Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. ~ Anne Lamott
I’ve always been fascinated by lighthouses. These towering structures not only served as a navigational aide, but they steered mariners away from cliffs, shorelines and potentially hazardous area. They provided a signal to ships, in the darkness and the fog, when they came too close to these areas. Although there are regional similarities in construction, no two lighthouses have been built the same.
During the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about lighthouses and primarily, the role of the lighthouse keeper. It wasn’t an easy life for the keeper or his family. Every two years they were rotated around the lighthouse stations. Some locations were more isolated and less popular, so the rotation prevented friction from building between the lighthouse station families.
As my mind continued to ponder the life of a lighthouse keeper, I was also debating whether to enter a writing contest. I had entered the contest in the past, but this year the timing didn’t feel right. I was enrolled in an online writing course, so I wasn’t sure if I would have the time to work on a new story.
Then a funny thing started happening; I was seeing pictures of lighthouses everywhere. They were in magazines, on blog posts, on TV and then one day, in the newspaper. I was browsing through the Sunday travel section and there it was an article about the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse located in North Carolina. I took it as a sign. I was meant to write a story about the lighthouse keeper and enter it into the contest.
The character was vivid in my mind. I knew his backstory, like an old friend, but I struggled in my attempt to tell his story. After a couple of weeks, I sat down and wrote the ending of the story. I had never done this before, but it was clear to me how I wanted the story to end.
When I finished the ending, I let it sit. A week later when I opened the Word document, it was as though I had turned on a TV. The story of the lighthouse keeper played out in my head, but this time, from the beginning. I plan to submit the story tomorrow.
Have you ever started something someplace besides the beginning?