It’s early Monday morning, so I’m giving myself free reign on irrational urges. There are more possible characters in more possible settings/situations/stories/conflicts/bitchin’-posible-bestsellers knocking around my little world of possibilities than I can count. I do not exaggerate. My imagination is far greater than my ability to commit. And within that imagination are all sorts of stories of screwing up everything and making wrong decisions. (Wow, just a few blog posts in and my insecurities have already taken stage. No shrink needed here to identify the problem.)
This has lead to awakening, on this Monday morning, with the irrational urge to line up all my characters, holding grocery bags with their stories and quirks and plots, having them stand at attention like new recruits (which they are), and demanding they state to me, the Commander And Chief, why I should abandon all the others on the battlefield of my mind and be the one surviving soldier I pin the medal of True Literary Life on their imaginary life.
The others I’ll bury in an imaginary grave and hope they survive until I can get around to them.
The problem with this plan is as I imagine them standing in my living room and awaiting interrogation, I see them clearly as life-size cardboard cut-outs. None of them are real enough for me yet. None of them will do the hard work for me of having a full and complete life they can state and defend as being worthy of the investment of years of development. I’ve got to make up every last detail of their existence. And their story. So many characters, so many stories, and not a single one of them so alive yet that they can walk and talk without a cardboard stand shoved up their behind and me doing all the talking.
And yet I don’t think this is as irrational as it sounds. What’s wrong with downloading some photos of people who look pretty much like the characters living in my head, writing a very brief bio for each with a sketch of their story printed out in a different color ink so I can see it clearly, lining them up and making them defend themselves? I’m looking at a tremendous investment of time in these imaginary people, so what’s wrong with pulling out of me and putting into them a solid case for their survival?
The first objection to this type of cross examination is that it’s not a writing assignment I’ve ever come across in any book on how to write a book. I made it up, therefore I don’t trust the idea. It’s also going to take thought and effort, and I’m always afraid of investing thought and effort into anything because it might be wasted. Money and lovers come and go (both are easier to get than we think), but once my time is gone, it’s gone. There’s no way of getting it back. That’s creepy.
So I take the safe and secure route of never wasting my time on something a more critically acclaimed mind than my own (read: authority figure of some kind) has already prescribed as The Way Things Are Done. Instead of trusting my own dim ideas, while at the same time rebelling against what’s been done before out of fear it can only produce the same old pablum readers have been fed for ages, I take the higher road of just plain old wasting time on completely fruitless activities, like watching dumb TV shows. Or napping.
Why not give the irrational thought a chance to prove itself worthless or a key to my own (caution: contemporary buzz word approaching) productivity?
That’s a righteously bodacious question, and I don’t have a righteously bodacious answer that’s worth a pinch of salt.
So I’ll do it, by golly. I’m going to line up those characters and make them defend themselves. I like the idea better if I think of it as a job interview, rather than a military-type drubbing with execution awaiting those who fail.
I think it’s better to start off being more gentle with the creations of my imagination and trust they’ll return the favor.
OK, this is good. I don’t feel so lost in the wilderness this Monday, as I usually do each Monday. Whether the plan be good or horrid, at least it’s a plan, and I’m the one in control (I’ll let the character I “hire” take control once s/he has proven themselves worthy of the task).