Tag Archive | writing

Unfinished Stories

This past weekend I made chutney, a spicy Indian relish you can make by chopping stuff up and pureeing it in a blender. Mint-cilantro chutney is my favorite, and homemade is oh so yummy. But that got me thinking about the word, chutney, and how once upon a time I started writing a story that included a town called Chutney.

Whatever happened to that story? It was exciting, epic, and intriguing. Truth is, I just got tired of it and totally ran into a wall with the plot, the myriad characters seemed neverending, as did problem of sticking to the point of the story: A point-less quest. The idea for the story came about after thinking about Lord of the Rings and how it was a worthy quest to take a ring that brought out the evil in people to a place where it could be destroyed. What would be an unworthy quest? How would that story play out?

What I came up with was a convoluted tale of a people enslaved, a long-lost princess, and a quest to save a despicable master and mistress. It was a long tale with some parts that were really good and others that, well, didn’t make sense. To this day it sits collecting dust in a binder in my office desk and will probably remain there until I finally decide to dump it.

One might think that a writer or author is defined by the stories they publish, but that isn’t the whole truth. What’s published is the proverbial top of the iceberg. The other ninety percent are all those stories and ideas either waiting to be finished or even destined never to be completed. Those incomplete stories tell of wishes, hopes, and dreams, plots and characters the author has visions for, but finds that either lack of will or ability defeats them. Some stories are simply bad ideas, but writers can’t let them go because something in the story touches their inner heart and soul. I have many such stories, and think about them from time to time, retelling them to myself in my head. No one will ever read them but me and God, and sometimes that seems a shame, but for a lot of artists, their art is mostly for themselves anyway, and wouldn’t mean as much to a larger audience. Much like diary entries, these stories or pieces of them remind us who we once were, how far we’ve come, and where we want to be in the future.

Then there’s those stories, unfinished at present, but ones we are planning on completing once we have more time to devote to them, time for more research, care, and attention. These are the jewels in a writer’s satchel–the possibilities of greatness that will someday be. Even with the will to complete them, time curtails a lot of these stories. An author’s life is cut short, emergencies and duties overwhelm the energy and resources they have to give to the budding tales, and other events and people demand the author’s time elsewhere. Life just gets in the way and sometimes manuscripts or poems or other works are found completed or nearly-so, unpublished and waiting away in dusty drawers or an old hard drive until someone should come across them. Most simply vanish with the passing of lives and history. Once in awhile, though, authors take the time to share these stories, ideas, and characters. They may share them with strangers on a sudden impulse, or with someone they love, telling the story out when they can’t yet write it.

I find it fascinating how my unfinished stories have changed over the years, how often the endings have played out in so many different ways depending on my mood, with new ideas popping up the older I get and the more I learn. How surprising, too, to remember a story I once was excited about, but for some reason forgot. Mostly, the forgetting part had to do with growing up. The unfinished ones I continue to hold onto are those that have stood the test of time in my mind. Those characters, storylines, and themes are crucial elements I someday want to share with the world, but I want to share them at their best, when I’m able to devote the most time and energy to them. Which ones will remain unfinished and which ones will be completed? Even more, what future stories do I have yet to envision?

Unfinished is exciting in some ways. Things are still in play, there’s still a “game” going on even if it’s under the surface. Life is not done being lived and adventures are still to be had, if only for a time. An artist is really only as good as the next thing they are working on, and we can never complete anything to perfection, so we’re always writing and creating more to try and try again. We continue on in imperfection. Never will we have our seventh day of rest because we know that even what we’ve already written or published still isn’t “good” enough. Unfinished stories, unfinished life. Exciting and tiring at the same time.

Plan a Time

Well, it’s about 9:30pm at night and I totally forgot what I wanted to blog about today. It was a busy Thursday, full of work in the morning, cooking for a new mom in the afternoon, and Maundy Thursday church service and choir practice in the evening–are we really singing the Hallelujah Chorus for Easter in three days?!?

My house smells like Indian food, I’ve got Hallelujahs running through my head, and my soul is quietly contemplating my Savior’s death. How could someone love a person so much to die for them? Not only that, but to die for someone guilty when oneself is innocent? Forgiveness of sins, full and final and not free, but paid for by the only truly innocent man to walk this earth, who is simultaneously the God that created it all in the first place.

With all those thoughts, I realized I didn’t put it on my calendar: Blog post, this date, this time. This is the thing with writing. You don’t set aside time for it, it doesn’t happen. That being said, what I did with my normally free time today was more important than blogging. There’s a sweet, new baby in the world whose tired parent got a home-cooked meal tonight. I spent time worshipping and singing along with the fellow believers at my congregation, and I got to know some of them even better. Back at home, I washed a pile of dishes, sat down on the couch, and realized that although I couldn’t remember what it was I wanted to write about tonight, I still had something to say.

And the main thought in my head: Plan a time! Plan a time and/or date for what it is you want to do or it will surely get lost in the shuffle. We only have so many tomorrows. On the other hand, have fun throwing those same plans to the wind when something more important arises.

Tomorrow is Friday, the day that Christians mourn the death of Jesus, who was the only one who could save the world from sin. He took on our sins and gave us His holiness. Although we are sad it had to happen, we rejoice that did happen, because it means our salvation. And on Good Friday, I am planning times to worship, to sing, and, yes, to write.

Once in a Lifetime Concert

openclipart.org

The theater: Italian renaissance decor as envisioned by the 1920’s American Midwest.  The player: The fastest violinist in the world…and his rock band.  (Incidentally, I now think every classical musician  deserves a rock band).

David Garrett, Music Live tour at the State Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

When my friend said she had an extra ticket for a David Garrett concert, she was lucky that I actually knew who he was, and I only knew who he was through Facebook.  About a year ago, someone shared a video of him playing and I was hooked: Master violinist restyled as a rock star, and also easy on the eyes in a rather scruffy, Kurt Cobain-like way.

From 80’s rock themes to tangos to Gypsy folk tunes, the concert was truly amazing, a once in a lifetime experience.  The theater only holds about 2,000 or so people, so it afforded a more intimate experience than other venues.  The playing and the decor evoked images of the 1700’s, and I imagine Mr. Garrett would fit very well back in that time if he happened to fall into a time machine and be trapped there indefinitely.

The concert, though, brought back a memory to me of another once in a lifetime violin concert that I went to a couple of years ago.  The violinist was an old friend of the family, now grown up to be a teenager, and her playing at the chapel at our local Bethany Lutheran College brought to tears to my eyes.  I don’t know if I will ever get to hear Miriam, or, more properly, Sonoko Miriam Shimano Welde, play again, or David Garrett for that matter.  Both were obviously gifted children, and I for one am glad that they’ve decided to share their gift with the world.  How many people have incredible talent and never share it, never work at, never become masters of that talent?

Mr. Garrett shared a few humorous stories of life on the road and the loneliness it can bring.  Pursuing art can be difficult for many, I think, because for most arts there is isolation involved.  I’ve found this to be true in writing.  You can’t get very far talking about writing, you just have to write.  The same goes for music, you just have to play and practice.  The practice, especially, is where the solitary factor comes in.

In watching a concert, the musicians make it look so easy, but countless hours upon hours of practice have built up to that amazing moment.  Hours and perhaps time spent away from loved ones that the audience can barely comprehend.  Whether in mastering a symphony, or writing an epic poem, or inventing a light bulb, or leaving home and family to serve the poor in body and spirit, sacrifice is always involved.  We give something up, personal comfort, time, or money, for something greater than ourselves.  That time of sacrifice is the awesome part, the “journey” part of our life’s quest.  That journey is what makes us all unique, all “once in the universe” people.  No one either before or after us will have the exact same life history, the same pursuits, the same pleasures, or the same connections with people around them.  We are all unique, yet we’re all the same in being unique.  A sort of paradoxical state of being, but there you have it.

And, now that I’m done with my rambling, I’m going to go and do some actual story writing and continue on my own personal journey and epic quest.  I salute violinists everywhere and wish I could be one of you, but I’ll settle for being a writer and a somewhat mediocre piano player.  Although, someday, I just might write an epic novel about dueling, magical violinists…who are also sword fighters…and who time travel.  Don’t put it past me, because this journey isn’t done yet.