Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Triumph and Tragedy of "What if?"

"What if" is such a terrifying and beautiful question really. It's the basis of change, both good and bad. For a creative mind, especially, it is the very fuel that motivates us and simultaneously the very thing that could end us.

It's that tiny "What if" that sends our imaginations whirling, that draws pens across paper and brushes over canvases. Entire story cannons have been questioned even by their creators with 'what if' shoot offs.

"What if I had a month to live?" inspired Funeral Potatoes. "What if Peter Pan's intentions were not the light-hearted ones we were taught" helped inspire Ren and I to write Into the Dust... I don't regret those "What If"s for a moment and yet...

...it's this seemingly innocent question that when applied to my life, sends me spiraling down a series of thoughts  that I'd be better off avoiding.

I'm a writer. 

I'm always looking for the story, even when there really isn't one.

So occasionally when I'm given very limited information but perception or even past experience suggests that's not the whole picture, my brain is instantly employing that beautifully ugly little question. "What if?" And it lists every possible and improbable scenario and they each play out to the end of the arc. Some are happy, some are dark and what may have started as something as simple as a miscommunication or poor word choice becomes an entire novel.

I forget sometimes... not everyone thinks of words the same way I do. Sometimes word choice is pulling from mentally available vernacular rather than deliberate coloring the meaning of the sentence.

Still... it doesn't stop the "What if". Sometimes I feel like it's really some kind of neurosis that I've forced into being useful. 

...other times I realize I was actually filling in the blanks based off of patterns of behavior I wasn't even aware I'd noticed.

"What if" is a dangerous and beautiful question in both life and fiction.

But unfortunately, when applied to life, sometimes it's right.

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