Plotting Your Life

Last night, Stephen King hit Toronto as part of the promotional tour for his latest novel Under the Dome: A Novel and in addition to no doubt doing a gazillion interviews with various forms of media, he spent some time at the Canon Theatre in conversation with David Cronenberg.

Yes, I know. Total geek fest. It was awesome. And I know it was awesome, because I was there, too (along with 2200 other fans). Shall I pause for you to turn various shades of chartreuse with the envy?

It really was a conversation, two guys who've known each other for a long time shooting the proverbial shit about movies, books, writing, the unconscious, ghosts and several rather funny Sarah Palin jokes.

About halfway in they talked about process, especially in connection to how Stephen King kept the multitude of characters straight in his mind. King started riffing on the plotting process of writing a novel, mentioning that John Irving has mentioned that he knows the last page of his book when he starts a novel - King said "what fun is that?" and went on to talk about how although he has a general idea what's going to happen, he's very much on for the ride as he's writing.

And then he mentioned plot. In connection to life. As in does your life have a plot? His point of view was that "shit just happens" (which got a big laugh - we were a pretty easy crowd) and Cronenberg interjected one of the Sarah Palin jokes, opining that her life most likely has a plot, with a predestined ending and when I was done laughing about that, the idea of life having a plot (or not) starting taking up room in my brain.

It can get quite metaphysical, can't it? Because if you believe you life as a plot, it follows that you believe there is a force larger than you - most likely divine - that has a specific plan for you. I'm not sure there is such a thing as a divine being, but have always believed that if there is, I'm pretty sure they can be bothered getting personally involved in everybody's life. For one, how would she/he/it have the time to direct all the minutia of millions of lives, so I'm pretty sure that free will is part of our genetic makeup. And if we are given free will by a supposed divine being, doesn't it follow that it is up to us to lead our life the best we can? Just as parents try to teach their kids independence, responsibility and common sense and send their kids out into the world to make their own life, so I assume the tools that we are given - by evolution or miscellaneous divinities - are free will and a brain and that we are expected to use them.

However, that was a bit of a sidetrack. I think. On the way home in the bus, I knew I wanted to write about the idea of whether your life have a plot, but I wasn't sure where it would go and apparently it's going towards a discussion of faith. But does it have to? Can a plot happen without a predetermined storyline? Couldn’t a plot develop as you live, as you make choices, as "shit happens"?

What do you think? Does your life have a theme? Is it a plot? Is your life written as if by John Irving or is it developing organically? Or is it all just random things happening?