A fool can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer. But if you take the question which seemingly has an obvious answer: and needs must you work out how that answer does not have to be right, but that alternatives may exist… and then work out how those alternatives could exist, and what effect that might have and… Then, dear reader, odds are you are infected with that terrible malady, being a writer. The bad news is that there is no cure. The traditional publishing industry was a vaccine, at least likely to make it a mild and short-lived illness, with few side effects but for despair. But the disease has mutated, and now all that’s left is the descent into madness, where you see stories, stories everywhere.
Eh. Well. Yes. What prompted that, you may ask. Oddly, it was an author I like – David Farland, asking a group of writers a question about Covid19: I paraphrase ‘If your partner says he thinks he has the disease, do you tell the group of people you play sport with every day?’
Everyone (baring the thinking joker who said ‘No! just as you hide werewolf and vampire bites’) said ‘yes of course’. One or two stretched it to what were you doing playing sport during isolation lockdown?
I write novels. Maybe that’s why I have a Byzantine mind. Or maybe that’s just me. But my first reaction was not to answer but to ask questions – admittedly of my own devil’s advocate. The first one was ‘why does this person ask that?’ Well, the obvious answer is they wanted to know if what they or someone else (their partner perhaps) had done was okay or normal, or what others would do? The part which makes me a writer said ‘it can’t be that simple. There has to more to this: It could be that he’s showing people the self-same technique you use for generating stories… just possibly because he’s an author teaching people writing skills.’
So: being me, I promptly started thinking of possible scenarios where the obvious answer would not be correct. I came up with quite a list, and I am sure there are more. Every one of them begged a story, and I promptly started building the background and thinking about effects that scenario might have. Why would the undead care what your partner had? What kind of sport can you play (and with whom) during lockdown? What kind of daily sport would involve keeping the existence of a partner secret? Maybe you had all already had WuFlu and met in recovery, and the sport was some kind of physical therapy. Maybe there was a reason why you wouldn’t want your sports partners to know that while you and they had had the infection… your partner hadn’t (as it is sexually transmitted, that too has implications).
And of all the answers… the werewolf and vampire bite fellow shrieked ‘writer, writer, Beware, Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair!’
Writers. They’re doomed, I tell you. Doomed. But they have fed on honey-dew, and drunk the milk of Paradise. (yes, I am taking liberties with Coleridge. Everyone should, or at least read it.)