“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
This quote is perfect and true.
Over a year ago, I began writing a story about a girl who falls out of a tree and breaks her arm. When I started writing, I didn’t know much more than that. I didn’t even know why she was in the tree in the first place. But that didn’t stop me. I kept writing and have learned much about this girl.
Then, last spring, I got sidetracked by another idea. All my writing energy went into this new project. However, as it often does, life intervened and both projects have been on the back burner for a few months.
Now, though, I feel ready to move on. I’m curious about what’s going on with this girl. More than a year later, she still has her arm in a cast. Surely that bone must be healed by now!
So yesterday I just started writing. I had no plan, no idea what what was going on with this character. But, true to Doctorow’s words, I figured it out (or at least got a better idea). It turned out that she wanted to make popcorn balls. So we made popcorn balls. This endeavor wasn’t completely successful, as the sugar and molasses tasted slightly burned. But the process of making this old family recipe revealed priceless details that I’d long forgotten.
Who knows what lies ahead for this character, or if this scene will end up as part of her story. I have an idea of how events will go, but I don’t know for sure. And that’s why I love Doctorow’s quote. I don’t have to know. I’ll figure it out. All I have to do is keep writing.
Thank you to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, Beth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.