When I Write
I stare into a field of white, pristine except for a single, black line that blinks in the upper corner.
Time to start. The distractions still drag at me with their many tentacles: there’s articles to read, a stack of games unfinished, and movies, so many movies I’ve collected over the years. The same machine I use for to Do The Important Things also does everything else. So much else.
Sometimes this is where it stops. I give in. I’m weak. Just one episode. Just an hour of gaming. I’ll start, but first I need a snack. Has anyone posted on any of the dozen or so forums I’m part of?
There’s a discussion about on of my favorite subjects in a place I rarely go anymore. People are being wrong about things. One of my favorite thigns needs someone to ride in on a black horse with a sword of fire and smite this fool.
No. That’s not Important. This is. Maybe not to anyone else but me, but t’s Important. Time to work.
I dig. All day they’ve been there, simmering. While I drive, while I eat while I wait for something else to be done. They’re always there: the ideas. They play like movies in my head, but they’re just disjointed clips, some silent, some undetailed, all incomplete because they aren’t set down in words.
It has to be words. I can’t draw, can’ animate, can’t sculpt. Visual art is beyond me, so there’s the words. That’s good, because I think I’m pretty good with those.
All it takes is a reach into the boiling chaos in my head and they leap to be realized.
There’s a landscape, nothing more than a slab of rock that wouldn’t be out of place on the moon. It’s just floating in space, but as I watch, the violence starts. There’s a tremor and it starts to break apart, a grand fissure racing across the midpoint. Chunks of stone fly out into space in slow motion. Some of them make it; the larger ones can’t even break that little gravity and slow, then start the slow fall.
This one’s been here for years and I’ve got no where for it. All visual snap and some interesting science, but it’s still a featureless rock in the void. I don’t know why it’s breaking up, or why anyone should care. Maybe I will sometime. Maybe it will become something lasting an iconic.
For now it goes back into th chaos. Nothing leaves unless it becomes words. Once I think it, I can’t get rid of it. I may think I have, but until I write it down, give it a story, it will come back, maybe months from now while I’m half asleep, or waiting to have my tires change. The ideas are with me until I die, or until I give them away.
I reach, and there’s another. He’s more than just an idea, he’s a person. His story is with me often and I know him well. He is wretched and broken and a villain, only he’s on the wrong side of his sory for that. There’s blood on his hands and he can’t now that I put it there. Not only that, but all of his pain is my doing. The ones he lost were lost because of my designs. Because it was Important.
He doesn’t know that he’ll learn and grow. He can’t know that he’ll become a better person and if not be redeemed, find peace. There’s no justice there. I killed better men to put him there. Because he’s a favored son, even if I ave to tear him to shred, bosy, mind and soul to get him to a place of sun and shade.
And he doesn’t know that his story was told before. It was all a lark then, a game. He wasn’t meant to live through that, but that was a story where fate wasn’t wholly in my hands, and another stayed my hand. The same set me on the path of putting his story into words
But not today. It’s not his time. Back into the chaos with the other ideas. Maybe he’ll latch onto something else and draw it out with him next time. It anyone can cause that destruction from earlier, it’s him. And he’d love that.
Once more I reach and she’s there. I try not to call favorites, but she is. If only because she loves the spotlight, loves to talk, I put her forward again and again. I’ve hurt her, but I made her strong just for that purpose. Indestructible in body, invincible in spirit. And she’s needed it, oh yes. I made for her a family who were a crucible for her when she was young, and another as she became a woman that quenched the painful fires and tempered her into something greater.
And she has no resentment. She steps forward again and again and there’s no wondering how she can be such a favorite. Somehow, I can tell that she’s unhappy taking the back seat for such a long while, and like the strongest puppy in the litter, she’s climbing over the quieter, more subtle ones and pressing her face to the glass.
Maybe she can work alone. Have her own tales to tell. But I’m overprotective and don’t want to take her away from those who protect and love her. For all her bravado, I know the wounds I left unstaunched and feel guilty. Drama is the cause, because without it, the story dies and she fades away. I’ve done this to them all and I don’t feel bad.
Because I know how it ends. I know where they’re going even if I don’t know how they get there.
But it’s not her time yet either. I beg her patience and this time look before I grasp.
There are a million ideas I want to pursue. Thousands I think can become something Important, but right now, there’s no time, and there’s only one I have to deal with.
It’s not like the others: not a character or a concept or a scene. This is an el that’s been cut in half, made up of tissues of setting and character and plot. There are pieces hanging off that need to be pulled together. It needs to be finished and not just for me
Out in the void beyond my machine, where a brilliant beam of white connects me to the world, they’re waiting to see how It ends.
I drag the half-formed thing out and into the field of white. It’s less than an act of creation now than surgery. Everything must connect, because if it doesn’t it will never live as it deserves. I worry again hat it might be too big, too complex, but it wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t. All the disparate parts are threaded together, one supporting the other.
It’s less like an eel and more like a swan if I do it right: graceful, even beautiful on the surface, concealing all the work going on underneath.
I can never be sure if it’s one of the other though. I’m too close. No matter what, I can still see the stitches and the component ideas. No matter what it turns out to be for other’s it’s still my Frankenstein’s Monster.
No matter though. It’s out of my head and that’s a good feeling. I’ll take it up again later and polish it. They never come out perfect thanks to clumsy fingers and a brain too enthusiastic to wait for those fingers. But for now, it’s a beautiful thing out there in the world, proof that I am capable of creation.
But it never ends. The sea of chaos is still there, old ideas writhing around in search of form, new ones being born on the daily. A dozen Big Bangs and a hundred Adams and Eves being picked out of the clay. There’s just not enough time in the day, and always too much temptation. Some will never become and that’s sad to me.
I know they’re just my overactive imagination, that none of them are real outside of my head, but I feel responsible for them precisely because of that. By writing, I give them form and a kind of existence. I create a means for them to live in the heads of others.
And if I do it all perfectly, I can make them immortal.
So the question was never ‘why do I write?’
It’s ‘why wouldn’t I?’
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