Kelly Maher


Finding the wormhole

I’ve spent the last week trying to find my way into the short story I want to write. I call this the wormhole. Not of the warp drive kind, but of the small, slimy things that come out of the ground when it rains kind. Their holes are tiny when not filled in. Often, like this last week, I’ll have an idea for a story, but no way to get into the meat of it. Sometimes, I’ll have an idea for the opening line, like with “Homecoming”. Other times, I’ll get an idea as to a character with a name or a look about them, like with Novel B. Periodically, I’ll have one wormhole into a story and then realize I really should have followed another like with Novel A. Which took me a whole draft and then some of the novel before I had that realization. Last week, I was brainstorming while riding the Metro to go meet my brother for dinner. I jotted down some ideas about the story, like character mood, plot point, and setting, but it didn’t really inspire me. I at least had something. But it wasn’t enough. I’ve spent the last few days trolling the Baby Name Wizard: Voyager page, somehow knowing my wormhole for this story was going to be a name. Sadly, the Voyager requires you to start inputting a name before it comes back with data on when it was popular. What I wanted was a way to search for popularity by decade, or even better by year, beyond the top 10 lists.

Today I decided I’d farted around enough and started writing. Since the setting idea hadn’t fully left me, I went with it. In the second sentence, a name popped into my head and it was perfect. As I kept writing, I realized the ideas I’d first jotted down were exactly what I needed. They got the juices stirring subconsciously. The setting is similar, but the plot point is different and the root causes of character mood are appropriately changed even though they’re the same. I managed to write 600 words earlier this afternoon and now I’m going to plot out the rest of the story so I can bang it out by the end of this week. I love wormholes.

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