When I am in the middle of writing a story I have a system going in my office. I know exactly which pile has the necessary information I seek and I can put my hand on it without searching. To others it no doubt looks untidy but as a little sign says, "Don’t mess with my desk."
However, my five year old granddaughter can’t read and the other day when she visited, she decided to surprise me by cleaning my office. She did a great job. The desk was clean. (Yikes. Where did all my piles go?). She dusted, vacuumed and put everything away. EVERYTHING. It took me two days to locate the copy of my Sept. release, Dakota Child, that I had besides my mouse. It took me three days to find the list of titles I had under consideration. It took me four days to discover where she’d hidden the books I wanted to list in my research library. It took me five days to find the battery charger. I still haven’t found the dental floss I keep handy. It was a nice thought though and gives me plenty of chuckles as I try and locate the missing items.
That reminds me of a conversation I had with a writing friend. When we first start a story there are so many ideas floating around. But where do they belong? Or do they? There are so many options to consider and each must be followed to a reasonable end to see if it fits. It’s like the writer’s brain is about to explode from all the ideas demanding attention. We discussed how to tame this beast. The best we could come up with was to spread out a big sheet of newsprint and create a mind map that tracked each idea. This is an illustration from wikipedia.
I’d like to find a way to keep ideas neat and tidy but I suppose this is the best I can hope for. Because from the chaos come the story. Somehow the story dances through the conglomerate of ideas and gathers the ones that fit. It’s a scary process. But also exciting.
And just as my piling system works, so too does the chaos of ideas.