Last weekend, my husband dragged me out to see Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. He thought an action oriented movie about the multiverse would be just the thing to distract me from the self-inflicted wounds I created during the most recent edit to my book.
I’d decided that a key scene needed to scooch back a few chapters. I’d just cut it and move it.
My husband hates the word “just”. He’s always telling me not to use that word. Nothing is that simple. It’s a trap. I like to ignore his advice.
Even though I knew it was possibly, probably, a bad idea, I went for it. I went for it in the same impulsive, overconfident way that you cut your own bangs or tug a loose thread to “fix” your sweater.
Things started to unravel fast. The plot fell apart. With one tiny change, I’d butterfly effect-ed my story right off the page and into the multiverse. Not in a good way.
Multiverse stories are having a moment right now. Reality and our sense of self, are not. Don’t like how you look? Use a filter. Don’t like that version of history? Read another. Wish you knew how to be a plumber? YouTube. Hate your life? Manifest another.
Writing has given me a place to retreat from the endless overwhelm of plastic, elastic reality. I’m happier puttering around in my own imagination, where at least I have some version control.
I was mostly cool with the first draft of my novel. I’d made a series of choices about my characters, setting, plot, and prose that I felt good about. It was far from perfect but it was tangible, familiar, and possibly most important – it was done. The moment I changed that scene I was starting over. I wasn’t sure what I was writing anymore. I was almost painfully aware of all the different books it could be.
Not to be melodramatic, but nothing seemed to matter anymore.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, then you’ve probably also seen Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.
My trip into the multiverse of my novel didn’t get as weird as the film. There were no dildo weapons or hotdog hands. I’m not quite that creative, I guess. But there were other similarities.
Like the characters in the movie, my characters finally managed to navigate their way out of the multiverse and back into to their timeline. This involved a fair amount of wrestling, note sorting and bagel gazing.
And just like my novel, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, turned out to be just a romantic comedy in the end.
Perhaps we shouldn’t say “just” a romantic comedy.
There’s nothing simple about the multiverse. It’s a trap.