Before the Story
Come on, step into the light. It’s all good.
Look around. Here is everything you could ever want. I have provided every element, allowed for every possible permutation, considered every beginning and every ending.
But it starts with you.
What story do you want to build? Your story.
And you write.
“The first thing I remember is the light. Initially blinding, then fading into welcome clarity. I can see, I can see it all.”
A world of possibility. In the world of possibility there is no inevitability, until the first choice is made. Then everything falls away. A choice made becomes the first of infinite dominos: little flat panels touching more of the same, though each one bigger than the last. They become like gravestones, crashing and chipping the next ones, until they slam into massive monoliths. Time thunders on, banging away into an infinite future. There’s always one more hammer to fall.
“I am here. I have a body. All around me there is sensation. I can feel the heat of the sun, the chill of the night, the pain of work, the rest of sleep. Scents of a thousand plants overwhelm me. The world is filled with fruit and berries, breads and vegetables, sweet water and grains to feed me. Life is sweet. I can hear the wind, the birds, the thunder and the waterfall.”
So, where are you going to go? What are you going to do? When do you want this to be? Nothing is set in stone. Yet.
“I want a home and company. I want work and food and rest. I want to laugh. I want to experience the things that are worth the grief of loss.”
You have a home and family. You work to grow vegetables and tend to animals. Your children make you laugh and your friends share your joy and trouble. You love and are loved.
“I want to be free.”
To give you freedom you must know the truth. You need to know who you are and make a decision. In most stories you would make a decision to leave, then later on you would discover the truth and return to what you would then see as your real home.
There would be a garden. The writer would use words like “abundant” to start with, then the vocabulary would widen, taking in words like “fractured” and “looming”. There would be a sudden jarring appearance of a rat or a snake, that would make the reader worry. A portent of doom.
There would be a love scene, much later, that the writer wouldn’t want to write and the reader wouldn’t want to read. There would be words like “awkward”, “clumsy” and “urgent”. The reader will want to put the story down. They will wish you’d never left.
“I want to go back to the way things were. I want to go back to the start”
Time has ticked on. If you have left, you have taken the past away too. You can only work from the present you are in. You can return to the first setting if you like, but you can’t take the person you were with you.
“Experience lines my face and hands. I have seen too much. I have done too much.”
Okay, for you, I’ll make an exception. You can go back. But only you.
I’ll go to the end of time and lift the last, infinitely large megalith and lever it up with my pen.
With a neat flick of my wrist, history comes crashing backwards: a roar of thunder diminishing to a million clicks like those of tiny fingers, until the last piece falls back to the way things were.
Nothing has been done, everything has been undone.
Do you want to start again?