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Story hunting

While waking yesterday morning, I decided to find as many starting points for new stories as I could by the end of the day.

I wanted to disrupt that February feeling, to see more than the dreary light and discouraging weather. I wanted to be attentive, playful. And there are few things in life I find more motivating than the construction of a list.

Obviously, I had to make up some rules too. The writing ideas must come from things I read, saw, heard, experienced that day. There would be no fishing about in thoughts already floating. My notebooks would not be raided.

Here, finally, was a convincing reason to leave the flat. The Outside World was not trying especially hard to be interesting, being too busy making itself uncomfortable. Me and Husband went to Hove Museum, because we hadn’t been there before, to visit the exhibition Many Ways to Tell a Story, and because Hove is an old stomping ground of mine sleeping memories might wake.

That didn't happen, even a bit, but here, in rough order of incidence, is what I came up with:

1. The wedding dress is antique lace, worn by four generations of brides in the family. After it is stolen, it brings the luck deserved by each bride who wears it, until it is worn by the young woman entitled to.

The source for this was a BBC News item. I read today that the dress wasn’t, in fact, stolen by an Evil Bankrupt Drycleaner, frankly a villain I’d have rewritten anyway. Hooray for there not being a sad story in the real world, just the start of one inside my head.

2. The epic life of a snowflake from self-obsessed creation, through euphoric flight and crystallisation, falling in with others of her snowflake generation, the inevitable drift into differences and offence.

It snowed yesterday. Sort of. I came up with an extended metaphor of a meme. Meh.

3. You stop at a roadside café, there is a jukebox which only plays three old songs. Again and again they play. You make a joke, and the woman behind the counter tells you a dark story of why the first song is important. It’s a bad idea to go back to that café, it’s a bad idea to ask for the story of the second song, but you do it anyway.

This is my favourite. It comes from one of the art exhibits, which told a personal story about a summer place, where the songs on the jukebox were the same, year to year. The art was rather lovely but this story wants to be terrifying.

4. She looked up from her correspondence. Through the study’s window to the North, it was a snowy morning. But over her shoulder, through the western window, she caught sight of nodding blooms in a beautiful sunset. Papers fell. She knew what to expect.

It was snowing hard outside one tea-room window, not at all outside another. Time travel, naturally.

5. The tea-pots had been rearranged, but when she tried it, the display cabinet was locked as it should be. The pot bearing a portrait of a Prussian King was in place of the Cream Ware. The pot was heavy, and something shifted inside, with a hard clink of metal or glass.

The tea things on display were not in their proper numbered places – at least, they did not match their descriptions. Me and Husband came up with the same explanation at the same moment.

Even though it involves breaking the rules, or perhaps just to do so, I’ll also mention a couple of almost-thoughts which might grow-up into fairy tales, but didn't come to beginnings yesterday. The first is a disagreement with my husband about whether fairies have fires and/or ever get bored if they don't: make of that what you will. The second is a question: you go into a town where almost all the shops are opticians and dentists, all about eyes and teeth, teeth and eyes - what manner of person lives there?

Happy heart-shaped day, my lovelies.

Photograph by Tony Gaitskell taken at Fabula Collective's Many Ways to Tell a Story.

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