Story Worms: Finding Stories


As I write this, I’m halfway through writing a short story for a submission deadline in 3 days. Lie. Actually, I’m only a 3rd of the way through it.

It’s a theme I’ve returned to a few times (so far without success); it’s a changeling story. What I’ve written so far hasn’t been difficult to write in itself (although it has prompted some creepy dreams), actually finding time to write has been difficult. With demanding family commitments and the cold weather, it’s been slow going.

The UK has had its coldest March in 50 years; a cold snap that’s expected to continue for the foreseeable future. And when you live in a period property with 9 foot ceilings, it can be difficult to keep the place warm. I often find myself typing in fingerless gloves.

With the cold weather comes the resurgence of old typing pains picked up when I worked in data input. It’s not repetitive strain injury yet, I’m trying to avoid it becoming that. But it does mean that writing time is sporadic, slow, and totally dependent on the health of my poor hands.

But slow-going isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many people talk about ‘plot bunnies’; a metaphor for those times when one idea quickly gives birth to others, multiplying into a busy warren of story ideas. I don’t get ‘plot bunnies’, I get ‘story worms’.

Story worms start wriggling somewhere deep in your brain, barely noticeable at first, but then they burrow further, getting into all the different parts of your head. They niggle. They tickle. They become an annoyance.

And worms don’t bound up to the surface and bounce about for you. Worms need charming out. They require a little patience. I’m a story worm charmer; dressed in my wellies and armed with my garden fork. It may not be particularly cool, but it works well for me. Most of the time.

Right now I honestly don’t know if I’ll manage to hit this deadline. I’ll let you know.

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