I have a bad habit of letting stories slip past me. Whoops, there goes another one. Well, it wasn't a story, really. Not exactly. It was more of a notion. A possibility. A fleeting thought. It's gone now anyway. I missed it.
Many of the writing gurus advocate the keeping of a little notebook to set down the passing ideas and phrases and events that colour one’s everyday life and, yes, I have one of those and, yes, I do that.
But this not so much about the jotting down of a ‘thing. It’s more about the appreciation of that thing as something of possible value and something which might, with a little effort, develop into a greater and a more lasting thing.
In short, potential stories.
Potential stories which I often let slip past me.
This week, I’ve been reading Stephen King’s latest short story collection ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’ and it was while reading it that this thought occurred to me. I don’t think Stephen King is the kind of a man who lets too many stories slip past him. I think he’s brave enough to explore whatever germ might land in his brain, to let it grow a little, perhaps fertilise it a bit, to see in what direction it might expand. I think this trait is evident in those stories which make it into his collections. There are gems there and masterpieces and a share of duds (all subjective, of course) but, most of all, these is variety, diversity, colour and life. One feels that, if one tried a little, one could almost trace them back to the microbe that birthed them.
For my own part, I may spot a seed of a story, something that might become something worthwhile, but I don’t give it the necessary energy to see if it germinates. I also think that it’s something that needs to be done quite soon after the discovery of the idea. If not, the elusive something that initially made it seem like a good idea gets lost and, upon later revisiting, the note you made may just seem silly and even indecipherable.
One of the problems is that the idea, at first, can seem as if it’s nothing more than that. An idea. Is it a good one? Is it a duff one? The only way to know is to poke it around a bit and see if it starts to crawl.
One thing is for sure. The act of poking it will help it develop. It won’t develop much if it’s just left sitting there on its own. Granted, occasionally, an idea will jump up, all by itself, and turn into something magic right before your very eyes but that’s the exception rather than the rule.
Having finished my Stephen King, and having enjoyed it, I am now resolved to poke my metaphorical stick a little harder at whatever future idea I may cough out onto the floor. (Yuk… sorry)
Maybe I will kill it stone dead. Maybe it will simply grunt and shuffle away.
But maybe, just maybe, once in a blue moon, it will jump up and dance around for me.
Wouldn’t that be nice?