When I'm sketching ideas on those graph paper pages, I feel more creative, and the ideas just flow!
At dinner last night I told a story and, by the end, could not remember how it linked to the discussion. How often does that happen? Thoughts lead to other thoughts with synaptic links we can't remember.
I teach writing and story structure in school workshops where I dutifully present the expository essay form: introduction, three points of support with two examples for each point followed by a conclusion. I stand by this lesson because, in times of deficient inspiration, it will see you through an assignment and get you an "A," barring lapses in grammar and spelling. It saw me through plenty of college essays.
But it does have an uninspiring predictability.
And when I look at the writing I love to read, I see writers who weren't afraid to chase a rabbit trail. I know it's possible, for instance, to outline the book of Ephesians, but when I read it I feel I'm watching the apostle Paul ride a train of thought. I think he has a general idea of where he's going, and some scenic stops along the way, but he's going with the flow of the content and the direction of the spirit, not working from an outline.
Different people will take a topic in different directions. Synapses in different brains link up to different destinations. The joy of conversation is catching a ride on someone else's train of thought.
Provided they supply a good ride, and you don't find yourself stuck on the clown car. Back when my sons were playing high school soccer they applied the yellow card/red card penalty structure to family dinner table conversation. This, because their mother has a tendency to jump topic with no notice and no segues. One yellow card, they said, was a warning, and two were the equivalent of a red card and the topic-jumper was out of the conversation, just as a player with two yellows or a red is out of the game. It was funny--and it brought home to me that the links that were very clear to me were not clear at all unless I stopped to explain.
It was enlightening.
Our brains are moist computers with the ability to make seemingly infinite connections. It's a kindness to our listeners to fill in the gaps between topics, and to use some sort of logic to connect the dots. It's a disservice to them to drone on and on about one thing long after the point has been made. It's an art to know the difference!
I like the ampersand, the character that signifies connection. Between topics, between people. The art in this post is a casual tribute to the things that connect us.
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