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Chaos or The Best Petri Dish

Posted by Priscilla on June 14, 2013

Since life is not a novel, nor yet a carefully structured How-To book, it tends to wreak havoc  with plans and foolish things like schedules.  I may arrange to write for three hours every morning to finish the editing I so need. Oh.  I forgot. One son leaves, the other arrives home. This friend is sick. That one needs to talk.  I attend a wedding on Sunday and a funeral on Tuesday.  

What’s a writer to do?

Embrace the chaos. 

I say, embrace the chaos, for out of  chaos come ideas. And ideas are the life-blood of writers.

Where do your ideas come from? Just your creative brain? I doubt it. They probably come from the same place I get mine--out of the everyday happenings of life, as crazy as it is. Here are some of those happenings:

1. I watch what looks like a perfect family--and get an idea. I’m going to write an article about raising perfect kids and include things that perfect family may not have thought about, like teaching your kids to embrace chaos.

2. I find a page from a family Bible circa 1765. When I read about five young children in one family dying, I get an idea. I’m going to write a novel to explore what it does to a man to lose five of his eight children.

3. I remember riding the train from Ikebukuro to Higashi Kurume. I remember the rattling sound as the wheels click over the track. I remember the bent-over Granny who stands no higher standing than seated from too many years of planting rice. I remember the feel of crushed velvet seats on hot days. I get an idea. Let me set my novel in 1963 Japan and see what happens to a character who wants nothing more than to hide.

4. I read the Philadelphia Inquirer every morning. A year ago, I read about a man who killed his wife, then shot himself. I read these kinds of stories several times a year. I get an idea.  What makes a man honestly believe that the loving act is to kill? What if his therapist had seen this coming? What if the therapist is held responsible? That would be two murders. And I’m off on a psychological mystery or thriller.

Here’s the deal. Ideas for stories come from all the chaos of life around us. Ideas come from what we see as well as what we remember. They come from what we read as well as what we conjecture. They come from what we dream and what we imagine.

Ideas don’t come in ordered packages. They come with unruliness and bombard us with pandemonium. It is our job to take the chaos and slowly, carefully, creatively impose order so that someone else can read what we’ve written and say “Yes. That’s exactly how life is. That’s exactly how I feel.”

What do you think?


image courtesy of Moomsabuy/freedigitalphotos.net


Posted by Johnese Burtram on
Didn't know life offered anything but chaos. :) Five children and 12 grands sure provide plenty of it. Now if I could just find the time to write about it.
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