I was stumped. I knew the story I wanted to tell. The problem was how to tell it.
For days, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to tell this character’s story. I carry the character around with me everywhere I go. I can clearly see the character’s face. But I need to know more. As I’m walking around getting to know my character, I know that in telling his story, I’m going to have to have to try something different. I don’t want my main character, a transgender teenager, to be seen as some kind of badge of honor for me. You know, like hey, I’m super sympathetic, I wrote about one of them. No. She’s a person like you and me and that’s what I want to portray. I’ve got to get past the garbage and get to the heart of my character. I want to tell her story, honestly yet with compassion.
Then, one morning, I was on my way to work and I stopped and picked up a small bundle of papers that I’d recently found with some stuff I had stored in my closet. I started reading it, a page at a time, at the red lights as I drove to work. It was an idea for a story from about ten years ago. Bam! I had it. Suddenly, I knew how to fix my story. It’s been right there, sitting on my dresser for weeks. Because I knew it wasn’t trash and just dropped it there till I could get around to reading it. To another person, it might’ve looked like trash. I’m sure many people look at my papers and think, “Trash.” But they’d be wrong. It’s not trash at all.
I’m sure a filing system would be just as effective, where I’d take all those scraps of paper, all those loose sheets of paper, backs of cereal boxes (for real) and other scraps of paper that happen to be conveniently close when I need to jot down an idea for a story or a line that I want to add to a story.
But I like my random scraps of paper. They’re little nuggets, reminders that I’m a writer. That no matter what ever else I happen to be doing, I’ll always be a writer. As I writer, I’m always writing. Even when it doesn’t appear that I’m writing. Even when I’m no where near a desk or any type of stable surface, I write. And those little scraps of paper are more valuable than gold to me. They’re my words. I may not be able to use them at the time, but somewhere down the line they may be exactly what I need. My writing life is funny like that.
To file or not to file? I guess like all decisions creative artists (namely writers) regarding work spaces and processes, you do what works for you. Further proof that there are no set rules to guide any person’s writing career. See, there are no rules that will make you a great writer, a great musician, or a great artist. You simply let your passion guide you. That’s all. Isn’t that simple? And don’t worry about having a work space that looks unorganized. If it works for you, then that’s all that matters.
Now that I know how I want to frame my story, I’m off to go write it.
Follow your dreams they know the way. The only fuel you need is your passion. Vroom vroom! Meet you at the finish line! I’ll be the one surrounded by all the scraps of paper – my dreams floating in the wind. 🙂
Peace & Love,