Haunted By A Story

It’s Labor Day and probably because I don’t sleep like a normal person I’m at home with a sore throat in bed, enjoying the fact that I’m too sick to go out in public but not sick enough to be prevented from reading and drinking tea and thinking about writing something that I’m not sure wants to be written.

I never know what to do with stubborn stories. Sometimes I write them down, sometimes I push them away and occasionally, like the one I’m fighting now I unconsciously obsess over it. Small pieces come to me just before I fall asleep at night and again before I open my eyes in the morning. When I’m on a long run I find myself thinking about the story and at the risk of sounding like someone who should be locked away I can hear the characters voices in my dreams at night.

All of the sudden, these people in a story that I didn’t want are alive and waiting, refusing to be ignored or forgotten.

But they wont come through. When I sit and write them onto paper the words are flat. So I switch to my computer hoping that will make a difference and the outcome is worse.

I tell the story aloud to my husband, to a friend then to a neighbor who comes over for tea. I tell the story to my ceiling while I try to fall asleep and to the ghost that my son swears sits on the counter when I bake. It won’t go away and I can’t make it work.

The story works when told aloud but seems to also want to be written down and the only way to get it written is to write and rewrite and drink tea and write then switch to whisky and coke and keep writing. Because sometimes with a story that craves the rhythmic flow of black ink on empty paper, talking only wastes time.

I don’t know how writing is for anyone else but I know that for me it is often a beautiful release and sometimes a struggle that mimics life.

There are people in my stories, stories I never imagined writing, who I can’t ignore and wouldn’t want to no matter how much strife they cause within me.

They are stories that I think must have a purpose, even if the only reason they exist is to teach me that to get something right it sometimes takes living within a struggle where the only way out is failing and trying again and never giving up.

So today with the solitude I have left I’ll confront the story I’m haunted by again and hope that this time my words are a little closer to the truth that it’s characters want written.

Callie Armstrong © 2013


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