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I’m writing a story. 

It isn’t coming easily, but it also isn’t the deadly slog that the last few attempts have been.  I’m jealous of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman and their repertoire of extraordinary short stories, and while I have no illusions of being their calibre of writer, I do hope one day to be able to boast at least a moderate resume of published material.

It’s sad that when other kids were dreaming of what they would say when they received their Heisman trophies or Best Actor awards, I was holding a shampoo bottle and practicing my Pulitzer Prize speech.  So very sad…

I know that it will come more easily as I get back into practice, but for the moment my brain is struggling to think in narrative structure.  Blogging is very different: short sprints with sharp, punchy structure, pun work, and strict space limitations.  A thousand words in, my story is still in its first act.  It feels vast and roomy by comparison, so roomy that I am feeling a bit agoraphobic wandering through it.  There is little to hold me in. 

I feel, in fact, like a certain guinea pig named Sammie.  Sammie was a barely-welcomed addition to my childhood home, a football-sized rodent that smelled of urine and inconvenience.  After a few weeks of it stinking up our basement, my brother and I decided that Sammie would do better in the wild, so we set his cage outside, opened the door, and waited.

After a few minutes, Sammie nosed his way into the world. 

Then he ran back into his cage.

We suggested he give it another try by upending his cage and shutting the door behind him.  Sammie ran around in a few circles, and then bolted into a six-inch space between the doghouse and the outside wall of the basement.

My brother and I decided that neither of us were cold-hearted enough to let the little bastard die out there, so we took Sammie back in until he obligingly died a year-and-a-half later.

Wandering in the open spaces of narrative fiction, I know now how poor little Sammie felt.  Rest in peace, you urine-soaked little wanker. 

We probably just should have eaten him. It would have saved us a fortune in cedar chips.