I once had a pet squirrel named Elizabeth.
Tis true. We lived up north at the time, so she was a black squirrel – something I’ve discovered to be almost foreign in southern states.
Anyways, my dad worked third shift at the time, so there were only two rules in the house once we woke up. The first, was to be quiet until the old man awoke from his slumber and the second, was to stay in the house. It seems pretty simple and straight forward, right?
Although my brother and I were frequently, if not always, guilty of breaking the sound barrier every morning – we never, ever even thought of going outside until my dad could at least grunt his permission over a fresh cup of black coffee. It was just unheard of.
But… as fortune would have it, one day the temptation was too much for our tiny, little souls to bear. Our curiosity got the better of us as we watched a black squirrel get closer and closer to the back door. Naturally, we were curious and it all started when my brother opened the screen door to see if the squirrel would let him pet it.
Unbeknownst to us, there was something seriously wrong with the squirrel because it not only didn’t mind our nearness, but it had fun crawling all over us. The rest, as they say, is history. The house was forgotten in our haste to hold and cuddle the squirrel, name it, and all the other childish things you do when you’re confronted with a new pet.
Later, when my dad finally awoke, we happened to notice him from outside and oh so sleuth-like, snuck back to bed and pretended to wake up for the day. Obviously, our dad knew better, but he never once said a word to us. Instead, he took us swimming while, again unbeknownst to us, our landlord took care of the squirrel.
Years later my dad revealed that he’d known about our little escapade that day and had watched us with an eagle’s eye to make sure we hadn’t contracted rabies or some other life-altering disease.
But what does this have to do with writing? Simple… Don’t be afraid to go after your squirrel.
Before you ask, I am not implying that people around the world should unite to chase rabid squirrels around their yards. But, what I am saying is that people shouldn’t be afraid of going after the unthinkable.
To two young tykes, petting a squirrel was unthinkable – it would never happen. But it did. Likewise, sometimes the best story that a person will ever write is the one that everyone else would tell you is impossible. Whether it be the mixing of two genres, the unheard of format, the odd ball main character, or what have you.
Don’t let that stop you.
Chase that improbable story anyways. Don’t let the norms of society dictate your next paragraph, your next line, or your next word.
Because when you find that squirrel, it makes for a hell of a memory.