A few weeks ago, one of my livelier coworkers asked me what I was writing this November. I didn’t want to tell him that that was one of my least favorite questions to hear.
It’s a simple question, formed out of one of the more basic human kindnesses (interest) and yet, the answer is never simple. My initial fall into writerly angst (“I really only know what I hope it is!”) is right out. A long answer always seems ungainly and not actually what was requested. The short answer, “A story,” is, at best, snarky, and at worst, an unintentional request for the asker to step backward out of my life and off the planet. Crafting something in the middle is almost as much work as writing the whole story down.
I told my coworker I was retelling Cinderella. I told him I was going to make the fairy godmother the main character.
He asked if I was going to show more of her beneficiaries.
“Sort of,” I said. “She’s sort of half a Cinderella herself, and then there’s another half Cinderella.”
He stopped, stared. “She’s her own fairy godmother?”
He cocked his head. As if I had just set the world at a slant, and he was just trying to maintain proper perspective. “How can she do that?”
I don’t remember how I answered. I remember thinking that if I could explain that in a sentence, then I wouldn’t need to write the book. I also remember feeling a bit like the town idiot, like maybe this isn’t the brilliant idea that I think it is, and maybe I should step back, back, backward off the planet.
But this November I am writing a story about Cinderella’s fairy godmother. She’s also Cinderella and she’s another Cinderella’s best friend. And I’m writing a story where it makes sense that Prince Charming would go on a hunt around the kingdom for his “true love,” testing eligible maidens with a lost shoe. And there are no talking mice, no actual magic, and lots and lots of financial planning. I’m very excited about it.
Any other questions this month will be answered with, “Right now, I’m calling it Miscellaneous Chihuahua Noises.”
That should explain everything.