For as long as I can remember I’ve made up stories. Most of them I keep inside my head but every now I then I’ve been known to let a few out where people can see them. I never know what’s going to start one. A lot of times I hear a song and see a story in my head that fits the lyrics. Occasionally I’ll see people out somewhere and they become a story I tell myself. I do it for my own entertainment mostly. In fact, after graduation, I didn’t write any of my stories down until I happened to tell one to my dad one day. As a result, he gave me a challenge that stretched me in ways I’d never been stretched before. One of the greatest joys of my life so far was when my dad trusted my stories enough to let me bring them to life in the form of drama productions. For several years I was able to actually see my words come to life on a stage. I will always hold those opportunities as very special memories.
I think maybe my made-up stories became so closely linked to my memories of my dad that since he left, they’ve pretty much stopped. I don’t think I consciously tried to make them stop anymore then I made them happen in the first place. I don’t even think I realized they weren’t happening the way they used to until my friends Tara and Jennifer started a new project.
Both of my friendships with these ladies have grown in unconventional ways. Tara and my mom were in a small group together with several other ladies and we have several mutual friends, but have never spent a lot of time together in person. Neither have Jennifer and I. I’ve actually grown to know these ladies through their blogs (Jennifer had a blog where she challenged herself to write a poem every day!) and Facebook. But still, I certainly count these ladies as precious friends.
I’m not sure the hows and wherefores, but not long ago, Jennifer and Tara started a new blog called shortyarns. Shortyarns, and I’m quoting from the website, “is a place for [writers] to hone their craft through weekly writing prompts.” Every Monday, Jennifer and Tara offer a different story starter and encourage their readers to exercise their creative muscles and write. Isn’t this one of the best ideas for a blog you’ve ever heard? I think ultimately, Jennifer and Tara want this to be a place for aspiring writers to hone their craft not only by disciplining themselves to write, but also by giving and receiving feedback from other writers about the posts.
I didn’t realize how much I’d missed making up stories until Jennifer and Tara asked me if I’d be willing to write a guest post for this week’s prompt. This was my assignment:
You and a friend have just finished a lovely meal at your favorite restaurant.
But things take a turn when you notice that the waiter has scribbled an unexpected—and startling—message on your bill.
Write this scene.
Ever since they asked me to participate, I’ve had so much fun trying to think of a story to go with the prompt! It has given my brain something to do (besides play Words with Friends) while I’m waiting to pick up my kids from school or while I’m driving to the grocery store. I’ve missed the feeling that comes from figuring out how to get a character from Point A to Point B. I had a great time getting to know characters who didn’t even exist until I thought them into being. It’s been fun. And therapeutic. And I’m so thankful that Jennifer and Tara invited me over to play.
I’d love for you to go and check out my story. I’m not inviting you to take a peek because I think it’s my best work, because, although I wish it were, it’s not. Hopefully my very best has yet to be written. Hopefully my stories will come back and I may even start writing them down again. Even if I write them down just for me. I think many of you will want to become regular visitors of shortyarns. Hopefully, some of you will even take some of the writing prompt challenges yourselves!
Here’s the beginning of my story:
We’d finished our meal but lingered a little longer over dessert, soaking up the laughter and conversation. It had been way too long since my friend and I had shared a chunk of uninterrupted time together. Our hearts and stomachs were full after an evening of good food and great conversation. I packed a few memories away to savor at home along with my take-home bag of leftovers. All too soon it was time to go and my friend signaled the waiter to bring our checks.