The Big ‘Why’?

Typically I have no problems coming up with story ideas. And typically the question ‘what if’ sends me gleefully off to the writing space.

With book three waiting only on cover art, two manuscripts that need heavy revising, a stand-alone story just starting the first draft process, and a current editing job, I am busy with words. Yet I need to start book four and this time I only have a glimmer of an idea, which is a first for me. Another first is that I’ve tried out some ideas, floating them to my editor and friend, author Susan Schreyer, who has very kindly given me feedback. Most aren’t going to work. I’m not surprised because even as I was telling her my ideas I felt no bubble of excitement. You know, that urge to rush gleefully to your writing space. Instead I shuffle around and look for dirty laundry, dirty dishes, or as an extreme last resort, dust bunnies.

You know how it is when you try too hard to pin an idea down, and it squirts out from under the pin and jets away? That’s how this current idea is acting. And instead of the ‘what if’ question that has always, in the past, spurred me on, I’m finding the following word taking up a lot of space in the writing brain.

Why?

I’m trying to figure out why someone would deface or vandalize a memorial to a group of miners who died in a mine fire. I’m looking for a deeply personal reason that will tie past to present, and goes beyond the simple act of protesting what either the memorial stands for or the mining business.

If I can figure out who would do that act, I’ll have my reason. But then I pause and think, well, if I have the reason then I’ll have the character. I’m currently stuck in the loop – if I find out this then I’ll have that, but I need that to find out this.

Probably what needs to happen is that I stop talking, stop worrying, work on the other writing projects, and let this idea ‘daydream’ its way through my subconscious. A walk in the woods, where I can just let thoughts go and let that inner writer wander as well, will also help.

In the meantime though, I’m wondering, why?

The following photo, from wikicommons, is of the Sunshine Memorial, near Kellogg, Idaho. The miner is surrounded by ninety-one miniature headstones, each with the name of a miner who died in the mining disaster of 1972. I was down in the Sunshine mine just a few years after this fire and have a healthy respect for anyone who can do that job.

A Sunshine miner

A Sunshine miner

3 thoughts on “The Big ‘Why’?

  1. Why is a different kind of question. Most often left unanswered. Your little sketch sent my mind reeling with ideas. my proplem is i can not get a story from my mind to the paper. you are doing great, just go withit!!!

  2. I feel like often vandalism is just mindless “bad” behavior like the adolescent who’s home with friends but no adults who realizes they can make prank calls or water down their parents booze without being observed and hopefully without repercussions. Tagging also comes to mind, because it’s more about getting away with the act, although there are greater points awarded (in the realm of the tagger) for how public the tagging and also how sacred the object of the tagging.
    Or sometimes it’s bad behavior intended to offend as many people as possible (knocking over headstones).
    Or maybe it’s directed at the larger system, like perhaps at the mine owners who were perhaps perceived as not protecting their miners.
    Or (one last one, I’m just full of it this morning) it was directed at the activity of mining which, in it’s worst incarnation, can be fairly destructive environmentally.

    Or just maybe (really the last) one of those killed in the fire committed a wrong that the vandal was unable to contain their rage at, because after people are senselessly killed we sometimes elevate them to sainthood, regardless of the truth of how they lived.

    No more coffee for me today.

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