09 February 2010

Jigsaw Puzzles, Not Everyone Likes Them

At a recent plot workshop, one of the writers stopped me on the way to lunch to ask for help. I asked her to tell me a bit about her project.

As soon as she starts in, I'm hooked. She has a truly novel idea with an even more novel format in which to tell her story.

As with most highly creative writers, she has trouble bringing the story into focus. She wanders to one plot point and then flits to another unrelated point. I hold each of these fragments and slowly begin to put them into position in my mind for the overall structure. (I've been weird like that since I was a kid, and a non-verbal one at that. I remember stories about how I could put together jigsaw puzzles of any piece count with the pieces upside-down and only the grey backs as reference. Hey, I warned you I was weird that way.)

With lunch plates chiming and my stomach grumbling, I wait as she retrieves yet another element of her story. The deeper she goes, the more self-defeating talk pops up.

"This doesn't make any sense."

"You're doing fine," I say. "Keep going."

"It's probably not any good."

"You're doing fine," I say... over and over again.

Finally she blurts out enough for me to help her locate the key scenes

After she rushes back to our workshop room to jot the scenes onto her newly created Plot Planner for her individual project, I shake my head in despair. If she has so many doubts in her head in just recounting ideas, how is she ever going to overcome the demons long enough to write the story?

Sure, she's outside the box and that can be challenging in this time of high conformity and deep suspicion of anything different. However, I firmly believe those of us lucky enough to call ourselves writers are being called to create. When we and our flaws sabotage ourselves from showing up to write and from reaching our goals of completion, yet one more idea the universe looks to us to manifest disappears and who knows how much longer the evolution of our planet will take because we doubt ourselves before we ever even try???

Based on the picture I saw in the jigsaw puzzle of her story, I saw greatness.

Hope you show up for your jigsaw puzzle today. I see greatness there, too...