This 23,000+ word story evolved from what was planned as a short story to be called The Campfire. It was going to be based on a picture that was the runner up to Union Station in one of my Pick A Picture Get A Story Written contests.
This photograph showing two teenage boys and a girl sitting in front of a campfire was important to the story I developed. I wondered about who the girl was… and why one of the boys sitting next to the other seemed to lean away. In my experience, at that age if you had an opportunity to sit next to a pretty girl you did. And hoped for/enjoyed the occasional brush of hip against hip or shoulder on shoulder; even the random touch was delightful. Thinking about that, the rush of feelings that come with young love, in the story I wove mention of 17 songs popular back in 1974/75 (half the story takes place then and half in the present). That helped a great deal in bringing back my own memories of what that young love felt like; the hope and dream of it… the anticipation.
As I spun off of that initial thought, the story became increasingly more about Robert Sterling (the name I gave the boy closest to the girl in the campfire picture, but who now, in the story, is approaching 60). How his life unfolded, what happened to him, and what he sees through an old camera his recently deceased (institutionalized) mother left him. The story takes him back to his hometown… to a place, events, and memories of someone he’d pushed from his mind 40 years ago. He faces things he didn’t want to remember about what happened to him, to his friend… and to her, his first love.
I can’t speak for other writers but I know this. When I’m writing and hooked deeply into the story and I know deep inside it’s good I get tingles up my neck. I felt it when writing the story and feel it now as I write this. I think many of my readers were touched the same way. Scan my readers feedback/comments page if you’re interested to see what others thought about the story.
The picture you see is the progression of how the story went from what was planned as The Campfire, at about 3,000 to 4,000 words, to Through a Lens of Dark & Light, a novella.