Monday, March 8, 2010


There's a new story in the corner. But it's afraid to come out and show itself.

It keeps making little peeping noises, sticking out a leg or a scene, or one line, and then darting back into the subconscious parts of my brain where I can't write it. Honestly, I think it's seen what I've done to other stories who were braver and now it's terrified. Who can blame it?

This coaxing out of a story is delicate work. I can't start too soon or I spill that intoxicating initial rush of energy and voice before I even know what I'm writing. But I can't ignore it too long, or it will wander off in search of acorns elsewhere.

I used to catch chameleons, when I was little. You have to pretend you don't know they're there. You have to go about your business, whistling and saying, "What? I don't see any chameleon," even as, all the while, you are sidling closer and closer to one. And then when you are ready, not at all skittish about touching a lizard and really ready to commit, you pounce. The key is to pounce from two sides: one hand behind and one hand in front, in order to trap him as he tries to run. So you can't have anything else on your hands.

I've been whistling at this story for a week. Today, I think I'm ready to pounce.


cath c said...

~whispers~ good luck!

Anne M Leone said...

Just like catching chameleons! Love it! Good luck with your coaxing.

Jacqui said...

Thanks, Cath and Anne.

Mary Witzl said...

We've got chameleons here too -- they're just the most amazing creatures! They've got googly eyes and their little claws are like Velcro. And the way they can change colors is just mesmerizing.

Catch it, please!