I’m doing preliminary writing work over the next month. It’s the most forgiving work; fragmented note taking, internet browsing, gazing out the window thinking. No deadlines, no dialogue, no need to have a finished draft yesterday.
I’m always amazed at the access to information at my fingertips. How did people survive without the web? I guess they walked down to their library, searched through the card catalogue and actually read through book after book hunting for scraps. I get to sit in my office (a pot of tea by my side) and plunk in search after search. Still after the same scraps but the hunting is much more comfortable.
So today, the particular scraps are winter stories, superstitions, traditions, rituals; on and on and on. The politically correct School administrator has decided that ‘Christmas’ plays are persona non grata. It’s oddly appropriate that I’m also working on a censorship play at the same time….
Sometimes I’ll plunk in my search and imagine pages and pages of material will surface – but I’m left with nothing but an empty plate. Other times I’m insanely surprised. A story, a fragment, a piece of information comes out of nowhere and I’m writing, writing, writing.
My favourite story in my hunt is something called ‘The Yule Cat.’ It’s a fable from Iceland. In the story people who work really hard during the fall get a piece of new clothing at the end of the year. If a person doesn’t get a piece of clothing, they’ll get eaten by the cat. I just….. it’s certainly a bogeyman will get you story, but the set up and punch line is so bizarre. If you’re lazy, you’re cat food….