The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Progress of a Story: Immigration

With our spotty, barfy dazes lifting we looked around our new country. The first thing my sister and I came to love about the Red Oak Hotel was the ice machine. As soon as we were able to stand-up we were sent to get our own ice, and ice for our parents. “Our” ice was wrapped in towels and held to our heads to bring down our fevers. Their ice went clinking into drinks.

Since I’m writing my new story under the gaze of this weekly blogoscope, I’ve been noticing things about my writing habits that went under the radar before. For example, as I started to write this story, scraps of things I’ve written previously have been recalled.

Once, I'd spent a frothy half day coming up with a little scene in a hotel for a contest. It never really went anywhere. My own family had spent the first weeks of immigration to Canada in a hotel room where my sister and I recovered from chicken pox and my parents drank and bickered.

This fun little nuclear family “No Exit” popped back into my mind now that I’m writing about Christopher Hebblethwaite’s decision to move his family from England to Canada. I routed through the thousands of computer files I have in my writing folder (thank goodness for that little dog with the flashlight in his mouth called file search!) I opened it up for a cut and paste and re-polish and now it’s on its way to finding a home as part of this story.

I realize that this quilting approach happens to me all the time. I tend to write in scraps. Some of the scraps stay stray, but others of them band together into a pack. A story is a pack of wild scraps.


Blogger Tricia Dower said...

A pack of wild scraps -- I love that image. You're right about some scraps never making it into the quilt. I keep mine in a special file as inspiration for scraps that might fit better.

Thu May 22, 02:49:00 am GMT-4  

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