Monday, September 14, 2009


Question mark pic Pictures, Images and Photos

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?


  1. Definitely! I'm almost doing that right now actually. This is my fifth revision, and it is going through a major overhaul. So, yes, I would rewrite every single word if I had to.

  2. Indeed you are a natural born writer. I bet you etched What If in your mothers womb ;) I had to laugh about the coma because i've had that what if too!!

  3. Love this post! My son is the KING of What If!
    I like it. I'm a What-iffer too. I ask myself the same questions you've posed here. Would I go back and do the re-write? Yup. I'm pretty sure I would.

  4. I've played the what-if all my life. It's certainly useful as a writer. And yes I would rewrite considering that is what I am doing right now. My second draft is a rewrite where I hardly look at the first. I just know the characters and what more I want from them this time.

  5. I too am a what if person, and sometimes it has proven to be a great asset to me other times not so much....and yes I am sure if I were a writer and loved my theme I would absolutely re write it.....:-) Hugs

  6. I can't count the number of times I re-wrote my memoir before it was published. Yes, re-writing is so much a part of the writing process. I love your what-if story. I can just see you as a little girl posing those questions to your mom. And look where it has gotten you! How wonderful.

  7. I almost think some of the stuff I wrote would be better if I rewrote it from scratch. Hmmm, what if...?

  8. After the paralyzing depression, I probably would re-write it. And most kids suffer from the "If disease". I actually have to tell them at school, "You can only ask a question if it doesn't start with "What if"." Because they're not asking thought-provoking questions. It's more like "What if I can't find a blue crayon?" And I'm like, "Borrow one!" or "Use green. Make a choice. Figure it out." You know? Le sigh.

  9. Oooh...I don't know if I could re-write every word. If I lost my wip, I'd probably take it as a sign to start a whole new story. LOL!

  10. Great post! Well, I'd probably rewrite it because I'm already rewriting my current novel. I love it enough to do that, but it would depend on the book. "If" is a great game! It can get you a lot of places. :)

  11. "what if" It was time for a read ? :)

  12. I think I'd rewrite it...just because it's still a draft, and it might turn out different, but certainly no worse. Probably better, actually.

    The Honest Scrap award is waiting for you at my blog - I wasn't sure if you have it already or not, but wanted you to know it was there, even if you don't have time/inclination to participate. :-)

  13. I have to admit: I dominate the 'what if' game. What if questions haunt me all the time.

    Would I rewrite my entire WIP? I hope I never lose it all and have to start again. But if I did, I hope I would.

  14. As a new follower, thank you for this peek into your thought process :o)

  15. I don't even rewrite an email that I lose if my connection crashes!

    About works in progress--I periodically email the file to myself so if it gets lost, I can always retrieve it from my Sent folder. That's also a good way to date and time stamp it in case you're afraid of copyright issues. (I'm not--my stuff is autobiographical, and who the hell would claim it as their life?)

  16. What if I hadn't stumbled upon your lovely blog and found this great post?

    What if I didn't dream of being a writer? What else might I be?

    What if I had life all figured out? Then what would I worry about?

    What if I didn't take advantage of the opportunity to write a new chapter?

    What if I continued to keep asking "what if" questions? :-)

  17. Hmmm...
    i think i turn what ifs into if thens.
    if this happens, THEN i will...

    keeps me from wrapping around the axle!

    but yes... if i lost 78K words, and believed in it
    THEN i would start from scratch.
    'cause there's no better choice.

    now drag & drop that baby onto the thumb drive...
    THEN you will be joyful!
    peace~ C

  18. Do you not Mozy?

    It is my sleeping pill, my respite, my saving grace. I worry not about losing my writings or e mail files or even my blog because I went to and signed up for their FREE back up service. You get 2 GB for FREE (can I say that again???) and they automatically back up all your stuff twice every single day. It's wonderful peace of mind. I upgraded cuz I wanted to back up everything and it's only $5/month for their unlimited version.

    go. now.

  19. Hmmm...excellent question. I can't answer it because I know that I have it saved to my e-mail and I just can't imagine losing it in two places. :)

  20. Yes, oh yes...not only would I rewrite my whole book, I currently am. I got an idea about another POV and bang the whole book needed rethinking.and that started from a little what if game in my head too. What if... my memoir had two POV's (well really one, I'll explain) What if one of those POV's was the voice of pain (really my POV too)? What if pain didn't just appears as 'Beast' in my manuscript, what if I set him free and let him have his own thoughts and perspective on what we were going through at the time ?What if that was more powerful?
    Hmmm... what if..
    I decided to find out. And hence the re-write. But I love it more this time. I hope one day someone else will too :)

  21. If you read my blog you'd know that I'm not a fan of revising! ;-> But if I managed to write more than 1,000 words and I really luv luv luved it I suppose I might be tempted to re-create it - unless Mad Men was on.

  22. I am not going to talk about your ultimate question, sorry but I wanted to comment about the if thoughts that we all have in this life.
    I always think when I ask myself what if ..., I am probably wasting my mental resources and time by thinking of that because there are millons of options that could have been different than they where or are, some could have been worst, some better, but what you have to think about is how do you advance from where you are now.

  23. going backwards so I don't miss anyone:
    Mariana: I agree. The IF does help advance us.
    Slacker: Do I need to start watching that? Okay okay okay.
    Tab: THE BEAST!!!! I love it. Brilliant girl.
    Strange: I do that too...
    Tess: Just set up an account. Neti pots and Mozy. What would I do without you?

    Glen: I know. I know. I'm scared. One more week.
    Bucko: Welcome! Stay!

    Sarah: how did I know
    Jaime D: THANKS! You are always so Good to me!

    Chuck: buying your ebook!
    Mandy After 30: Welcome! So nice!
    Vegas: Heart you. See fb comment.
    Bernie your comments are always so nice!

    Lady G: Always honored when you comment! *blushes*

    Jen: ACK!
    Elana: I know, those stinkin Kids!;)
    Tere liz: You are a great re writer. I can tell.
    Karen: Thanks. I really bugged my mother!
    Tricia: I know you did! Of course!
    Mandy: Heart you.
    T. Anne. That is a wonderful compliment
    Lazy: from your email: you are welcome!


  24. I love it enough to rewrite too. And you know what I heard? The "What if" game is a sign of a truly creative person. So "what if" away. You're awesome.

  25. Yeah, I went through this rewriting issue. I started a book in 2006 and stopped, but picked it back up because I DO love it and the characters that much. You write really well and I find you blog to be interesting. Love it! :o)