I’m out of the habit of hunting for ideas for fiction now, having been immersed in my non-fiction book about my parents for nearly a year.
The other day I felt an idea stirring in response to a news item. The opening sentences of a short story came into my mind. As I wrote them down I felt the push of the story behind them, but I stopped before the narrator with her intriguing voice took too firm a hold of me.
When I wrote fiction I used to think a short story was an affair – a brief fling – where a novel was a marriage that needed commitment, devotion, faithfulness. It was tempting to have a fling after the long haul of this year, with plenty more work up ahead.
But although my book is a bit like duty to me now, it’s also something that I think needs to be written. And I want to write it. I feel a sense of urgency about it too. My parents aren’t getting any younger.
Each chapter is a struggle but I’m past the halfway mark now and when I look back I’m proud of what I’ve captured.
I can still hear the voice of that tempting short story. I hope she’ll keep but, like my parents in their long marriage, I’m committed.