Tell Your Story

I am the Character in my own Book

Two times in my writing life, I have come up with a little story starter.  It usually had to do with traveling somewhere and comparing that place to life or something in life. The first time was five years ago, I was standing in line at the bank after returning from a trip to the ocean, “Writing might seem vast as an ocean-the expanse unbearable. Dip your toe, then submerge yourself.”I agonized and worked so hard on this one sentence and then I was stuck.  This happened the other day too.  We have had the most mild winter in five winters of living in Iowa.  It was 70 degrees for a week in February! Normally, we’re 20 degrees on a good day in February.  Then, a snow storm was forecast for a  few days later.  I was thinking about how you can’t trust Spring in Iowa.  How fickle Spring is. One day, it’s park playing, flower blooming, tree climbing and the next it’s snow flurries.  Hence, the Midwest tornado issue.

While I was thinking about all this, I wrote this little line in my head.

“Their love was as fickle as a Spring in the Midwest, one day it was blazing sun, colors and carefree, the next blowing snow, brittle and cold.”

So, I came up with this line and I was like, “That would make a perfect beginning to a story.”  So, why can’t I come up with a story? How come I can’t invent characters or at least a few characters who could star in a book?  Or come up with some plot? I think I have an imagination. At least I used to have an imagination!  Maybe I’m not a fiction writer. I did begin a story from a story starter about a Spanish family.  Then I started writing about their past and their future and the story just wasn’t having a beginning, middle and end. I don’t feel like I really knew the characters. So, how do you come to get to know characters and make them live and make them feel like they are real?  As a little girl said in church last night, “My friends are real people and not so real people.” I loved that!  Who doesn’t have fiction friends?  I know I do. I know I wish I knew the people in Gone with the Wind, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Number the Stars and The Help.”  They felt real!  What a gift to bring these people to life.

I know we all write from experience and my experience is mostly desert living, college, wife, mother, Midwest living, baking, cooking, writing, running, laughing.  How could I create a character from what I know? I have listened to some podcasts about this and really wanted to create fiction.  But I have come to understand that maybe I don’t create a character, maybe I just let the character be born, naturally.  Maybe one day, I notice there is a person who needs their story told and I tell it.  For now, I will be the character. My family will be the characters and I will tell our story.  Because I know our story and I love sharing it and I want to hold onto this story forever!!  I don’t want it to be forgotten or disappear because I was in search of a fiction story. Real life is so much better, unless I am reading a World War II book. I get sucked in every time.

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My people about a year ago.  I have an updated picture I’ll have to find.  Also, I should probably print them out too.

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