Peeking “Behind the Curtain”

First, I have to confess that I almost titled this blog “Behind the Curtain of Behind the Curtain,” which would have been ridiculous.

Second, if you haven’t read “Behind the Curtain,” my newest short story, head over here to read about it or download it here: BehindTheCurtain-NickHayden. Most of what follows assumes you’ve read it.

Third, though it appeals to me to talk a bit about my inspiration concerning “Behind the Curtain,” I’m also cautious of adding anything to the work. A story should stand and speak on its own, without its author having to explain it. It might be best if I said nothing. But I wanted to write a blog, and this topic was the first to come to mind. So let’s keep it brief, shall we?

I guess I’ll just say this: the route from inspiration to first paragraph to ending to revision is a convoluted one. Inspiration can start a story, but it has a hard time of ending one until I’ve put words on the page and discovered what shape the flesh takes on the bones. And then when I find the end, I have to surgically alter the beginning to make the two halves into one complete and coherent beast.

So, where did this story start? In the Old Testament.

A few months ago I started jotting ideas in a little notebook, and many of the ideas came from verses I read in the Bible. What appeals to me is the concept, the hinted of the larger shape, that the verse holds.

In the case of “Behind the Curtain,” I was reading Exodus. Chapters and chapters detail the specifications of the Tabernacle. It struck me how much work went into a place only priests could enter. Then, the centerpiece, the Ark of the Covenant, sat in the Holy of Holies, where only one person, once a year, could enter.

Think of that–the heart of God’s great project, and no one can see it.

That was the inspiration, the kernel, the shadow of something large and mysterious I wanted to distill, in some manner, into a short story.

But how to make it a story? Well, that’s the hard part.

If it was easy, I wouldn’t have so many ideas in that notebook and so few new stories.

Maybe I can manage more soon.

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