“What If…?”

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I have a reputation of being a worrier. I fret constantly about what might happen, no matter how unlikely. I leave the house in the morning with thoughts in my head along the lines of, “what if I left the hair straighteners plugged in?” (even though I checked twice they were unplugged). “What if a terrorist bomb blows me to smithereens on my way to work?” “What if a gas explosion reduces the house to rubble while I’m gone?”.

When we go away, it’s worse. What if the house gets burgled in our absence? What if one of the cats gets sick? What if we get scammed whilst abroad by a dodgy taxi driver?

All these thoughts make me very stressed. But it occurs to me that the same overactive brain that gives me all these thoughts also makes me a writer.

All stories start with “What If”. Let’s look at some examples by my favourite writer, Stephen King. What if a bullied high school girl has the power of telekinesis (Carrie)? What if a supernatural Big Bad can take on the form of whatever scares you the most (It)? What if a creepy burial ground possesses the ability to bring back to life whatever is buried there (Pet Semetary)?

So the real life “What ifs” that crowd my brain also allow me to come up with some fictional “What ifs” that turn into stories. And it makes me think – is it the curse of the writer to have too many thoughts? Is an overactive imagination the price to pay for creativity? Discuss…

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