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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why Yes, I Am a Writer

I have an overactive imagination--I think most creative people do--but writers...I don't know, we seem to have more outlandish scenario imaginations. Of course, I don't know a lot of visual artists or dancers or other artistic types who aren't also writers. :-) I guess birds of a type do flock together, to quote an old adage.

What I mean by scenario imaginations is that we can take something simple and create circumstances around it. Like someone is late and the next thing I know is I have an elaborate scenario involving car accidents and hospitals and surgery and what all. Then they arrive and apologize because the phone rang before the left the house. This happens to me all the time and it's why I'm such a worrier. I try not to be, but my brain starts spinning possibilities and the next thing you know, things are out of control.

Sometimes, though, scenarios can be fun. I made an offhand joke the other week about being able to turn the rain on or off with the control for my lawn sprinkler system. Whenever I turned it on to water my lawn, it rained here. But then I started thinking, wow, what if I really could control the weather from the box in my garage? And then I thought, what if a character in a story had this kind of control? What if he didn't know he was controlling the weather and all kinds of hell broke loose because of what he did with his sprinkler system? And if anyone uses this, I'll know where you got it! This is my overactive imagination. :-)

Movies and television shows can get my head spinning sideways, too. It doesn't even have to be a good movie. I saw one years ago with Richard Grieco (who was totally worth staring at in it) where he plays a high school student who has the same name as a super spy and gets mistaken for this spy. The story was pretty lightweight, but I thought, what if this happened in real life? What if someone got caught up in something out of mistaken identity?

This happens all the time, and while a lot of it never makes it into a book, sometimes it does. In the mid-90s, I jotted down one of these little what ifs. What if a man was trapped in an animated television show about his life? I even knew his name. Deke Summers. And that note sat, unused in a notebook until 2004 when Ryne showed up. For weeks, she told me about the Gineal people, but I didn't have a hero for her. And then boom, I realized Deke was her hero and that little mind spinning from 10 years earlier suddenly became the backbone of the story.

I hate worrying about people's health and well being, but I'd hate to lose my imagination even more. I love the what ifs. I love the stories in my head that keep me entertained when I'm stuck in a boring situation. And I can't imagine (ha!) not having the voices in my head. How empty would that feel?