I can’t speak for other writers, but I myself have a love / not-so-much relationship with writing. On the one hand, it’s a passion — it’s who I am and what I do. It’s how I earn a living and how I get to be creative. And funny. Touching. And conversational. And, hopefully, maybe even a little inspiring.
But as with many passions, there’s the darker side too (no, we’re not talking Edgar Allan Poe dark, we’re talking am-I-ever-going-to-have-another-creative-thought dark). I once worked with someone who said, “I don’t know how you keep coming up with ideas — don’t you ever run out?” Thanks for the curiosity, I wanted to say, but if I let that thought into my brain, I’m done.
That started me thinking about other writers and their creative wheels. What if those wheels got stuck in neutral in the midst of pens being dipped in ink, typewriters clacking, or laptops clicking … clicking … clickless. To wit:
What if Casablanca writers Julius and Phillip Epstein and Howard Koch had Ilsa Lund take the easier path and stay behind with Rick at the end of the movie? What would that mean to the freedom of the world if she didn’t go with her husband, Victor Laszlo, to keep it safe? And what if Sam really couldn’t remember how to play “As Time Goes By”?
What if Margaret Mitchell had Scarlett O’Hara say “whatever” to Ashley Wilkes and happily marry one of the Tarleton twins? Just think — no spitfire, no petticoats a-showing, no Rhett to not give a damn. Yes, still a Civil War but no, not one of the greatest — albeit shrewdest — female characters of all time.
What if writer L. Frank Baum had made Dorothy’s wish, instead of being to magically return home, simply to get a ruby purse to go with her slippers? What if the yellow brick road, instead of leading to Oz, led to Nordstrom? (You know, she probably could have gotten an amazing pair of emerald slippers during their fabulous women’s shoe sale.)
And what if Mario Puzo, in the midst of everyone going to the mattresses, decided that Michael Corleone should stay out of the “family business”? Just a nice boy marrying a nice girl and having nice kids. Face it, it’s not write.
And so I continue to fuel my wheels. I know there’s another story, another headline, another idea out there. It’s just around the bend, between thoughts of finding my glasses, finishing that assignment, buying stamps and planning our next vacation. I’m on the right track, pretty sure I can see it. In fact, I think I can.
The creative engine that could.
© 2015 Claudia Grossman