How Did All This Whatif Monster Craziness Start You Ask? GOOD Question!
Meet Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster. When I think up characters, I tend to make them into three dimensional characters and then put them on my fireplace mantal. When they get made I call it 'getting born.' You know, from my imagination. They know how to speak and everything! They told me their whole story and that they wanted a book. So, these two guys got a book written about them. And it only took three years of them swimming around in my head to figure out how they sounded and what they wanted to say.
Confused? Lemme ‘splain.
It all started with my husband when he was not my husband, my boyfriend. Heh. That term sounds so stupid when you are in your thirties. His father used to call me his ‘lady friend’. So he was my ‘man friend’ I guess. But off I go on a tangent.
Back to the story! My sweet husband is a worrier. He worries about everything that could possibly go wrong and prepares for it. He is a software developer and apparently they need to imagine every possible scenario and outcome that could POSSIBLY happen and account for it in computer code. So he is wired that way. I? Am not.
Then there is me. He calls me a butterfly that just flits about not worrying about anything. I wear the rose-colored glasses and can’t possibly imagine anything that could go wrong with the life long plan for success I came up with just now while I was brushing my teeth.
Our conversations go a little like this:
Me: We should TOTALLY do “X”! It will be amazing and brilliant and our lives will be PHENOMENAL!! Let’s DO “X”!!!! (X would be something like, buy tickets to Italy without checking our bank accounts or something.)
Husband: Um, have you thought about what happens after we do “X”?
Husband: Well, what if “X” does not work out? What if “Y” happens?
Me: Man!! You are such a pessimist!! The chances of “Y” happening are like, a billion to one!! You worry too much!
Husband: First of all, I am not pessimistic, I am REALISTIC. And second of all, the chances of “Y” happening are pretty high. It happens all the time.
Me: But..but…It would not happen to US because we are such good, happy people! And dude! Karma!! Hello!!! Let’s do “X”!!!!!!
Husband: So you want to risk our whole futures on karma, huh? Hmmm. How about we think about it? Prepare a bit. See what other options there are. But we will keep thinking about it, promise – it could work.
Me: God! It would totally work! It is foolproof! Geez, just trust me!!!
Husband: And have you even thought of the possibility that “Z” could happen?
Me: “Z”????????? Who would ever even THINK “Z” could happen???? How did you even imagine a “Z” scenario????? Does it hurt in your brain? Is there some sad, mean man in your brain telling you that you can’t have any fun????
Husband: Fine. You are right! I do worry too much. Let’s do ‘X’!
Me: Really??? YIPPEE!!! Just wait! you’ll see! “X” will be AMAZING!
Husband: It will!
The next day we do “X”. And within moments “Y” and “Z” happen simultaneously. And we are IN TROUBLE.
Me: Huh. Hmm. Well lookit that. You were right. And we are totally in trouble now, aren’t we?
Husband: No. Because I stayed up all night and figured out back up plans for all of it when “Y” and “Z” happened like I thought they would. And you should listen to me more, you crazy, crazy lady. Butterflies need to think more.
Me: Hmmmm. What did you just say? I just had the most amazing idea for us to do!!!! Wait until you hear it! It is BRILLIANT! ……………………..
So um, yeah. That is pretty much our life. Heh. One day after some discussion we had, I painted a little character on a tiny canvas for my husband. While I have learned that thinking things through and preparing are REALLY GOOD ideas, I also know he sometimes, needs to lighten up and take a few risks sometimes – even if they are somewhat calculated. So when he got home one day 3 years ago I presented him with this:
That is the Whatif Monster. And he sits at my husband’s desk at work and when those voices get too gloomy anbd loud in his head, he can look the Whatif Monster in the eye and tell him to take it down a notch. Simmer down there, killjoy.
And so that guy has been in my head. I call him the Whatif Monster. Then last summer a little curly-haired, red-headed boy popped up. And I just knew he was friends with the Whatif Monster. And I had a vague idea for a story. But I could not get it down on paper. Only images would come. And so I painted them. Over and over. And I tried to figure out what his name was. He would not tell me for several more weeks. I tried to write their story, but nothing. I was stumped. I finally put them on the fireplace mantle and let them play. Eventually the boy told me his name was Jonathan James. But nothing else. Then little by little they would call my name. Wanting me to try to figure them out. But I was busy. I had cats and dogs to paint! And I ignored them. But the past few weeks they have gotten louder and louder.
Then last Thursday I was working out to a DVD in my living room at 5:45am and I glanced over at Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster and WOW if the Whatif Monster didn’t tell me six lines in his voice! I was overcome with excitement!! Suddenly I knew how to write the book! All at once, 3 years of swimming in my head, they were ready! I had to work that day, normally my day off , so that was really annoying. But I got to work and wrote the six lines down. I was ECSTATIC!!
Then Friday I dropped Sophie off at school, came home, made a pot of coffee and sat down to write. And WOW if their story did not come pouring out of me. And WOW if it is not the most favorite thing I have EVER written. I am really proud of it!! I know exactly how to illustrate it too! I emailed the text and a few sample pics to my agent and am waiting to hear.
And that is how Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster got born.