More on plotting....
Or is that moron plotting? C'mon, go with me here....
As I sit ready for an explosion of Trick-or-Treaters to come by, and also checking regularly to see my classmates' pictures on Facebook as they all (but me) enjoy the 25th reunion of The West Point Class of 1989, I can't help but think on past and future and present and plotting and--well, stuff.
See, the reason I'm not there is that I haven't yet found another job after my position was eliminated last spring. I've come awfully close. I've turned down a couple that weren't good fits. I've taken one, briefly, that I should'a turned down. I have things working--irons in the fire, so to speak--and I'm thinking my situation is about to change. It just didn't change in time to make the reunion.
Ah, well, there's always Facebook, right?
Through the (seemingly) countless job interviews, though, it's been interesting how many times I've been asked questions beginning with "Why did you...." Why did I leave Alaska? Why did I leave Biloxi after only a year? Why did I go to Richmond? Why did I approach a retention problem the way I did? Why would a college think that laying off an Academic Dean was a good idea?
I have to come up with an answer that is truthful while still being positive and upbeat and professional. I can't, in other words, say what I'd like to say sometimes: "Well, I made what was, in retrospect, a dumb-ass move."
Actually, I can. I did, in fact, once when I was feeling overly tired. Not in those specific words, but it was about that level of humph. And, as you can imagine, it went over like an audible expulsion of human gaseous waste during a religious ceremony. *sigh*
But it happens, and it happens to everybody. We all do stuff--in our personal lives as well as our professional lives--that, later on, would be rather tough to explain in a positive, professional manner in a job interview. Right?
I've said other dumb things, too. I nearly had one position; I'd already interviewed with a couple of recruiters, several executives, and others, and was on my very last interview, talking to the guy who was going to be my future boss. Only, I had an absolutely craptastical morning, and wasn't at my top game, and (insert any other excuse you'll grace me with here), and he asked me what I did to relieve stress. Now, I could've truthfully answered all sorts of ways. I take my family on walks in the park. I listen to music. I play computer games. I write. And I actually did say: "Well, I write." That wasn't the most targeted response, since the guy I was talking to was more of an athletic sort, but it would've been fine if I hadn't added, "I like to write so that I can kill people."
The silence that ensued was absolutely chilling.
Now, wait a sec--this is something we writers joke about all the time. Somebody ticks us off, they're going to get killed off in our next writing session. You just have to expect that, if you do something to make a writer angry. You won't feel any effects, of course; it's pure stress relief for the fiction writer. After all, it is, in fact, only fiction.
That said, writers shouldn't ever talk about that outside of writing circles. Especially not on a job interview, where the guy at the other end of the phone is immediately going to put you in the bin with Freddy Krueger. Bad, bad, bad TOSK....
No, I didn't get that job; it was filled by "another candidate." Probably one who didn't admit to writing for the purpose of killing people, I'd say. Life is like that sometimes, right?
So what does this have to do with plotting? Well, see, I've always had this problem. I'm writing along, and my main character really needs to do something stupid to advance the plot line, and I don't want to do it. It's stupid, after all. Who does stupid stuff? Who blurts stupid stuff out at the wrong time?
Oh, right--I do.
I do it all the time.
Why, then, wouldn't main characters behave just as stupidly as I have on my worst days?
I--um--well, I just don't know.