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Fault Lines

A character has crawled out of my mind's crevices and into my awareness. She's dark...very dark. She is demanding me to assess thoughts and directions. For a story is emerging....

I stopped editing yesterday and found I had three fourths of my coffee left and ten minutes until I needed to head home for my next meeting. So I used the time to shop for somewhere to send "Many and Varied Potato Recipes". I turned to Duotrope.com to begin, my favorite start to finding outlets. It was unusual this time, shopping for a 'general' fiction story instead of the science fiction and fantasy fiction I usually write. That exposed me to whole new venues.

Just like that, my mind's fault lines opened. This is what sort of stories we're looking for, the magazines said, and my mind began writing them. It's like a sickness with me, an imagination that immediately starts spinning stories. They're like children running through my head shouting, "You'll never catch me." (And wouldn't that be an interesting story idea, about a person who can never stop telling stories...?)

But some stories are quickly caught. Ever see a desert after a rainstorm? Flowers bloom where nothing was, sprouting from buried and hidden seeds. So it seems with me. For a story took hold as I walked home, a dark, dark, dark tale, prompting me to ask myself, how dark will I be willing to take myself?

(There's another story, about what sprouts after the rain...I see something of a horror story but I can also see something more whimsical. It can even be a children's story. Anything can sprout after the rain.)

I have written dark scenes. I know they're in me. Once in a while, when younger, I released my dark side, turning angry and violent and letting it out. I liked it at first. Others feared me and my willingness to endure and inflict violence. But I felt that intoxication, felt the ugly person I became then, realized how much uglier I could be, and backed away. The violent urge has sometimes been coaxed out of hiding by events. A friend was once raped, by her husband, who used foreign objects. She was across the country and called my wife to share her tale. My wife was sworn to secrecy but she shared it with me, and yes, the animal within cried for retaliation. If I'd lived closer, I may have done something. Even now, thinking about it twenty years later, I grow rigid with fury. What that man did was wrong in some many ways and that, as far as I can tell, he 'got away with it', galls me. It's one of those times when you ask and wonder, is there really karma? Because if there is....

The Writer knows that violent person is inside me. There are closed doors in my mind, but some characters have opened them. Scenes have spilled out that leave me shaking and taut with what I've seen and written. I accept those scenes.

This is different. This is a look at violence and the psychology of violence from beginning to end. What presses people to leap as I did, but to let themselves keep going, embracing their violent side? There are so many reasons, and there is motivation, there is history, tension, character, and story. 

But here is the thing I'll mention to other writers, at this point, at least. That character that crawled out and into my story is my sister. Other things glommed onto her as she took her place in the story, turned and looked over the plot. She calculated. Other events others did, crazy, surreal stuff, joined her personal history, turning her into someone who isn't quite her, but she's still the crazy middle under all the other coats. I suspect she has that dark violent side that I've closed in myself. I suspect we both have it because I've seen it in my mother.

Sadly, happily, I'll write this story. It's been waiting to come out. The opening lines spilled out last night. I don't know the ending, yet, nor even all of the story, plot and pieces. I just know that she's causing mayhem and others fear her. What will she do? What she'll do is as relevant as what she's done, and we don't know...we don't know what she has done.  We all suspect something happened. "Sister, Sister" has taken center stage as the working title. Something else can well emerge later, when the story is more fully known. 

So I will write it, and if my family ever read it, they'll know the person at the center.

She's unmistakeable. 

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Enjoyed reading your process,

Enjoyed reading your process, Michael. I admire that you can so easily interact with your characters and how story ideas spill from you and you are able to give them life. I was actually thinking to myself the other day if I would have it in me to write a truly dark scene and what would a dark scene look like to me. I think I can do it, but psychologically I don't think I'd like to. Not that I have to...I was just day dreaming about it. Maybe if something makes me angry enough, I'll be inspired.

Your post also makes me think of a story idea from the other day. I was walking past the tables outside the local coffee shop and a man was setting up these strange looking creature dolls on his table. He had a notebook and had an otherworldly look about him. I was on my way home. It would have been great to sit close by and observe. Then the following day, same table, some other guy also dressed quite colorfully in a blue and white striped shirt that was tight around his body was setting up a bunch of books on his small table and he also had a notebook. I then thought...The Magic Table...that would be the title of the story that I probably won't write. But those two men stirred something wonderful in me. They transported me somewhere.

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Oooh, The Magic Table

That sounds so neat, Rebb, I'm jealous. Very cool. Sounds like an idea that can be a lot of fun. 

Thanks for reading and commenting. Cheers