Order From Chaos

POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Order From Chaos

By Nandy Ekle

The kids fight to see who will be in bed first, but after getting there and pulling the covers over their heads, they lay awake listening for every little sound. Is Santa here yet, they ask each other in whispered voices so they won’t get in trouble on this night when they need to be extra, extra good. Eventually each child nods off, snores and dreams of a special toy they had fervently asked for.

Christmas morning the sun peeks in through the windows and every kid wakes up with a deep breath and the feeling that something has happened during the night. They jump from bed and run into the room where the tree stands sparkling. Their parents follow them with tired knowing looks on their faces. The presents are passed out and the chaos begins. Ribbons and paper fly through the air as the children rip it from the boxes to find the surprises hidden underneath.

As a young mother I would watch my own brood tear through the paper in less than fifteen minutes and shake my head. I had been a meticulous gift wrapper and the destruction often left me wondering why I took so much care. Then I would look at the mess of tags and ribbons and gibblets of paper all over the floor I kept vacuumed and clean and wondered why I bothered.

But when all the frantic unwrapping and opening and string cutting and shouting was over, the clean up came and life became normal again. And the happy looks my kids wore on their faces reminded me what it was all about.

So where am I going with this happy memory? Well, it occurred to me that the pantser style of writing, which is the way I write most of the time, is a lot like Christmas morning. I get an idea in my head that buzzes around enough to keep me from sleeping the way I should. As I lay awake at night thinking about the new characters and what they want and why they can’t have it without an adventure, every thought from kids’ lunch money to laundry can have a bearing on my story. When I finally get to sit at the computer to tune in to the voices telling me a story, I tear through the words as if they were simply thin tissue paper covering a secret surprise inside a box and the only way to get to the center of the adventure is to violently rip every shred of taped paper and fling it away.

Once the story is revealed, I can look around the room. It appears as though an explosion took place, only instead of bright colored paper, it’s words. Then comes the job of putting everything in order—tossing out the trash, rearranging scenes and characters, making sure all the little pieces are still there without a lot of extra stuff that doesn’t fit anything. When it’s all done, I see the look on my readers’ faces and remember what it’s all about.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

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