Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Way it Goes: Germs and Process

"It was bought on the morn
Of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died."
-My Grandfather's Clock

While I was driving home today to pick up a few things, I got to thinking about how I ought to write a new story this month. Here's the jist of my thought process:

5 miles away: What kind of story should it be? I've been doing so much fantasy, but I don't really want to do something literary/mainstream. Hrm... Oh, how 'bout a magical realism type story? That could work. *Thinking about an old story about a woman with a literally broken heart* Don't want to do a heartbreak/love story though, somthing else.

4 miles away: Yeah, but what about? It's gotta be something strange. There's that one story I read, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I think, or someone else completely - the birdman/angel story. Angels - feathers. Magical realism = a discovery story.

3 miles away: It's a story about a chicken heart that keeps beating after the chicken is killed. Like the way rat and mouse hearts used to keep beating after we killed them to feed to birds at the Raptor Center. Sometimes we'd cut it out and watch it sitting there on the plate, beating outside of its body.

2 miles away: First line: "When Mathilde slaughtered the chicken, its heart kept beating." Yeah, Mathilde is a weird name, but I can't think of any other that'd work. It's Jenny's fault for telling me she won't name the baby (if a girl) Gertrude, 'cause the only name that'd go with it is something like Mathilde.

1 mile away: Great, but what's the story about? And where's the "magical" element beyond the weirdness of the ever-beating chicken heart?

A few blocks away: *Envisioning a scene where Mathilde is in the kitchen, cutting up the chicken, and her daughter (10 yrs old?) Chloe sees the heart, pokes it.* Oh, hey, what keeps the heart going? How 'bout human blood? *Envisioning something like in Pan's Labyrinth where the girl gives the mandrake root a drop of her blood* What if it's Chloe's blood? Is it Chloe's story, not Mathilde's? *Thinking of the song My Grandfather's Clock, except why couldn't it be a chicken heart instead?*

Home: Great, now I'm back to the beginning 'cause I have to figure out what Chloe's story is. But hey, there's a chicken heart in it. That's progress.

That's a very very rough idea of how I went from nothing to having a germ to work with. The story is still very ameoba-shaped in my head and it might change back to being Mathilde's story before I'm done. At the very least, now I have something to work from - an image that is very vivid in my head and makes some kind of sense to my subconcious, though I couldn't say exactly what. Now it's time to ferment it - I mean, put it in the crockpot.

P.S. I looked it up, and it was a Marquez story I was thinking of. The title is "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings."


Whittaker Luckless said...

I hear of the Very Old Man with Enormous Wingses. Didn't read it though.

Wine must ferment. What's so undignified about being compared to wine? The first time I saw the John quote I read quick, and saw, "I'm not a microwave. I'm a crackpot." And I thought to myself, "Yeah, sure, with you there, but what the hell does that have to do with stewing?" Figured it out though...

Heart of a chicken, blood of a human. Hot blooded youth. Blue bloods. Cold blooded murder! Blood brothers. Blood tie. Blood money. Blood boiled over. Bloody stump. Bloody Mary. Blood bath. Vampires. Cannibals. Feint at the sight of blood. Blood drained out. Bloodless face. Bloodred. Blood is thicker than water. Ketchup. Strawberry syrup--that's what they used for blood on Buffy.

The word blood doesn't make much sense after you've written it down twenty times.

Debbie said...

It's interesting to get a peek into someone else's process. I do something similar with a phrase or title which then bounces around. Sometimes for years. But it's fun when the ripening takes place and the phrase becomes a story.