History as grist for story . . .

The Greek Theatre in Taormina, Sicily, with Mt Etna in the background

Long ago, when we were young(er!), we visited Sicily several times, falling in love with the island. On one of our holiday adventures, we persevered and actually found the mausoleum, high up on Mt Venere above Caselmola, where the doughty Florence Trevelyan reached her last resting place. Not many tourists, we figured, actually make that pilgrimage. I’d thought I might try to create a television series about her life, or a film script, and we even visited the Trevelyan archives at the University of Newcastle for preliminary research. This daughter of Northumberland lived a full and eventful life.

But that was then, and this is now. Yesterday I received a task, a challenge, from the friendly Globe Soup folks: in the next seven days, write a short story, to a maximum of 2000 words, with your randomly assigned genre, on a specific theme that’s shared among all the different genres. Somehow, when I clocked that my genre was ‘Gothic’ and the theme was ‘Forgiveness,’ I immediately had the crepuscular fiction of Guido Gozzano and his muse Florence in mind. Gozzano’s short story Alcina may be inspired by Florence, sited as it is in the Greek Theatre in Taormina. I set to directly, and by the middle of the afternoon I had 2000 words of story. I’ve spent the next hours finessing, and I expect to submit the story well within the deadline.

I realised, even during the creative burst, that I was attempting to displace a fortnight of emotional distress, to put all those cares and concerns to one side and to travel into that beloved ‘flow’ that stills the mind and brings an out-of-self peace. But I was surprised at how easily the story came together, almost as if there had been a subdued, repressed cry for forgiveness within.

I began to try to forgive myself. Or maybe I found some resolution in the gothic tradition, and maybe the story-telling helped to make some sense of the upheavals and the eventual calm that has transpired. Stories do have a beginning, a middle, and yes, most definitely, an end.

Without that ending, perhaps, it’s impossible to begin again. At any rate, my joy this morning is all caught up in reviewing the story, thinking about the placement of the tantalisers, helping it live.

Opening the way to another adventure in life.

One response to “History as grist for story . . .”

  1. Larry, I had 3 years of Latin. Please don’t mock my study of a dead language bc it served me well in college & seminary & beyond when I could still remember the vocabulary. Re: the latest request you received for a story & your thoughts about it I must exclaim, “Eugepae! Sophos!” Because of the ruins pictured & background of your story I thought that Latin would be appropriate for praise. I did not research period appropriate Latin so don’t grade me on that score. I do hope your article is published! Write on, Henry


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