I slapped at the mosquito on my arm. I hoped that I had gotten it before the itch inducing bite, but the blood on my fingers suggested that she had gotten her dinner before I’d terminated her existence. I cursed under my breathed and wiped the blood on my jeans (there was, after all, no other option).
There are 43 genera of mosquitos. All of which are unpronounceable. Most of which are indistinguishable. Not that anybody ever cares. Their 10-14 day lives are usually reduced to smack, curse, and wipe. Most people don’t know that they generally feed on nectar, and that the blood sucking behavior that we’re all quick to curse is actually just the way they nurture their eggs. We’re annoyed because of their survival instinct. They’re almost everywhere in the world, surviving in pools of stagnant water—puddles besides creeks, tide pools, swamps, the overturned flower pot behind your garage, your kid’s blue plastic pool. Besides a well timed hand, their only real natural enemy is the dragonfly, which is called a mosquito hawk by some of the more rural occupants of our fair country….
“Hey, where have you been?” she said.
I looked at her. Puzzled. I hadn’t gone anywhere.
“You’re always gone somewhere. In your head. Where is it that you go?”
How could I answer that question? “I was thinking about the 43 genera of mosquitos, their eating habits and lifestyle.” Please. So I just shrugged one shoulder and done what I’d always done in this situation. I lied. “Nothing,” I said. “Just thinking about how I much I enjoy this.” I squeezed her hand to make it seem more genuine. It wasn’t a total lie. This day hadn’t been so bad.
She turned her head away and looked down over the path. We kept walking.
I’ve never started writing by planning. I’ve always started with a character, or perhaps a piece of a scene, and just worked, seeing where those characters and that scene go. That’s taken me to some pretty decent places, with some pretty decent results. I’ve managed to impress the occasional reader, and show off a bit in a freshman-level creative writing class.
But I wonder now what I could do with a plan. I wonder what I could with a roadmap for a great story. What could happen if I develop a character who wants something and who goes after that something? A character who has a specific arc? What would happen if I, instead of starting somewhere in the middle and filling things out around a story, I started at the end and worked backwards to figure out what it would take to get my character there? That’s what I hope to do here, and that’s what I hope this project to be—an exploration of the writing process, an open book on the creative process
My life has lately has been consumed by teaching. All my energy, all of my thinking, all of my creativity have been poured into figuring how to be a good teacher for 68 kids who desperately need that. The unintended consequence of all of that teaching has been that I’ve done a lot of learning—about teaching, sure, but also about myself.
All the energy I’ve poured into teaching has helped me to figure out that there are things about myself that are simply true, and to attempt to deny those things is silly. One of those things is that I need a creative outlet, and that I’m happiest when that creative outlet is writing. This, I’ve decided will be that outlet. I’ve got some ideas for what I intend the space to be, but I won’t say too much yet. I’d prefer to let it evolve and take shape on its own, and see where it is it might go.