So, How Was the Play?

I had another story accepted. It won’t come out till next year. But, how did it get written? I wish I knew. Then I could write more and get more stories accepted and published. I can only tell you (and myself) how this one got written.

I had seen the call for stories from an anthology that had included one of my previous stories. I came up with an idea that would fit the theme. As I went about my day, my mind was toying with ideas about how to begin and execute the piece.

Then, my husband and I attended a play at the local theater. Since the theater is all open seating, we got there early and settled in. As we waited for the curtain to go up, I had nothing to do. The light was too dim to allow reading. We didn’t feel like chatting. We’d already turned off our cell phones out of respect for the performance. I was a temporary captive in a kind of limbo. My mind had nothing to do but ponder my story. I always carry some form of notebook. With nothing else to do, I pulled the notebook out of my tote and began recording the story as it had formed in my mind. By the time the play started, the story was half written. I finished the first draft during intermission. Later, at home, the story needed editing and expanding, but the bulk of the work was done.

What was it about this situation that created the necessary circumstances for creativity? I don’t know. I don’t know how the mind works. Plenty of scholars and researchers have produced whole libraries worth of books and papers, trying to nail down the answer. They have provided lots of clues and observations, but no fool-proof formula.

One idea I have is that there were NO distractions, as I so often have at home–no internet, no laundry, no bills to pay. Another boost was that I already had a strong idea for the story. There was, in this case, no such thing as the blank page. And I had the gift of time, even though it was being forced on me. An unbroken block of 20 minutes, followed by another unbroken block of 15 minutes. And in that second block of time, I already knew what I was going to write next, so I didn’t waste any time wondering what to write. I merely picked up the narrative where I had left off. Whatever the mental mechanisms going on, it worked. After polishing and expanding, the story was accepted.

My goal now is to bring more of those circumstances into my daily life, if I can. Oh, the play? Excellent. It was Frank Ferrante’s Groucho. Highly recommended.

About Lida Bushloper

writer and poet
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