What’s it with blizzards anyway? The wind whips the snow into whiteout sounding like sand against my windows and my imagination ramps up into overdrive. Not that I’m complaining. But with a blizzard? Why not with sunshine and clear skies?
So what does it mean to me, the writer, that we’re socked in by a blizzard today. SNOW DAY!!!! Time to play! The imagination loves to play, to create, to have fun. Early today, she had already come up with a tantalizing character for a children’s book, the title, and the very first scene, along with a timeline for writing it next year.
A little later, I decided to work on fiction today, specifically a short story that needs a rewrite. It had a problem that I couldn’t figure out. But today was the perfect day to drag it out and ask myself what the problem was and how to fix it. The answer came fast, whizzing through my brain’s circuits from the imagination to the intellect. It’s so simple, I’m astonished I didn’t think of it sooner. I spent the rest of the morning working out the details and began the rewrite. Most of the original story will remain, too.
This blizzard has triggered also a lot of memories of past snow days, both in childhood and as an adult. Precious gifts – memories – when they come as specific gems, fully formed in the mind, and they’re things not remembered in a long time. Memories feed the imagination with emotion and visual images, sounds and smells. Memory fuels the writing process, mostly subconsciously but sometimes consciously. Seeing the snow this morning triggered the snow day memories which took me straight to a childhood place and enabled my imagination to play with thoughts of being a kid, of kids I know, of stories I’ve written for kids in the past, and that led to one specific kid who invites me to his birthday party every year — my Scientist friend’s oldest son. Another element popped in: I reread Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel A Wrinkle in Time a couple weeks ago, which had also triggered a lot of childhood memories.
So it all came together because of the blizzard and having a snow day: the snow, children’s science fiction, and the protagonist of the story. I added a character that popped into my mind as I was thinking about the “tesseract” concept from L’Engle’s book. Now I have two characters, a situation and a scene, but not a story. Why? No conflict yet.
The next step was to write down everything I’d thought of, which triggered more ideas that I wrote down also. This could be the beginning of a fun children’s science fiction/fantasy story, or it could end up being a dead-end. My imagination will let me know eventually.
In the meantime, I have that short story rewrite to finish….