“Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most.” — George Bernard Shaw
Sometimes when I struggle writing a story, I search for quotes that inspire a theme and work from there. This one worked with prudence as I struggle with story. Internal dialogue. External dialogue. Description. I think I’ve got those down to an art. But story? I’m not so good at story. I’ve discussed it at length with a friend over the past several weeks and he proclaims that stories start with “Once upon a time…” and end with “and they all lived happily ever after.”
Then again, he also proposed a story that started, “In a galaxy far, far away there lived frog people…” that ended with, “he changed the ugly human lady into a beautiful frog princess.” And they lived happily ever after, right?
One narrative journal today posted a status declaring the quickest way to rejection is to write in flashbacks. This concept is beyond my comprehension. It’s inconceivable that any person’s decisions in the present are not affected by their past experiences. Without knowing the rich history of a person’s life, their decisions seem to be plucked from a hat of folded paper choices. Even just one nasty comment from one child to another about their weight, or looks, can ignite a cycle of low-self esteem that affects the way a person experiences the world as a forty-year old woman.
I like reading stories that give insight into the psychological maze of a character. I also enjoy writing about that psychological maze. More than any happily ever after story. So now, I find myself trying to write stories. I think they call that plot, something that I tend to handle much better in novel-length fiction. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in short stories without leaving out the good stuff.
So, I accepted the challenge. “Once upon a time,” and “Happily ever after.” Only, because it’s me, I decided to jack up the challenge and begin with, “And she lived happily ever after,” and end with “Once upon a time.” While I’m at it, I’m going to throw in two dogs and see which one gets fed. I always found Xtreme writing more fascinating than any Xtreme Sports.
Wish me luck!