I wish I could remember who said the following: “Where there’s no explanation, there’s a legend.” Whether you call it legend or story, it’s at the heart of writing. Even if your prose or poetry appears to have little or no narrative, there’s a legend or story behind what you wrote. Some call it experience, but it’s experience remembered and, no matter how accurate, it’s your version and may be quite different from the original event.
Classic legends come from family. To offer a simple example, I’m named after my Great Step-Aunt Aline, who was born in the mid-1800s. I believe this is fact because her name is listed on the family tree and my mother told me that she named me after her. So far, so good. How Aunt Aline got her name, however, is legend and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s entirely invention.
Supposedly, Aunt Aline’s mother was pregnant at the same time as another woman on the other side of Lochaline, where the doctor also resided. As the doctor couldn’t be on both sides of the loch at the same time, Aline’s father was instructed to row his wife across the loch when the birth time came to ensure that both women could be attended to by the doctor. When Aline’s father finally got around to rowing his wife across the loch, he was too late. She gave birth in the bottom of the boat. Infuriated, she named their daughter Aline in order to ensure that he never forgot (as if he could).
Legend? Fact? Fiction? Who knows? But it’s a great story.
[Photo courtesy of https://www.airbnb.co.uk/s/Lochaline]