Monday, August 16, 2010


by Gina Sestak

My body drove the car with practiced ease, stopping at red lights and watching out for pedestrians. 
My mind eavesdropped in a medieval dungeon.  
"You are a monster."  The prisoner spoke through broken teeth.
The torturer laughed.  "You know nothing, yet . . ."
The light turned green.  I took my foot off the brake and drove another block, flicking the turn signal on as I approached the corner.
The torturer picked up a grim-looking device, all spikes and iron.
The prisoner cringed.
I coasted to a stop at the sign, looked both ways, checked for on-coming traffic, then made the left.

Do you ever find yourself doing that, interacting with the real world while making up a story in your head?  It's not something I recommend, particularly while driving, but sometimes I can't help myself.  The story's coming through so strong, it won't allow itself to be ignored.

At times like that, I feel as if I'm straddling two worlds.

One world other people share, a world of structure and of light that can be seen and touched.

The other world is mine alone, a private place within.

That's where the stories hide.
Unlike the protagonist in Marion Zimmer Bradley's classic, though, I don't move back and forth.  Instead I manage to inhabit both at once.

Don't think I'm totally insane.  I know which world is which.  Outward reality and inner imagination coexist; they don't collide.  But sometimes, sometimes, the stories come so clear that it's a battle not to tune out everyday reality to listen in.

How about you?  Do you ever find yourself between two worlds?


Annette said...

It's not worlds colliding that worries me. It's cars when I do this. Yes, I'm frequently working out plot points and character dialogue while driving. Sometimes I travel many miles and realize I have no memory of the trip, only what happened inside my head.


Pat Remick said...

I find myself experiencing things in life and then thinking, this could make a great story. Or what if I took the elements of reality and twisted them in a certain way -- wouldn't that be a fabulous book?
Let me just say it's a comfort here to know I am not alone in living in these imaginary worlds as I outwardly appear to be living an ordinary life.....

Pat Remick said...

PS-- I guess that's also why I call my personal blog ... "it's all novel material"....

Ramona said...

Gina, you don't sound crazy, you sound like a writer.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I "write" when I'm driving, I write when I'm walking, I write when I'm doing household chores, sometimes I write while I'm working (that other job - the one that isn't writing).

But don't we all?

Joyce said...

Ramona said what I was going to say.

This is something only writers can understand, too. My hubby is a "numbers guy" and he doesn't always get it. But he's learning--he gave me a great plot idea not too long ago. And not by accident, either. He did it on purpose!

Jennie Bentley said...

"But don't we all?"

Yep, we do. I'm not in any particular danger of mixing up my worlds - not even the various fantasy worlds I inhabit at any given time - but I do know I get some strange looks when I drive down the interstate talking rapidly to myself, acting out dialogue. There's something about moving forward - driving, walking - that makes head-writing very easy. No worries, Gina, you're just like the rest of us.

Patg said...

The whole world is a plot point, and everyone in it a possible character.
That allows for the existance of many worlds for a writer--so what's new?

Tamara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamara said...

My problem is sometimes I prefer the fictional creation to reality. Maybe more often than sometimes, which isn't to say anything negative of those of you I do spend time with in the real world. Fiction is just so fun - well, when revisions are going well. Speaking of, back to revisions. Great post, Gina!

Laurissa said...

Doesn't sound crazy to me either. You sound like a writer, Gina!