word craft


Story Behind the Story #13:
Smuggler’s Island

Smuggler's IslandPeo­ple are con­stant­ly telling writ­ers, “I have a great sto­ry for you.”

If the writer is patient he/she will hear a nar­ra­tive about some­thing that hap­pened to the sto­ry­teller. Truth to tell, some­times these are good and even inter­est­ing sto­ries, but sim­ply don’t res­onate with the writer. More often than not, they are sim­ply curi­ous nar­ra­tives that do not have much lit­er­ary pos­si­bil­i­ty. Of course, the tellers of these tales are not inter­est­ed in writ­ing the sto­ry themselves.

But in one instance some­one did tell me a sto­ry which caught my atten­tion. It hap­pened this way.

Joe, an acquain­tance of mine, not a par­tic­u­lar­ly close friend, approached me quite out of the blue in the library where I was work­ing, and loud­ly announced, “I have a sto­ry for you.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“When I was a kid, I’d spend my sum­mers with my grand­moth­er on Cape Map (New Jer­sey). This was dur­ing pro­hi­bi­tion. Every Thurs­day night she would lock me in her house because smug­glers were bring­ing in liquor. Try­ing to keep me out of trouble.”

That’s all he said, and with those words, he went off.

The more I thought about it, the more Joe’s sto­ry appealed to me. In fact, Joe’s tale was the basis for the book I wrote, Shadrach’s Cross­ing. Sub­se­quent­ly, it would be repub­lished under a dif­fer­ent title, Smug­gler’s Island.

The moral: When some­one says “I have a sto­ry for you,” listen.

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