<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Stories and Ghosts

How is it that I came to be a person who writes ghost stories? When I wrote the one, way back when, I thought it odd, a sudden twist for my writing to take -- and fully expected it to remain the oddity. And then I wrote another and found it funny, just to have one come right after the other like that, and wondered if something strange and ghostly was working its way through my brain. But it would pass, surely, and be gone.

Yet I realize that with the possible exception of "A Prayer of Salt and Sand," about everything I've written in the last two years has been a ghost story of some sort. And I can even make a good argument for "Prayer" being a ghost story of sorts too, if you'd like to sit still long enough for me to explain the backstory.

And that backstory, of course, is the one that got so out of hand that it needs to be its own thing -- yes, I'll say the feared word: novel. Its own novel. And it is this story/backstory/novel that has me so stressed at the moment, wanting to move forward but stuck and choosing to wash dishes and clean the bathtub and spend countless hours on the deck reading books instead. What always seems to be the problem when I get stuck like this is that I'm missing something key. Like in the bagpipe story; I stressed for months on that one, writing and rewriting, etc., until I realized something very important about the main character's mother and ding! Story. (Well, okay -- ding followed by another good few weeks of writing, rewriting and obsessive stressing -- not to mention another whole ghost story written start to finish and the bloody basement story to boot -- but story, still.)

And what is this story missing that all other stories I've written of late have had? Ghosts, of course. In some shape or form.

So the question that comes to me now is: How is this story a ghost story? Because it is, I think, somehow, from some certain angle. Not how will it become a ghost story, because that's all about what will come after, the far future of the world and the consequences of events. Not how is it like a ghost story, but how is it a ghost story?

And in asking that question I feel that I might be on the right path, simply because the asking feels like the ringing of a bell, or seeing the inside of a clouded glass.

(I also think that I might want to embrace these odd analogies instead of striving for more transparent ones, simply because how I think of "writing shape" or a story's shape is so closely tied to the shape of the magic in this world and ... yes. Yes. The ways and tellings of magic must be as odd and curved as story-shape. As the expression on others' faces when I try to explain story-shape. Yes. Thank you for listening.)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:18 PM


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