Monday, September 14, 2009
When I was little I had a fixation on the word if. It drove my mother crazy. "What if the lightning comes through the window?" "What if the washing machine overflows?" "What if the sun is late and the moon is early and they crash into one another?"
Because this phrasing made her nervous, I started keeping the "if" thing to myself. As I got older I associated it with worry. The If Disease. The ultimate internal anxiety disorder. Perfectly calm on the outside, I made merry with friends at clubs, drank drinks and was appropriately "cool" while the thoughts ran through my head like the stock ticker at the bottom of the CNN screen.
"What if there is a fire and I can't get to an exit?" "What if he asks me to dance and I say yes and he asks me out and I say yes, and then we fall in love and then we break up and I am crushed?" "What if I get toilet paper on my shoe when I go to the bathroom?" "What if all the bible stuff is true and this is Sodom and Gomorrah and we are all about to get smote?"
As I got older... the what if disease progressed. But instead of outlining my obvious panic disorder, it started to shape a new person. I started to call it the "What I Could Become IF...." disease.
"What if I played pool and won?" "What if I was the sexiest girl in the room?" "What if I owned the night?" "What if all this isn't really real, but only a figment of my imagination and I am in a coma?" "What if the color I think is purple is someone else's green only they call their green purple so when we agree on the color being purple we really see two different colors?"
Yeah, I know. But here's the thing. These questions turned me towards the study of sociology, and then they became the stories that I write. The study of sociology is based in seeing the world through the sociological perspective: Seeing the Ordinary as Extraordinary (or the ability to find the strange and peculiar in everything "normal")
Today, walking my youngest by the sea wall near our house I started to think about "what if." My "what if" for this week seems to be persistence. "What if my hard drive crashed and I lost my entire WIP?" (*note, I have other versions saved, but haven't gotten around to putting the current version on a thumb drive... doing that right now BECAUSE of my what if game :))
Anyway, the question I was really asking myself was a question of love. Do I love it enough to go back to my written notes and re write the whole thing? Would I be too exhausted? Would I simply write it off (no pun intended!) and begin another project, or would I sit down, grit my teeth and JUST DO IT.
You know what? I would do it. I love it that much. I would rewrite all 78,000 words. I love the what if game!
What about you? My writers, would you re write it? Or my students, would you start something all over again from scratch? Hmmmmm.... what if?