I woke up at 2:30 Saturday morning with an opening scene for an essay. By 3:30 the scene had sentences, in order, running like ticker-tape through my head. By the time I got up at 5:30, I had the closing scene, too. Not the sentences, but the scene: a few words, a picture, a reflection back to the opening.
This is how my writer-mind works. In frame. If I open a story by driving into a driveway, the end will likely be driving out. Hello / Goodbye. Sometimes I’m aware, sometimes not. This weekend I re-read a short story I published a few years ago and, for the first time, noticed a white poinsettia in the opening and an even larger white poinsettia at the end. I remember having that parallel when I wrote the story, but I just now saw the placement, the framing of the story between those anemic, bloodless plants. The essay I recently sent to Post Road opens with a man calling a dog that doesn’t come and ends with me calling the same dog. “Buddy!”
Today I’m leaving the memoir in the drawer and writing this new essay to see if it goes anywhere. I have to get the words on the page so I can stop the ticker-tape and move on.
How do your stories and scenes come to you?