My whole life, I’ve never been able to leave an idea alone. You give my brain a scenario and on some level I’m writing a story for it. Not necessarily a fantastical one – I just need to run everything to a conclusion of some sort. This has honestly caused me a lot of stress because I’m also a worrier. So, for example, if I know I’m going to have a difficult conversation with someone, I’m already worried about how it will turn out. But because I need to write a story for everything, I’m imagining, word-for-word, how that conversation will go. And once I’ve taken one possible, imagined conversation to its end, I then go back to the beginning and write another possible, imagined conversation. Repeat this ad nauseum.

By the time I actually get to the difficult discussion, I’ve written dozens of possible outcomes in my head. Anyone who knows me and how I think knows the vast majority if these imagined outcomes will be negative, and the positive ones are so outlandishly positive that I know they aren’t happening. You can imagine how that adds to the worries I have about the conversation.

Of course, life is never what anyone expects and things go how I imagined them about zero percent of the time. That never stops my brain from doing this exercise anyway. I’ve gotten better at pushing it aside and rationalizing the worry away, but these imaginings never stop.

The more positive flip side is I’m an avid what-if’er. Asking “what if” is great fun for me and I adore being around people with whom I can play through these ridiculous scenarios to non-sensical and often hilarious (at least to me) conclusions. My favourite kind of conversation is one where we naturally and effortlessly move into these outrageous scenarios.  

It seems strange to me now, but I never used to associate this with storytelling. It was just a thing I did and thought was fun. These imagined scenarios are rarely anything I’d feel a drive to write down or expand on later, so I dismissed them. It wasn’t until I started spending more time in a room full of writers that I realized it was something we were all doing.

In every meeting, we constantly have to rein in the conversation and bring it back to topic because we’ve wandered off down some theoretical fantasy road. We have to stop ourselves from writing other’s books for them. We are constantly stopping and saying “ooo that’s a good one, I’ve gotta write that down.” Every one of us is constantly expanding on whatever narrative world the others are building, interjecting possible new plotlines, details or motivations into it. Meetings, car rides, archery lessons, conventions – it doesn’t matter where we are, we’re all doing this same “what-if” imaginary scenario building. I can’t stop myself from doing it and neither can my friends.

I’m not trying to say that only writers do this. I believe that all humans are storytellers at some level, just like we’re all singers, dancers and artists. It’s only a question of scale, frequency, and taking that extra step of putting it down on paper.  But as I sit now in my Discord meeting, doing my Sunday writing sprints and listening to the chatter between writing sessions, I know that I’m among my people. Whatever you love, whatever you’re doing, find other people doing it. As you see your own quirks reflected in them, it’ll feel like coming home.

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