Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Story of the Story ~ by Marj Ivancic



In preparation for my first podcast with Kristine Raymond, I took a few minutes to think about some of the topics that might come up as we chatted. Almost immediately, one question rose to the top of the “I hope she doesn’t ask this” list—how do you come up with your stories? 

 



It’s a question I am often asked but one to which I have yet to find a satisfactory answer.

I don’t write in a series, which means I don’t have one thread connecting all my works. Each one is its own tapestry, unique and different from the last. My characters are water sprites and daemons, Romans, cowboys, and bakers; they live in Boston and Scotland, in ancient times and modern; they travel by train and car and magic; they fight each other and Fate, for fortune and love.


And save for my current work in progress, I can’t recall the exact moment my Muse came to sit beside me or what device she used to light my imagination for those stories.


She’s quite clever in her subtly. And quick, too, sometimes sneaking up on me at the strangest of times.


Take, for example, the other Sunday at a Cleveland Browns football game. While I watched the mascot jump and scamper about, my Muse threaded her needle and set my brain to weaving:


A woman is inside the enormous fabric and foam suit.


She’s been raised by a brother or a father to love the game. 


She watches each play closely, can see what the coaches and the players can’t—where the defense will strike, where the opportunities lie, who’s a weakness and who’s a key.


She shares those observations with some of the players, casually at first, offering off-the-cuff comments and suggestions, which are ignored, because who listens to the mascot? 


No one, that’s who.


Until one game, one of the players follows her advice and makes a great play. 


His fellows follow suit, and the players come to rely on her. 


However, none of them knows her identity or that she’s a woman…


I know. That’s a rather simple, ‘Hallmarkian’ plotline (I didn’t say they were all winners!), but do you see how deftly the Muse’s fingers start the first weft? She’s not put off by the size of the crowd I’m sitting in, the noise around me, the fire and ice of emotion filling the air. She doesn’t wait for opportunities and openings; she just goes to work. And once she starts, I’m pulled in, and it’s not long before I’ve lost track of the beginning. 


So, I’ve decided to start recording each moment of inspiration. The story of the story, so to speak, for every story. Even if I don’t pursue the bigger journey to write the full tale down, perhaps those ideas will feed other stories. Or maybe even help other authors struggling with writer’s block or who are in need of writing prompts. 


And, it might make an interesting map, tracking each place the Muse touches down. What’s going on in my life when the idea comes about? Where am I? How varied are the ideas? Which ones become a passion, and which do not?


If nothing else, it will most certainly make future conversations with readers and interviewers more exciting and less…shall we say…awkward!



Listen to Marj Ivancic's podcast episode here.

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