Before and After

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

I took some of the grandkids to the creek on Friday. It’s April and won’t be summer for quite a few more weeks, but the day was warm. In the seventies. The creek is spring fed from underground so the water stays chilly, but the plan was to keep on stepping stones, see the wildflowers, and maybe spot a crawdad or two or a lizard. The older kids even took cameras claiming to want to get some pictures of the wildflowers. But when you’re eleven and nine and four, the lure of the water wins out over the delicate sight of wildflowers. And even if you’re extra careful, there’s always that first slip on one of those slippery rocks and whoops! Your shoes are wet. So there’s really no need in trying to keep your feet out of the creek. You might as well do a little wading. Then maybe the next time you fall right down in the creek and after a few more slips, if you’re four, you forget to even say you slipped. You just jump right in to the deeper pools. And because you’re with Grammy, it turns out okay and you end up splashing in a creek way before normal creek splashing time by the calendar.

A crawdad did get caught and has ended up being named Claw. Some wildflower pictures did get taken, but Grammy pointed her camera at the little flower falling into the creek. The first picture is the before. While the creek hasn’t yet pulled her in. The second picture is when all pretense of staying dry has been abandoned. Thankfully she has understanding parents who haven’t banned them from going anywhere near a creek with their grandmother – yet. Of course their father remembers having those “accidental” falls into the creek himself.

In trying to come up with a title for this post, I thought of the before and after angle. That’s sort of the way I have to think about my characters and their stories. I need my picture of them before they start living in my story. I have to know about them. What they were doing before the curtain rises on my story. Then I have to think about them after the story gets going. What are they going to do? What are they going to learn? How are they going to change? What will happen? That’s where I am with my story now. In the middle of wondering some of those things. I know what’s going to happen in a vague, dreamy kind of way. But I need to come up with a word trail to make those dreams show up in vivid scenic colors. Maybe it will help if I think about taking my characters to my story creek and letting them fall in. Then we – me and my characters – can rush along with the creek and have an adventure on the way to the end.

On Facebook last week I asked my friends what outside fun things they did as kids. How about you? What did you think was the most fun to do outside when you were a kid? Did you ever fall in a creek – accidently on purpose?