Humor Fiction posted February 1, 2020

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Quantum Physics and Other Puzzling Problems

Staying Put Is Hard to Do

by Relda Halbert

It’s a rainy day.  I’m feeling down.  I’m bored.
Perfect time to write … if I only had something to say.  Let’s see, I’ve never tried stream of consciousness.
Before you read further (if you read further), let me apologize, and give you a heads-up.  My husband used to say I could complicate the #e!! out of anything, and this will probably prove it.
Take time travel.
I wonder if time travel, if only by vehicle of the mind, is essential to writing.  There’s the past which ‘informs and inspires.’  There’s the present where ‘pen meets paper.’  There’s the future where ‘what if’ lives.
The present is a good place to start.  Is the present ‘today,’ as opposed to ‘yesterday and tomorrow?’  Is it ‘this minute,’ as opposed to ‘the minutes before or to follow?’   Is it ‘an indefinable, unquantifiable, moving blip, where past extrudes and future spews forward?’
Mechanics, bane of creativity, still intrigue me.
While some non-fiction writers endeavor to stay put in the present, don’t they rely on the past?  Reams of facts?  Tombs of history?  My brain is bending, but I suppose it is impossible to write non-fiction if one’s mind is visiting the future.
Let me really complicate things.
Is time travel essential for fiction?  But where does ‘it really didn’t happen;’ ‘it really isn’t happening;’ and, ‘it really may not, but possibly might, happen;’ leave me?  No time!  Nowhere!
Maybe fiction occurs in a black hole, where time warps and twists.  Where back to the future loops, ad infinitum.  Or, perhaps time doesn’t exist at all in a black hole.  Some fiction I’ve written is definitely warped and twisted … and shouldn’t exist at all.  Anywhere.
And what about this ‘stream of consciousness’ writing.  Yes, it’s being written in the blip of the present, in the immediacy of the moment, but immediate thoughts can be ‘about the now,’ ‘about the past,’ or ‘about the future.’  And it’s a streeeeeam, right?  Maybe, it’s time travel in its purest form.   Picture those rushing Star Wars’ stars …  no one knows how to depict stream of consciousness and time travel, better than George Lucas.
It turns out, staying put is hard to do.  Maybe impossible.  The old, ‘wherever I go, there I am’ conundrum.
It’s all so troubling.
Take the matter of plots, and us timid folks who find them comforting.  ‘Stream of consciousness’ writers are excepted, of course, as they are never timid nor do they ever plot.
Don’t plot-lovers, fiction or nonfiction, have to PLAN?  What good is a plot, if you don’t ‘plan the plot and plot the plan?’  And, isn’t planning a plot, essentially, travelling to the future?  Aren’t you teleporting?  Exploring scenarios?  Skirting by, or maybe reveling in, paradoxes? Rehearsing/Rehashing?  Notating?
Take me, for example.  If I think a piece will end up more than 5 pages, fiction or non, I plot.  There’s an ‘action plan,’ to get to the plot, that goes like this:
  • bullet a hit-list
  • off the bad guys
  • consult the last-man standing
  • flesh-out an outline (I prefer Roman Numerals)
  • write the draft
  • rewrite the draft
  • rewrite the rewrite
  • repeat … repeat … repeat
  • the end
The end???  Who am I kidding!
I see the robot, frantically waving his arms – hear him yelling, “Warning! Warning! Warning!!!”  Like Will, I get lost in space.  No matter how detailed the plan, I head out in one direction and end up in another galaxy.  And there is always a Dr. Smith - devious, manipulative, megalomaniacal.  A character who just won’t behave - who has all those fatal flaws and dastardly plans. 
There are zillions of variables, and monkey-wrenches galore.  But, aren’t those variables and monkey-wrenches the things that kidnap a good idea and, hopefully ... eventually … release a great one?  No matter if you have to mortgage the kid you’re ransoming, in the process? 
Why does Murphy always have to visit?  Why won’t he mind his own business and stay at home.  He lurks, waiting for a chance to pounce. And, if he chooses to intrude, he’s never wrong.  Yes, he provides needed conflict, but can it be resolved?  Most times, he raises such a ruckus it’s a slam-dunk in the circular file.  And it truly is THE END. 
Shouldn’t I accept the fact that nothing (and no one) ever makes perfect sense, write wherever my head happens to be going – past, present or future - and, whenever my brain will stay awake?  Shouldn’t I write whatever I need to say, and end the darned thing when I run out of words?  (Oh … that is stream of consciousness!) 
After all, who’ll read it, anyway? 
I’m going to take a nap. 
But first, before I go, I confess, I’ll run a spell check, consult a dictionary, and give it a quick read, before I hit the Save.

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It was fun to just take the first thing on my mind and run with it.
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