the story so far

Finding Inspiration

Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. Most of the time, actually. November is one of those times. I’ve committed myself to the NaBloPoMo blogging challenge, I’ve picked up where I left off with a novel I’ve always wanted to write for NaNoWriMo, I’m taking a TEFL course, and I’m starting a new job. That’s only four things, but anybody who’s lived a day knows that the headline stuff isn’t what takes up most of our time. It’s the little stuff in between.

That said, I don’t know how I’m even going to stay on top of the headline stuff. I’m sticking with my blogging challenge come hell or high water, and I have to finish my TEFL course in order to go to China for my job in January. (Did I mention that the Beijing-in-December thing fell through? Well, it did.) And since I’ve been in between jobs for a couple weeks, I’m behind on all the things in my life that require money, so the job thing can’t take a back seat. That leaves NaNoWriMo, which is kind of okay, because I don’t ever see myself finishing a novel anyway.

I’ve started two serious novels in my life, and finished neither. When I was a kid I wrote stories all the time, but they were kid ventures. I’ve written one short vignette and had it published, but even most of my friends who read it don’t like it all that much. I’ve edited it a billion and one times, and last night I decided it needed just one more revision. My novels, on the other hand, hardly even take off. I’ve had a third of one novel completed for several years now, and I can’t bring myself to go back and pick up where I left off. And then I started a new one recently.

This new one I’m pretty excited about. For the first time since starting to write stories, I know the entire story in my head from start to finish before I even started. Usually I just have the beginning and an inkling of an ending, and nothing to populate the middle with. Maybe my ideas are better suited to short stories than to longer novels. I don’t know. Either way, in only a couple of days of working on my new story, I’m about 6000 words in, and have a very clear outline, so I’m excited to pursue it.

I don’t want to give it all away (hahaha not that it matters…) but my story is about a house. People come and go from it, and that changes the character of the house, but the story is basically from the perspective of the house. Some of its tenants it likes, some it doesn’t. I was trying to look back and figure out where I got the idea to write this at all, and it finally clicked.

When I was about 11 years old our class had to memorize a poem each week. One week we were assigned a poem called The House With Nobody In It by Joyce Kilmer. I’m fairly certain that’s where it all began. So in light of that stunning beam of ultraviolet inspiration, I’ve decided to share this poem with you. I think it’s simply beautiful.



The House With Nobody In It

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I’ve passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn’t haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn’t be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I’d put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I’d buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I’d find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there’s nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do,
a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby’s laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it’s left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can’t help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

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