Checkered Notebook


Frankly, this happens to me a lot...

Frankly, this happens to me a lot…

On a whim I grabbed a notebook off the bedroom shelf to see what was in it.

At one time, I’d had the idea to write a series of  supernatural short stories with one for each state in America. Partly it would be an exploration of different myths and legends and partly it would be an exploration of Americana. I figured it was the kind of thing I could do in my spare time.

This was before graduate school.

Evidently I had earmarked this particular composition notebook to be The Short Story Notebook. I had written in it intensely for about thirty pages and then completely forgot about it until I cracked it open last night.

As much as I long to write stories straight through, start-to-finish, in chronological order, I can’t help but jump around. When I get inspired, I tend to get inspired on multiple fronts at once, and clearly when I was inspired to do the short stories I had a few in mind at the same time. Not knowing how many pages to earmark for each story, I started to label the corner of each page with an acronym for the story I was working on. WOCSH. [Omega]OE. KC.

It turns out that I’d been pretty driven on WOCSH and [Omega]OE at the same time so the notebook tended to toggle back and forth between a witch story taking place on Long Island and an alien story taking place in New Mexico. Both stories seemed to be off to a great start, but failed to go anywhere. As I read, I realized that I’d put a lot of thought into these stories and I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember where I was going with them. Luckily I’d left notes to myself:

WOCSH = Witch of Cold Spring Hills, a story in three parts:

Part 1: A couple inherits a house on Long Island next to a neighbor called The Witch.
Part 2: They move in and begin having marital problems and discover that the neighbor is not actually a witch, but that the house is haunted.
Part 3: They learn how to placate the ghost of the house to turn it back into a home again.

I’d only written Part 1.

Reading it made me nostalgic. Not because I remembered writing it (obviously, I didn’t) and not because I get nostalgic about witch stories, but rather because I’d set the story in my grandparents’ old house on Long Island. At some point I decided that I wanted to keep that memory alive somehow, so I’d poured every memory into the story: the smell of the basement, the arbor in the back yard, the bucket of birdseed in the garage, the sound of a cuckoo clock, the heat of a Long Island summer…

Now that I’ve rediscovered it, I’m tempted to try to finish the rough draft of it. When, I don’t know, but it feels like something calling out to be finished. Who knows. Maybe it would make a good movie and I’d have the excuse to go to Long Island to shoot it.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 21, 2016.

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