When Worlds Collide--Good Things Can Happen

Here’s the thing, if only life came with an editor as sharp and wonderful as the man I am working with right now on my first book for Zondervan, maybe I wouldn’t feel so cranky, overwhelmed, bloated and stupid today, oh and like a bit of a failure. How sweet would it be to have someone looking over you from say a mile up, getting the big picture, the macro view as it were and saying things like: “This is where your character arc takes a nose dive. Add another scene.” Or, “Your timeline is not accurate you need to fill in these holes.” Or, “That scene you just completed is really awful, delete it and never look back.”
But alas and alack, life doesn’t come with an editor. Not really. I know I know we have God and friends and therapy, retail and otherwise to help us gain perspective but sometimes I wish I had someone sitting on my shoulder taking a closer look at things, kind of a content editor, the person who takes that micro look at your every move, every indecision and tells you when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, when to take that leap of faith and when to sit tight like a bloated tick on a hound dog.
Well, and here’s the thing, I had this kind of interesting experience this week. I always suspected I have some kind of undiagnosed learning disability. I have trouble keeping things ordered and I can’t follow a set of directions if it meant my life. My spatial intelligence is no better then Helen Keller’s, believe me, if I fell down in the woods I would never get out and get eaten by wolves. And so, plotting is a big issue for me. I have to work very hard to keep my novels organized and my characters on track. But I suppose all authors have their strengths. Mine happens to be with character. I write characters and dialog really, really well. And hey, I’m not being egotistical. There is no crime in recognizing your talents and abilities. I will never understand a world where it is okay to say I’m a screw up but not so okay to say I’m good at something. Anyhoo, I was talking with a special ed/learning support teacher the other day at school, Miss Moran. She suggested I take something called a Multiple Intelligences Survey and see what kind of learner I am, where my intelligence lie, so to speak.
It was truly no surprise when I discovered that if it wasn’t for words and language I would be in an institution using hand puppets to communicate. Words are my thing. Numbers? Not so much, Music? Nope. Nature? Somewhat. According to the test, I like pets although I cannot ascertain the logic of this. (bad score in logic) So unless my cat suddenly learns to speak and can tell me where my plot dropped down the rabbit hole of doom and turmoil, I’m pretty much on my own. So, I reported my findings to the teacher and she suggested I use graphic organizers like she does with her students. So I went back to the computer, Googled graphic organizer and found a boatload of resources that would help keep me organized. And I got to admit that I was skeptical as I perused the worksheets with graphics of cheeseburgers, trees and thought bubbles. But I printed out a couple that I thought might make sense. It was interesting to me how some of the Graphic Organizers, I’ll call them GOs, made me nuts just to look at them. Too many clouds overlapping, or tree branches that seriously threatened my sanity. But I did find one with bubbles and arrows that I started using and you know what? It worked. It’s not much different from using index cards but I had to keep them in order, too loosey goosey and I never knew what to do with the stack of cards after I made it. But this G.O. somehow forced my brain to work and see the plot and where my story was going in a way that actually made my brain FEEL better. Odd but true my fellow wanderers. So long story short, if any of you are thinking about using hand puppets to get you point across to the bank, try a graphic organizer. There’s lots of them in all sorts of fun designs. Hope this helps. And thanks Miss Moran for helping me.


Caroline said...

I had to laugh, but sheepishly cause I felt a little in tune w/what you were saying. Just a little, mind you!

I like order, but only in my way. Do it when and how I want it to be done. Otherwise, I tune it all out.

Good post.

Linda Myers said...

What a great discovery for you!

I read The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow this summer. You're right that you're especially skilled with characters and dialogue. I was mad at Agnes and her sister the whole way through.

Renee said...

Ok, I've been on the search for ways to keep track of my plot too. I'm sooo not a linear thinker--using spreadsheets is useless for me. I get overwhelmed trying to keep up with updating them, and in the end, something I can't submit to just can't help me! I'm very interested in the GO you found. I started a notecard thing, the cards hung by tiny clothespins so I can visually see the effect of moving and switching scenes and stuff. But it's becoming cumbersome as I have so many scenes now!

Marti Pieper said...

I lack the spatial/directional intelligence thing as well. GPS was made for people like me. I keep telling myself it has something to do with that overdeveloped right side of my brain. Still, the handicap or disability or whatever you call it sometimes makes life difficult--as when I have to drive somewhere I've traveled at least five or six times and have no clue how to find it. Or can't read directions and make sense out of them without huge concentration.

I use sticky notes to help organize my books. There's some visual and tactile satisfaction involved. Still, the GOs sound intriguing. Thanks for the tip.

Have you ever used a visual thesaurus? Rocked. My. Spatially Deficient World!

Pam Halter said...

Ooooh a visual thesaurus? DO TELL!!

Cindy Noonan said...

Well, you gave me my laugh for the day. Loved this post! I'm going to check out graphic organizers. I think I need this.