Sunday, October 25, 2020

Into The Woods Is Where It Can Be Found

Into The Woods Is Where It Can Be Found
By: Kelli J Gavin 
For Writers Unite!


As a small child, my mother once told me that she had a secret to share with my sister and I. I loved the idea of a secret being shared and immediately she captivated our attention. She pulled my sister and I near to her on the bottom stair of our small back porch. 


  "First, I need to disclose that I have never been able to find what I am about to tell you. When your dad and I moved into this home in 1972, Shirley who lives in the backwoods stopped over to greet us. She told me that she was never so lucky to verify it either, but she was also told that there may still be a fairy home in these woods. She and I walked these woods together and I firmly believe from the stories that she shared that it is true. Can you believe it? A fairy!"


  Our eyes as big as saucers, she had our full attention. A real fair house could be in the woods behind our home but she and Shirley had never been able to find it? Even my young mind knew how outlandish the story sounded. Fairies were only found in books and in movies. I, at 6 or 7 at the time, knew better. I knew about Santa and the Easter Bunny and even The Tooth Fairy. My mother was a woman of her word. Why was she telling me a story about a fairy home if fairies weren't real? 


  "Mom, I think you are telling us a story. You are just teasing us." I spouted.


  "Kelli, what I say is true. I have shared the story with you about the fact that it is said a fairy home can be found in the woods behind our home. It is up to you whether or not you believe it to be true. It is also up to you to decide whether or not you are going to search for it."


  Angela, my older sister smiled as my mom stood up and opened the backdoor to enter our home. 


  "It isn't real. Just a fun story." Angela then stood quickly and ran off to play. 


  Sitting for a few more moments, I really contemplated what our mom had shared. I knew that my sister didn't believe it was true, but what if it was? Our dad was usually the joker, not our mom. So why would she share a story that wasn't true? 


  I decided right there and then I wouldn't say another word about it to my sister or to my mom, but I would keep my eyes peeled just in case I could find the fairy home. 


  I searched deep in the woods that summer. I checked under downed trees, and I attempted to move large bows that had fallen to the ground from the canopy above. I occasionally even brought a blanket so that I could sit on the forest floor and see things down below where only my feet would tread. I didn't see a fairy house, but I was thankful for the blanket. I avoided a mean patch of poison ivy and a few hungry giant ants. 


  Searching for the fairy house became something I would do almost daily, whenever I had free time and could explore. Really never giving up the idea, I may have even kept my eyes open even into my teens years. My rational mind knew that it wasn't possible, but it would make for the most fantastic story to tell others if for some reason I really did find it. 


  When I turned 16, my mom gave me the most beautifully illustrated book all about fairies. Originally written in the early 1900's, it was all about a young girl who was convinced that fairies existed and she documented her findings. 


  "Kelli, I know you are far too old to believe in fairies and the fairy home that I told you about when you were little, but I thought you would appreciate this book that I also enjoyed when I was young. I also wonder if it won't inspire you to write a few more stories about the fairies that we have been told live behind our home."


  Learning that afternoon that my mom had shared the story with me to inspire me while writing and to fire up my imagination, I appreciated her efforts even more. My mom shared something special with me that she also adored. A story, a book and the desire to never stop searching for the truth.


  I never did find a fairy home, but I continued to write stories, search for truth when need be and to always share the joy and fascination of what could possibly exist in the woods behind our home with my children now. My 14 year old daughter and 17 year old son no longer believe in such things, but my heart beams when my daughter will pull my mother's beloved fairy book from the shelf. She will sit on the end of the couch with the light shining in from the afternoon sun and marvel at the illustrations. She will smile at me when I catch her eye. The best stories are the stories that are passed from generation to the next. And I am sure my daughter will someday share the book with her children and the story of the fairy home behind their grandma's childhood home. 


Friday, October 16, 2020

Best Story Possible

 I felt utterly discouraged. I wrote a well written 5,000 word short story, it hooked the reader from the start and was different from anything I had written prior. I had never written a story of such length in a day before, and loved that the idea came to me so quickly. I edited it the next day and sent it in. Completed the entire project within 48 hours. 

  And a few days later, a decline email was sent. A thank you, but no thanks. I began to second guess myself. Was most of my writing crap and I had somewhere along the line developed an inflated sense of self and believed that I could write, when really the opposite was true? Why was I continuing to put my work out there and to see it turned down, time and time again?

  I quickly realized that the doubt and questioning phase had begun. Doubt is something that I am not a stranger to. I have experienced it before. When I quit a job I loved and started a new company. When I began consulting on a part-time basis and no longer had any clout with any financial organization. Or when I began writing. So many times I had experienced doubt. From the time when I was young, until that very moment. But why?

  I began to realize that doubt seemed to creep in, to become comfortable and expected whenever a change was made or when I didn't get what I desired. When I had to work very hard at something to accomplish a goal or do something I felt completely ill-suited for. Doubt freely roamed when I would be told No

  I also realized that the No is what disabled me from moving forward. The No wounded me and made me feel less than, not good enough.

 Since when had I let the words of others influence me to the point of feeling immobilized? 

 When did I start believing that I shouldn't try again?

  But mostly, why did I think that I should always get what I want?

  A life of privilege influences our thoughts about ourselves and about the life that is yet to come. At least it has been the case in my life. Fast and furious affirmative responses often conditioned me to believe that everything I wrote was golden. 

  I am working on my third book right now. Originally 95k words, it was a collection of non-fiction short stories. After three self edits and correcting as much as I could, I had a friend read it. I asked for feedback. I wanted to know what they thought as a reader, not as a friend. 

  I was asked if when I started writing the book, did I believe that the longer it was, the better? I was asked if I had always wanted it to be so long? The biggest issue was length. It was too long. The reader stated that there were so many short stories that needed to be removed because it seemed that they did nothing. As if they were added only to increase the length of the book. I was offended but only until I read through my book a fourth time. That fourth time, all of the fluff, the excess, the unnecessary stood out to me. It was very apparent that the reader was right and I needed to start working again. 

  I cut over 20k words. So much excess.Once the edits had been made, I felt stripped. Exposed. The bare bones of the true short stories of my life were the only story I was meant to tell from the beginning. 

  What did this teach me? It taught me to be tough, to heed great advice and to make changes even when I didn't believe that changes were necessary. That a No, this doesn't work, but have you considered this?- was exactly what I needed to take the next step forward. 

  I have continued to write and edit every day since. And I will continue doing so. I should be actively listening to the constructive criticism of those that know me, my heart and my desire to write well. Also, I have come to accept that I won't always hear Yes. That I shouldn't want every response to ever be a Yes. When a No inevitably comes, I need to remember situations such as this and understand that a No provides the desire to read, re-read, and edit some more. It helps me to continue writing until each story is actually complete. The best story possible is the one I always want to present. 


Into The Woods Is Where It Can Be Found

Into The Woods Is Where It Can Be Found By: Kelli J Gavin  For Writers Unite! As a small child, my mother once told me that she had a secret...