The last three nights, I’ve managed to build and sustain amazing fires. And not just little two-log fires but five-hour, sweating in my t-shirt, set-off-the-smoke-alarm-even-though-the-flue-is-open kind of fires. It’s been easy and cozy and delicious, and in fact all I needed were those small pieces of kindling and some dried-out wood to get my Wisconsin groove back.
And to milk my previously established extended metaphor for all it’s worth, I was also able to simultaneously finish the laborious revisions on my first novel while getting a few pages started for my second. Small pieces, indeed.
Tonight my plan is to work on the always-daunting inciting incident scene for my first novel. For this, I must not only establish several threads of motif that will continue to weave their way into the plot throughout the length of the book, but also call back to my own childhood for inspiration. Though my main character does benefit from influences of my own personal history, she is nothing like me. I have to be careful to balance what I create for her, and what I draw from inside myself to give her. The below story won’t work for the novel, but it does remind me of a time in my life when I had a certain spirit of defiance, one that I want my character to inhabit when she makes her own journey into the big, bad world.
When I was about nine years-old, my parents left me under the care of my older brothers, as they often did. Because my brothers often tied me to the center pole in our house’s spiral staircases and left me there until our parents returned home, I was less than excited about this. I had done something naughty and was grounded to my room for the duration of the afternoon. Unaccustomed to actually being punished (I’m the youngest, the only girl, etc.), I pouted for a few minutes until I came up with a plan.
My climbing harness and equipment lay in the corner of my room, just dying to be used in a pre-teen escape plan. I anchored my rope around the back leg of my canopy bed, and repelled out of my second-story window. Once I hit the ground, though, my plan ended. Where could a ten year-old kid go to find a decent hideout? My best friend, Nora’s, house across the street was way too obvious, and school was nearby but also an obvious destination. Instead, I crossed the street behind our house and sat on a bench down by Big Bay Park at Lake Michigan.
I have no idea how long I sat there, but once the thrill of escape had worn off, it only took a few minutes to become extremely bored. When Gabe eventually found me and carried me home kicking and screaming over his shoulder—the whole way—I didn’t even care so much about having to go back home. I’d already showed them that I could get out when I wanted to. Things would never be the same.