Fictionalize It!: Part 1

Howdy folks and folkettes,

This week I’m starting a three part series on fictionalizing every day experiences. Why? Well, because that’s what writers do and I think ya’ll might benefit from seeing how I take a real event or story and transform it into fiction. Let’s face it: fiction writers take their own experiences or experiences from others and turn them into stories. These things don’t come out of thin air.

So, to start it off, I’ve written a literary version of one of my own experiences, sticking to the actual event and experience as truthfully as possible. Next week, I’ll look back at the “real” version of the story and rewrite it by changing the setting, characters, narrator, plot structure, and genre. And then finally, I’ll invite you folks to submit your own fictionalized version of the story. So, here it is, the “real” version of the story.

 

Birdfeeder

“What the—”

I looked past the railing of the back deck to the little rock oak in the woods. On the ground beside the tree, I saw the weathered white of the birdfeeder. Dropping my kindle on the table next to the chair I got up, passed through the gate at the top of the stairs, walked through burned-up grass past the ugly hill of dirt and weeds and rock still there from when the yard was graded.20150809_190542_resized

“Too much damn seed,” I said out loud. Yea that’s right. I talk to myself when I’m alone. Who doesn’t?

I picked up the birdfeeder and thought of that time a year ago when the face board of the front porch rotted out because the bird seed fell in the crack between—well, the crack between the face board and the board behind it. I don’t know what that one’s called. Who cares.

“We’ll need to find a new place for it,” I had said to my wife. I swore and talked to myself as I routed out the rotten wood and filled it with epoxy.

“It’ll be better out there in the woods,” I had said when I came in from patching the hole. “I’ll attach one of those—what do you call ‘em, little arm things right to that tree.” I pointed through bathroom window.

“We won’t be able to see it then,” she had said.

I shook my head. “You’ll see it fine from the back deck. Unobstructed view. I’ll screw it right to the tree.”

And that’s what I did.

A year later I squatted beside the feeder next to the tree. I took off the top and dumped some seed on the ground. I hung it back up on the arm-thingy attached to the tree and walked back up to the back deck to my chair and my book.

An hour or so passed. My wife walked out and my daughter was napping. “Hey,” she said. “Hey. Look at him!”

She pointed towards the feeder. It was some yellow and black bird. I don’t know the name. But I wasn’t thinking of the name either. I thought of the screw in the tree and how some folks say it’s harmful. I thought of the wood rotting out on the front porch. I thought of all the destruction we cause in caring for things that don’t notice us. I looked up towards my smiling wife noticing the bird on the feeder. I looked back over at the bird.

It isn’t the bird, after all, that I’m caring for.

 

And that’s my story. Check me out next week for the rewrite.

About Eric James-Olson

Eric James-Olson writes novels and short stories. Currently, he's working on a coming-of-age novel set in the Panhandle of West-Virginia. Check out the "Novels by Eric James-Olson" tab above for the titles of his other books. In addition to writing, James-Olson is a high school English teacher, an amateur woodworker, and an outdoor enthusiast. He lives with his wife and daughter in West Virginia. View all posts by Eric James-Olson

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