Trust Me, Maggie
By Anne Hawkinson
Yeah, she did it again. Maggie’s standing in the woods this time, arms crossed in front of her chest, wondering where I’ve been. She’s a muddy mess and covered in scratches from running through the woods. She’s not happy about my being gone for as long as I was. “Where were you? We were almost trampled to death!”
She doesn’t understand that sometimes I need to step away from the story to clear my head and figure out where it’s going. She doesn’t understand that even when I’m not in front of the computer I’m still thinking, composing, and trying out various scenarios to see which one will be the best fit. I’m doing it for her own good, and for the good of all of the other characters.
If I put them in an impossible situation, they’ll be looking to me to figure it out. If someone gets banged up real good or killed, it’s my fault. I’m the one in the hot seat.
Maggie should know by now that I’m not going to abandon her, or her friends. Heck, this is the second draft! I’m not going anywhere until this thing is done! Maggie’s kind of a serious eleven year-old. She likes structure, she likes to know what’s going to happen – spontaneity is not her strong suit, unlike her best friend Laura, who seems to thrive on it. So when I take a couple days off to figure something out, she comes unglued.
This latest break involved the creation of an encounter by Maggie, Laura, and their new friend Raza with a full grown, bull moose. The story takes place in northern Minnesota, so there has to be a moose. Well, maybe not, but I want one, and it’s my story. So I have to figure out what role this moose is going to play and stage the encounter so no one is seriously hurt or killed. The moose has to fit into the plot and move the story along or else he has no business being there. Maggie thinks I can figure all of that out in five minutes.
“Well, everyone’s okay, right?” I explain to her. “No one got killed and the moose is gone, right?” I don’t tell her that this was just an introduction – he’s going to be back before this story is over and it has to be worse than what she just went through. I think she’s had enough excitement for now. Besides, I need to figure out what he’s going to do next and how it all fits into the story. But I don’t dare take time to figure that out now. If I do, Maggie may get really ticked off and stop speaking to me.