I have been having this weird recurring dream lately. For some reason, I am at my old elementary school, and it looks all different. I would expect it to look different, first of all, because nothing really is as you remember it from when you were a little kid. I don’t remember any specifics of the dream(s), other than the place.
I went to my hometown for awhile this weekend, and one of the things that happens when I visit my parents is that I usually take their little white dog for a car ride. It’s like her favorite thing ever, and it’s just fun to see her with her head out the window, tongue hanging out, enjoying the frak out of “bye-byes in the car.”
When I’m feeling lazy, I’ll just let the dog in the car, pull out of the driveway, back in, and then let her out of the car like she went on an actual car ride. Or I’ll just take her around the block. This time, I drove the full length of the street, and I thought about the lady who lived down the street when we were kids, who I rode the bus with to high school, who went to sleep one night this past February and never woke up. And I thought about walking to school with my mom, and riding bikes with my brothers. I noticed a lot more dead trees than I’d noticed last year, and places where trees used to be.
By the time I reached the end of the street, I thought about the recurring dream, and so I drove past the old elementary school. That’s how I found out it had a new name, and I was reminded of the name of the street where it is, which coincidentally is a name the street shares with my parents’ little white dog.
I drove around the block, taking a route my mom and I used to walk sometimes when I moved back home for a little while after my marriage imploded. I thought a little bit about paths walked time and again, old roads traveled, and the places they eventually lead.
All of this, I think, ties into the new story I am writing. I have been working on trying to figure out how to explain it to people. It’s about a journey, but it’s also about ending up places without knowing the destination. Kinda how a person can feel like their actions are taking them one place, but they find they have ended up someplace else entirely. And maybe that place is better than they had even imagined. Or maybe it is worse… but I think if the ultimate goal is to grow and learn and be better, the road is going to lead to a better place, somehow, some way.
The story I am writing is intended to be a bit like a fable, or a legend. Like a fairy tale handed down generation to generation. It is something I have thought about a lot, something to use as a unifying force in all my work, because that is a thing I strongly feel I need to write into my worlds. It works on several different levels, in many different kinds of stories, and it works in my head, because sometimes you get to writing, and you find you are writing the same story over and over, whatever one you need to tell. The characters and situations may change, but at the core of the tale is the same molten lump of truth. So I am specifically getting that nugget out there, in short bursts of just over 300 words a night. I like to stop when I am in mid-scene, so that I can pick right up the next day. I have never really written like that before, so this is a cool experiment with my process.
So far, I am almost at 7k words into this project. I have nine parts mapped out, very vaguely, and pages upon pages of notebook scratchings about the story, most of which I jotted down while listening to bands at various venues around town. I am trying not to edit too heavily as I go. I can already get a sense of the revisions that are going to be necessary, and don’t even feel a bit daunted by it. I will just take them piece by piece, bit by bit, just like I did with my thesis. This story will grow, mature, and evolve, and I am looking forward to every single step of it.