Pretzels and Preparation

pretzel.jpgThe story I want to write has twisted itself into an indecipherable pretzel in my mind.  Extra salty.  I have no idea where to begin.  But a good writer would not let such a technicality stand in her way.  I will not be stymied by a baked good!

I opt to simply chomp into one plump, golden-brown curve of the pretzel and hope for the best outcome possible.  Oh no!  The pastry, weakened by my ill-conceived bite, fragments in my hands.  It is a story no longer.  Merely a snack to wash down with a Diet Coke.  Nothing substantial.  Just enough to screw up my caloric intake for the day.

This might not have happened had I done the mature, responsible thing and attempted a story outline.  I rarely outline a plan before pouncing on potential fiction fodder, but sometimes it is best to prop up some bones on which to hang the skin.  A haphazard skeleton could be better than none at all, right?
I straighten my lab coat and push my thick-rimmed glasses back up, securely on the bridge of my hawkish nose.  Then I conjure a pile of bleach white bones and begin the puzzle.  Major characters, motivators, possible end scenarios, purposes, analogies and metaphors.  It's basic.  It's familiar.  But these are hardly Lincoln Logs.  They need sinews and tendons and cartilage to stick together.

Scratching my head, I step back.  Before I piece together a skeleton, shouldn't I take an anatomy class?  Otherwise, I might switch the pinky and the thumb.  Or, worse, the head bone and the foot bone and the telephone. 

I'm in my car, bones and a hefty anatomy textbook lumped on the passenger seat.  My tires squeal as I begin my quest for new, necessary knowledge.  I am eager.

At the first stop light, I'm in trouble.  Granted, I signed up for an anatomy class in preparation for the preparation of my story... but I forgot to Google directions to the lecture hall.  Whether or not I intend to show up on time and take several college-ruled pages of teeny, tiny notes, it doesn't matter because I didn't hop on the internet and print a map.

You can see my point.  There is always an argument for more preparation.  There is always an excuse to throw in the towel and gift my pile of imagined story-bones to my friends with dogs.  But if I keep backtracking in search for further stability, I'll never even get started.  What good is painter's scaffolding without a building?  Tonight, rather than scanning the net for further research on eras and mythology, rather than shirking my plan to write the story in favor of mixing this cocktail of half-witted metaphors, I should have grabbed my handy double-sided sticky tape and patched together something productive.  After all, fiction isn't always pretty, let alone anatomically correct.

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This page contains a single entry by Audrey Camp published on February 6, 2008 10:16 PM.

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