Where do the particular stories that each of us write come from? What enables them to rise above the others to engulf us? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially after hearing Mitali Perkins and Sundee Frazier’s sessions last weekend’s at the SCBWI conference. Why are there certain stories and themes that pop out from everything else that we could possibly be writing?
I used to think that the one common element in my stories were that they started from some kind of kernel of truth. I’d latch onto it and go from there. For a long time, I thought this was all there was to it. But I’ve been rethinking that. Now I believe these nuggets of fact or truth or inspiration merely acted as the catalyst to jump start one idea and push it ahead of the pack. Those themes remain as the story develops but the rest of the narrative serves a greater purpose—one that I’m beginning to think is far more subconscious and satisfies a deeper need. I can’t always define in words what that need is or put my finger on the ultimate purpose it serves me as the writer, but I don’t think I’d be choosing these stories and themes otherwise.
Right now, I’ve got stories going that involve whales, runaway mothers, integration, a boy who doesn’t quite fit the cookie-cutter mold of what a boy is, a young photographer whose father has just announced he’s gay….
There are common elements interwoven in these stories, but perhaps only I can see them. When I really look I can start to see where they intermingle and mix and, ultimately, why I’ve chosen to write them. No, let me state that in stronger language….
….why these are the stories I was meant to write.
Does that make sense to anyone else out there? Why do you choose to write one story over another? Why invest months or years of your life telling that particular tale?
We like to say its for our readers—and in many way it is—but I’m guessing a lot of it is for ourselves.