Catching the Milk Truck In To Town
A member of the audience asked a local author at a bookstore reading, ” … where did you come up with the idea for this story?” I have been asked this from time to time by readers of my own work … where did this story idea come from?
The author went into a five minute narrative about remembering the mountains covered with forest from his early childhood as opposed to the same house littered mountainside of today. I think he made it up.
My own two ( and a half ) writing efforts started totally differently from each other.
A Confluence of Rivers came out of the twenty word phrase: At the end of the lane leading to the Wilson’s barn Wiley Jennings caught the milk truck in to town.
The other 137, 980 words came out of the developing of that phrase. Why did Wiley catch that truck? Where did he go? What happened when he got there? Who cared, or didn’t care, if he went to town? As it turns out he is not even the main character, only the number three supporting character. The story turns around his mother and older brother. But, I didn’t know that in January 2002 when I first wrote those words.
How does it happen that that particular phrase crossed my mind? I have no idea … I do thank the god of writing that it did.
Hampton Roads ’44 is an altogether different story.
On a Christmas morning in the late ’90’s I was out for a run in the North End section of NewPort News, Virginia. ( Blue collar pre-WWII neighborhood.) As I got closer to the James River the houses got better and better. The houses facing the river itself were ( are ) grand. Being the WWII history buff that I am, I knew that Hampton Roads was the third most active and important Port of Embarkation of men and materials to the war effort during those years. The population grew by a factor of four.
There are a thousand stories here, I told myself on that Christmas morning run. It was, and is, a matter of finding the stories and peopling them with characters. I didn’t know about Celo and Maggie and Melvin and Gladys and Wes and Curtis J then … or the Indian Chief motorcycle. I still don’t know all the things they are going to do to and with each other. I simply throw them into a situation and watch to see what happens. Just last night I discovered Celo and Maggie shooting craps in the upstairs room above a bar in Hampton!
Writing is an interesting process. Give it a try sometime.