On Saturday I finally got the chance to go to lunch with my friend, Jason. We met a number of times last year up until I got too pregnant to risk the drive to DeKalb by myself. We met at Portillo’s, ate lunch, and chatted for a really long time (we could have sat there for a few more hours, but I think we would have been missed in our respective homes).
The drive takes me almost two hours to go from my driveway to the front door of Portillo’s (the drive through campus and around town is what adds an additional 20 minutes). Anyone who has taken that drive on 88 knows how rural and gorgeous the scenery is – farmland for miles and miles. Nothingness, yet absolute beauty. I started the drive by listening to a book on CD. Listening to another person talking relaxes me, yet keeps me awake. The strange thing was that I found my thoughts drifting away from that story and toward another one – one that I had been trying to write for a long time. I’ve had various characters in place, yet they changed a bit here and there…nothing particularly clear. No one that I was growing close to. It was the same for the plot. I’ve gone back and forth on a couple of ideas, but I always ended up asking myself the same question: Who cares? Who is going to care what happens to this person? I wasn’t even that curious. But all of a sudden, on this long drive to DeKalb, things started to become more clear. This woman I wanted to write about (she still doesn’t have a name) started to develop a face with distinct features. She started to develop a personality and motivation. Then I started to picture another person, and the same thing happened with him. I became curious about them. It was all swirling around in my head and for the first time in a while, I was excited about writing again. My story, the one I’ve struggled with for so long, started to take shape.
It all felt so different than before. I actually felt like I had a beginning, a middle, and an end to my story. These characters were not the ones I initially started out with, and the story is nothing like what I had envisioned about a year ago. This is what amazed me. Somehow, this drive through rural Iowa and Illinois sparked something in me (it also might have something to do with the bad country music that was on the radio – not much good music through those parts).
So here I am with what I think is a pretty good story floating around in my head. I’ve managed to go four whole days without losing interest in the story or the characters. In fact, I’m more interested in them than ever. I have jotted down some notes and some questions that I know need to be answered. I just need to carve out some time to do more. That’s the only hard part…when do I do this?
In the past couple of years I’ve begun to question whether or not I really want to write. I say I do, but if I really wanted to, wouldn’t I find the time to get it done? Now I’m starting to think that maybe it wasn’t a question of want, but more an issue of not having the right story to tell…