If … what then?

If - what then.jpg

If …

Every story, every book, begins with that word. Or at least every idea for a story, a book.

If a little girl lived in a town where black people didn’t get a fair shake, and her father was a principled attorney and a black man was falsely accused …

If an alien civilization placed beacons on our world millennia ago that could only be found and activated after we reached for the stars …

If a boy and a girl met and fell in love but not only their parents but their entire families hated each other …

If books went out of style and became so despised that fire departments no longer extinguished fires but actually burned illegal libraries …

If a little girl on a small Kansas farm dreamed of having adventures far, far away …

If adventures happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …

If … what then?

That is how a story is found. That is how a story is told.

It’s so simple, in the end, this once upon a time.

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The arduous task of showing up

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I have always been intermittent about feeding the blog, writing the Great American Novel, sorting my various surplus for eBay/rummage, and otherwise doing things that will not bear fruit or audience in the relative near future. Write a piece for tomorrow’s paper or a news story for an hour from now? Piece of cake. Edit an entire collection of stuff so it gets to the page designers and eventually the press by Time X? Sure, no prob.

But the longer-term deadline of a novel or the self-imposed deadline of a blog with a relative handful of readers that will only grow an audience with regular delivery over an undetermined amount of time? That is a challenge, as anyone who has attempted either task will know. There are millions more abadoned blogs and unfinished novels than thriving ones. We need more immediate gratification, and toiling away in the dark takes a certain discipline.

As attention spans get shorter and shorter, we may find people neglecting projects that will not bear fruit or audience in the next hour or two, or the next few minutes.

Hmmm … somewhere out there among those neglected and abandoned blogs there likely are remarkable bits of writing waiting to be mined, collected and placed in a spotlight. That might be a fun project for someone someday …

scene 10

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(scene 1, part 1)  (scene 1, part 2) (scene 2)(scene 3)(scene 4)(scene 5)(scene 6)(scene 7)(scene 8)(scene 9)

I got up and started pacing around the room, looking for a way to escape the sudden breakout of a UFO hunters’ convention.

“Give me one freaking break,” I said, trying not to shout or descend into hysterical hysteria. “Please don’t tell me this is all about Roswell and big government cover-ups.”

“No,” Stella said. “It’s not about Roswell. Well, only to the extent that Roswell is part of the cover-up.”

I snorted.

“What in the hell is that supposed to mean?” Continue reading

Second quarter + one month report

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I saw a quote recently that said nothing ever goes as planned – you wind up where you are by accident no matter what your big plans are. It’s a variation of the proverbial John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

And so, as I review my announced plans for 2017 for this month-late update, I don’t feel terribly bad about saying, well, Life happened. Continue reading

5 more first lines

Rolf Pepperkorn blinked three times and stared so long that everything seemed awkward before he finally blurted, “You’re a leprechaun!” and immediately felt embarrassed.

The old man pulled a book he’d never read off the shelf, settled into his reading chair, opened the old tome and cried, “All right, you, where are we going together tonight?”

It was a race to the lighthouse, but neither the plane nor the sailboat had a way to land.

Was it days or weeks or months or years since he’d been on land and raised his face to a warm sun?

I really can’t remember the first time the rabbits in the yard began to talk.

scene 9

scene 9(scene 1, part 1)  (scene 1, part 2) (scene 2)(scene 3)(scene 4)(scene 5)(scene 6)(scene 7)(scene 8)

Pete Bratcher walked out of his barn as I clattered up in my pickup truck. Stella, or Kathleen or Whoever Her Name Was, stepped out behind him. It didn’t feel reassuring that both were cradling rifles. They seemed to relax when it became clear no one was in the truck with me and no one was following me. What, did they think I’d bring the law with me, or that the law would insist on coming along?

Maybe it was me putting airs on Pete now that I had some idea he was more than he seemed, but I felt like there was a sharpness and an edge to the way he carried himself this morning, as opposed to good old rumpled and relaxed Peter who was everybody’s pal.

The girl – why after the last 30-40 years is it still OK to call a young woman a girl? – wore her ever-present baseball cap with the ponytail through the back and the thin line of a mouth. The T-shirt and jeans showed how trim she was, as always, which I admit would be distracting if not for her firm “can’t touch this” attitude and the fact that I was too upset to notice that sort of thing just then. Continue reading