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Saturday, February 17, 2007

What Ifs

I found out yesterday that Eternal Nights was nominated for a 2006 Single Titles Reviewers' Choice Award! Yea! That was a great surprise!

Second announcement. The Crimson team drew the winner of the Super-Deluxe Crimson City Action Pack Contest and the winner was Kevin T. from NC. Congrats to Kevin and thank you to everyone who entered!

Now on to my topic of the day. Last Saturday, I watched (and reviewed) Sliding Doors, a movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow. This morning, I've been thinking about it and wondering what if? about my own life. Nothing as small as missing a train, of course. There's no way to consider how different your life would be on something as minuscule as that. I've been thinking more about what if I'd made other decisions at certain turning points in my life.

What if that ad agency in Chicago had called before I accepted the job at NWA? There's no doubt I'd be making a lot more money now, probably a ton of it, and I'd be living in Chicago instead of Minneapolis, but I don't think I'd be writing. Advertising is a fast-paced and demanding profession. There'd be no energy left at the end of the day to tell stories. Would I be wearing suits to work? Would I be a creative director, meeting with clients and interacting with movers and shakers in industry? Would I miss writing or would I find a different type of fulfillment?

I can't imagine myself as a high-powered executive too easily, but while I wouldn't be writing in this situation (at least I don't think I would be), I'd still have the stories in my head. I'd live near my cousins and be able to go to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play whenever I wanted.

Or what if I'd stayed at the University of Minnesota at Morris instead of transferring down to the U of MN in Minneapolis? Would I be married to a farmer and living in some small town in the outstate area? Actually, the thought of wrangling children and volunteering for the PTA boggles my imagination. It was easier to picture the ad executive thing. Maybe, since I'm having trouble visualizing this scenario, it's unlikely it would have happened even if I had stayed.

What if while at the U of MN Morris I'd understood my computer science programming class? I'd started out as a computer minor, but after one quarter of being completely at sea, I dropped that idea. What if I'd pursued it instead?

What if I'd gotten more involved in extracurricular activities in high school? What if I'd realized how stupid the cliques were when I was a teenager? What if I'd quit NWA before my four month probation was up? I almost did that because I hated the job I had then so much. What if I hadn't broken my leg--twice-- when I was in grade school? What if I'd gone to college in Colorado like I'd thought about when I was fifteen?

Anyway, it goes on and on. I don't think there's a person who, if they looked at their life, couldn't come up with their own list of what ifs. I think it's kind of fun to imagine how different we might be if only for a moment or two.

But I also believe that everything happens for a reason and that we're where we're supposed to be when we're supposed to be there. I can also look back at my life and pick out the decisions that made writing an almost inevitable part of my life. I was interested in so many creative areas--not just writing--but it was as if the door was shut on them one by one. Or in some cases, my personality shut the door.

An example is art. I always wanted to draw. Always. And I have very little talent this way--or do I? What if I'd continued to draw and worked at it as hard as I worked at improving my writing? Would I still be a bad artist? Or would I have achieved some level of competence? I'll never know because I didn't feel passionately enough about drawing to accept being less than perfect while I learned. I wanted to sit down and create exactly what I wanted to create without putting in the work.

But it was never like that with writing. I worked and worked and worked at it even though it never really seemed like work, if that makes sense. I think it's because it is my passion. I could accept not producing perfect stories because I knew I'd continue to improve and I could fix them later.

I don't know, but this whole thing about destiny and fate is interesting to think about. There's a great quote from Jawaharlal Nehru:
Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.