Yesterday, Sarah wrote about being attacked by a novel and how it can happen at the most inconvenient of times. I think a number of us can identify with that. It pushes you away from everything when it happens, demanding that you put fingers to keyboard -- or pen to paper -- and write. I love those days, even if they do mean postponing the chores I really needed to do or not going to the movie I wanted to see.
Then there are those times when being a writer means you look at things a bit differently than most everyone else. At least I hope it's being a writer and I'm not turning into a conspiracy nut ;-)
An example of this, and how it happens to me, is yesterday's crash of the TU-154 in Russia that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski, his wife and more than 90 other people. Many of those killed held positions in the Polish government. They were on their way to Russia to take part in a tribute honoring the thousands of Polish officers slain by the Soviet secret police in 1940 around Katyn forest in western Russia. If I remember correctly, there were several thousand officers killed. In total, more than 20,000 Poles died during that time at the hands of the Soviets.
As horrible as news of the crash was, it was the details of it that sent my mind racing, looking for cause and effect. The first thing to catch my eye was the initial report that one person who was supposed to be on that flight didn't make it on board. Maybe nothing, but the writer in me starts wondering if, perhaps, that person knew something was going to happen. Did they have a premonition? What caused them to decide not to board the jet?
Then there was the fact that the jet went down in Russia. Russia, long an enemy of the Polish state. An enmity that goes back longer than the existence of the communist state, long before the events leading up to World War II. Still, that part of my brain that tries to think logically most of the time kept telling me I was reading more into it than was there.
But, I reminded myself, let's not forget that the jet had been serviced just a few months ago -- in Russia. What if something had been done -- or not done -- to the jet then. Could this all be some sort of plot aimed at striking at Polish leadership?
Mind you, there is no proof to any of this. I'm not saying the deaths of President Kaczynski and all those others was anything but an unfortunate accident. What I am saying is that my mind took those leaps yesterday and started spinning the threads together to form the basis of a story.
I know part of the reason I made those leaps of logic -- and, no, I'm not saying it was real logic -- is my age. I don't remember the Cuban Missile Crisis but I do recall President Kennedy's assassination. I remember the drills in elementary school when we practiced what to do in case of a tornado -- or nuclear attack. I remember seeing the signs on buildings and highway overpasses/tunnels letting us know where the shelters were in case of attack. So I might be a bit more predisposed to think of the events surrounding the crash as part of a plot than others would be.
What I do know is I do seem to look at things and have a part of my mind thinking about how I can use it in a story. Whether it is something like the horrible crash yesterday or watching the men take down the 50' pine tree in my front yard, seeing how one of the men worked bottom to top as he took down the limbs, leaving footholds as he went and how he carefully trimmed each limb before he cut it down so it wouldn't tear up the ground when it dropped. Then there was how he all but communed with the tree, carefully circling it, studying it, almost talking to it as he figured out where to cut so the trunk would fall exactly where he wanted.
How about you? What sort of leaps does your mind take when reading the news or watching something happen? Is it the same sort of leap you see from those around you or different? Or should I just accept the fact that I see plots -- and possibly conspiracies -- around every corner?