That’s what the little boy who lived next door called it. He had no imagination. The entire neighborhood knew Larry was going to grow up to be a scientist, or a mathematician. (Sidebar-last I knew he was working for NASA)
A little backstory I grew up commuting between my great-grandparents’ farm in upstate New York, my cousin’s house in Miami, Florida, and New Jersey, eleven miles outside of New York City. A ripe setting for an imaginative child. Best of all, this was in the halcyon days of sending your kid outside to play after breakfast and not looking for them until supper. Add to that the fact that I was the only girl in any of my venues. We were a posse. We were a military division. We helped the Lone Ranger and Tonto track the evil doers. We road with Roy Rogers. We hitched rides in pickup trucks looking for Lassie, and almost all of us wanted to fly like Sky King.
My job in this grand army of boy children was the creative director. I didn’t know it then, but what I was doing was honing my story skills. We’d meet outside on my porch right after breakfast and talk about who needed saving and who needed killing. I’d lay out the inciting incident, take the group through a quick outline of the never sagging middle and bring the story home with a burst of glory at the end. Then we’d head for the park, or the fields, or the river and immerse ourselves in the story, creating sets and dialogue, learning to shape reality from fantasy. Let me assure you, it is possible to make fire from two sticks. But it takes a lot of work. We believed in authenticity whenever possible!
All except for Larry. His job was to bring us water and ice pops in the summer, and a steaming thermos of hot chocolate in the winter. He’d show up every morning on my porch, eager to hear about what we were going to do. Every morning I’d ask him if he was going to play with us too, and he would shake his head and say, “Kait, it’s just a fig newcome of your amalgamation. None of it is real. I’ll just help.” Took me years to figure out that fig newcome of your amalgamation meant figment of your imagination. Larry kept right on saying it that way until girls grew cooties and I learned to confine my stories to paper. He probably still says it that way.
So, where’s that fig newcome today? Ah, tucked away as my secret weapon. All it takes is the tiniest spark to ignite it. A glance, a snippet of conversation, a vignette of interaction, and that fig newcome is off and running. It spins whole plots from gossamer wisps of what ifs. Brings scenes and chapters to life and never, ever, fails to entertain me and helps me bring the story home, with a burst of glory at the end.
What about you? Do you have a fig newcome?