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Stories to Tell

Updated: Feb 5, 2018

by David Michael Kirby

If a story is in you, it has got to come out. ~ William Faulkner

Writing is not easy, most of the time. Nor is it particularly fun, at least not in a traditional sense. In all honesty, writing can be a masochistic exercise. So why do it? Because in my experience there is a satisfaction derived in crafting story, unlike any other feeling I know.

I love language and the musicality of words. I am a musician, classically trained in piano and voice, and to my ear, a story well told is as solidly structured and harmonically pleasing as a Bach chorale.

But it ain’t easy.

With these posts for Vermontime, I share my day to day living in Vermont. There wasn’t much adventuring this Saturday because I didn’t finish writing until after six o’clock in the evening. (That’s another thing about writing -- time disappears.) But I am writing in Vermont, and that -- well, that’s special, and something worth talking about.

When I write at my desk in downtown Newark, New Jersey, I put on headphones, playing music to shut out the atonal urban symphony of sirens, trains, traffic, and voices on the street. Here? My windows are open, and the melody of the Deerfield River fills the apartment. I still play music, but it’s part of the fuller environment, not a guard against it.

I spent most of Saturday struggling with language and memory, wrestling to alchemically transform my experience in Weston into an assembly of words that would make sense to my reader. When writing, I sit at my laptop and write, read, delete, rewrite, reread, add, delete, rewrite, reread, and on and on until my gut tells me I’m done.

Once I finished, I ran out to the market for groceries, claiming my free cup of coffee at 7-11 along the way. I decided to take a scenic route, and I’ve been told since I got here that Cooper Hill is the best place to capture a sunrise. I had yet to see it and thought it was time for a scouting trip, in hopes of seeing dawn at least once before my Vermontime is up.

Cooper Hill is unmistakable, a broad meadow sloping down gently to the forest edge. Above the tops of distant trees is a sweeping vista looking east, including New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock. It was a rather sullen evening: overcast, warm and muggy, with hordes of black flies everywhere. (In the dozen-plus photos I took, buzzy, blurry black flecks are in all but one, like irritating UFOs.) A group of Green Mountain Adventure Challengers were climbing the hill, laughing, chatting and posing for photographs against the view while I snapped my shots.

I might have stayed longer, but the persistent insects chased me to my car. Traveling roads I had not yet seen, I arrived at the market a back way. Picking up what I needed (and then some) I returned home for a quiet evening in. After all, I had to be up early the next day for the Vermont Production Council meeting in Manchester.

But that’s another story. Another day.

It will come out. I promise. It’s got to.


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