After chewing a small slab of espresso-studded dark chocolate before driving back from Spencer’s last night, I was smacked face-first with a story idea.
It’s been so long since I wrote fiction that I almost overlooked the whole thing. Like any good aspiring novelist, I once kept a notepad in my purse for turns of phrase and plot points and character names I loved. Anything and everything could become the basis for a new poem, a short story . . . or, when I was daring, a new book. I’ve started countless novels but only finished two since college, both during National Novel Writing Month. I’m proud to have finished them — even typing THE END — but reading through them now makes me cringe. They’re great drawer novels.
Since starting working at the newspapers I’ve called home the last six years, I’ve written primarily for print — and all decidedly non-fiction. I scribbled made-up stuff for four years in school before a personal column opened up so many chances for me to grow. But while I honed my real-life storytelling, my desire — and inspiration — to create fictional characters withered. I became focused on paying work (and rightfully so?), but I’ve always felt something was missing. From my writing life.
I talk about my “writing life” and my “reading life” and how important both are to me: Megan, a literary-minded and bookish gal with frizzy hair and an overactive imagination. I started writing stories as soon as I mastered the concept of a pencil, and I was telling stories even before that. I’m not saying they were any good, you know, but I was playing make-believe with characters of my own creation before I knew that could be . . . well, an acceptable thing.
Driving home tonight, Hanson blaring through my car’s worn-out speakers, I suddenly thought of an old plot I’d turned around in my head for years without ever putting finger to keyboard: a girl who wakes up in a hospital room with every man she’s ever loved crowded around her bed. Is she awake? Dreaming? In limbo? How did she get there, and what does this mean?
I looked up at the fat supermoon, hanging bright and low in the sky, and something finally clicked. I started to flesh it out. Even without my trusty notepad handy, I began to create links and back stories and wild characters before I finally reached my driveway. I’d planned to read more of Chocolates For Breakfast and crash before starting another work week, but the words and thoughts and people came so furiously that I had to sit at my laptop before they disappeared.
I wrote 4,500 words without stopping. Now it’s 12:30 in the morning. The espresso-laced chocolate seems to have worn off, but now I’m running on pure adrenaline.
This . . . I’d forgotten how good this feels.
I feel like me.