by Heather the Jane

Best four words in the English language? There's a story there.

It's true. As a writer, it's the best feeling ever to find the threads of stories around me. And they are so crazy plentiful in this fascinating world. Seriously, they're everywhere!

Sometimes it is an idea for a short story, fully formed, that pops into my head (though I'm not a short story writer at this time). Often, a novel idea will spring forth – just a plot line or intense character or a hinging sentence or two.

Sometimes it's something I've read in the news that'll prompt that great feeling. Often it's a betraying look on a person's face, or a comment made in passing that can never be taken back. A folklore. A tragedy. A lie. A dream. A superstition! Or just something my dad said years ago, that I can't help but remember now.

And of course, sometimes just something I see unravels those creative threads. Like this amazing pictures I came across the other day.


Snap-Apple Night by Daniel Maclise, showing a Halloween party in 1832 Ireland. Look at the characters here! The activities and emotion! Oh my word, the atmosphere. Don't the stories just jump?

See the couple by the fireplace on the left? He is clearly smitten, she is clearly shy. Or is she? Maybe she's luring this ladies' man with her demure behavior. Maybe on this Halloween night she's slipped a poison into his wine. Is she thinking of the foul trick he played on her (now-departed) sister last Halloween? Maybe she's the clever seducer, adept at playing the conquest, and he is truly the prey here.

And hey, look at the brilliant characters in Maclise's painting! Which one would I want to meet? The guy sitting at the table to the left of the fireplace (where our maiden is cleverly turning the tables on her sister's betrayer). He sits alone, his eyes downcast, his world so small around him (but no, he is not lonely – this man is never lonely) as he sits so deep in thought. What haunts him? Something surely does. And it's not a ghost – doesn't feel like a ghost as I look at this picture – but a memory haunts him. Of love? I don't think so. Of a child he lost? No. A deed long past ... yeah, I think that's it. He doesn't struggle with remorse. I think this guy struggles with his lack of it perhaps. Oh oh oh, maybe that's it ... is he a man or monster for what he's done in life? That's what haunts him – the question. He doesn't know – as he sits here in contemplation, so deep. So he looks to commit such a deed again. Maybe even tonight, as I, the searching visitor, sit down. Would he tell me his tale? Yes. I think as I pull up a chair, he'd pour me a drink, grab hold of my hand (his own hands are cold and dry as dust, and absolutely untrembling) and only then look into my eyes. He'd start with the words “I remember....”

And you know as I look at this picture and stories come to mind (as they weave right along in here, taking on a life of their own!), I have to wonder what the artist Daniel Maclise thought as he painted away. Did stories jump out at him? Did he see what I see? Anything even close? Similar threads? Were the characters already there on the canvas and his brush only came along to find them? And did he rejoice when he did. Did he dream of, or envision, a writer – a century and a half later – would look upon his painting with fascination and awe and longing and....

Oh wow ... there's a story there, too.

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Comment from: Janeen Shrum [Visitor] · http://clickbankdownloadebook.com/
been following your blog for 3 days now and i should say i am starting to like your post. and now how do i subscribe to your blog?
08/18/10 @ 15:44
Comment from: Norah [Member] Email
Janeen, glad to hear you're enjoying the posts! Your message spurred me to finally put up the RSS & Atom feeds. Hope this'll work for you!
08/18/10 @ 18:29
Comment from: Julie [Visitor] · http://www.thepencilsharpener.com
I just found your blog, and I must say, what a great team indeed! Your posts are very interesting and creative. I know a lot of us thought, "Hmmm. There's a story there." In this post you really drew out the idea wonderfully and eloquently. I love it!
08/23/10 @ 12:29

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