The best thing about getting flooded last year is the fact that one of our sons’ bedrooms has now turned into a library. I’ve always wanted a library of my own and, being somewhat of a book hoarder, I’ve always dreamed of having enough space to organize my books. Of course, the fact that my library’s shelves are (in many cases) stacked two deep and two high (and bending) does make it a little hard to find anything. I lost Brooklyn. Then I found it and lost A Man Called Ove, which surely should have been next to A Long Way Down. Then I forgot where the Ursula Le Guin paperbacks had been filed, though hardbacked Malafrena and the Dispossessed were safe on the top shelf. While looking for them, I realized I now had Asian novels on two different shelves, mixed up with The Thirteenth Tale and Olive Kitterege. So… I tidied my library, again. Each book like a much-loved friend, long-forgotten, long overdue an email or a letter… each character reminding and begging me to read me again… each shelf ever heavier while I cleared all the volumes from the floor.
Oddly, the empty spaces on my shelves seem to grow and shrink with no perceivable logic. But at least space exists, so new friends can join the old. I love my library!
Then there’s that secret shelf upstairs, where I hide my dream that someone might file my books in a library one day. Novels of small-town characters together with Biblical fiction for kids and novellas mysterious and strange… short stories in anthologies… even poetry and picture books! Would they ever go on the same shelf as each other?
New characters beg me to write me again and I turn to the computer… Write a blogpost, write a novella, enter a contest at our local writers’ group… Open up a page and…
… well, this is what we did for our Writing Exercise at the Writers’ Mill …
- Write the number 1. This is the Beginning of your story. Ask who, what, where, and when is your character? What does your character’s heart want? (This is an exercise in character development.)
- Next write the number 5 (NOT 2) This is the End of you story – how will your character and/or world change? (How will your character develop?)
- Write the number 3. This is the Middle – how is your character struggling to effect that change?
- And now you get to write down number 2. How did your character get into this mess and why (internal and external reasons)? (And our writing exercise morphes into the realm of plot development)
- Almost done: write the number 4. How did your character successfully resolve his/her/its problem.
- And finally, put things back in the right order and WRITE, from beginning to end.