Doc took shape when I was listening to a lot of Townes Van Zandt and then looked him up. He was a brilliant wreck most of the time and at the end was looked after by his producer’s younger brother. There was a quote in which he said Van Zandt was his first child. Van Zandt described the songs he wrote coming to him as voices—something in the air that was separate from him, a visitation. The story took shape from there. Slowly.
Usually, I’ll write the beginning of a story in a rush—somewhere between a paragraph and two or three pages, hit a wall abruptly, and then need to let it sit anywhere from a month to two years until the rest comes. This was no different. I think I had three paragraphs for half a year before anything became clear. I used to beat myself up over that stuckness, but now I just make sure I’ve got a lot of things on the go at once so I can move between things when something is jammed. Nothing will loosen it but time. I definitely don’t hear voices or anything that fancy but I do think there’s an aspect of creation in which you need to take seriously that the characters will speak to you if you give them time and get out of way as much as you can. So I’m trying.
Kate Cayley has published a collection of short stories and two collections of poetry. Her second collection of short stories is forthcoming from Biblioasis.