Embracing Chaos: A Writer’s Perspective
My first book, Crystal Unicorns, manifested itself from chaos. I needed a source for unresolved feelings and issues…and to kill someone- figuratively, not literally. I didn’t want to go to jail. Many authors start with the one book they pour all their energy into, and then doubt they can write a second book. (Sheepishly raises hand into the air.) If you fear that you might only have one book in you, write that book. Worry about the second one later.
In the Psychology Today article ‘Order out of Chaos: Learning to Embrace Uncertainty, Part One and Two’ by Mel Schwartz L.C.S.W., the author maintains ‘The notion of order is equivalent to a sense of predictability. Predictability relies upon certainty and measurable outcomes. This range of predictable order is known as equilibrium.’ It is our comfort zone, even if the actual circumstances are not comfortable.
‘’Chaos, on the other hand, suggests an absence of predictability. It triggers the unknown, which for most people is very problematic if not outright daunting. It is a venturing into uncertain territory, far from the familiar zone. Sometimes life’s transitions or crises present chaos in the form of illness, death, divorce, job loss, etc. These events are thrust upon us and we do the best we can to cope with them, aided by family and professional support. Occasionally, we buffer the roller coaster ride through chaos with alcohol, medication and/or therapy.”
Some people seem to slip into chaos at a moment’s notice, almost as if they enjoy the drama and attention. You probably know someone with this characteristics. Every family has one. They are a source of irritation and great writing material.
There is a place between order and chaos called the bifurcation point or the tipping point. It is the point where predictability veers off-road and into the new and unfamiliar. The author refers to Rosa Parks as an example. The simple action of refusing to change her seat on a bus was the catalyst for the civil rights movement. And it has its positive points.
“Yet out of that chaos there is a spiraling up effect, which leads to a new and higher ordering. We move into a transformative process whereby we can evolve more thoroughly. In other words, chaos may lead to a deeper and more evolved state, which then evokes a new and higher order. It’s simply an engaging of process in which we let go of control. Think of this as a spiraling up in complexity, moving up the ladder of intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth.”
I see this as a great way of saying chaos can lead to revelation: which is the basis of most good fiction books. There is a mystery to be solved, a romance to be mended, or a lesson to be learned. Without personal growth our characters, much like ourselves, remain stagnant. Stepping outside the box, pushing ourselves out of predictability, writing that next scene in our book are baby steps in personal evolution.
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Our author reminds us of this:
“Predictable = certain = already known in advance = no need to really be here = a non-participatory life. Uncertainty = not knowing in advance = fully engaged in creating the future event = participatory in our life’s creation
Uncertainty is necessary for both creativity and potentiality, for if the future is known in advance, there is little opportunity to be the masters of change. Without uncertainty, we are characters in a book, the plot already written. Engage uncertainty and the next chapter is yet unwritten and the pen is back in your hand.”
It’s almost as if he is speaking straight to us as fellow authors. Our writing must embrace unpredictability. Predictable equals boring and that, my friend, is the death knell for a story. Do your best to reach out in your stories and embrace chaos. Ask yourself: What can go wrong? And then run with it.