Monday, November 2, 2015

Story in Chaos, Chaos in Story

Even if there is clutter, the clutter is yours, belongs to you, had its origins in your disregard for established order.  Clutter settles into a pattern, much the same as random elements melding at length into story, or in the way that story sometimes settles into a clutter, wanting a guiding hand.

Look at it.  See how the clutter reflects you, drawing the parallel again between the way your stories reflect you.  Whether clutter or story, the shape and form are of your making.  You can, in fact, read clutter as though it were text, in ways no one else can, even edit it by removing or replacing an element.  

Pick any specific point in the clutter about you, approach it, listen to it.  No sooner than you do so, a vision forms in your mind of an action, a moment of setting something aside, perhaps to gain access to another, perhaps even to set something down without giving it another thought while your focus was being drawn, lured elsewhere.

Isn't that what clutter is, a trail of jetsam occasioned by distractions?  Doesn't that make the background music to clutter into the Siren's song of the promise of some new attraction?

Much of your clutter involves books, newspapers, journals, and magazines.  Their arrangements are less suggestions of scheme and order than of specific projects, which themselves are other aspects of clutter.  Work-in-progress is clutter until it has definition.  With increased definition, the distinction between the project and the sawdust become more manifest.

You live with the recognition that you live in a clutter of one sort or another, deployed against a larger chaos.  Your goal is to refine design and pattern, to seek some exterior perspective from where you can see the cold beauty of your clutter as the cameras of orbiting or implanted satellites see you in ways you cannot see yourself.

Clutter is piles of notebooks and notepads, pocket-sized and larger, filled with incursions into orbiting ideas, both a reproof for the sheer size and bulk of it and a polar sense of being pleased at the tangible proof of your efforts to capture the equivalent of various shards of lightning in various bottles, indicative of your attempts to visualize some constellation of stars, some vibrant design, or to capture the lines flowing and ebbing tides live on shoreline sand and whatever else comes into their path.

You recognize as well how, if there were no clutter, you would be a different person, perhaps taking pleasure in structure and order rather than trying to locate and establish tides and patterns amid the chaos. 

From your observation of others and from reading, you recognize there are personality types who can visualize a structure or pattern in its complete or near complete form.  When you find admirable works from persons you know to have this ability, you are often so taken with the work that you are unable to leave it.  You carry it around in your mind and your imagination; it may even appear somehow in your dreams, often as a puzzle, a matter to be solved.

So far as you are concerned, clutter is the source, actual and metaphorical.  Now that you think about it, there is one project you recall that came to you at a time when you were more interested in being prolific than learning.  You wrote the novel almost as you dreamed it, with enough time left over that month to allow you to try your hand at a few short stories.

Now, it is not so much that you have become used to and defend clutter as it is that you have made one of the transitions you wished for.  You and the clutter are interchangeable.  Lupe, the maid, could come in on a Monday morning and identify the clutter as yours and no one else's because she has known you these many years and because she knows you live alone.

But a stranger with an archaeological or crime scene background could see you in your clutter, even set down those numbered markers to indicate specific placement of evidence.  1.  Half-filled coffee cup.  Probably set down here while looking over at 2. this particular pile of books, all of which appear to have something to do with nineteenth century literature.  3.  Half-eaten PNBJ sandwich, set next to #4., a scattering of noir fiction.  He probably set the sandwich down while looking for a specific title, 5., which he found and then began to read here, 6. right next to the PNB stain.

From your clutter and your observations of it, this added observation:  Your writing is about the pursuit of attractive concepts that become attached to orbiting information that transforms you and what you're working on, surprises you with a discovery which, in the process of sharing, you surprise yourself even more by learning something beyond what you'd hoped to learn.

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