My grandkids (Josh, 4 and Amanda, 6) asked me, “Grandma can we make a fire in the backyard and roast marshmallows?” And I, good grandmother that I am, agreed.
First we had to find a safe place to build it. There was a nice bare spot in the rose garden. (I spend more time writing than gardening and my rosebushes periodically succumb to neglect.)
Josh and Amanda cleared the area of stray weeds and dug a small fire pit. Next they circled it with stones, and then together, we carefully arranged a pyramid of paper, small kindling, bigger kindling, and readied a log to put on top, should our fire stay lit long enough to do that.
We were (to my great surprise) successful! After a couple of false starts, our fire began to burn bright. As Josh and Amanda did a delighted fire dance, I began to think how this process of making a campfire is like the process of making a story.
First we have to clear a space, both in our lives for the time it takes to write, and in our hearts for the emotional work needed to create a story.
Next we need to circle up the stones—to put up some barriers around that space we’ve created. For me that means saying no to lots of lunches with friends, shopping, TV, and other such things.
Then we arrange the materials that will create the fire. It takes some time and thought to arrange those flimsy paper thoughts that will then light the kindling of a stronger story idea. This, if carefully fanned by the breeze of our spirit, then flames up with a real, true-to-my-deepest-heart plot that catches fire with a believable character and setting to finally ignite that mysterious and wonderful fire log we call STORY.
We did roast marshmallows that day, Josh and Amanda and I, a most satisfying end to our day. Just like a good story can be.