What if I had written all weekend long? What if I chose a different career path? What if I hadn’t had children? What if I had married someone else? What if I didn’t live in Alabama?
“What if?” is the essential question in writing a story. Most stories start out with an author thinking “what if.” I spent most of my weekend on the couch, because my five year old was sick. While having my hot potato of a baby lay on me all day, I watched the whole season of The Man In The High Castle. I realize this makes me an extreme couch potato. But the story was so good I couldn’t tear myself away. I went to the bathroom a few times, and ate, and my daughter cuddled up against me and I provided her comfort, which is what one needs when they’re sick. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a weekend, minus the “sick.”
This show on Amazon is so well done, based on the book by Philip Dick, which I have yet to read (it’s on my list). And it asks the question “what if the Nazis and Japan won WWII?” What a question to explore. The characters are so believable, and the suspense kept me watching. Highly recommended!
I tout myself as a character writer. The Devil Within mostly was written because I felt a strong connection to Will’s character. But the “what if
questions were still there. I asked myself, “What if I were growing up with an oppressively religious father? What would I do? What are the emotions I would feel? What if fundamental religion hurts more than helps? What if the person I’m supposed to depend on most hurts me the most? What if my ally is not a saint?” These are just a few questions I asked myself as I wrote The Devil Within. I’m not sure I found the answers, but writing through it helped me explore thoughts on religion, family, and guilt that I’ve had for a long time.
The new story I’m writing I’m asking myself : “What if everything is not as it seems? What if your whole life is one big lie?”
I often wonder why I feel the need to write, but I think it’s because I’m always thinking about the “what if” questions. Life isn’t black and white. It’s filled with choices, different paths, and to me writing is a way to discover what might have happened if…
“What if” question are you trying to answer today?
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3 thoughts on “What If…”
A big “What if?” Question I have is, ” What if I don’t have anything publishable?” Can I call myself a writer? I wrote, so that should suffice, but I feel I need validation. I need something published to call myself a writer. The funny thing is that I have pieces published from a long time ago. That should be all the validation I need. But I haven’t had a piece published since. Mostly because, I haven’t submitted anything in a long time and I haven’t written consistently. I feel like if I do one, the other will fall into place.
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You will, one day! But why do you write? I want to publish more, but I found that when I feel pressured to publish I lose track of why I do it in the first place. You’ll do it! I know it. And by the way, I know I owe you a critique. Getting to it. Sorry it’s taking me so long!
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I write because it’s fun. I write because I love to create, and I can think of no better way that works for me. The funny thing about me writing is that I’m not so good at vocalizing stories on the fly. I need time to develop characters and a plot. I can do that as I write.
I think I got spoiled and a big head when I had a poem and short story published. The thing about that is when I go back and read them, I feel like I can do better. There are things I realized where the structure doesn’t work. I’m sure every author feels that way. But I guess that’s why I fear that I will never get another story published. I feel like I lost the tools to write good stories, or that they’re so outdated.
It should interest you to know that I’m working on a rewrite of said story and a new story I wrote months ago. I want to put them on my blog someday, but I want to make sure they are the best. I get that not many people will like them, but that is what I hope for. I guess it’s that need for validation speaking. And I’m afraid that no one will read them. It’s a damning way of thinking, I know.
Thank you for your encouragement and for reminding me why I do what I do. It’s easy to forget. And I think that’s why we need other people: to put us back in place and help put things in perspective. Thank you. By the way, take your time on the critique. I’m kind of taking a break from writing those stories to focus on something else. Hopefully, it will help when I come back to them.
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