I wonder how that short story Mechanisms in Hellbound Hearts ended in other people's heads.
Damn you, words! So magical.
I'm steering my boat onto different waters these days, and I'm giving myself more or less a week to make sure this is what I really want. I've discovered strange things about me the past few weeks, and instead of focusing on them as things to blame I'm glad to report they are only pushing me towards more, newer action.
So I've been reading the kinds of books that have always fascinated me: books about people! Or at least how their minds work.
My favorite story this week: Remembering how I've always held one moment in college so close to my heart for possibly the wrong reason. I love fiction, I still do and I'm still at it despite these new stirrings. But whenever I feel like I need to escape where I am, I always find myself back at my Comm 3 prof's room, where she and her boyfriend listen to my defense of my paper. She was someone I liked to impress and I've heard she doesn't really give out high grades and such and I'd always find my work riddled in red ink when she returns them. So I never really figured that she liked me or had any special opinion of me in all my days in her class.
So imagine my shock when, after I've given my speech (which I don't remember for the life of me), she says, "You know, Macky, you're in the wrong course." And how she always finds herself looking forward to reading my papers. And before she can say anything else, I started crying. She handed me a tissue.
And so I've used that story in my head countless times, whenever I want to rethink where I am. I've always told myself I wanted to be a writer. A fiction writer, and if all those self-imposed responsibilities weren't there then this is where I would rather be: writing about the stories in my head.
Here's the catch: the paper I submitted wasn't fiction. So I don't know where that connection came from. Do you know what it was? It was about schizophrenia. I tried to prove the theory that poor nutrition increases the likelihood of mental problems in people.
And somehow I forgot that little piece of information. I forgot that while I was creative, I was also painfully analytical, that I had the ability to think critically and in terms of data and facts. I may suck at math, but I get relationships (not the emotional kind, at least) and connections and inferences.
Which is probably why one of the earliest lines I wrote with any measure of pride from my novel was this:
Why do people do what they do?
Of all people, Dumas Chang should know. He had been tossing that one question around in his head for all of thirteen weeks and five days. Like some annoying bad tune that gets lodged in one’s consciousness despite all efforts not to sing it, the question would creep up onto him, disguised at first as a simple, logical sense of wondering along the lines of “Why am I stopping to look at my watch?” and “Why am I getting out of this really snazzy bum rest?” onto “Why am I walking towards that door?” Until, of course, he was asking it again. “Dumas Chang,” a voice would taunt, “why do people do what they do?”
Sometimes he would hold the thought in his brain. He would step out of it, looking at it, challenging it. If a question could sneer right back, “Why do people do what they do?” would have given Dumas the ultimate evil eye.
It appears the way is forward.