What am I doing? What’s the purpose of my life? If there does exist any creator, why did (s)he create the world in the first place? What’s the point of my job? Only a few people read my books, and I doubt even a single person will be aware that I existed.
Well, this isn’t the first time these questions have surrounded me. Since childhood, I’ve been asked what did I want to be when I grew up. I always thought that once you enter adulthood, you’ll know what you want to be. In adolescence, I often laughed at people who changed their direction or took a job in a different field. I used to think those people were good for nothing who didn’t know what they wanted to do in life. Now, I’m one of them.
I glance at the clock. It’s 4 am. One more hour to go before I go to sleep. There hasn’t been a day since graduate school when I’ve slept before the morning rays touched my eyes. I reach my coffee mug to take a sip, but only a few drops are left. Neither are my legs in the mood to go into the kitchen nor are my hands to brew coffee. So, these drops should do.
I unlock the computer screen, which got locked during my existential crisis rant. I stare at the draft I was trying to write for a minute or two before my hands take control. They start scrolling through the feed of few social networking sites and video sharing websites. My body finally decides to get some sleep.
It’s night again. I start the computer which had moved to hibernation mode yesterday, only to see the same blank page I was staring at yesterday. Some keystrokes… Ctrl+Z … Some more keystrokes … Ctrl+Z again.
How can you start with some random characters unless you’ve figured out what their spines are made of? Unless you know some basic plot idea, how can you make characters up? I don’t want to serve the same old wine in a new glass, I have always craved for originality. I will not write unless there is something new in it.
I try to think of the events that are happening around the world. I can’t find a single thing to write about. After half a dozen cups of coffee, and 4 hours of thinking, I’m convinced that I won’t be able to think of anything today. I switch to another website to check if any new contests are going on in which I can participate. I still like to participate, especially if it’s related to competitive programming or Artificial Intelligence.
Nothing. Not a single competition I’d like to take part in. I think I should just focus on the story. It’s due by next week. Well if you think it’s unusual for a writer to compete in such contests, that’s because I completed my masters in computer science before I started writing stories. It’s been three years; I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my life. To be honest, I still don’t. I don’t think I can keep on writing new stuff for the next 30 years before I retire.
I believe every story reflects an experience from the life of the writer. A story does not become great unless you add something from your life which the reader can relate to. Our life is finite, so are the experiences we can have. Hence, at some point in time, you start repeating yourself. The same experience, maybe in a different way, in a different environment, and in a different character, but it won’t be as novel as the one you used to write a few years back. That’s why writers need inspiration. Some travel to get new experiences and hear stories from people they meet. Some read the literature of others to feel their encounters passively, and some take a break to get experiences from the lives around them.
I’m half-asleep. I was having a dream of a program which writes stories on its own. I take out the first paper I can get my hands to from drawer, write “Story-writing software” on the first page and go to sleep to resume the dream.
I think it’s time to change the field again. I should wake that computer scientist inside me to write a piece of software which can write stories for me. How can you teach someone to do something you can’t do? How do I write a program to write stories unless I know how I come up with stories in the first place? I mean, I usually map my experiences to some characters and then bind them together. How can a computer do that? Have I again hit the dead end?
But what if the computer doesn’t need to write a story at all? What if the software should just act as a medium to provide me experiences, and I can find the story from it. Maybe, I should just simulate the whole world in software. I should create all stars, planets, ocean, humans and everything. I should incorporate all the knowledge I have in this world. I should make a Miniworld of my own.
The most crucial part of the code will be to make animals think. I think, I just know a person from my grad school who can help. All these years I’ve been thinking I’ve wasted some of my precious years pursuing computer science. I can die without any regrets if it works out. I’ll have to make it work.
It’s been few years since I built the working Miniworld. I’m never short of stories anymore because now, I have enough experiences to write stories. In the spare time, I also made a program to log everything and mine events that are unusual. It has worked pretty well till now.
I’m reading the logs for my next bestseller, and I come across something I can’t believe. Something that helps me get those answers I usually get.
From the logs of Minihuman#13567
Nov 7, 5361
“What am I doing? What’s the purpose of my life? If there does exist any creator, why did (s)he create the world in the first place? What’s the point of my job? Only a few people read my books, and I doubt even a single person will be aware that I existed.”, thought Storywriter(Minihuman#13567).
It seems I’ve known the answer to my ‘purpose of life question’ since the beginning. And you?
God made men because He loves stories.Elie Wiesel, The Gates of the Forest