I quit writing on December 1, 2XXX. My NANOWRIMO novel was a steaming, plodding, ugly mess. Eager to try a different approach to novel writing, I’d pantsed for 30 days. The process was painful and there was nothing to be done with the 50,000 words. I would never write a novel ever again. Never ever never.
I returned to writing on January 30 of the following year. I was heartbroken following a horrible fight with a loved one.
We would never visit a Midwestern oasis of joyous, cherished home that we’d dreamed of for years. Our favorite writer/designer had transformed her bucolic, dying community into a thriving, beautiful town dense with interesting shops and terrific restaurants. Lives bustling with careers, husbands, old houses, and young children, we longed to enjoy this shimmering place of peaceful harmony.
During a long walk around the beach, I mourned the journey that we would never take together. Then a sliver of suggestion arrived, so slight I almost didn’t hear it: I could take the trip by myself. And, it continued, wouldn’t it be an interesting story if the sister had died and been cremated and you brought her ashes along on that trip?
The suggestion flamed to life. Encouraged, the small voice murmured on.
To honor her last wishes to visit the town, you fasten the seatbelt carefully around her urn, cradling it snugly in the front passenger seat. You raise the seat so she can see out the window. When you stop at a diner for a meal (you both loved diners), you settle her on the sticky vinyl seat and ignore whispered asides about the crazy woman talking to a vase. Instead, you would read her the menu, debate the French toast, and settle on grilled American cheese on white bread, extra pickles on the side.
Somewhere along the way, a rider would join us, a woman in need of safe transport. With her high, round pregnant belly, there would be no question of who went in the backseat. The urn would be settled with great attention, buckled in the center and bolstered all around by blankets and a scarf volunteered by the grateful unwed mother.
Further along, yet another person would catch a ride, maybe a waitress at the end of her shift. Offering her a ride out of the pouring rain, we’d move the urn to the trunk, swaddled in blankets and tucked between my luggage.
In the Adirondacks, I would take the urn out of the trunk to return her to the front seat. Suddenly, an eighteen wheeler would roar past, too fast and too close. I’d drop the urn.
Lovely ceramic jar smashed to small bits, ashes would blend right in with cigarette butts, chunks of asphalt, and candy wrappers. There was nothing to recover. How would I explain this?
A bird would call and I’d look around. Top of a rise, green mountains all around, bright blue sky with puffy clouds. A fine place to rest. Quick prayer and drive on home.
Thus, story done. Novelist rises from the ashes.