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Nov 23, 2012

Stalling on Start Line

I was planning to write a wry post today about everything that went wrong over Thanksgiving. I figured it'd be a shoo-in since, (a) it was Thanksgiving and (b) it was at my house. I hosted Thanksgiving at my house this year for the first time. Disappointingly, no disasters occurred to provide me writing fodder.  ;)

However, I have small children, and they can always be counted on to say something worth writing down.

Normally at bedtime, I tell the kids a story, but last night, excited by the holiday, my four year old announced he wanted to tell the story. It went something like this...

SON: Once upon a time... This is the beginning of the story, Mommy, that's why I said, 'Once upon a time.

ME: Great beginning!

SON: Once upon a time there were three little bears... Mommy, actually this is a story from Real Life. It really happened. So I can't say 'Once upon a time.'

ME: You don't have to use 'Once upon a time.' Just start the story without it.

SON: I don't know how to. What's the word for a Real Life Story?

ME: A Real Life Story.

SON: No, I mean what's the word to start it?

ME: Ah, I see. You can just say, 'Once there were three little bears...'

SON: I have to start my story over.

ME: Okay.

SON: Once upon a time...oops. Mommy, I messed it up!

ME: Just start over. 'Once there were three bears..."

SON: Mommy, STOP! I'm telling the story.

ME: So tell it.

SON: Once there were three bears.... Mommy, let's trick the people. Even though the story Really Happened, let's pretend it's a Pretend Story, and say, 'Once upon a time.' It will be such a funny trick.

ME: It sounds hilarious.

SON: Once upon a time, there were three bears... but you know it's not REALLY 'Once upon a time...' Once upon a time there were three bears and um... umm.... I need to start over.

ME: Honey, it's getting late and we need to go to bed. I think you should just keep going and finish your story.

SON: Mommy, I'm TRYING but you keep destructing me!

OLDER SON: Mom, do we have to listen to him tell the bedtime story? Your stories are way better.

SON: Once upon a time there were three bears....

We never did get to the end, even though my son already knew exactly how he wanted to end it ('And they lived happily ever after.') It was adorable (and at 10 o'clock at night also exhausting) but also instructive. I realized I have the exact same problem!

I will often obsess so much about beginning a story right that I have a hard time moving forward. Right now, for instance, I have two potential beginning chapters, and I'm not sure which to use. Now if this were a matter of deciding the direction for the rest of the entire story, then it would justify taking the time to think through the decision carefully. However, these scenes aren't mutually incompatible. One occurs earlier than the other... basically, I am wondering how soon to start the story.

I've forced myself to move forward. It's a question that will resolve itself by writing deeper into the story.

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