I almost wrote a story today. That’s… a loaded statement, in a lot of different ways.
First, the story: I actually wanted to write something cyclic, and the story started and ended with the wind ruffling the protagonist’s hair, which was longish for him (i.e., almost shoulder-length). I wasn’t sure what the journey was, but I thought of a few such things: a day at work (where he would endure his day, and start the next one in the same way), or an adventure.
I didn’t quite get that far. The image of the hero staring into the distance, wind insisting upon his attention and denied… that trapped my mind’s eye. I wanted to be that guy, no matter what he was about to endure (which was, in the end, oblivion; he didn’t even get a name.)
And that’s the sad part of the statement. I almost wrote a story. I actually went through the beginnings of the story; I had a protagonist, I had a location (in the western United States, somewhere in the Great Plains), I had the beginning, I had motion, I had the end, I had something actually visualizable… and it flickered and died.
The image remains, but nothing else. It’s really the sequence of the beginning of creation that matters now, not the story itself, and that’s rather sad.
This story is an almost-was, something that blinked in and out of existence, wore out its potential in a single moment and disappeared.
I do that a lot; I imagine fragments of song, of prose, of poetry, of moments and story… and I think “You know, I should write that down, so I can migrate it into a river of those other moments alongside which it lives and build something worthwhile.” (And yes, I do think that way.)
It’s particularly poignant for me because the visualization was actually fairly rare for me. Usually, my protagonists are Everyman, usually assigned a gender and a rough idea of age but little more. I don’t really describe my characters much; they are defined by what they do and say, and not by how they look.
I think that’s a weakness in my writing. Stephen King wrote more description (and with more skill than I) in one paragraph, describing a rabbit in a cage on a table – the rabbit had a blue numeral eight on its back. You and I are both now visualizing more in common than what you would see in most of my writing; I just don’t describe all that much in my prose. I don’t know offhand how I would have described it, but I keep thinking that I would have an animal on a surface … with a blue numeral eight, and little more. What animal would be up to you.
So I mourn my tiny vignette a little, because it was actually evocative – nothing specific, of course, because it didn’t last long enough, but it was more than I normally think of when I write.