Nov 22
Non-fiction 0 comments

Willie -- The YapNet Story

This is a story about a story. I've made it public to show how this community has helped me with early feedback and suggestions to improve the story. The community was successful. My revisions made it better. To the point that the story was chosen to be given a stage presentation in seven shows in December by the Vermont Stage Company. Thank you. You can see and hear the story by clicking here.

First the background: This fall I spent a full day taking pictures — and I mean 12 hours full — at the Tunbridge Fair in eastern Vermont. I love fairs. They are photo-licious. And fun. I spent time taking pictures of people's hands, then just feet, then faces, then action. At one point in the morning, I saw the young farmers you see in the photo above and got the photo. As I followed them, through my lense, into the barn, I saw the a man standing in the corner (the second photo). I took several pictures of the man. I noticed people coming up to him, shaking his hand, some patting his shoulder or arm. Sometimes he'd look down on the ground and poke pebbles with his boot and other times he'd laugh and reveal that he had few teeth left or he'd look the person straight in the eye and smile.

At a lull, when no one was around him, I walked up, introduced myself and asked if I could take pictures of him.

"Sure," he said. "Hope it doesn't bust the camera." So I took several shots and talked to him while I was shooting.  I asked him if he had some cows in the barn. "No," he said, "I passed the farm onto my son a year ago but he died this summer so we sold it all off." 

I'm not sure why he told me that, why he shared such a startling and tragic story to a stranger, but he did. I was stunned. I lowered my camera and said how sorry I was and he replied, looking away, "We'll get by." The man's story stayed with me all day and that night, as I was making the drive home, I started filling in the gaps, answering the inherent questions.  When I got home I rushed in to write. On YapNet. Composed it right then and there, with a picture, though by then it had become fiction, pivoting on one sentence that was real.

YapNet folks responded. You clearly were engaged with the idea, with the character I had created and you offered suggestions. And questions. That got me to thinking more. And so I shared drafts. And I got more feedback. I made more revisions.

Eventually, I sent it to the director of Vermont Stage. She loved it. And she, too, had some spot-on suggestions. She then put it on stage. How cool.

So it began with an idea, that I shared. Your suggestions took me to ideas and thoughts and concepts I wouldn't have had otherwise. Additional drafts brought me additional suggestions. And affirmation. I kept going. I kept at the process of editing, strengthening, clarifying, editing.  The final version is much different — deeper and more complex – than the original. That, I believe, is what we all try to achieve with our writing, our art, our ideas.

Thank you. Further proof that this site, this community, has a purpose and potential.