Finding the story with two hands and a trowel

sandcastleWriters: if you could tell someone what the story you’re working on is about in one word, what would it be?

I have, for the most part of six months, been working on a tale. I have a first draft. It isn’t quite novel length but it’s not far off. I have heard that the first draft is akin to filling the sandpit with sand. You can’t be fussy, you just need to get it in there. The revision process is where you sculpt. A pile of sand isn’t inspiring for anyone. But within the pile an artist sees potential for castles, machines, beasts of the forests, creatures from the depths of the ocean.

In order to sculpt you need to know the form of the thing you’re sculpting, right? You can’t get lost in sinew and fur. The minutiae of ramparts or gills. If a passer by, let’s say a child, was to see you sculpting and, ice-cream melting down her hand, ask you what you’re creating you should be able to tell her, in one word. I’m building a castle, you’d say. Confidently. Without fussing with a description of the windows. Your indecision on the number of turrets. Ice-creams are melting, the world doesn’t have time for an artist’s misgivings. A quick response. Decisive. It is a castle.

I’m not sure what I’m sculpting. I thought I did. I trucked in my heap of sand. It was messy and fun, the fine grains flew about as I merrily shoveled, enjoying the work, loving the broad brush strokes. Now I hover, trowel in hand, looking at my sand from all angles, not sure about the precise form it most wants to take. I am asked what it is I’m making and I don’t know how to answer. The thing changes every time I look at it. It is a sculpture made of mist.

What are you building? How did you know?

About Rachel Watts

I am a writer from Perth, Western Australia. My speculative fiction novella Survival will be released in early 2018. View all posts by Rachel Watts

3 responses to “Finding the story with two hands and a trowel

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