A lot of times we go through experiences that tend to upset us or haunt us. While they may not be entirely traumatizing, they can be really clingy. Take for example embarrassing moments that we can’t seem to forget about or people who’ve deliberately walked out of our lives we don’t seem to let go of. So today I made up a recipe for writers on how to make the best of those situations.
1 stick of facts (or butter)
1 cup of imagination (or sugar)
1 teaspoon of more imagination (or vanilla extract)
2 speculations (or eggs)
½ cup of characters (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup of setting (or Cocoa)
¼ teaspoon of conflict (or baking powder)
¼ teaspoon of theme (or salt)
1) Start with the facts. That’s as essential as the butter-sugar-vanilla mixture when one is making brownies. You can just list the chronological order of the incident as bullet points but at the beginning just stick to the facts.
2) Speculate. Add your speculations and judgements. Realize that while the details of the incident may be laid out as facts, a lot of how feel about it comes from our pre-conceived notions, background and experiences. During your speculation stage, try to look at the incident from other point of views, and challenge any assumptions you might have made about it. In other words, beat them together the way you would beat the eggs.
These first two points deal with the plot of whatever story you’re going to write out of the life incident. Next we move to the rest of the story.
3) Draw up characters and give them names. The thing with us writers is that sometimes we don’t really understand a situation until we put it down on paper. It’s true we tend to think of paper.
4) In the case where we’re turning this incident into a work of fiction, this is the point where we add elements that would fluff it up a bit the way the baking powder would. But since stories have to have setting and themes, you have to add cocoa and salt to the baking powder and stir together.
5) Get into the zone the way a baking pan would get into an oven heated to 350 oF. Call it the creative zone, call it whatever…Let the story grow its own legs and take you in different directions if it must. You might start at a true-life incident and end with something that you would never do in real life, but would fill you with satisfaction.
And by that, you might have a story that was inspired by a clingy incident, and you would realize why the incident was so clingy in the first place (maybe its purpose was to act as inspiration for a piece of art and it wouldn’t let you go until you wrote it). Also whenever the incident comes up, you’ll end up thinking about your piece of art, and you might be so consumed by the piece of art to be bothered by the real incident.
Alternatively, just use the recipe between the lines, bake some brownies and enjoy eating them.