Zigs and Zags

No battle plan, or so it is said, survives first contact with the enemy. Life comes at you fast. Shit happens. Etc. The point is, you cannot expect matters to run smoothly and according to a predetermined schedule. Things change, even as you’re walking out the door on the way to whatever is appointed. Don’t be surprised.

You will be, of course. There is that moment of detachment. “Huh.” There might be a flash of something akin to panic, depending on the importance of the suddenly disrupted event. Or, more often, a frozen moment of mental vapor lock as your mind tries to process the fact that whatever goal it was purposefully directing its efforts at achieving — work, pleasure, a trip to the mailbox, whatever — has been abruptly swept from the table. There might follow various degrees of frustration, annoyance, or even anger. You might dwell on what should have been. Or, you might move on to “now what?”

This is life. It is also the stuff of good fiction. Fiction demands drama and conflict. If a narrative spools out in a predictable way, precisely as the main character desires up front, without a single hiccup, it isn’t a story. Good fiction comes from the upsetting of plans, from the unexpected, from inflection points.

If young Conan slips past the guards, scales the Tower of the Elephant, purloins a handful of jewels, and is back drinking in a tavern in the Maul within an hour, where is the story? Something needs to go wrong, something the protagonist is forced to deal with in order to achieve his goal, or perhaps provide him with a new goal.

So, don’t take these bumps in your road of life so hard. Consider them as fodder for stories. Yes, I’m sitting at home today when I hadn’t planned to. No, it’s not a big deal. But I did need to scrap the intended post and devise something else to write about. Want to offer some consolation? Since my next major publishing announcement is still a bit over a month away, how about picking up one of my previous works? This one, for example, is pretty good, I think.