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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Out Of Order

Neat and tidy I am not.

At first I thought this was an affliction of some kind. Some horrible genetic mutation that made me a naturally messy person. Then I hypothesized that perhaps my untidiness was a result of my upbringing. Perhaps my parents should have grounded me more for having a messy room?

I've tried hard over the years to overcome my natural deficiencies when it comes to doing things properly. I've read blogs and blogs about organizing, gone to conferences, even had kindly old women from next door lecture me about the advantages of baskets. I gritted my teeth, grinned, and got through that lecture (and her consequent reorganizing of my house) with nary a whimper.

And after that lecture and thoroughly frustrating day spent trying to find my soap (which was no longer under the sink but tucked up on a top shelf out of sight because I'm short and everything above the first row of shelves in any cabinet is beyond my reach without a step ladder) I retreated to the garden.

I love my crazy garden. There's no rhyme or reason to any of it. I simply mixed all the seeds up, tossed them across the ground, and watered. Plants came up, weeds and herbs and flowers and a couple of stray tomatoes that got in there by accident. It's a jumbled, delicious bed of chaos that defies identification. I have to pick and crush leaves and guess what something is because I honestly don't remember what I planted there.

For me it's the perfect garden.

It's a cluttered and unholy mess to anyone on the outside, and I understand that offends some people's sensibilities. But give that little herb bed of chaos a few months and what you have is a beautiful cottage garden full of butterflies and free of nasty insects because companion planting is a wonderful little secret that doesn't grow in rows.

I feel my writing (and let's be honest - my cleaning style) are like this too.

I've tried writing to outlines. I've tried the Three Act Structure, the Hero's Quest, the Snowflake Method, and dozens of other "Published Author Approved!" writing methods that leave me bored, confused, or with so many notes I'm scared to tackle the projects at all.

The one method I have found that works is: BUTT IN THE CHAIR. Write out of order. Write the last page first. Write the wrong thing. Work on three projects at once, or four, or one, whatever. It doesn't matter as long as your butt is in the chair and your hands are on the keyboard typing. Writing is not a linear exercise. It's messy. It's dirty. It's flawed and ugly and occasionally even painful. That doesn't matter.

When I sit down to write I usually start with the first few key scenes. I might plot out the major twists, but it depends on the book. Most of my projects were pot boilers for YEARS before they became the Main Work In Progress. Only the Heroes and Villains series didn't have a long incubation period and if there hadn't been a special call for superhero stories EVFIL would still be sitting in the deep, dark well of lost plots. ... I think what I'm saying here is I'm crazy, but in a good way. It's a controlled kind of crazy.

And for you to make your life work, whether you're focusing on a career, or a book, or finishing school, or raising a family, or whatever ... you need to find your kind of crazy and make it work for you. Ignore what everyone else is doing because they aren't you. They don't know how to be you, how to think like you, how to put the spices in the right cupboards so they're there where you need them when cooking (because despite what some people say alphabetical order is not the best order for a kitchen cupboard).

So be yourself. Make your own choices. And forgive me when you come over to my house because what you see as disorganized chaos makes perfect sense to me. I'm weird like that.

1 comment:

  1. There have been tons of surveys/comparisons/reports done for why some people are messy and some are organized or super-organized. Some reports say it's genetic, some say it's a subconscious rebellion for how we grew up, some say it's a personality quirk.

    I agree with the quirk.

    I like having my place organized but we have 1) too much stuff for our space 2) few people willing to clean without being pushed 3) people who don't put things back in their places and 4) people with OCD and very different ideas on how to organize everything.

    Also, I have a relaxed attitude about where everything goes. As long as it's not piled haphazardly with garbage, I don't care if it is straight as a ruler or just pushed together. Once in a while my daughter's OCD becomes too much and she asks if she can straighten the cupboards or closet or pantries. I let her do it but then someone else will usually complain about things being moved around. Too bad, if he wants it a certain way he can put it there himself. (Not hubby btw, it's the young man staying with us who complains).

    With four adults and two cats, there's a lot of stuff around and I am not their maid.

    Besides, I also have trouble with stuff being on the top shelf so it's usually used more for items that aren't used often. I still need to ask someone to get whatever I want down for me.