A Pinnacle to Heaven – The Process

A Pinnacle to Heaven is story number three in the #52ShortStories challenge.

As the epigraph of the story implies, the springboard for this story came from a Robert Frost poem. I’m thinking pulling potential titles from poetry is going to be a regular thing as the imagery just comes so naturally. But…

…that is where the inspiration seemed to end. I really struggled on the first day of planning and brainstorming. It quickly became obvious I was trying to write a story that my subconscious had absolutely no interest in composing.

Here’s the initial mind map:

As you can see, there are only a few items which wound up in the finished story.

After the first day, I was pretty frustrated. The next day, I decided to Write in the Dark and see what happened. I suppose that’s just what I needed because I began to write something that my brain latched on to.

Almost every day, I try to copy a page of prose from a well-respected author. Lately, it’s been Raymond Chandler. I think you can see where the no-nonsense protagonist came from. The language definitely influenced the build of the characters.

I began to weave in and out of different angles in approaching the story. The main thrust of the reformed mobster was always there, but initially, I had an alternate-Earth setting in mind with alternate cultures and religions (a more Buddhist-like religion where the mobster achieved spiritual enlightenment).

I was looking at Sumerian mythology as a model. Just didn’t jibe. Then there was a romance angle I was intent on taking, of which you’ll see on some of the random prose in the scratch file.

In the end, I let go of the reins and stopped fighting the challenge of writing in an uncomfortable voice and setting. Since my first reader (my wife) really liked it, that was enough proof for me that this was another fine example of the invisible magic happening inside our heads.

I’m reminded of a recent dentist visit when the hygenist was trying to scrape clean my back teeth. If I opened my mouth too widely, the jaw muscles tightened and she couldn’t reach them. I had to relax a little and provide some give.

As artists, we can grow too controlling of our work. We’re better off remembering that we’re our minds’ collaborators.

The general scratch file:

The daily journal entries:


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