Not too long ago I started copying some of my old short-short stories into a new blog storieswithoutend.wordpress.com and I found myself reading through a dozen or so notebooks full of unfinished work. I’d completely forgotten some of the writing. I couldn’t tell you when or where I scribbled those words. But the funny thing is, some of the pieces are as clear to me as the day I wrote them.
Most of these things arose from Saturday mornings spent with the Orange County Writers’ Guild prompt group. The group varies in size from week to week; it’s a very informal setting, and we simply take a couple of prompts and let our imaginations roam where they will. I seldom finish a story there. I don’t care. The delight is in the putting together of words and in sharing those words with the others in the group. If I forget the story as soon as I’m out the door, it doesn’t matter.
I can tell you, though, exactly which chair I sat in when I wrote the “Monahan” sketches. I remember who was on the other side of the table, and what parts caused them to smile when I read the piece out loud. I can remember wet feet from tromping into the writing room through a rainy parking lot to write a silly story about a con artist with a heart of pyrite. After as much as two years, I still hold in my heart some of the comments the group had for me when I shared memories of my mom after her death. I read another piece, and I can feel again the pleasure of a sunny warm day after a week of rain. Days of my life are in those books.
We all come to the Saturday group ready to write, our pencils at the ready or our notepads waiting for the first touch on the keyboard. What we write may or may not get completed that morning. It might be torn out and discarded one day when we’re feeling that every word we’ve ever written is dross.
But once in a while, when the muse is upon me, I can read one of these not-quite stories and all of a sudden the words to finish it just fill me up, and I can hardly wait to get to the computer and turn it into a complete thing. I have a feeling that this happens to every writer at one time or another. I just hope it happens to me more often.
I’ll see you again, after the commercial.