Why is a raven like a writing desk?
(Lewis Carrol, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
The truth is I don’t know. And neither does the Mad Hatter (who poses the question).
In this post, I want to explore connections; the connections our minds make between two seemingly unrelated objects. For Lewis Carrol, in this example, it’s a raven and a writing desk.
As writers, we often take two (or more) unrelated words or ideas and connect them. Say, Iron Age and name drop (two words that I just randomly chose out of a dictionary). And if I attempt to find a connection between them, does it need to be philosophical and/or poetic?
How do I know when I’m bullshitting? When the connection I make, and the relationship I draw between two ideas or words, doesn’t work? And how do I know when it does?
I’m not sure.
As a human being, as a wife, mother, and writer, I strive to be authentic. To be true to myself, my ideals, and the people around me. Of course, as a mature adult, I’ve also learned that sometimes, being authentic to my ideals means that I need to put a sock in it.
Connections, in order to ring true, to be believed and understood, they too, need to be authentic. When the connections are obvious, there may not be much work to be done. The hard part is when the connections are not obvious and a bridge needs to be built between ideas.
Sitting at my writing desk, a raven dropped a name scribbled on a shred of paper. The name of an era.
So will I start writing about the Iron Age now?
Not here. Not now.
Above is the first line of piece I can choose to do something with or not. And I don’t know how it sounds to you. I don’t know how it sounds to me. It certainly doesn’t feel authentic.
This is the battleground of the writer; the battle to create authentic connections between unrelated ideas. We create characters. We create plots and stories. And the idea is to keep going. To never give up, even if at first it all seems like bullshit.
And even if we abandon a battle, and connections that don’t work, we can pick up ideas and skills along the way that will help us win the next battle and eventually the war.