Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Where Stories Come From



Sometimes stories arrive as a gift. This is how my story, Amazing!, in the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special (Oct 14), came to be written.

A couple of months ago, Noah was playing in the garden with his water gun and chatting to me as I worked in the kitchen.

I heard a cat mew.

“Is that Harley?” I asked.

“No, it’s Tiger.”

I did a little “Aren’t kids funny” kind of smile and went outside.

Tiger is Noah’s cat. Of course it couldn’t possibly be him. He’s just over a year old, has never been to my house and besides, it’s a twenty minute walk from my house to theirs with a very busy main road and lots of smaller roads in between.

The beautiful tabby cat on the fence mewed a greeting as I went over.

“Well hello,” I said. “You’re a friendly boy aren't you?”

I stroked the cat. “He looks very much like Tiger,” I said. “Identical in fact.”

“It IS Tiger,” said Noah.

Well blow me, what a coincidence. He was wearing the same collar and as my eyes fixed on the heart shaped name-tag – identical to Tiger’s, I saw his name. And still my logical mind wouldn’t allow me to believe it.

“Well look at that, he’s called Tiger too.” Then the name tag swung round and I saw the address.

Talk about panic! Even though he was clearly going nowhere, I grabbed him and rushed round like something possessed, yelling for help while Dusty ran round after me and Noah carried on nonchalantly squirting his water gun.

I took him inside while husband and eldest son looked doubtfully at the cat I had kidnapped.

“Are you SURE it’s Tiger?”

“Yes, 100%.”

“Did you check his name tag?”

Honestly, did they think I was stupid?! But I’d been just as unbelieving a few minutes before, so I couldn’t blame them.

I texted my daughter at work to let her know and she phoned me and told me that Tiger had been missing for three days. She hadn’t told me because she knew I’d worry.

How did he find his way to our house? We have no idea, but thank goodness he did. I took one photo of him after I brought him indoors. He looks quite unperturbed doesn’t he? He really couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.



He is an extraordinary cat. He’ll leap into your arms from the floor and wrap his paws round your neck before kissing your face all over. He has a heart condition which has resulted in him being slightly smaller than other cats, but he has a huge personality and he is the most gentle, sweet natured cat you could ever wish to meet. I love him to bits.

I knew I had to get a story from this experience and so I built Amazing! round it. The story isn’t about a remarkable cat, but a woman who has amazing things happening all around her. But the story was gifted to me by a remarkable cat.


You can build a story around almost anything. It doesn’t have to be something amazing or unusual. You’ll know when there is a story there because you’ll feel it. I saw something yesterday, something quite ordinary (a young woman with a buggy), but I know there is a story to be told. I’m just letting it fester at the moment. I’m a great believer in letting your subconscious do some of the work for you and I know eventually a character will appear in my mind and it will be her story I will tell.


32 comments:

  1. What an amazing cat Tiger must be! Not quite as scary as the time William, then aged 2, was spotted walked down an alleyway in Maidenhead, a hundred yards from home.
    "That looks like William," a neighbour mused before realising that it was indeed my errant grandson who had managed to open his mother's front door. He'd gone down the Main road through Maidenhead and was headed for the train station! Cats and kids :-) X

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    1. Thank goodness the neighbour saw him. My eldest son escaped once at the same age (early one morning when we were still sleeping) and the first I knew he'd been out was when he woke me up pushing snow in my face! Boys! :-) x

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  2. First comment got swallowed!
    What a fantastically clever cat. And I'll get WW to read your 'Amazing!' story.
    xx

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    1. He is very clever, Pat and very gentle. They have another kitten and he looks after her like a mum :-) x

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  3. What an amazing story and a brilliant post. Thanks for that Teresa.

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  4. What a relief that Tiger found his way to your house and what a lovely, clever cat! I'll pick up a copy of WW next time i'm out.xx

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    1. Another odd thing was that he'd been missing before and I dreamt that he was in the lanes near our house and almost went there to look for him, except I thought he'd never have come this far. But maybe he did :-) x

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  5. An amazing story and brilliant and inspiring post as always, Teresa. Thank you, Is the special out now? :o) xx

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    1. Yes I believe so, Sue - It's the October issue :-) x

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  6. A truly amazing story. What a fantastic post, Teresa. It's fascinating to find out the origins of a story and how experiences can be stored in the subconscious to re-emerge in our writing. Tiger is absolutely wonderful and how relieved you daughter must have been that he had turned up safely at your house. xxx

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    1. Yes, she was over the moon, Joanna :-) x

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  7. I agree with everything that's been said and I feel quite inspired now and my jaded eyes are open to fresh observations. Thank you, Teresa!

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  8. Teresa, I've got tears in my eyes, because I like to think that Fizz guided Tiger along the way to keep him safe. Maybe he wants to live with you.xxx I've got the mag, picked it up yesterday, and I've read oops, that was lovely, so working my way through. Now I have to read that one next. xxxx

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    1. I must admit that crossed my mind, Susan. It was quite soon after we lost Fizz. He wouldn't want to live here though. It was as if he came by to say hello and - touch wood - he hasn't done any more wandering since :-) x

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  9. Oh, I wish I had Tiger's sense of direction I can get lost, even with a satnav. Cats are quite extraordinary, aren't they. Had he ever been to your house before?

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    1. No, he'd never been here before, Frances. I'm sure they must have a sense that we just aren't aware of. I heard recently of one locally that made a 15 mile journey. Amazing x

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  10. Aaaw - that really is amazing! If Harvey found his way to somewhere, it would be the place we least wanted him to go. Like in the canal. He did escape once and was spotted waiting patiently by the 58 bus stop. What for? Who knows?! x

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  11. Oh how funny - Harvey waiting at the bus stop! When I used to go to school on the bus, I got off once to find my dog waiting for me. It was a wonderful moment - I felt as if I'd stepped right into the pages of a book :-) x

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  12. I love cats! They're so clever and people often underestimate them. Tiger sounds a real character. I'm so glad he's safe. You're right and story ideas are everywhere. I think that allowing them to fester is good advice. In fact, I have a few festering in my sub-conscious as I write.

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  13. Cats are so clever aren't they... Well mayby my Bobs isn't.

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    1. I think when they appear not to be clever, they are being clever in making us think they're not, if you see what I mean, Wendy :-) x

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  14. Totally agree, Teresa. I'm always on the lookout for inspiration from the most trivial of events.

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    1. And sometimes it hits you when you least expect it to, Keith :-) x

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  15. Just bought TABFF and really loved your heart warming story, The made-up boyfriend. I could learn so much from you.

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    1. Thank you so much, Maggie, that is so kind of you x

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  16. Glad Tiger found his way to your home. Lovely method of story inspiration too.

    I haven't had time to read my copy of the Fiction Special yet, but I'll look forward to reading it, now I know the background to it. :)

    Agree that the subconscious workings can help a lot.

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    1. He's been an inspiration before, Carol :-) x

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