storytelling

the call.

I’m sleepy. I need sleep. But I’m too excited to sleep. My mind is racing, and in a good way. I have a story, Internet. I have a story. And I must respectfully thank my wolves for it.

I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic right now. Liz says creating is lots of work, but inspiration is magic. Ideas are all around us, waiting and searching for the right human partner to collaborate with. They’re patient. And they’ll quietly stay with you, sometimes for years, waiting for you to hear them, to acknowledge them. After awhile, they do move on. But if you can get past your every day struggles, your anger at whoever’s pissed you off that day, etc etc and you’re willing to listen, you’ll meet an Idea. And if you’re willing to do the work, you say yes. You enter into a contract with inspiration and you have to try to see it all the way through to its impossible-to-predict ending. The idea has organized coincidences and experiences for you to stumble on along the way, things that are impossible to ignore, until one day it will simply grab you by the face, or the shoulder, or the ass and demand, “PLEASE CREATE WITH ME,” and then if you accept the call, you have to try to fulfill the contract.

And that happened for me. Like, today, you guys.

Well, not TECHNICALLY today. Technically, I’ve been wanting to tell a story about a stalker for a long time. The idea has been a really wispy, vague thing I’ve had no idea what to do with…there was a stalker who committed suicide and the single mother he stalked having to confront and fight his ghost with the help of a witch. That was sorta kinda the idea that’s been trying to collude with me for awhile. I think.

But then a different story started to form because other events, other coincidences tripped me up. And my friend told me about sheep, wolves, and shepherds. And, for a long while now, I’ve been mesmerized and in love with Joseph Campbell’s monomyth of The Hero’s Journey. I’ve loved its arc, and I love to find whispers of it through any story I read or any movie I see. When I saw Moana, it was there. When I finished Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement, I recognized its influence. This is the basic story humans tell each other, and have told one another, since practically the dawn of civilization. That we are here to be called on journeys of all different kinds; that we are here to do battle with demons and dragons real and pretend. That we are here to make changes, and we are here to fix ourselves and become heroes and heroines of our own lives.

And so now I have a story. I wrote the bare bones of it this afternoon and this evening. Dear Miss M, she watched 4 hours of TV and I ended up taking her out to split some ice cream for dinner. I couldn’t stop–I had to get it all out. It’s not the format of the story I want to tell. Right now, it’s in pathetically horrific Dear Diary drivel form. It’s just notes of the skeleton of the story I want to tell. It’s a memoir of sorts, but I’m going to add some magic.

The story I want to tell is in a Google document right now, one big ole ridiculous mess. It’s self-indulgent and whiny. It’s pathetic. The verb tenses are off. Details don’t match up…I call someone one term in this section but a different term in another. It is long-winded and ramble-y. But it is the base of the story I want to tell.

Part of it was scary to write in places…I’m going to share some secrets about myself with readers, secrets I told one of my wolves. Secrets I shared with the wrong person. And so I’ve been thinking: other people deal with this. These two secrets in particular have haunted me for a long while. I’m going to incorporate them into my fiction. (This is why writing fiction is so hard…you have to tell a story and reveal pieces of yourself to readers but a storytelling, entertaining format. But I’m a blogger, a TMI blogger, and clearly I simply don’t have that big an issue with doing it. In fact, the scariest and hardest part of fiction writing for me will actually be the completely made-up parts, I think.)

When I was kicked out of a man’s life so nonchalantly, a man who promised never to kick me out of his life but did so calculatingly and angrily when I realized what game he’d been playing with me and he saw I wasn’t going to come back this time…an idea rushed towards me, I think. I didn’t acknowledge it fully until I started reading Liz’s thoughts on magic and ideas and creation and human collusion with enchantment and wizardry. Today, I sat down to tell a story. A private, cathartic blog entry-like story. And as I typed, I realized: this is my story. MY story. If these men wanted me to write nice about them, they should have behaved better. And now I shall tell my story.

I need to tell a story about a girl who’s called to go on a journey. Along the way she meets angels and demons, dragons and faeries, friends who are enemies and enemies who are friends…and two desperate wolves she must battle to save herself and her daughter. She has to transform to become who and what she was always meant to be, to fight the wolves and save herself and little girl. She has to be beaten and hurt and betrayed, but in the end there will be a magical transformation…I already feel the Idea colluding with me, forming its shape. It’s pulling me and I can’t stop thinking about it…you know that feeling you get, that goose bump I’m-onto-something-I-can’t-ignore-this feeling you sometimes get? Kind of like when a puzzle you’ve been hurting  your brain with for weeks and weeks suddenly starts to come together and you can see the picture forming and the pieces are snapping into place, even though you’re still having to search and search for them? Yeah, that. And the story in my head that’s starting is a story I think a lot of women will identify with, and possibly some kind-hearted and unselfish men as well. It’s a hero’s journey story, where the girls save themselves. Neil Gaiman likes those stories the best, and I think there just aren’t quite enough of them.

neil gaiman quote

But the thing I am most tearing up about right now, as I think about it, is that I’m being pulled, literally pulled, to tell the story. The story picked me, though it’s not the story I wanted when I walked out of my house and my marriage 2 years ago. The story picked me, and I’m just now acknowledging it. I’m not writing it to make money off my pain or grow a business. I’m not writing it to get rich or famous (lands, y’all, my writing skillz are sucking lately. I’m going to need a GOOD editor). I’m not writing it for anybody else except me…and maybe my little girl. And yours, if you have one. And maybe for every woman and little girl in the world who’s ever been damaged by a man, but not damaged enough to become a wolf. It’s a story for the broken-hearted who have somehow managed to remain in the light, who insist on love winning, who stay courageous and work on their strength, even when they want to give in and give up. It’s for mermaids who aren’t afraid of sharks, for faeries who fight dragons ten times their size, and ancient shepherdesses who bravely kill wolves in the middle of the night.

I haven’t edited this; tomorrow I’m going to re-read it and the typos will drive me nuts but I don’t care. I want to write again, I have a story, a big huge important healing story to tell, but most of all: I WANT TO WRITE AGAIN. And I’m going to work on my story, bit by bit, until it’s told. Every day. Because I can’t not. (Which means it may be awhile before you hear from me here again.)

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