Last spring, we were planning a move, and my decompressing activity in the evenings was to putz around the Internet for visual inspiration for the new place. I was doing that thing where you move and think, "I'm going to be a whole new person in this new place!" You imagine yourself in your new life and all of your flaws and vices don't exist. No, just me?
Anyway, I found my way into a Google rabbit hole that landed me on this piece of art, and I fell in love with it immediately, before knowing anything about it:
It's obviously pie charts. Unlabeled. What did I love so much about it? I wasn't sure, other than the colors.
Digging deeper, I learned more about the artists and the intention behind it. The artists, Hvass and Hannibal, write that they were interested in "organizing information in ways that draw on locally known visual language, but seen with an outsider's eye...where the actual content and data is left a mystery, and only the form is present, letting the viewer decide which contents to assign the images."
This struck me as very much like writing a novel. Then I discovered the title of this particular work: Losing the Plot.
Losing the Plot!
In every novel, story, essay I've ever written, there comes a point where the story diverges from the path I expected. Even if I haven't outlined, I always have an idea of where it's going...and I'm always wrong. This being wrong, I think, is what makes it work, in the end. Submission to being wrong and following where the story is leading instead of my own preconceived notions is the moment at which the story is actually born. It gets breath, a life, an energy of its own. The "pie charts"—all the facts that I've created for my characters and story—become mere forms, and together they develop into a thing that's bigger than any labels I could assign it. Both any future readers and myself, as the writer, are left to see the composite portrait and interpret it as we do.
I've since learned that "lose the plot" has another meaning in British slang—“to lose one’s ability to understand or cope with events; to lose one’s touch; to go off the rails.”
And yes! Isn't that where writing takes us, ultimately? Off the rails into unexplored territory, and that's where the interesting stuff starts to happen?
Turns out the print was affordable. I ordered one to place above my desk, where it now reminds me daily to surrender, and to appreciate bright colors and these artists across the world, even with all my flaws still intact.
Happy writing this week!
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