It’s Around Here Somewhere…

“It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a façade of order—and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.” ~Douglas Hostadter

It’s 3:30am. Again. And here I sit at my kitchen table, wrestling with a hundred thousand voices, every one of which is screaming for my sole attention. This schizophrenic existence that is every writer’s life has its benefits (you’re never lonely–ever), you’re very rarely bored (and if you are, it won’t be for long), and you certainly have the ‘get out of jail free’ card for being the eccentric one in the family.

But there are moments like this one, where my heart and head and hands are on such different wave lengths that it feels like I’m a fractured spirit, drifting through a single-souled world. Would I want to change even if I could? You already know the answer to that.

There are plenty of authors who have everything down to a science, when it comes to order and organization. I am not among them. Ideas come to me at all sorts of weird, inconvenient  and usually unwieldy moments—including when my body is supposed to be resting. I don’t even know the meaning of the word anymore. Neither do my stories, apparently.

And, per usual, this got me thinking about chaos as it relates to us as artists. Think about a painter’s studio. What do you see in that mental image? The first thing that comes to mind for me, aside from the large loft windows and high ceilings, is the staggering amount of ‘stuff’ that’s hanging around on tables, chairs—the floor. Paint is everywhere, canvases are in places they probably shouldn’t be. There is a blanket half tossed, along with a pillow, onto the couch (and a bit on the floor) because the artist slept/tossed/fretted there the night before.

As authors, our lives aren’t any different—not really. You just can’t walk into our studios because we carry them with us, but rest assured they’re just as messy and chaotic. This isn’t the same thing as my waiting room analogy. This is more like the fragments of what will be, the tools we use to create our worlds and that internal space in which we do so. The muck and mire of possibility; the thread and fabric of imagination; the cords that bind a reader’s disbelief; veils to mask the twist at the end of novel #35; a helmet from a slain warrior; a pool of dark water complete with a smidgen of enchantment and a scrying spell; the unraveled ends of our sanity; a broken spinning wheel for yarns that have taken on a life of their own…you get the idea.

So where the hell is my ability to go to sleep at a decent hour? I had it—I know I did. It’s around here somewhere…

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4 responses

  1. J.S.- you got this one right on the nose… I’m not an overty organize person when it comes to inspiration striking me. I’ve got thousands of ideas writen down all over the place. The only one that has any orginization to it is my Fantasy-and that’s only out of pure need. My finished artwork has its own place, but my livingroom, is usually to be found under my piles of paper, paint, pastels and pencils. My husband can’t even throw a crumbled up piece of paper in the trash because usually it has a blurb of inspiration on it that I’ve been swearing for weeks I’ll enter into my computer. I just find it interesting that there are others out there that might be as disorganized as me, yet know where each of their beloved inspirations lay if they need to find them. I organize in chaos, no one else could find their way around my outter world or my inner one, yet I know where each path to what I need is. It’s a beautiful and disasterous thing indeed.

  2. “So where the hell is my ability to go to sleep at a decent hour? I had it—I know I did. It’s around here somewhere…,” I was thinking the exact thing the other day. Sometimes I feel like I never sleep because the voices of my angels and demons will not leave me alone. I have eight, or nine, dozen short stories thrown in one folder on my word processor. It is getting triffling to keep up with and I need to give each story and page that is just endless lines bleeding together that form nothing more than a treasure trove of sporadic thoughts a folder of their own.

    But this blog was great J. S., kudo’s x 10. I often feel a mess, disorganized, alone in my depravity, but after reading this at least I know I not the only one who cannot sleep.

  3. J.S., I hear you on this. It’s very hard when you’re in that creative phase and you’re mind just won’t shut off. I’ve had dreams before where I was talking with my characters, which was weird in itself, but they were arguing about where to go and were asking me where they should go. So even if you do manage to get some sleep, it might not end there. The only viable solution to remedy this condition is to work through it and maybe at least have the ideas worked out in your head if you can type them up. Feed that creative monster in your head until it can’t take anymore, then you will have your rest. As far as chaos goes, this is where the creative mind is at home. They are the best suited to create order from the chaos. Get your muck boots on and dig in deep.

  4. I love it when people tell me to “shut my brain off”. Heh…really? And how exactly does one go about doing that?

    Drugs don’t help…(at least none I’ve ever tried), nor does alcohol or exercise or natural herbs or any of the other 9,000 things that the experts suggest. I figure that since I’m now doing what I love full time, it’s just the price I have to pay. There are far worse complaints…
    Besides, sleepless nights always produce the best blog posts…

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