park. You are right, there are stories everywhere we go. It’s making sure to get them down as we find then that is the key. I am like you, my creativity flows in the cold, winter months. As it warms up into spring and summer I find it hard to settle. There is a haunting, melancholic quality to your writing that resonates deeply with me and always has. There is no doubt in my mind that soon, re-energised, you will be filling that gap with a fresh burst of captivating stories…I know it!

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    • Thanks Sherri – I can imagine especially with a memoir, when you’ve ‘told’ your life, you must wonder what the next story will be – but you’ve shown you have so much writing in you to come – fiction, non fiction, poetry! I don’t know that this season will ever be as productive as the dark half of the year for me, but my creative brain has started working again, I was composing in my head today as I was walking 🙂

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  19. Oh, you’ll find another story; I have NO doubt about that. You just need to let go of the one you just sent out for a bit. I have two other novels (not even a third written) waiting in my file drawer for me to resume once I finish writing my third book (a sequel), half-way done. Our life as writers is a constant as Queen Ann’s Lace, which thankfully always crops up once summer begins.

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  20. Pingback: Blogger Bouquet #37 – Jennifer's Journal

  21. You always write so eloquently about nature and the creative mind, Andrea. I’m happy to read that you are finished with the writing of your novel, even though you’ll have to ‘tinker’ with it until it gets as close to to perfection as it can be. I understand what you mean about mourning these days of writing when the only thing that matters is putting the story down. Finding a new story takes time, even if in the end I think the ideas are already there but need time to unfold after completing a manuscript. It’s like falling in love again after the end of a long relationship.
    I fear that moment for me, too, since I’m also very close to reach the moment you describe so well in this post.
    Best to you, Andrea, and thank you for the gorgeous photos.

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  22. I find it a comfort to return to their world. So there is a celebration at the end of a story, but after the celebration is the mourning. I’ll tinker with it, I’ll revise it, but I’ll never write that story again. What a powerful thought and a great metaphor for life I think!

    I come here via Jennifer today and am so glad I did. ❤
    Diana xo

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  23. Your writing always makes me so thoughtful. Today, I think about the creative process, inspiration, routines. These ideas will stay with me all day.

    Enjoy the end of Spring, Andrea!

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  24. I found myself saying “yes” so many times reading this, Andrea. In fact, one (of several) of my big fears about blogging was a kind of headspace-sharing issue. I worried that I’d ‘use up’ my creativity on the blog, leaving me with nothing (or nothing ‘good’) for storytelling proper. I’m glad to say that that hasn’t been the case, and one feeds the other. On another note, I’m happy to hear your WIP is finished and awaiting beta-reading and/or edits. Seems to me like missing the characters in your novel is a fantastic sign you’ve achieved something special. Unfortunately, I don’t often feel deep orundying bonds with my characters, and perhaps this is my writing downfall. Maybe, perhaps, to psychoanalyze myself, it’s because many of the characters contain a shred or element of ‘me’ to them (even the ‘villains’), so that they’re not surprising to me, although intrinsically relateable. I don’t know. But anyway, wishing you continued creativity as you find stories everywhere and everywhen!

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  25. Interesting, I too have been exploring and writing about how the brighter months leave your thoughts nowhere to hide (or to quietly cook…), it can feel quite exposing and, of course, the shadows are much stronger, contrasts more overt. Lovely photography!

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  26. Gorgeous, as always! Your nature descriptions always make my heart go pitter-patter, hon.

    I totally understand the mourning process. I’m making a lot of progress with my third draft right now—the layoff has gifted me with time and energy. But, I know I am approaching that moment you mention, where I will feel lost after I say goodbye to my characters. Then it’s on to the next world. 🙂

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  27. There seems to be nothing better than “the vibrant earth and the freshness of those whites and greens…” to stir up creativity and the spirit…even if it is a bit bright and warm. For me, being able to step out, take a deep breath and then to begin another story…there is nothing better. Wish you well Andrea in finding the winter feeling in the summer months for your next story 🙂

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  28. Andrea it will come to you because you have the gift of writing. Anyone can have the gift of ideas but its the person who can take it and make it come alive through words. I can tell your not done your words are often like paintings, you don’t even need the images although these are beautiful. It will arrive at the most unexpected place, this new story.
    Happy writing.

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  29. Andrea, what a beautiful writing voice you have. I share the same mixed emotions when I finish a project; it’s hard to start and finish again. But NaNoWriMo has helped me with that.
    Blessings as you continue to write ~ Wendy

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  30. I tend to feel a disquiet when I finish a draft. Because for 3 months that was my entire world and now it isn’t. But one thing I’ve learned is that the story is never done until it’s published. With editorial feedback, I’ve made major changes to plot points and scenes and character arcs so that I do get to re-envision the story.

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