Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Daydreaming and Pretending

I have two questions for you. 1. If you could be anyone else, who would you be?  2. Aren’t you tired of that question?

I think about that question because I like to daydream and pretend, but not as much as Walter Mitty.

James Thurber’s dark short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, is considered a masterpiece, and the word Mittyseque has even entered the English Language. It means an ineffectual person who spends more time in heroic daydreams than paying attention to the real world, or more seriously, one who intentionally attempts to mislead or convince others that he is something that he is not. (Wikipedia)

The story’s protagonist, Walter Mitty, has five heroic daydreams while driving to town to buy groceries and take his wife to the beauty parlor.  In his mind, he’s powers a Navy hydroplane, performs surgery, appears in court as an alleged murderer, fights the Germans in World War II, and waits to be shot by a firing squad.

Although Mitty never tries to mislead his wife, whose roll is to bring him back to reality, his daydreams are vivid enough to convince himself that he’s someone else.

As I daydreamer, I’ll answer my first question just for fun.  If I could be anyone else, I’d like to be either a landscape architect designing patios, gardens, outdoor kitchens, and one of a kind, magnificent, award winning, magazine worthy gardens OR I’d like to be a published novelist, with my work being read by more than just a handful of obligated close friends and with at least eighty percent five star reviews on Amazon.

The landscape architect gig is out since the thought of geometry makes me sick and my gardening style is basically this looks like a good place for a new flower bed today. Next week, another portion of my yard will look like a good place, but first I’ll need to finish the bed I started last year.  My magazine will have to be Facebook and my award a hot bath with Epsom salts.

As for being a fiction novelist, I spent four years daydreaming about being published, with about sixty hours each year devoted to actually writing the novel.
Then, I decided to change that question from If I could BE anyone else, who would I be to If I could DO anything else, what would I do? Instead of daydreaming about being someone else, I decided to BE myself but DO something else. I stopped pretending and spent thirteen months and over six hundred hours on a first draft.

This is what I discovered. Daydreaming and pretending were easier and a lot less scary, but they  didn’t take me anywhere.  Doing did.