How I Came Up with Today’s Story and a Little Coincidence

by Chris McGinty

Along the line of coincidences that have nothing to do with the Google algorithm, a couple of sort of odd things led to me writing a piece of flash fiction today. When I went to post my piece of flash fiction, I saw that Nathan had posted a blog post today. His blog post was about the setbacks that he’s experiencing right now, and near the end he got into an existential what’s the meaning of life thought process. I found this interesting because my piece of flash fiction, written before I saw his post, works in that same area of thought.

I thought I would explain how the story idea came to me. I’m no Stephen King or Neil Gaiman, but maybe someone might still be interested in my process? Maybe? Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe?

I sort of believe in what Mark rosewater calls a holistic approach to creativity. The idea being that creativity isn’t a one-off. It’s a series of thoughts and actions that result in a whole new idea. I think that most of my creative ideas have come from using that approach.

The first component to my story is, I recently watched a series of videos that showed that there may have been an encrypted message in “The Shining” using the “Catcher in the Rye” as the key to solve it. Because this is a new idea, there were people in the comments that were skeptical, and one used the term apophenia. While I understand the concept of finding meaning and patterns that don’t really have meaning, I never really knew what the term was. Having the ability to call it something put the concept at the front of my mind.

The second component to the story, and I can’t remember what this is called right now, but it’s sort of the thing where you can never know something outside of yourself. The concept is sort of made famous by the quote “I think therefore I am,” because the second part of that could very well be I don’t know if anything else thinks so I therefore don’t know if anything else is.

The third component is actually the mother of necessity, in which I’m out delivering Uber Eats, and I needed a short story for the evening. I walked into a Whataburger and there was a group of about twenty men at group of tables discussing what seemed to be business… or just life in general. I’m not sure exactly what. Since I needed something to write about, I wondered was there any way of integrating that thing that I just witnessed.

In the process of having a grand idea for my stories this year, I’ve gone to the well of “the meaning of life” many times. I had the odd thought, “What if I were to walk over to those guys having their little conference and ask, ‘What is the meaning of life?'”

Many years ago, I was at a movie with Miguel and his mom, and I was going a little bit MST3K on the opening trailers and ads before the movie. I really had no intention of disturbing people when the movie started; but nonetheless, I was going to be funny while the trailers were going. At some point, the teaser trailer for the new “The Flintstones” movie with John Goodman came on, and I said really loudly to the crowd, “I’m going to go see that,” and some guy in the back of the theater said really loudly back, “Are you going to talk through that one too?” I have to admit that I had no good retort for that, and I was vanquished for that evening.

Back to the story idea, the thought occurred to me, “What if I asked that meaning of life question and someone actually had a response that stumped me?” After putting all of those thoughts together, I had the idea, and I wrote it.

Now the real question is I wrote a short story involving the meaning of life the same day Nathan was pondering the same. Does it mean something or is it just a weird coincidence?

Chris McGinty is a blogger who never saw “The Flintstones” starring John Goodman. He saw “The Big Lebowski” though. He suspects they basically have the same plot.

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