I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year as a grand experiment. Normally, I’m a plotter (ie: I plan out my fiction heavily in advance). This year, I’m trying the pantser approach (ie: flying by the seat of my pants). I could tell you what I’ve learned about creativity so far … But I decided to tell you a story instead.
Once upon a time, there were two little girls.
One was hopelessly prim. She starched her petticoats and wore ribbons in her hair. She loved teddy bears and china cups. And she always sipped her tea.
The other little girl was much less decorous. She preferred tearing off her petticoats and ripping out her ribbons, which she used to lasso stuffed tigers. She was far more interested in mud than tea. And whenever she did drink a cup, she made a dreadful noise.
The two little girls shared a playhouse. Each afternoon, the prim girl would march in with her best china and arrange her bears for a proper tea. But without fail, just after the first round had been poured, her topsy-turvy neighbor would come tearing in and shower the tea with mud.
“Time for a circus!” she would shout and twirl. “Or maybe a parade. Who wants to be first?”
“Not today,” her prim companion would snip. “The bears and I already have plans. Now take a cup and sit down nicely.”
But the would-be circus master never complied. Instead, before the prim girl knew quite what was happening, she would make off with those bears—capture and hold them for ransom. After that, they might perform in a rodeo. Other times they visited a king or went off on safari.
One day, the prim girl could take it no longer. “You’re no fun at all!” she sobbed, amid spilt tea and stained fur. “First one thing and then the next. Every day is different! Can’t we do things nicely and in order?”
“Plans are boring,” shrugged the topsy-turvy girl. “It’s more fun to make things up as we go.” Then she slurped a huge gulp of tea.
That was the last straw.
Flouncing her well-starched skirts, and flinging back her ribbons, the prim girl pointed at the door. “Get out,” she cried. “Take your surprises and your mess and go somewhere else!”
And so, the topsy-turvy girl did.
For a long time, the prim girl played by herself. The playhouse was neater than it had ever been. The teddy bears, well-groomed. When tea time came, there were no sudden disasters. No messy mud pies. Everything happened on schedule.
But one day, the prim girl realized something was missing. Could it be that she missed her neighbor?
She tried to resist. But at last, when she could stand it no longer, she set out her tea and bears as she always did. Then she swallowed her pride and stepped outside of her neat playhouse, into the wide world beyond.
She found her neighbor not far away. She was waste deep in a hole of mud. Her tigers were half-drowned, her petticoats and ribbons long-gone.
“No circus today,” she was sniffling, trying to pull herself out. “It’s too hot for a parade. Oh, if only someone would lend me a hand!”
“I will,” said the prim girl, stepping off the path with an outstretched hand. “But only if you’ll come back and join me for tea.”
And so the two girls once again shared their playhouse: starch and mud, tigers and bears, slurping and sipping and all. There was a circus in the middle. A parade and a safari, too.
That day, the two girls became more than neighbors under one roof.
They became fast friends.