Because I’m in the mood for a [fill in genre of your choice], and you sound like you’re actually listening.
The problem is that I am listening and I’m highly suggestible. Always have been. My psychiatrist, a nice Scotch fellow, tells me that it’s the result of being raised by someone who never missed an opportunity to ram her opinion down everyone else’s throat. Go through that long enough and you learn to bury your own opinions and desires deep inside and just nod along because it means that the conversation will be over soon. But that’s a defense mechanism that can be taken too far- you forget to let the other opinions slide off, and you lose yourself deep inside.
If there’s something I excel at, it’s taking things too far. A joke, a menial task, my foot on the gas pedal, or an errant idea. Especially an errant idea. In the Air Force, we used the term “mission creep” to describe when you mean to do just one thing (e.g. take out the Taliban), then you fixate on a single supporting effort (e.g. turn the populace against them) to the point where you think that was the actual goal- hell, it sounded good in the press- and then the next thing you know, you’re stuck running a failed state led by an out-of-control puppet who has done more damage than the original problem you meant to solve, but you’ve pissed away too many lives and too much time to leave until you can declare victory. Or at least declare an end to the analogy that’s gone on so far that you can’t remember what the original point was.
See what I mean? (My first drafts do this, too.)
So, I get carried away. And I’m suggestible. And, I’m pretty damned good at what I do, most of the time. Forget about my junior high woodshop projects for now.
When someone comes up to me and says, “I think you could write a really good YA science fiction”, well first I say “You must have never read anything I’ve ever written.” But then I think about writing it anyway, and I talk my way into it. If the next person suggests a military thriller, that goes on the list, too. Maybe the next person wants a vampire romance. Well, that’s not happening. I do have my limits.
Ever since I started writing, I have been working on projects that other people would like. Or, absent input, on projects that I think other people would like. Or, what “a book should be.” I haven’t been writing what I want to write, and there’s a good reason for that.
I have no idea what I want to write. Go back to the beginning, to suppressing my own desires and opinions. I’ve gotten so good at that now that I can’t even find them below the layers of defense mechanisms. Or maybe the defense mechanisms go all the way through. Maybe at the center of the onion, there’s only another defense. Maybe I should write a book about onions. I’ll add that to the list.
Some day, the list will have to go away. I’ll learn to follow the smile and nod with forgetting, just like I do when someone mentions overtime. But not yet. Because maybe, out pursuing one of those random suggestions, I’ll hit on what I really want for myself. Or maybe it’ll just be another long distraction. Either way, it beats getting to the center of the onion and finding nothing there. Please let there be something there.