“Bobby, tell the doctor what you said to me.”
“…I had…have, voices in my head. They talk to each other.”
“Is that all?”
“No… no. I can’t help but listen to people secretly, and I try to remember how they said things. I see random parts of things I don’t really understand. Actions, faces…that sort of stuff. Like a scene from a movie. I don’t always know what they mean.”
“Okay….tell me Bobby, do you read?”
“Is that bad, doctor? I could take away his books.”
“No, not bad…just a sign. And taking away the books would only make it worse—not that it is bad, okay? Bobby, one other question for you, and you don’t have to worry about if your answer is wrong or not, I just want to help you: when you daydream, what do you see?”
“…I see worlds. I see things move and talk. I see outcomes to things that are not there—I know they are fake, but they are better than what’s real. Or, sometimes, much worse.”
“Is he sick, do you think?”
“No, I’ve seen this before. He’s a writer. It’s terminal—but not an illness. I suggest you get him some paper fast. If he hasn’t started yet, he will. And it will consume him.”
And, that, my friends, is how you do a preposterously long lead-in to talking about the idea that stories flow out of a creator, and in a way, we lose control of them. That’s what has been happening to me lately: I don’t have control of my stories anymore. I outline, and I set boundaries, and I plan an ending, but beyond that, the characters don’t listen much. They willfully go against my plans, and at the end of it: I get their logic. They often move toward the ending I planned more gracefully than I could ever choreograph.
My stories are not fully mine anymore. I just kind of “represent” for them. My habit of pre-naming short stories before I write is now proving problematic when most of them go off the rails in minutes.
Heck, characters sometimes even die when I still needed them. They just…died. I could not save them.
And without the certainty of control over things, all I understand is my patterns. My tropes. The rules the unfurling tapestry happens to follow. Totally determined by me—but beyond of what I am conscious.
And if this is happening to you, then the advice I can offer is to roll with it. We can’t do anything to stop the lightning and the thunder and the hurricanes and the laws of entropy and gravity. All we can do is try to understand why, and how, and prepare ourselves. And then clean up the mess left over and make what we can of the debris.
Your and my dreams are spilling out, and that is okay: write as your fingers do it for you. The world needs dreamers. And when things are hard, cripplingly hard even, the world of imagination is one to which everyone should have access. So, share your bursting self-determined imagination. Because your creations may save someone from storms, from villains, or even from their own darkness—not controlled either.