The Ecosystem of Fly Traps and Cabbage
Creative writing is an imprecise ecosystem of Venus fly traps, cabbage and emotional sticky bombs. For the moment, that’s the analogy I'm working with. I do so love my strange analogies. This particular analogy sits nicely within Richard Matheson's motivational mantra “that what think becomes your world” to boot. But why bring it up now? Someone tossed an emotional sticky bomb in my general direction and once more, I am kept awake in the ponderance of such things. That in itself is the ecosystem, that ponderance of the little things. I like to tell my students that everything is ripe for a story. Their world and verily, your world, can be pulled into closer examination. In that regard, here is the touching upon the mouth of an open fly trap. Somewhere in that mouth is the mechanism that triggers the trap to close. Tolkien’s fly trap (great band name) involved languages. Lovecraft’s fly traps involved fears, real, invented and wrong. To have a fly trap is to think. But what of the cabbage? Cabbage is a fascinating food in so far that it has been cultivated to the point that many of the vegetables we consume originated from one variation of the cabbage or another. Broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, and many others all come from cabbage. The essential traits were selected and built upon, refined over and over, like any idea worth its salt (or cabbage). Depending on whichever theory you subscribe to, there are only a certain number of story structures. Anywhere from three to seven types of stories are ever told. That’s the initial cabbage. What you do with the cabbage, how you cultivate the ideas and whatever is caught in the flytrap is where the originality and creativity flow. I'm no gardener. But I am a writer. I have many varieties of flytraps to take ideas from the world and the cabbage that has grown since has become something wonderous. From ponderance comes wonderous. Then we go back to the emotional sticky bombs. Writers have used trauma as inspiration forever but not everything is the end of the world. Occasionally, the thorns in the side cause the most pain. If the flytraps and cabbage are the big picture, the sticky bombs fill in the gaps. The sticky bombs are what you think about the world. Put it all together and you realize how they belong together, everything dependent on everything else. That is more wonderous than anything else.