Organized Chaos.


“Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature.”
~Eric Hoffer

After spending six – seven hours every day for the last two weeks doing the first round of edits on my manuscript, then spending almost as long researching and sending queries for ROM today, my eyes are staging a protest at even the mere thought of a blog update. Seriously, when your vision gets bleary just from reading a few sentences in a book (true story from today), that’s when you know you perhaps, maybe, just might be spending too many hours staring at a computer screen while working. So instead of writing today about how well the revisions are going (fifty-one pages trimmed from the manuscript so far!) or how glad I am to be back on the querying rollercoaster after taking some time off to process real life’s difficulties, I’m opting for something different. I’m opting for randomness.

There’s this “7 random things about you” post that’s going around the blog world, so why not join in? It’s always so fun to learn interesting facts about other people, and my hope is that everyone reading this will post – in the comments or on your own blog – some random facts, too. Please?!

Okay, here goes:

#1: Ever since I accidentally burned myself with a hot glue gun during a Girl Scouts meeting in fourth grade, I’ve had an irrational fear of fire. I know, I know, it’s not like I got burned on fire originally, but my mind associates the incident with it anyway. Would you believe I made it through all my high school and college science courses without ever lighting a match? Whenever experiments called for that, I happily volunteered to be the data recorder and write up the labs for our group, if only someone else would take care of the fire. The only exception is Hanukkah candles; although, to be honest, I’m always super careful about not letting any hot wax drip on my hands as I light the menorah. Hope my future husband doesn’t mind being the one to be in charge of candles on our kids’ birthday cakes.

#2: The first big, multi-chapter story I wrote came about as a result of eighth grade English. We had journal time at the start of every class, and on one of our free write days, an idea popped into my head and I literally had to see where it went. Little did I know then what a sign it was of things to come! The story ended up being something like ten chapters long, and even though there was more description of the characters’ clothes than there was actual plot (ha!), it’s still the experience I pinpoint as being my first jump into the true joy of fiction writing. Pretty sure I still have a copy of it somewhere. Perhaps I’ll dig it out of its box one day and give it a reread.

#3: I have never had a cell phone that isn’t blue.

#4: I have been to more General Hospital fan events than I can count, and have met most of the kind, gracious, witty cast as a result. Favorites include Megan Ward, Nancy Lee Grahn, Rick Hearst, and Brandon Barash … but truly, almost everyone I’ve met has been nothing but sweet. The appreciation they show for their fans is really awesome. They give a hundred percent to their work and even more to the people who watch the show.

#5: While we’re on the subject of meeting people, let’s talk about 10/18/07. That’d be the day I finally met Kelly Clarkson after (no exaggeration) twenty near misses/failed attempts at applying for meet & greet passes. Getting to tell her in person what an inspiration she’s been will always be one of the coolest moments of my life. It took four and a half years of trying, but it was totally worth it. The ten minutes went by in a blur – my friend Mary Kate still alludes to the dazed look on my face when I came out of the M&G – but the memories will linger forever.

#6: I am head-over-heels in love with the idea of having a beach wedding one day. What could be more perfect than saying “I Do” with waves splashing against the sand and the sea breeze twirling its fluttery ribbons through the air? Just thinking about it makes me smile. So, um, future groom, if you’d like to make yourself known sometime soon … that’d be great :)

#7: I was in a soap opera in college. Claire Scwhartz, journalist extraordinaire, that’d be me. I conspired with my best friend Valerie McBride to take over the paper. Oh, and there were vortexes (vortices?), evil twin brothers, and the complex, criss-crossing relationships that any good soap opera has. An actress I certainly am not, but filming that show was a ton of fun and one of my fondest memories from the Arcadia days.

Were those random enough? They were fun to think about and share – and, you know, they also reminded me of something. It’s the random little details that make it especially fun to be a writer. Sofie being in love with musical theater. Her brother always wearing his Georgia Tech baseball cap to home games. Her sister never capitalizing anything in emails. Her husband having a penchant for photography and videography. Her best friend tapping her nails together when she’s nervous. Sometimes I plan these quirks out ahead of time, but they usually just come about naturally as I’m writing. The words are on the page before I can even think twice. It’s like the characters just take on lives of their own: instead of telling me who they are, they show me. And I love it. A lot. So maybe randomness isn’t all that random, after all. Maybe it’s just a way of learning more about ourselves.

So, please, leave a random fact or two so I can learn more about you!

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12 thoughts on “Organized Chaos.

  1. I loved these fun facts! I don’t think I’d get married on a beach personally, but I do love it for other people! I hope Mr. Right pops along sometime soon as well! :)

    That’s so crazy how scared of fire you are and that you wouldn’t even light a match! You crack me up!

    Did I mention I’m excited to see you Friday!? :) Because I really, really am!!

    • It’s such a totally irrational fear, too – it’s not like that’s what I even got burned on – but I guess some things just stick? I still refuse to light a match to this day.

      I’m really excited to see you, too!! It seems like we’ve been talking about this forever – so glad it’s finally here. We’re going to have such a great time :)

  2. Number 1 made me laugh because I have an irrational fear of fire as well!!! Ha. When I was in sixth grade I did a year of altar serving at my parochial school, and when we were practicing, I had to light a candle on the altar. The problem was I was (am?) super short, so I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach the wick, and even then I had a hard time seeing what I was doing, so the flame touched my finger. I freaked out and dropped the match, and it burned a small hole in the altar. Oops. In the 12 or so years that have passed since, I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve held a match in my hand…and believe me, not because I wanted to!

    Number 2…ahh the youthful days of writing, when stories consisted of copious clothing descriptions. I remember those. The characters I wrote back then were always perfect, or had just one flaw.

    I loved what you mentioned about writing characters’ quirks. Some are planned out ahead of time, yes, but you’re right, when you’re writing, certain things come to you, and they just…make total sense for the character you’re working on. I love when things like that come naturally. It makes it feel like the character has always existed, or something like that. And seriously, way to go with the editing/querying. Your determination is so admirable. :)

    • This just proves it: clearly we are indeed kindred spirits. Your fear is totally founded, though, because it must have HURT to have the flame touch your finger. Dropping the match seems like a normal reaction … at least you can say you left your mark on the altar? ;)

      I love that we all seemed to latch on to the detailed (overboard?) clothing descriptions in the early writing days. Maybe we were trying to live vicariously through the characters?

      Agreed 100% – there’s something almost magical about it when the characters’ quirks come so naturally. Like with Lila, I was writing that first email from her to Sofie and just automatically started typing in all lowercase, without even thinking about it. I’m such a grammar freak that I’d never do that on my own, which made it even cooler, because it’s like I was completely in Lila’s mindset at that point. I love the way you put it, that the personality nuances make it seem like the character has always existed. That is the perfect way to explain it :)

  3. I love your random facts! :) I have such a hard time thinking about random facts about myself. It took me forever to think of some to put on my blog. I’ll have to get back to you on that ;)

    • It took me awhile, too — half of the ideas that popped to mind seemed so boring! Isn’t it funny how sometimes it’s tougher to think of random facts than to do a whole entry based around one subject? You’d think it would be easier!

  4. LOVE this, Shari! I had NO idea about this General Hospital junkie in you :) I loved reading about your story in 8th grade English. Isn’t it amazing how such seemingly insignificant moments can catapult us into the life of our dreams? :) You are the best! Thanks for sharing these! I may have to do this soon. Right now, I’m writing a “10 People Who Changed Me” blog :)

    • Oh yes … I’ve been watching for ten years! I took a sociology class my senior year in high school, and we had to choose a television show and write about whether or not it was realistic. My mom had been watching GH for years and I saw how unrealistic many parts were, so I decided to choose that, never expecting to actually enjoy it. Guess I was wrong ;)

      I’m with you 100% – it’s amazing and really cool how all it takes is one moment or experience to send us on the journey of a lifetime. Makes you wonder how different our lives would have been without it – and grateful for not having to know.

      Looking forward to reading your next blog! What a fantastic idea for a post!! :)

  5. Fun! Now if people share then you’ll have other ideas for random facts for characters, too. It’s those little quirks that make characters seem so much more human. As for random facts about me, let’s see: My little toes stick up, I can’t stand onions, I had open heart surgery when I was Sunshine’s age. Oh, and we didn’t get married on the beach, but we WERE on the banks of the Colorado River.

    • I so agree – like we were chatting about over email, those little quirks really help to define characters and make them seem so real. It’s always such fun to get those glimpses into their personalities while reading.

      Thank you for sharing some facts! I’m with you on the onions (though I do like their smell) … and YIKES to the open heart surgery. My goodness, what an ordeal that must have been for your whole family. I’m so glad everything turned out alright!!

      And the banks of the Colorado River?! That sounds beautiful!!

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