This morning I saw the story of George Raveling on the "CBS Sunday Morning News" show. Decades ago, Raveling showed up--at the last minute--to the march on Washington, volunteered to help with security (there were lots of celebrities, like Marian Anderson and Sammy Davis, Jr. in the front rows) and when Dr. King stepped away from the podium and was beginning to ball up the copy of his I Have a Dream speech, Raveling asked if he could have it. At that moment, a rabbi stepped up to introduce himself, and King handed George Raveling the three typewritten pages and the moment was over.
For several decades, the copy of the historic speech stayed where it had been stashed--tucked in the middle of an Eisenhower biography...until someone asked him how it felt to be the first black basketball coach of something-or-other (my eyes glaze over when it comes to sports) and the interviewer asked him if he had gotten involved in the Civil Rights movement. Raveling mentioned he'd heard King's famous speech, and had the copy. Ever since he realized its importance, it's been framed and is protected. He's offered it to museums, stipulating that they sign papers stating the speech belongs to him...They've refused. He's been offered 3.5 million for it. He's refused. He's since given the speech to his son, with the stipulation that it never be sold.
Sorry. I've spent a lot of words telling the "back story" and now I'm finally to what blew me away.
The words "I have a dream" are nowhere in those three typed pages. Nowhere.
There are, however, several spots where an asterisk was penciled in. And those were where King took off, adlibbing, making a four-minute speech into a sixteen-minute speech...transforming a powerful piece into an unforgettable moment.
If your story is moving along, in a certain direction, but then veers off in another...perhaps it's a good thing. Embrace the spontaneous moments. Make use of the ideas that suddenly and unexpectedly burst in your brain.
After all, it might transform your tale into something even better...
By the way, I just got word that my stories in two upcoming Chicken Soup books---Think Positive For Kids and Just Us Girls--have made it to the final round and will be included in those collections. Without my critique group, the felonious (at least in our daydreams) WWWPs, these slice-of-life stories would not have had a chance of getting published, so not only do I believe in the power of spontaneity, I also believe in the power of critique...