Week four, day three of the A to Z blog challenge: Under (its Kilt). When I was a wee girl, growing up in Kilmarnock, my Mum warned me, when approaching something new or trying to decide on a course of action, to always look under its kilt. She meant to be sure I knew what I was getting into — looking for what might be hidden.
I’ve carried the lesson into writing, not as a warning, but as an inspiration to lift up the covering of a story and see what might be hiding underneath. Specifically, once I have the bones of a story down, I start looking for connections in the natural world, lifting one thing after another until a connection is revealed. In my story, Substrata, forthcoming in New Writing Scotland 2013, I began with a story of a woman returning home to rescue an agoraphobic friend from her childhood. When they were younger, they had roamed the countryside, on foot and on bicycles. Any number of plants or animals or landscapes could have been a linking point for the story. I landed on puffins, which live on both continents on which the story is set, and which had some interesting connecting points for the relationship. I think these sorts of connections deepen stories. They make them more interesting for me to write, and, I hope, more interesting to read.
So, thanks, Mum, for inspiring me to fearlessly lift the kilt and see what’s under there.