Written by Liza Martini for MagicBeans Bookstore
By an odd turn of events, my third story was published first. The first two were near completion and ready for a professional edit. I think this may be how it happened: I should have purchased the little caroler figurine at that summer tent sale, but instead I snapped a picture and set her to my desktop background—a “promise to keep Christmas in my heart”, until, one morning as I sat at my desk working, I sensed the caroler was trying to tell me something.
I held my fingers poised over the keyboard, and listened; then I began to type. What neither of us thought to notice was the wooden nutcracker standing at attention next to my computer. As I typed he was practically vibrating with insistence that he be included. “After all”, he seemed to say, “you’re about to
pen a Christmas story, and there’s a lot more to be said than has been said, and I’m just the fellow to say it!”
Now you may be wondering, “Is there anything really left to say about Nutcracker?” Most emphatically, yes! Especially when Christoph Zacharias Drosselmeier is allowed to say it in his own words. Yet, oddly enough, he seemed reluctant at first. But Carol was very patient with him, and soon he began to spill the beans—with a little prodding from a glorious tree-topping angel who, unimpressed with his regalia, found him sadly lacking in character.
That is how the story began—a sort of balancing act between a 19th century Christmas caroler, a soldier from the Napoleonic era, and timeless heavenly being, each with their unique history. Soon, I was merely taking down the facts as described by Christoph, Carol, and Glory.
I find story themes wherever I turn. The tricky part has always been to harness ideas before they evaporate. Someone described it like a river that’s constantly flowing through your semi-conscious mind. Ideas bob up and disappear before you’ve had a chance to look them over. They’re soon swallowed by the current leaving only a vague impression in the flotsam of your memory. Even if you
fish one out and begin to give it form, it never shapes up quite like you saw it, glistening playfully in the sunlight for those few seconds.
Writing is hard work.
But to do the hard work of getting the story down, hammering it here, chiseling it there, polishing the overall form until it has a life of its own, is very exciting. Those first two stories are now in production, but a myriad of half-formed tales fill the file cabinets of my mind, demanding I speak order over the
chaos. These are demanding voices that will not be ignored. So, I sit at my laptop, typing on, backspacing quite a lot, and then moving forward again, never sure of the end result.
I think of it as a service to all the unsung heroes of the imagination, and not just mine. I’m only telling a piece of a very long, long story.
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