Plotting The Waves

(Photo by Alan S. Garrett)

Sometimes experiences for the negative or positive tend to come in waves and I don’t quite understand why they do.  It isn’t just something that occurs outside our species; although it is  easier to explain in animals outside us as environmental changes.  

When I worked retail sales, phone calls and customer traffic would often come in waves.  It was rare to have one person enter by themselves.  Maybe in the case of sales it had to do with advertisements that were run at particular times of the day, or when other businesses break for lunch or close at the end of regular office hours. 

I spoke with a bank teller one time who mentioned the same type of experiences with customers pulling through the drive-thru, sometimes traffic appeared almost all at once and often during odd hours.  I purchased a bottle of whiskey at a liquor store one time and the cashier mentioned a lot of people had been purchasing the particular brand of whiskey that day in the same size bottle and he thought it was strange.

Sometimes these waves run rogue as thoughts that behave like sudden viruses that seem to run rampant throughout communities: starting small, growing quickly, then dying out or dribbling on for a little while only to rise up again.  I have just enough knowledge now of the business of writing to see the trends in certain genres rippling through the industry in ebbs and flows like some enhanced cultural meme.

I really can’t imagine a world where life remains static.  Stability, after all, doesn’t always make for the most interesting reading.  Where would writers be without the waves in their lives?  Can you imagine a story without the conflict and tension that arises from wave-like change?

I could do without encounters with poisonous snakes (see last blog post).  I could do without living in tornado alley, or being concerned about bears while hiking through mountains on vacation.  I could do without the nervousness of first meeting someone important or giving a speech to any size audience.

There are many things in this world I “could” do without.  But the real question, as a storyteller, comes down to: would I ultimately want to?  The core of what makes a good storyteller comes from the ability to develop conflict, build tension and find resolution in a meaningful way.  Inspiration comes from personal lessons whether experienced or learned from reading about the combined experiences of others.  Plot, well, that comes from living with the waves.