So the way the story starts is that there’s this woman, see? No longer young; physically unprepossessing (to say the least!)… And she’s married to a scientist. Let’s say—a biochemist. And the biochemist is kind of a, you know, workaholic. And because of this—because her husband’s a workaholic scientist who likes to talk shop all the time—most of the woman’s social circle are workaholic scientists, too. But the woman herself isn’t a scientist. In fact, she’s got a completely different dream. She wants to write novels. With her kids grown, and her workaholic scientist husband off doing research or whatever, for the first time in her life, she’s got a lot of time to herself, and she uses it to write novels.Embed from Getty Images
At first, she tells no one. She says to herself, “Scientists would never understand—or respect—a person who literally wants to sit all day in a quiet room and make shit up.” So she keeps going to parties and Biochemistry Department receptions and graduate student recruiting dinners and so on and so forth, and she never says a word to anyone about her writing, even when the point comes that she has actually written so many books that the bottom drawer of her desk is totally full of them. Instead, she listens patiently while scientists (most of whom are married to other scientists, by the way. Most scientists in the world are married to other scientists) tell her about their work. She listens, and when the conversation flags, she asks, just as her husband has taught her, “Have you done the mixing experiment?” or “What about cyclic GMP?” to get things going again. All is outwardly well– but inside, the woman is so so so so so bored.
Time passes. Everyone has done the mixing experiment. Cyclic GMP is now old news. The woman finds herself at a party, face to face with an actual possible contender (in an off-year) for the Nobel Prize! She wishes desperately to impress him (yep; definitely a “him”), but what can she say? Oh, if only she’d asked her workaholic-but-beloved biochemist husband to supply her with a new question to ask!
“So,” says the Contender, “what do you work on?”
Her blood rushing to her burning cheeks (or possibly, “Withering with shame,” or “Wishing she could sink through the floor”), she blurts out, “Oh, I’m not a researcher. I write novels.”
it turns out that everyone…feels they have a novel somewhere inside
And a whole new world opens up. Because it turns out that everyone, even scientists who haven’t read anything not containing words like “diphosphoinositol pentakisphosphate” or “apoptosis” since their freshman year of college, feels they have a novel somewhere inside; and take even this very feeble amount of encouragement as an opportunity to recount its plot.
It’s not a novel; it’s my life.
And it’s a good life, because I love plots! Plots are my thing, my passion; and I can never understand how anyone can say, “I’d love to write a novel/short story/play/other fiction, if only I could think of a plot!” I like to hear plots, make plots, mend plots.
If you’re like me, bursting with plots to spare, or if you want to get a plot (free, and worth every penny of it), discuss someone else’s plot, or would like some help—or company—spackling plot-holes in a piece of fiction you basically liked, but found in some way implausible, come plot with me! (And if that sentence doesn’t get us monitored by the NSA, I honestly don’t know what will.)