Monday, May 12, 2014

Untold Stories: by Robin Janney

What do you do when you have a story you can't tell?

I wish I knew.  Maybe that's why writing under pen names came about?

Let's face it, some stories are just embarrassing.  If you're married, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Those little moments that are hilarious and make you laugh for years afterwards with the one you shared the moment with, but you can never share with anyone else because of one thing or another.  Like being naked.  A momentary oopsie getting out of the shower and a random comment that brought you to tears with laughter.  Or the moment that you were kissing your spouse and he exhaled through his nose at the same moment you inhaled and so you got a nostril full of his snot - oh wait, he had no problem sharing that story so I guess I can too...(insert maniacal laughter here).  Gross beyond words, but I laughed so hard I cried.

Life's crossing paths, as intricate as any spiderweb...
More years ago than I care to count, I found myself standing in the Montoursville, PA Walmart.  The friend I was with had to run back to grab something she'd forgotten and I just stood there near the front entrance watching people as I waited for her to return.  So many people, going different directions and doing different things.  I was entranced as I wondered how many of their 'stories' intersected without them even knowing. When my friend returned and I shared my musings with her, she reminded me that Montoursville had lost a group of people, mostly high school students, in the TWA 800 crash a few years earlier.  I didn't make the connection until she said something.

That moment has stuck with me for all these years. I'm not 100% certain why.  Something about the thought of all those separate lives crossing paths, sharing joys and grief as old as time, lingers with me.  It is far from a new story idea, I've watched movies and read books with such a  theme.  But it's one I haven't tried for myself yet.

To write a story of people who don't know each other, yet their lives are undeniably intertwined like that, is beyond me at the moment.  I'd love to, but I think I lack the skill. That doesn't mean I won't give it a try someday.  But for now, it sits in the back of my head with all my other stories in waiting:
  • The triplet royalty whose mother commits suicide on the day of the ball celebrating their eighteenth birthday which triggers a tale of epic fantasy involving prophets, witches and demons.  And of course loooove!  I don't think it will ever matter what genre I try to write, Romance will always have its place.
  • Noah and the Archive of Atlantis - what if the accepted story of Noah and the Ark falls far short from the real story?  No doubt, I will cause as much controversy as the new Noah movie that released not that long ago.  Even if I am upfront and honest about not making any attempt to follow the biblical outline.
  • The story of the woman who allowed herself to be reprogrammed in order to become an assassin with the promise to be programmed back, only to find out that her "original" personality was a lie as well...what would it be like to suddenly discover that you had NO idea who you were?  How could you love anyone, or believe that someone loves you for 'who you are'?
  • The woman kidnapped by an alien humanoid race because they thought she was their prophesied ruler.  A case of mistaken identity?  A chance to make a difference?

Imagination: a door worth walking through
Some stories will just take time for me to write and get to.  I'm so focused on my romance series that every other story thought has to take a backseat. Some ideas I have though, come from real life events that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt would make greats stories...but because they're too close and too real, I know that it will be many years before I can begin to tell them.  And then under a pen name so that no one can sue me!  Although I am sure that the passage of time would dull much of the reality of the situation and turn into more fiction.

In so many ways, truth is much stranger than fiction. I'll listen to a tale from my mother about one event of family drama or another and think: I can't dream up stuff this bizarre/dramatic/funny.  And I can dream some pretty wild and wacky dreams!  The first and last story idea that I listed above were born in dreams I had.

A writer will never really want for story ideas.  Even in high school I had notebooks full of ideas.  Of course, back then I was stuck on Star Wars and my dream to write the next chapter but Timothy Zahn beat me to that one!  All I have to do at any given time is talk to people, observe them as they walk in and out of a store, even read their antics in the newspaper, and an idea is there ripe for the taking.

There will never be enough time in the world, enough paper, or enough computer memory, to tell them all.  Some stories will remain untold.

What stories have you read that you wish had remained untold?


  1. Robin, I have no doubts in your ability to do it!! You just have to jump in, feet first, and put words down. Since we started this blog, I keep thinking we need to collaborate on a book sometime. Just throwing it out there. But get "Ring of Fire" done first. ;-) (CPS)

  2. I have to learn to voice ideas before you do because I feel so silly saying, "I've thought of that myself, I just haven't said anything yet." LOL. But yeah, it's on my list of things to do...but Ring first :D