Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Who thinks about this kind of stuff?

Writers struggle with timelines. We established that yesterday. Today, I'm grateful that I'm not an artist. Then I'd have to wrestle with questions like:
Hoo-boy. I would so be getting an "F" in that class. Every semester.

Have you ever thought about how the world (and your life) would be different if you were judged a success or a failure by a completely different standard than the one you're coping with now? I do. If the world were based on musical talent, for instance---if a child had to sing on key to pass first grade---I would be in deep trouble. What if language were musical notes? What if job applications required that you sight read music and harmonize a capella with your boss? What if the driver's license examiner used a xylophone to convey her instructions to parallel park?

Or what if being able to re-build a car engine were the most important thing? What if all high school students had to master the rumba in order to graduate? What if you had to tame a wild boar before you could vote?

Yes, people, these are the things I think about. I also imagine what would happen if I were whisked off to another world with only the items in my pocket. Could I survive with only a rubber band, a cough drop, and a Target receipt? Maybe those items would have magical properties in the new land. Maybe I would find a hole in my pocket, through which I could reach into another dimension and pull out more useful stuff. Maybe I would meet a strange bear, who was really an enchanted prince, and he carried in his bearcoat pocket a scarlet piece of silken string that he...

Oh, it is a good, good thing that there are books in this world. And that I'm allowed to write them.


  1. These ideas would make an amazing short story or two. In fact, they remind me a bit of some of the stories in Wearing Dad's Head by Barry Yourgrau. The whole book is like stepping inside someone's absurd dreams. Your idea of being taken to another world with only the things in your pocket would fit right in here!

    And yes, I too think about these strange things!

  2. Oh my god. You are so funny. Have you read Ernst by Elisa Klevin? Do.

    PS -- Don't Target receipts have magical properties in OUR world????

  3. Doesn't Elisa have a snowflake that's up to $850 in the bidding??? Wow. Ernst looks great. Maybe I should change my name to Ernst.

    And Wearing Dad's Head? What a great title. I'll have to look for that. Is it anything like Being John Malkovich?

  4. How did you know I had to tame a wild boar before the last presidential election?

    I agree with Tricia. Good ideas for stories. What a mind!

  5. This reminds me of that ep. of The Office where Michael decided that he needed to go out into "the wild" and figure out how to survive with only what he was wearing/in his pockets.

  6. Jama, I hope you got a picture of that boar with a pink ribbon in its hair.

    Adrienne: HA! Yes, that was a classic Michael moment. I love it when he rips the legs off his pants and then has to re-attach them with duct tape when he gets cold.

  7. I can say that I've never thought about these things, but that's why you're the talented writer here and I'm not :) I'm the one who appreciates minds like yours.

    -- Jules

  8. This is closely related to a terrifying thought: never finding the life you are meant to lead. It's the Shakespeare's Sister story, really. What happens to all the great actors who never get near a stage? The great artists who find they are accountants? I don't necessarily believe that talent will always out, nor that the truly gifted will always choose the right path. And, and... what if one is like the singers on American Idol, who believe they are superstars, believe it so absolutely that they don't realise they can't sing in tune? Sometimes self-belief can be the most perilous thing of all. Oh yes, I think about these things!

  9. Nick, your comments sound like a perfect set of questions to explore in a novel. Yes, I know there's a book out there called Shakespeare's Sister---my friend, Doris Gwaltney, wrote it---but there's room for another one...perhaps with an American Idol-like twist? Your theme of self-belief? Good stuff. Just saying...

  10. I agree with Nick, that IS a terrifying thought! On the other hand, it makes for some interesting "what-if" fodder...like what if I had ended up as a secretary/teacher/scientist etc.? What would my life be like? Where would I be now? Would I even live in the same place? What if I'd decided to move to X instead of living in Y? So much of my writing originates from what-ifs.

  11. You - and your thoughts - amaze me. I can't wait to see what books are going to pour out of you in the future.


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