If you’ve seen my social media, you know that I worship Misha Collins. He’s the actor who plays the angel Castiel on Supernatural.
Yes, I occasionally remind myself that Misha’s a fallible human being, not a literal angel of the Lord. But, judging by his public persona, he’s an adorkable mensch with a lot of thoughtful and inspiring things to say. So I was excited to see that he had posted two live streams today on Facebook. And I guessed that they had to do with the coming election.
Please don’t panic—this is not a political post. I happen to share Misha’s choice of candidate, but I’m not out to convert anyone here. Just bear with me.
So, yeah. Misha was out stumping for Hillary. And the two live streams were campaign stops in Iowa. He drew impressive crowds, with a ton of people cramming into coffee shops! And he admitted that he was no expert and that it felt a bit strange to be there just because he plays an angel on the CW. But he also spoke from the heart about his time as a White House intern during the Clinton administration, plus his reasons for supporting Hillary as opposed to Trump or a third party candidate.
So far so good. What surprised me were the kinds of questions people asked him.
Okay, some were predictable fan questions. How are Jensen and Jared—the guys who play the Winchester brothers on Supernatural—voting? Misha knows, but will let them decide if they want to voice their political views.
But for the most part, the questions were about the candidates and the issues. What about Benghazi? What about the future of Obamacare? What about reproductive rights? What about that ‘basket of deplorables’ comment? What about people who only wanted Bernie? Why is Hillary’s tax plan better than Trump’s?
I was kind of amazed. These felt like questions you ask someone who’s running for office—you know, a real politician. But, okay, Misha volunteered to do this, so I guess all the questions were fair. And I think he did an awesome job answering. He made the limits of his knowledge clear, he listened to people and he gave his honest opinions. And he did it with grace and humor while sounding, to my ears, like a thoroughly decent guy.
These live streams got me thinking. Not so much about the candidates—I was already with him there. Instead, they got me wondering how well I could stand to be grilled on something I know much better than politics: my stories.
Sounds like a leap, right? Okay, it is. But that’s still where my brain went.
I think that’s because of my current situation with Crevlock Tower. I outlined that story and did some basic world building. But not the kind of world building I’ve done before—I purposely left myself room to improvise. And that’s been an, uh, interesting experiment. An experiment that’s led me to shift and tweak and outright change the outline as the story has progressed.
Don’t mistake me—I’m happy with the changes I’ve made. But if you grilled me on Crevlock, there would be a ton of questions about the characters and the world that I couldn’t answer. And I hate that! I feel like I should know everything there is to know.
But I’m going to follow Misha’s example and try to get through this imaginary grilling with some grace and humor.
First, I’m going to admit the limits of my knowledge. I’m going to own up to the fact that I’m not yet an expert on this story and that it will need a lot of revisions.
Second, I’ll listen to other people’s opinions. I’ve been brainstorming with a writing buddy and I have alpha and beta readers, but if you’re following the story and have questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to tell me. I have no issue with public, constructive feedback. (Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Third, I’d love to know how other writers here handle this stuff. I’m used to knowing a story inside out by the time I’m writing it. This was much more of a ‘pantsing’ experience. How much do you know about your world and your characters before you put your fingers on the keyboard?
More importantly, if someone grilled you on your current project, how well could you answer the tough questions?
Thanks all. I appreciate any thoughts on this!