My latest story began with an image. There I was, minding my own business while drinking some water, when BAM. The image entered my brain, then exploded like a Big Bang into an actual idea. I think the water may have been drugged.
I began the mad scramble to write down as many notes about this new idea as I could, and soon had jotted down a theme for the story. It was a theme that resonated with me, based upon personal experience and attitudes. It seemed obvious that it should go with the story.
The image and theme did not survive the first draft. However, they took the longest to die.
I hesitated to remove the image because I liked it so much, and I felt a certain loyalty to it for bringing the story to me. I suppose it could return in another story someday. If not, it’s okay. It did its job. I can let it go. That reminds me….
*Gets into a car with the image, drives it out to the woods, leaves it there, and drives home, sobbing as he watches the image shrink in the rearview mirror* I’ll never forget you, water-based hallucination!
And then there was the theme. It was made of tougher stuff. Scales like titanium. Quick enough to dodge my bullets. Too smart for the traps. Politely refused my eviction notice.
So how to kill something that does not want to die? Hand-to-claw combat. What weapons did I have? Machete, or maybe spiked knuckles? A lead pipe? Those little umbrellas they put in fancy drinks? Whatever it took. I had a space for a trophy on the wall, and I was going to fill it with a singing bass. Oh, the theme? That just goes in the garbage. Dude, it’s not real, how could I put it on the wall?
Like I said, this theme is strong in my life. At the same time, in this story, it required too much passivity from the characters. Or perhaps I’m not a strong enough writer yet to make it work. I prefer to believe the former.
I think I have to find a balance with theme. It needs to be something I’m interested in writing about, but not something I’m too passionate about. Otherwise, I focus too much on my feelings and experience, even if it does not suit the story.
This brings me to a philosophical quandary: why am I writing? Am I writing to dig deep into the gooey bits of my soul and fling the contents at people? Or am I writing to escape myself and my feelings, looking for both a more ideal world to live in and some entertainment for myself and my readers?
Heck, I don’t know. Maybe either at different times. Maybe both at once. I’ll figure it out eventually.
Lesson learned? Story can evolve into something different from the plan. Sometimes, you have to let it. Unless it’s Magikarp. Keep that thing from evolving. Gyarados is overrated.