When I was in college, I imagined something I called the realm of infinite possibility. It contained every word, every note, every everything, in every possible combination. I liked to think about this when I needed to write a paper for class. Writing was always a struggle, but somewhere in the realm of infinite possibility, the ideal paper already existed. I just needed to discover it.
I found this idea comforting.
It didn't occur to me until years later that, if the possibilities are truly infinite, there's more than one version of whatever it is you're trying to create. I realized this after I started writing songs. The process is so random.
For instance. The song I'm currently working on has a melody and a basic sense of what it will be about, but almost nothing in the way of actual lyrics. Tonight, while taking a shower, I thought of a few lines for the last verse. They involved hiding from the world by locking myself in the bathroom and taking a bath.
Obviously, my immediate environment inspired the lines. If I had been somewhere else, or if I hadn't been thinking about the song at that moment, the last lines would have turned out completely different.
Some physicists believe there are alternate universes for every potential happening. In this universe I stopped at Trader Joe's after rehearsal, but in some alternate universe I went straight home. If it were possible to observe myself in the alternates, I'd spend half my time thinking, "Wait, the song isn't supposed to go like that," or, "Shoot, that's better than the way I wrote it."
I find this idea disconcerting.
When I write a song, I try to chase down the best lyrics possible. If some other me could think of something better, or even just as good, how do I know when to declare myself satisfied with what I've done?
This is the point where I decide not to think about it anymore.