War Journal 03: What If Hits

Life in Iraq gets redundant pretty fast.  Waiting to hear from publishers, which is already a sort of slog even with your days full of variety, becomes some sort of silent demon.  If these are the trenches, friends, then those letters from editors are Red Cross care packages.  You look out at the horizon and think, “maybe today’s the day.”

But since my last journal I did receive two letters.  One was a no, but I was shooting to the highest star possible with that one.   The other guys were responding to my query letter informing me that they had lost my submission.  It happens.  No care packages this time.

So in between care packages, in a physical no man’s land away from my family and a mental no man’s land with the repetitive lifestyle, you would think it’d be hard to find inspiration to write.  But it’s not.  I get hit with “what ifs?” often.

Maybe some of you don’t know what a “what if” is.  Why, they’re those little kernels of speculation, where you stop and wonder about yourself or others or the world in general.  From those a cascade of thoughts can stream and once that happens you’re taking the Nestea plunge into some creative writing.

True example, the wind was blowing hard out here for two days straight… some crazy Kansas on Dorothy action.  I started wondering about the wind.  Did all this come from some quiet place 100 miles away?  What was the source of it?  Do weathermen have it all wrong when they just show you the graph of where it’s going?  Maybe the wind was actually blowing like in a relatively mild tornado that was spanned whole countries and we were over here getting the same wind over and over till it blows itself out.  The weathermen don’t see it because they’re only looking at one portion of this grand wind track, kinda like someone looking only at the straightaway at a race track and swearing up and down thousands of cars are ripping down a Interstate highway at breakneck speeds.

Anyway, all that lead to a story that I had a lot of fun writing.  But the whole point of this is that when you start asking “what if” you can draw inspiration from anywhere.  Oftentimes I break down things I take for granted, like the wind, and build up until I’m left with something all my own.

It helps pass time in the trenches if nothing else.


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