Chaos Theory, and the process of writing…

When we last left off, our hero had inadvertently left a sketchbook of his next novel in a public restroom in the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago. When he returned the book was nowhere to be found. Hurt, but not disheartened, that night he went to buy a new Journal, but still lamenting the loss of the original, calling it a “friend,” he couldn’t bring himself to rewrite the piece so soon. The next day a dear friend left a new notebook on his desk, with words of inspiration scribbled inside. And so begins the latest episode…

The process of creative writing is chaotic and anything but predictable. I’m not talking about cheesy romance novels, formulaic horror yarns or bubblegum-esque thrillers. There are predictable templates for those genres. Which isn’t to say they don’t have a place. They satisfy a certain hunger, the same way a Snickers bar does. If that’s all you eat, or read, well, so the saying goes about garbage in and all that. Authors of literature are attempting to offer a meal, something substantial and nurturing to the soul, rather than a patch that sedates one from going postal at the airport when their plane is delayed for the third time.

If that sounds a little arrogant, it should. Literature is supposed to uplift through the sublime dissection of the human spirit. It should exalt through tragedy and trial the human condition, and it should champion revolution and justice by rendering injustice. It should assail convention, and eschew doma in all its forms. And finally, writers of literature should not be content that a character is afraid, or spiteful or cruel, but has the responsibility to delve deeply into the very cells, indeed the mitochondria, and some primordial instant from which that motivation or emotion arose.

I have found that sitting and forcing  thoughts and ponderances to the surface isn’t practical. I have also found that “letting” life happen is rather a lazy approach. There is a fine line between the two. A paleontologists knows where there is probability in finding a fossil, from various epochs and even an idea of the type of creatures he or she may uncover. That is the process, the education and the experience culminating towards a moment of discovery. It is hope and presumption that an animal actually dies where the scientists looks, and precisely which creature. The scientists doesn’t wildly attack the dig with a shovel if nothing is at first discovered, nor can he or she wait in the tent for the bones to walk in and offer themselves. Through meticulous observation and study, and the knowledge that life is indeed random come the best opportunities for discovery. Writing is hardly different.

And so I lost the outline, the sketches for the first chapter and ending for the next novel: Oliver and Me, the story of a cat who gains the ability to speak. I still recall most of what I had written, I still know the ending(the characters dictate how they will get there), and recall much of the outline, remembered what I’d so hastily scribbled on the train that fateful morning and could fairly easily reconstruct what was lost. I could, but then something odd happened.

Just yesterday Oliver, the real Oliver, whom I am basing the character on, was ill. He’d been out in the yard much of the day before chasing birds in the 90 degree heat. Where usually he’d be bounding outside the instant I opened the door, Oliver remained curled on the couch with those sad, sad eyes. It struck me at that moment, that everything I’d written previously was all wrong. Digging into that hillside, I’d been disappointed at one turn, only to have that magical chaos, the beautifully unpredictable randomness of life lead me to a new and exciting discovery. I had the new opening for the novel and couldn’t have been more satisfied…

Oliver had fallen into a deep malaise. He withdrew, spending long hours curled in the corner, his eyes fixed narrowly in my direction. I retreated from those emerald-green eyes. I shrunk from their silent accusation. Eventually I just made excuses to remain in the other room…

About 900poundgorilla

W.C. Turck is a Chicago playwright and the author of four widely acclaimed books.His latest is "The Last Man," a prophetic novel of a world ruled by a single corporation. His first novel, "Broken: One Soldier's Unexpected Journey Home," was reccommended by the National Association of Mental Health Institutes. His 2009 Memoir, "Everything for Love" chronicled the genocide in Bosnia and the siege of Sarajevo. His third book "Burn Down the Sky" is published exclusively on Amazon Kindle. It was in Sarajevo at the height of the siege where he met and married his wife, writer and Artist Ana Turck. FOX NEWS, ABC, CBS News, the Chicago Tribune and The Joliet Herald covered their reunion after the war. He helped organized relief into Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Turck has been a guest on WMAQ-TV, WLS in Chicago, WCPT, WBBM radio, National Public Radio, Best Of the Left and the Thom Hartmann show. He has spoken frequently on Human Rights, Genocide and Nationalism. In 2011, his play in support of the Occupy Movement, "Occupy My Heart-a revolutionary Christmas Carol" recieved national media attention and filled theaters to capacity across Chicago. He remains an activist to the cause of human rights and international peace. View all posts by 900poundgorilla

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