Why Aimless is Dangerous

My to-do list is a behemoth, and currently missing. That’s not a big problem, because almost everything on it is utterly trivial. I’m unemployed, trying to juggle writing with starting a business and also doing job applications and planning a trip to South East Asia, and as a result I’m failing at every single one of them.

No joke. I did do three job applications yesterday, a month before I go away for a month. That’ll go down well. Today I found out where I need to get to on the first day of my trip and printed it out, but I’ve not been shopping yet because I’ve also spent quite a lot of time at the gym and I’d like to drop a dress size before I leave. I finally have the photos for ‘work’, so those have gone up, but everything is a bit on hold because I might be getting an office on Friday.

As for writing… some foolish cricket journalist mentioned cricket RPF, and as a result I spent three hours with my best friend planning a story I will never, ever write. Ever.

RPF, for the uninitiated, is fiction involving real, alive people. In cricket, it’s usually a tale of a romantic relationship between two players. We looked through the archives, starting out with ‘why are we even looking’ and progressing to ‘what am I reading?’ and then ‘it’s good, but they’re paired them up wrong’. And then you realise it’s 1 in the morning and you’ve got half a story written.

RPF is a challenge, because it’s essentially original fiction with constraints. It’s not real, everyone knows that, but like fanfiction you have pre-established details to work in. On the one hand, you don’t have to create the backstories for characters or fill out the team yourself, but instead you have to keep track of, in this instance, who was in the team when, who played in which matches and what they scored, when characters were in the same country as each other and when they changed county. It’s something you normally do in edits, but in RPF they’re there in front of you from the very beginning.

And there is a story in there, somewhere, once we divorce it from RPF. That’s the joy of fanfiction – you can’t keep the characters, but the plot is yours to rework as you like. We emerged from our late night session with the story of a young debutant cricketer who falls in love with a cricket mad film star, and the juggling and snatched moments that their lives become, as their career trajectories turn stratospheric and drag them away from each other. We also discussed stories like the first couple to win the women’s doubles trophy at Wimbledon, who came together to compete and accidentally rekindled their teenage romance.

This is what a lack of direction gets you – more story ideas than you know what to do with, and not enough time to deal with them.

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