Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Curing the What Ifs...? (or: How I Learned My Insomnia Could End), Part 1

I know I had kind of a negative post yesterday, so I'm sorry about that.  I think every writer goes through it at some point.  I also believe bad writers don't, and that's why I haven't enjoyed a number of books I've read in the past.

I don't work a high-end job (even with my fancy college education).  I deliver pizza.  Most of the people I work with freely admit that they use books only for the purpose of even-ing out that short leg on the dining room table.  But, as a matter of social politeness, I ask them about their kids/pets/cars/spouses/that thing they mentioned last time we talked... and they ask me about my book.

In general, I am thinking about three things: 1. Food.  (I love to eat.  And read.  And eat while reading.)  2. My family (love you guys!).  3. My book.  But, I can think about these three things, because I have discovered my own personal cure for the What Ifs.

I mentioned my co-workers, because when they ask me about how "that book thing you're working on is going" and I say something along the lines of "I broke 30k words yesterday"... it kind of kills the conversation.  I often get uncomfortable or shocked reactions to the progress in my writing.  I've had them say, "I don't think I could put one hundred words together" and I think to myself, "You couldn't write a paragraph?"

That paragraph was 75 words, by the way.

They also ask me questions like, "How can you think up these things?"  This puzzled me.  For a long time, I thought it was something anyone could pull out.  It's not hard for me to turn a mundane situation into the extraordinary.  I call this the What Ifs.  You take a situation and then you say, "But what if..."

Here is an example:
A man is going to work and is waiting on a subway platform.

Okay, so now let's think of some What If statements.

A man is going to work and is waiting on a subway platform.
What if he notices that his train, which runs on a very exact schedule, is two minutes early?
What if he steps on that train anyway, believing it to be his?
What if, once through the door, he finds himself not on the train, but in a forest?
What if he turns around and can still see the platform behind him?
What if the door closes and he's left in the jungle?
What if he's stepped into an alternate dimension (or: through an alien portal?)
What if his technology (cellphone, laptop, ect) don't work?
What if they DO?
What if they become magical!
What if, magical, they allow him to summon demons????

This is my thought process.  It took me about two minutes to do that, because I can only type 90wpm.

That's how my brain works.  I constantly have these kinds of thoughts racing through my head.

What if, when I go to pay for my groceries, there's a snake in my bag?

What if, that elderly gentleman coming down the street were to stop and shake my hand?  What if he told me he knew my grandfather in "The Orange"?  What if "The Orange" meant the CIA?

What if that payphone rang?  What if the voice on the other end told me it was God calling?

What if that boy ran out in the street after that ball he's kicking?  What if an angel saved him?  What if I saw it?

All the time, these things go through my head.  If I don't have some sort of outlet they gradually get louder and louder until I am awake in the early hours of the morning, begging for sleep.  I had to find a cure.  I'll stop here for now, and append a {Part 1} on the end.  I'll talk about my cure in {Part 2}!  To be continued :)

Part 2

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