What’s Up, ‘Muddy Love?’
I’ve written many short stories over the years. It’s not easy but I love the challenge! I’ve met lots of people who want to write them but don’t know where to start. They often ask where ideas come from. Now everyone’s got a different take on this and that’s ok, but in my opinion, everything’s up for grabs. I write about everything and anything!!
‘Write what you know,’ is what ‘gurus’ say to inspire in creative writing workshops. The idea is that you work with what you’ve got in the way of life experiences. In fact, some of my stories were born this way while others are triggered by the tried and tested ‘What If’, or simply spurred on by some kind of injustice!
Yes, life experience is a great way to begin writing stories, as you already have most of the landscape you need. I think about people I’ve met along life’s way, my early years (Barry White comes to mind…) through to adulthood. Consequently, most of the unusual, thrilling, exciting and terrifying moments in my life have given me reams. They say a cat has nine lives. Well, I’m sure I’ve had more!
After reading one day, someone asked about ‘Muddy Love’ and said they knew someone who suffocated in mud. I didn’t want to get into the whole nine of my ordeal so brushed it off as something I’d totally made up. A couple of days ago, I browsed the Internet and came across an extremely touching TED talk: ‘Content is not King’ by Kahlil Ashanti at TEDx SFU, who says it’s not just about content per se, but context that helps readers to connect to story.
This prompted me to come clean, as I thought about how others may benefit from this post. Whether it helps you to find story material and/or purge feelings associated with traumatic experiences.
Truth be told, ‘Muddy Love’ came out of a primary school trip to Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire. I went to a school on Warwick Avenue in London, and I guess we were learning about interesting wildlife and habitats.
I don’t remember any great warnings about quick mud. I don’t remember running around with or without friends, but do remember how terrified I was, as I ran for my life when I almost suffocated in mud. I cried and screamed my head off while trying not to swallow any mud. My teacher (bless her soul) carried me out and laid me down on a bank. Then as she looked me over, discovered my one shoe, and valiantly returned to muddy arms to get the other. I guess it was an easier feat than trying to explain to a dad who took no prisoners!
So there you have it! I took a real-life experience and gave it a new spin, injecting a kind of humour (some say warped!) into a traumatic experience. I threw in a few characters and created a workable plot. I even had some Keyser Soze (The Unusual Suspects) moments when I looked around and thought hmmm, I’ll sample a little Carl Malcolm from 1975, a bit of that… and that… etc… And that’s how Muddy Love came to be!
Check out my Cockney Romp – ‘Muddy Love’ http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BX70SB4
Maybe you can try this and reframe a traumatic experience by turning it into a story! You may even find it quite cathartic!
Check out Kahlil Ashanti at TEDx SFU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk0Y98eT-nE