Sunday 20 March 2011

The Illusion of Control

Hi again.

I was going to put out a post this evening to describe where the stage I've reached in my writing and maybe explain my plans for now and the future, to give you an idea of the kind of book it is and maybe sort out in my own head when I might expect to be finished.

But life intervened a little, and I had some thoughts that I wanted to share instead, so I hope you don't mind.

I have a daughter, and she's a little over a year old. Cute as a button, etc., but all parents say that.
Anyway, I've noticed that she - and I would imagine kids in general, especially at that age - give you an illusion of control.

It feels like you know what happens if you do A, and what doesn't if you do B, and most of the time, it does.
If we feed her at 630, give her a bottle of milk at 730, she'll be asleep around 8 and that'll be that. And most nights it is.
But tonight she was out of sorts for some reason, and wouldn't sleep. We tried for about an hour and a half, but every time the lights went out, she began to cry and yell at the top of her lungs. So we
brought her downstairs and after some more milk and - ironically, I thought - about 20 minutes of Monsters Inc, she was happy to go up to bed and settled.

The same thing happens all the time: in work; in adult relationships; in computer programming; probably in every walk of life and at every possible moment.
The illusion of control.
You think that you're in control, simply because it seems that if you follow the right pattern, the things you want will happen.

It occurred to me that there's a similar illusion when you're writing. Even though you created the characters, and you know where you want the story to go, sometimes you're writing and the character does something you didn't expect.
They say something, or do something instinctively that wasn't in the plan and you're forced to carry the narrative in another direction.
It's seldom a huge change, but it's often a change nonetheless.

And, as with a baby or work or any other time when the illusion of control is shattered, it's usually right too.
The character is simply doing what is right for them, being true to themselves, and sometimes the very best moments flow out of that.

So, I've learned to roll with it - it's easier in a novel when the worst that happens is that you need to play around a bit with the next few scenes of plot, or introduce a deus ex machina to get things back on track (oh, we've all done it!).
It's not so easy in life when it's late on a Sunday evening, you've got work tomorrow and the baby won't go to sleep.
Still, Monsters Inc is a cracking film!!

Take care!

Mad Iguana............

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