I have a gift

It is a very strange one, but undeniable. So much so I need to find a way to create a poster for it to hang at work.

My gift is that of chaos magnet. Possibly also accidental rebooter of universes. It works this way: whatever it is, no matter how well designed, well planned, or well organized something is, I will break it. Usually without intending to, and often by trying to do what seems to me to be the sensible or obvious thing. More often than not, the breakage will be obscure, difficult to predict, and catastrophic. Apparently I really do think at abolished angles to reality. There is a non-zero possibility that I actually live at abolished angles to reality.

Given that my day job involves testing software, it should be obvious how this gift applies there. I’m pretty well known for bug reports that start with words to the general effect of “this is a weird one”.

In writing, though, it’s a bit less obvious how to harness the gift, although I have a sneaking suspicion my personal chaos field is in some strange way acting to expose the problems in the industry. This happens around me. I just have to be there and be interested, and things fall to pieces. I will say it’s the slowest chaos field catastrophe I’ve had the dubious privilege of witnessing, and I’ve seen a few.

One side-effect is that things I think are obvious and need no explanation actually aren’t and do. On the flip side, I can be astonishingly dense and need things other people find obvious spelled out in small words, with gestures. No, not that kind of gesture: I understand that sort quite well. Writing-wise, this leads me to story paths no-one else in the universe would ever follow. Even when I’m trying to be conventional enough that normal people won’t be weirded out. I can be icked out, but it’s bloody difficult. I enjoy writing POV characters whose perspective is radically opposed to mine – and seeing how far people think I agree with said characters. I’m far more likely to worry that there’s something wrong with me because I’m not grossed out enough by what I’m writing than I am to be grossed out by what I’m writing (Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever icked myself out, although there have been characters that left me wanting to scrub from the inside out after a long time in their POV).

In short, the Kate is something special. Maybe even special in a good way.

Now all I need is the confidence in my writing to let the gift flow and let my gloriously chaotic, weird and often evil characters do their thing. That’s not quite so easy…

12 thoughts on “I have a gift

  1. At one point I decided I was unpublishable. “Well, I can stop worrying about my mother ever reading this.” And then, as you say, the gift flowed.

    Something about an imagined reader looking over your shoulder is inhibiting. Especially if they make snarky comments.

    And yes. Editting afterwards has become a great pain. But that burst of writing taught me a lot. And the editing even more. My new stuff needs a lot less complete structual reallignment, and believe it or not, even my spelling has improved. Honest.

    1. Quantity can lead to quality, with a bit of work and luck. And it’s not so much worrying about the imagined reader looking over your shoulder making snarky comments that bothers me, it’s the CHARACTERS looking over my shoulder making snarky comments.

      1. My Characters tend to egg me on. It’s my internal “Mother will be shocked!” that’s the whole problem. And my Beta readers approve of my “edited for parental suitablity” level of explicit sex, so I think I’ve got it about right.

  2. There’s something to be said for being the one who doesn’t know any better. You know, you try to make a program do “this,” and discover that the designers never thought that anyone would ever need to do “this.” Or you ask “what if I used this technique on other areas” and discover a whole new possible cause for something; a something that no one else has ever questioned “why” about. Or, a little like Pam, you say, “well [crud], since I can’t find a job in my field and the first non-fic book won’t be out until Spring 2014, I might as well publish all that fiction I’ve been working on” and launch into a novel to go with all the stories and novellas.

    1. Or just looking at it and seeing what happens if you do “this”. Which in my case never seems to be what any normal person would do.

      And good luck with all that fiction.

  3. Just think about this. Given the theory that the digital audience is both extraordinarily wide and long, that effectively the total audience is infinite and we are simply selecting some small slice of that infinite pie (over a long tail of time, so we get a large and growing bunch anyway) — someone needs to push the edges along, make the outliers truly far out so that the lump at the middle gets stretched nicely. Perhaps that is your challenge! Go for it! Push those boundaries to give the great unwashed infinite audience room to grow! Remember, only you can prevent a bored reader! 🙂

  4. I’m going to need you to provide me with more or less real-time updates of your location from here on out.

    Because we must never, ever encounter each other in physical space.

    I have a Reality Distortion Field which is quite different from yours (it doesn’t break things: it often makes things work when they absolutely shouldn’t) but I just tried to imagine what would happen if the fields converged. Ten seconds later I was looking around for a water tumbler of vodka. And I don’t drink.

    1. Marc, Marc, think! You can’t ask the chaotic end of the system to provide meaningful information. No, I’m afraid you will need to provide the information about your location. Luckily, if you will just get an iPad and strap it to your chest, the GPS locator is built-in, and even the tracking software is relatively easily obtained. So you’ll know that we are all peeking over your shoulder (actually, through the camera, so please lift your arm, you’re blocking the picture…:-)

    2. I think something broke considering that possibility. Particularly since I’m having a very “fertile” exercise of my chaos field today (it’s release day and I’m finding problems like you would not believe).

      Possibly what broke is what is left of my sanity.

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