I Went to a Writing Group — February 12th, 2020
I like to think differently, and I’m pretty good at it. In reality, when people are truly thinking there is rarely agreement. Sometimes there can be in a general sense, but almost never in detail. Thinking is a dialogue that you have with yourself, which is why it can be paralyzing. It’s an ability that everyone has, but it’s rarely used, especially for important things, because it’s uncomfortable. It immensely complicates your world to question what you know, it’s the very definition of anxiety, and most people avoid anxiety as much as they can. Alas, I love it, and have spent quite a lot of my life just thinking.
I almost did too much thinking in this writing session. If you question how you’re perceiving the world, or how you’re acting in the world, you stop while you’re thinking about it. This is a state of high psychological entropy, and anything can come out of it. As you decrease your options your anxiety decreases. You settle on an interpretation of the world and then you know how to act. It feels good to be set on things, and that’s the only state in which you can take action.
When we received the prompt, “Just as you fall asleep, the phone rings.” I thought about starting like most people would, with the phone call. The most natural place to do this would be in a bed near night time. You could easily change it to falling back asleep in the morning, still in bed. I wanted to come up with something unique. What if it was a different time, a different place, a different situation, a different phone call?
The writing time had started. I was running through different scenarios in my head. Minutes passed as I sat still and stared at nothing in particular. Images running through my mind, evaporating and shifting into entirely different apparitions. A constant inner narrator critiquing everything, suggesting changes, wanting something different, open to all possibilities. An idea generated, an idea rejected. A reason why the idea might work, a reason denied. In short, I was thinking.
You can see the danger of thinking. Even if you’re one of the people that can overcome your inherent fear of anxiety and confront the uncertainty of true thinking, you can just as easily step into the trap of eternally thinking without taking action. So, I set pen to paper and let a story organically grow from my brain, down my arm, into my hand, through my pen, into the ink, and onto the page.
- — — — — — -
Stan swallowed. His throat was a little dry, and he restlessly shifted, his wrists straining against the straps pinning him to the metal bedframe.
He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. Even his eyes were sore; from the bright florescent lights shining down at him.
Stan opened his eyes and looked around the room again, craning his neck, hoping to see something that he had missed. Hoping to see something useful, hoping to find a reason to have hope.
The mechanism inside of the thick metal door clinked, and the door swung open silently on well-oiled hinges.
“You managed to shift the bed a little Mr. Doff,” said Dr. Reach as he glanced up from the notes on his clipboard, “but we have a solution for that.”
“Often,” he continued, “we resist that which will make us better. So, if we cannot bring ourselves to surrender, we could use a little external help.”
Stan looked at the so-called doctor with weary yet still defiant eyes. The look a person gets when they have the will to fight, but not the energy. “You’re not a doctor,” Stan said quietly and steadily, “you’re a sadist pretending at playing a savior.”
“Don’t worry Mr. Doff,” said Dr. Reach as he rolled up Stan’s sleeve, “the electric shock treatment is proven to cure projections just like yours.”
Dr. Reach inserted the needle into Stan’s arm and pushed the yellow tinted liquid from the syringe into him.
Stan’s eyes slowly slid shut as a phone rang from the next room, the hollow sound echoing down the empty corridor.
- — — — — — -
That story really worked. A few people had to release the breath that they were subconsciously holding while I was reading. And several people really wanted to know what happens next. I told them that we no longer have a point of view character, so we can’t know, lol.
I wondered when I was writing the last bit of dialogue if I was using too many interstitial sentences. By that I mean sentences where I have the dialogue attribution revealing whose speaking in the middle of the sentence, potentially with some other descriptive stuff. But, they seem like a perfect fit here.
Even though this was a slow and clunky writing session for me, it came out well, and I’m happy with it.