Monday, April 5, 2010
Is it a real story, or is the story becoming real?
Yesterday, we had an earthquake. One of the largest in California in nearly 20 years. It was centered below the border in Mexico, in MexiCali.
My fiance and I had just sat down to Easter dinner with his family, when the table started rumbling and the glasses started clinking. The chandelier above me rocked back and forth, swaying in time to the earth.
I, not being a full California native and already of a nervous disposition, panicked. Luckily, there was no damage there, at our house, or the houses of any of our friends or nearby relatives. Still, I'm currently cowering in fear of aftershocks.
This post isn't supposed to be about earthquakes, though. Well, it is, and it isn't. It's more about the brain of a writer than earthquakes. The brain that caused me to think only a few minutes after the big shock had subsided, remember this. Remember this in case you ever need to use it.
The same feeling overcame me, though in a different way, when we finally managed to catch a newscast on tv to learn about the quake. As we were watching, the house began to roll and shake again with an aftershock. A few seconds later, the newscaster on tv remarked that they were experiencing the aftershock there, too, live on the air.
At that point, it felt surreal. It felt like a scene in a movie-- a disaster movie-- shortly after which the hero and heroine miraculously escape while the news station goes down in flames. My mind spiraled out of control with the story that I, clearly, was merely an extra in-- not being a geologist, or niche specialist doctor or scientist, or even failed single parent trying to make amends with my estranged children-- the story that meant we were all going to die.
It was like two separate paths in my brain. There was the rational path that was watching events unfold as they were, understanding that there was no real danger. And then there was the writer's path, spinning the story in my mind to its expected conclusion of destruction and chaos, the way the story would end if it were just that-- a story.
Sometimes I hate having such a vivid imagination. It allows to me to clearly see the worst in everything.
What's the craziest thing you've ever found yourself thinking about writing during? Did anyone else out there feel yesterday's quake?
**(Note: I don't mean to make light of the earthquake).