Monday, May 25, 2009


What I'm Listening To: Nine Inch Nails - The Day The World Went Away

What I'm Doing: Reading Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, and trying to figure out what I should do with this day.

First of all, my new favourite number: 1123581321345589

Now that that's out of the way, I was thinking of what I could write about earlier, and saw something on Twitter that made me want a cat.

Odd, I know.

I am a Cat Person. I hate dogs; I think they're noisy, messy, smelly, and take entirely too much time. I much prefer the small, portable size of cats, and the way they curl up in your lap and purr, and make you feel like the luckiest person alive, just for having them there. They don't need to be taken out for walks, or let into the back yard, and they make excellent sources of comfort on a bad day.

So I started to say something on Twitter about cats, and joked to myself that that's what I need.

In order to be a successful writer, I need a laptop. This way I can take it to Quiet Places like the park, or the coffee shop, and I don't need to worry about people yelling at kids, or dogs, or shouting into the phone because they have no sense of decency and privacy, or people tromping through my room on the way to the garage, the back yard, the laundry room, or their bedroom.

In order to be a successful writer, I need a cat. Someone who will understand when I'm tearing my hair out over a scene, and not care if I'm smashing my head into the wall, as long as I remember to feed them on time and keep the litter box clean.

In order to be a successful writer, I need an endless supply of coffee, without having to worry about what people are going to think of me making coffee at all hours of the day and night.

That's what I was going to touch on in Twitter. That's all I really need. I'm not getting it right now, and that's part of the reason I'm struggling so much as an author. The only time I get any quiet is in the middle of the night, or when people aren't home. But if I stay up late enough to enjoy the quiet of the house, I end up sleeping until all hours of the morning. In a houseful of people who get up at six in the morning, waking up at ten makes me 'lazy'. And none of them understand the idea of insomnia, either. I tried explaining to my stepdad that I can't sleep at night, and he told me to just lay down and try.

Oh, sure, I can lay down in my bed at ten o'clock at night, like the rest of them, but unless I've been up for at least twenty hours prior, I simply end up tossing and turning and rolling around for hours, and don't get to sleep until one or two in the morning anyway.

And since my veins run caffeine, not blood, drinking coffee at midnight isn't any more or less likely to keep me awake than drinking water. And coffee tastes better. No, the problem with midnight coffee-cravings is that everyone else in the house gets up at six in the morning, and have the pot set to brew on it's own, so if I want coffee, I've got to brew a whole pot, and then reset it, and that ends up wasting coffee.

Speaking of coffee, I haven't had any today. So I can't really guarantee much in the way of this making any sense.

The title, If... is something I ask myself a lot.

If I were an artist, if I were skinny, if I were a better writer, if I had a laptop, if I had a cat.

But it's really useful as a story prompt.

If I could fly...
If I were a boy...
If I could do magic...
If my parents had died...
If my parents hadn't died...
If I could live forever...

All of these have the potential to be really interesting questions.

For Vicky, I think her if's are... if she never went to Eversong. If she never bought the book. If she never met Jonas. If (lol) I changed any of those IFs, the story would be not only utterly different, it would be unworkable. If she never met Jonas, she'd have died before the story took off. If she never bought the book, she'd have never found her way into Eversong. If she never got into Eversong in the first place, there would be no story.

These can be applied to my other stories, too. If Riley had been an orphan. If Riley had been more physical and less brainy. If the bomb never dropped.

If Ally wasn't rich. If Ally wasn't bored. If Ally hadn't ever killed anyone.

But at the same time, these ifs can be turned around to promote the story.

What would happen if... Jonas died? If Vicky finds her way home?

If Riley becomes a hero? If Mara learned to stop hating?

If Ally gets caught? If Ally doesn't get caught?

These are the things that drive the story.

For being only two letters long, 'if' is probably one of the biggest words in the English language.


  1. Hey there. I love the way you think. It makes you so interesting and so wonderful. I'm a writer too. It would mean the world to me if you could give me some feedback on my pieces, whether positive or negative. I love hearing thoughts and opinion from other writers. Thank you.

    P.S. "If I could fly...
    If I were a boy...
    If I could do magic...
    If my parents had died...
    If my parents hadn't died...
    If I could live forever..."

    I thought these lines were just beautiful.

  2. 1) I heart cats big time. Have 2 now, plus about 8 strays that I feed religiously. Have always had cats. Will always have cats.

    2) I cannot say enough positive things about laptops. If you have to sell recyclables or pick pennies off of the sidewalk, get one. As soon as you can. There's an element of privacy--or maybe it's freedom--that you can't get from a normal, shared computer that you can get from a laptop. I don't know what I'd do without mine (even though it's huge and not the most portable thing in the world :D)

    3) I think with me, it's more "What if ...?" But those little words take me all kinds of crazy places ... and I love every second of it :)

  3. Howdy. Found ya on Twitter.

    Interesting post. The word IF (and WHAT IF) are probably the most damning words in Websters, but they offer the most intrigue for writers to play with.

    Another word that offers both salvation and damnation in a single syllable: but. ;)

    Anyway, nice post. I'm going to have to look back and see what sort of stuff you write.