Monday 25 January 2016

How Full is Your Cupboard?

‘We find what we are looking for in life…if you look for happiness you will see it.’
Alexander McCall Smith – The Full Cupboard of Life

Even when I sit down to write, I'm never quite sure what kind of story will emerge. The characters seem to have a mind of their own. There they are, skating off when I thought they were going to look inside the broken box, or picking up a gilded spider when they should be watching the road for smugglers. That's part of the excitement.

When this happens, I keep writing because something unexpected and wonderful might flow.

Still, there are times when the plot takes a turn for the worse. A character is sick, has an unhappy life experience, is no longer talking to their significant other, seems to be dwelling in the darker spaces. At these times, I wonder whether I have the courage to take the story where it needs to go. Will I be happy with the outcome? Will the character recover, be better for the experience? Will people enjoy reading the end result?

At this point, I remind myself that readers will bring to the story their own life history. A sad or confronting story can be meaningful, satisfying or even uplifting. So with a full cupboard of life, I can carry on even if the wayward characters eschew the broken box, or fail to safeguard the pass. All I have to do is open the cupboard door.

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