Writing always begins with a single story.


“Wish I could write,” says she.

“You can,” say I.

“No, I can’t.”

“Yes, you can.”

“I can’t even type.”

“Yes, I’ve seen you do it.”

“Not very well.”

“So, tell me, what would you write?”

“I have a story.”

“About what?”

“A butterfly.”

“A butterfly?”

“In the mountains.”

“A butterfly in the mountains?”


“Well, write your story about the butterfly in the mountains.”

“I told you, I can’t type.”

“Write it in longhand on paper. I’ll put it into the computer for you.”

She goes off to write.

Write the story she says she cannot write.

In a little while, she returns.

Returns with the story about the butterfly in the mountains she says she cannot write.

I put the story into the computer.

“Good story.”

“Thank you.”

“Now just leave your story in the computer. Let it rest. Let it cook. Come back later and polish it.

“Then come back later still and polish it again.

“Then . . .”

“I have another story,” says she, smiling.

“Another story?”

“Yes. Actually I have two other stories.”

The makings of a writer?

Think so.

Yes, I think so.

With but a single, short, short story to show for it?

About a butterfly in the mountains?

And a couple of other stories she’s yet to get on paper?

Get into the computer.

Think so.

Yes, I think so.

How can I possibly know that, think that?

Because I know of someone – someone some words back, some stories back – who started out much the same way.

With but a single story.

But then quickly with an idea for a second story.

And then a third.

And then . . .

Plus someone to encourage that those stories be put down on paper.

Maybe not stories initially much heralded or of much significance.

Maybe not even much read.

If at all.

But starter stories.

Essential starter stories that point encouragingly to the writing path some so passionately want to take.

Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at wrs_author@summersights.com

Washboard Road

Please click the book cover image to read more about Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    And it’s always amazing how one single and often simple idea, like a butterfly in the mountains, can trigger the grist for a whole novel. It can be romance or it can be murder. It all depends on what the butterfly does.

  • Butterflies have very brief lives. The one in the mountains could live forever.

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