Order From Chaos


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.



By Sharon Stevens

I was putting the finishing touches on my husband’s Santa coat for his performance as Cowboy Santa for The Hide Out. Earlier in the day I had read the Canyon News article about Gene Vaughn Morrison and Bill Anderson and the musical drama TEXAS. This instantly brought me back to another time and place years ago.

The Canyon High School drama department was performing “Becket” as their one-act play, and Kathy Gist and I were working on the costumes. The art teacher, Charlotte Brantley, had bought all the material and we were sewing the final pieces. I will never forget Gene standing beside me while I hand stitched the final button on his cape for his role as the Bishop.

On the spur of the moment Kathy and I decided to take the opportunity to ride the Greyhound bus to see their performance in Odessa. We got off the bus and caught a cab and gave the cab driver the address of where we needed to go at the college where the one-acts were being performed. This driver meandered through the campus and drove into this entrance and that, taking the scenic tour on our dime. We had no clue where we were going, but we thought he did. He truly knew where he was headed, but was hesitant about getting us there.

When we finally pulled up to the theatre entrance he told us the charge was twenty dollars. In 1971 this was good money, especially for me as I was living on my own, paying all my expenses while working part time at the nursing home. This money represented probably a week’s worth, no maybe a month’s worth of groceries for me. We had no choice. Kathy and I divvied up our dollars and gave it to the cabbie. Even worse than losing so much money was that we were so late we missed the performance, which meant we didn’t get to see all our hard work come to life onstage.

Kathy Gist sat beside me again at the Panhandle Professional Writers Frontiers in Writing Conference as she won Best of Show for her story. The judges stood in front of all of us gathered and excitedly told Kathy to send her story to several different magazines. They even listed the addresses of where to write for writer’s guidelines as well as where to submit her stories. Kathy went on to have this story published with Guidepost Magazine and her award was to attend the Guidepost Short Story conference in New York.

As writers we have so many opportunities to send out our stories. And with the Internet the possibilities are absolutely endless. But we can never forget to research our destination to make sure we go in the right direction. We may think we know EXACTLY where our thoughts need to go, but in all honesty we ourselves are missing the point. This is not saying we shouldn’t stray from our intended path now and again, but it is very important for us to weigh our options before embarking down what appears to be a promising road. At all times we have to be mindful of the correct address in case our bread crumbs are eaten before we can retrace our steps. We can’t expect the post office to deliver our message if we don’t have the write destination. They are not Santa whose only address is the North Pole!

I came across “The 1941 Reader’s Digest 20th Anniversary Anthology” at our Buffalo Bookstore. In it was the most wonderful story called, “ADDRESS UNKNOWN” by Kathleen Kressmann Taylor. The story involves a time before World War II and the rise of Nazi power. This powerful message revolves around both sides of the horror and tragedy of this time, and totally reverses the meaning of the address of the soul.

I will always miss Kathy. She was so kind to me over the last several years with our heritage project in Canyon, and our storytelling at The Fountain on the courthouse square. I don’t have her correct address in Heaven, but I have no doubt this message will be delivered without any problems. I was very careful as I wrote where I thought my words needed to go.