Even Still, the Stories Continue: Non-writing

Death waits for no man, nor conforms to any man’s timetable. It strikes when it chooses, and if it happens to strike within my circle four times in a matter of ten days, it doesn’t care. As W. B. Yates cries on his tombstone, “Horseman Pass By.”

Despite the morbidity of our mission, there is something truly poetic about a cemetery, especially a cemetery in December with a layer of frost thick enough to pass for snow, as was the case at the funeral I attended in Ellensburg, Washington. Granted, the layer of ice, the misting fog, and the twenty degree temperature wasn’t the most pleasant to stand in during an internment ceremony (especially with a west-sider jacket on), but even so, my writing blood hummed, sensing possibilities.

Even when I’m not writing, there is a story brewing in my head. It’s usually not the one I’m writing, or even the one I’m planning on writing next. These non-stories are the type that will never get published, that wander through my head, a mass of borrowed characters, stolen plots, bits of this and that mixed together to see if the end result is any good. Sort of like the way a painter mixes colors to see if they can make a new shade. Whether I’m trimming my Christmas tree, navigating the overcrowded shopping parking lot, or standing in a graveyard in December, there is a story going on.

My favorite part of visiting cemetaries is wandering around and looking at the tombstones. At Holy Cross cemetery outside of Ellensburg, I have a lot of family buried; mostly Italians who followed the railroad west. My great grandmother is there, who was as tall as Yoda as was still living during my first year of University life. My grandfather’s sister Lemonia is there, who died of whooping cough when she was a baby. And so on, and on. For all the horror movies that center around cemeteries, I’ve always found them to be quiet, and peaceful. Someday I will write a story about a cemetary – I already have an idea…

The stories continue, even when characters depart. New characters, new plots, always jump in, formulate, until the story looks different. But it keeps going…

As we move forward towards Christmas, it is the duty of us writers to find the stories that come from this holiday season. Out of the chaos, or the quiet, we all have access to a story…

Merry Christmas to you all!

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