Any long-time reader of this blog should know that I attempt to write a five-part short story every month with 5 Saturdays. It’s an attempt to practice my writing skills. In the beginning of its conception, I thought it would help motivate me to write on a regular basis. That has not panned out as planned. Whenever I look at the calendar and see a 5 Saturday month approaching, I tend to get a little anxious. Mainly because I don’t even have an idea formulating. Such was my predicament toward the end of September. October had five Saturdays and was drawing closer, what was I going to do? Should I keep this goal or file it away as a “no longer applicable” ambition tucked away with other goals I have moved away from. No, I wanted to keep the practice. So, what to write? The week before October 1, I finally sat down and wrote the first chapter of The Car Wash.
It is always difficult for me to come up with an idea. I had many thoughts of stories, but none seemed viable. Which one could I stretch out for five chapters? I couldn’t latch on to any of the ideas I had. None of them caught my fancy past the initial idea.
Not going to lie, I started to panic. Each weekend as October drew closer and I didn’t even have an idea let alone a story I thought, “this is it. I guess this is where it all ends.” Followed by, “am I really ready for it to end?” And that was followed by a weak, “no.” Then I would start the process over again of running through ideas. Nope. Not yet. Nada. Nothing.
Finally, the weekend before October, I sat in line at the car wash. For some reason, I don’t know where it came from, I thought of a scenario where a man enters the car wash married and leaves single. In fact, the exact quote that flashed in my mind was “I entered married and left single.” I have no idea where that thought came from. It certainly didn’t apply to my situation. But as I went through the car wash I thought each chapter could be a different cycle of the wash.
It didn’t seem like a lot to go on so the next question was, “could I make it work?” A week before my personal deadline, the answer was “you are going to make it work.” I went home and thought of what kind of situation someone would have to be in to be so oblivious that he didn’t realize his marriage had already fallen apart. I decided to go with the story of Chadwick. Instead of him being a victim that a reader would pity, I decided to make him unaware because of his personality.
The first chapter I deliberately kept the wife out of view. It was my hope that subtlety would be the first showing of Chadwick’s character. The reader was unaware that his wife was right next to him until the very end of the first chapter. This is very much Chadwick’s world told to us through his wife’s lens.
At first, I was not going to name the wife at all. This was to be her story focused solely on Chadwick. I thought it would enhance both their characters. In the end though, I did name her. Literally, at the end. In fact, I had the story scheduled to publish and I edited it to include her name. I thought finding out her name at the end would hopefully give weight to her story. How she came into her own finally through growth. She was no longer just Chadwick’s wife; she was her own person.
I would like to point out that I am actually very much pro-marriage. I believe in it; I support it. But I also believe that not all people should be married. Growth happens, lessons are learned. Sometimes it is better to move on. There are worse things than being single.
Because Chadwick became such an unpleasant character, I did include a warning with each chapter. I hoped the characters would ring true and if they did – if I was successful – I didn’t want any reader to experience discomfort. The warning seemed a bit excessive, but I decided to err on the side of caution.
I hope you enjoyed reading The Car Wash. Look for another short story in December. Although don’t ask me what it will be. We will find out in a month.