Thoughts, Words and Written Chaos

There’s nothing a writer likes better than to play with words. Sometimes — okay, maybe most times — we like the words to make some kind of sense… to resonate either with us as their creator or with potential readers. The choice of words and the order in which they are strung together determine how they affect us.

Blossom thoughts2

We don’t require poetry to follow stringent rules of grammar, but we still expect the words to be meaningful. Whether they are contained in prose or poetry, however, our understanding of them, and whether or not they are meaningful, will depend upon our personal perspective… our previous exposure and response to them.

In the initial stages of writing,
thoughts emerge
like gurgling waters from a geyser,
bubbling up and
bursting forth
to splatter on a page.

We don’t have a lot of control over them,
certainly not at first.
It’s during revisions
that we stare at the mess we’ve made.
We dab at it
in an attempt
to contain the chaos…
to reorder the words
into  a semblance of organized storytelling.

An entire novel
originates with a single thought,
but it’s one that must expand
and be reworked
many times
before it becomes recognizable.
Writing it is a combination of
creativity and craft,
exhilarating and exhausting.

I’m at that stage where the story is no longer a suspended idea, but it’s still  chaotic, with the wrong words cluttering up page after new page. Where are you at with your current project?

More from James Douglas…

“It is a good idea to be alone in a garden
at dawn or dark
so that all its shy presences
may haunt you and possess you
in a reverie of suspended thought.”

~  ~  ~



Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

8 thoughts on “Thoughts, Words and Written Chaos

  1. Oh, yes, the chaos of words… evident when I re-ordered the above prose into poetry and the one stanza would not format to line up with the other two, beginning with, “We don’t have a lot of control over them”. Ha!!

    1. Wow, I thought that was deliberate, showing the order of the revision step vs. the randomness of the first draft, then the final version containing everything.

      1. Nope. The first draft was entirely prose, and I later re-ordered the final lines into three centred stanzas. They’re centred in the draft but refuse to appear that way here. Gremlins with a sense of humour?

  2. I just can’t get over the power that comes from simply breaking up our prose into poetic lines. Where I would have read quickly, I’m forced to stop and consider. The words take on their own life–as you’ve (they’ve) demonstrated here.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this, Jenn, Sandra and Sharon. It’s good to have friends standing by me as I shake my head in wonder at how such things happen. 🙂

  4. I never had a teacher teach me this…this breaking up of prose into poetry. I wonder what children would think of writing poems if they weren’t pushed to patterns and let their prose find its poem. In early grades the children are beginning their essays with “The purpose of this essay is…” which is horrifying to me as a word lover— and it is something that makes graduate school profs cringe! I know one prof who writes a 0 at the top of a paper that begins this way and he teaches a science.

    Oh, not to forget. The piece of above, content and visual, rhythm—really all of it—was a incredible way to express these truths about writing. Love it, Carol.

    1. Thanks, Dea. I think it’s important for children to know the rules, to understand those formal patterns, but I agree they need opportunities for creative expression, too. I had a high school English teacher who was rigid in her requirements and held us to formal poetry. I disliked it then, but in retrospect what I learned formed a good basis for my later ventures into free verse and fiction. I wonder, though, how many creative spirits never survived her classes!

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