Oct 18 2010

Chance Encounter

Melissa Crytzer Fry

Have you ever thought about the role that “chance” plays in your life?

I thought about it this morning during my jog along the railroad tracks. I just happened to stop at a particular section of the track to catch my breath, only to look up and see a beautiful, bushy-tailed coyote eyeing me from the crest of a nearby bluff.

Coyotes are frequent visitors to our Southern Arizona ranch. Wiley they are – just as the cartoon character’s name suggests. This coyote was photographed on the trail camera we set out to photograph wildlife. Click to enlarge.

A healthy-looking fella (fat from the hares in the area, made fat, in turn, by the abundant summer vegetation), the coyote slinked away when I approached. The encounter made me wonder how many other times I’d missed other coyotes stealthily watching me, because my eyes were trained on the ground in front of me. My guess: plenty of times!

For Writers: What role does “chance” play in your writing? Did you just happen to stumble upon a story idea when you weren’t looking for one? Did a phrase just pop into your head when you least expected it? I often think about the shape-shifting nature of writing. I mean, what are the chances that what you write on Monday are going to be the same words you put down on paper on Friday? Slim.

I find it fascinating to wonder how differently your writing might be if … If a certain experience hadn’t occurred the day you’re writing (an experience so profound that it shaped your character’s thoughts) … If you hadn’t seen something that sparked your imagination that day … If you were having a bad day that soured your mood, or a good day that brightened your spirits … If you were reading something entirely different (I think we all know that our writing is subconsciously influenced by who and what we’re reading).

So it seems to me that our finished manuscripts are a product of chance, aren’t they? And isn’t our writing, as a whole, a product of chance – words flowing onto the page today that might differ dramatically tomorrow?

To me, that is part of the wonder and magic of writing. And probably why I can’t get enough of it!


4 Responses to “Chance Encounter”

  • avatar Rachna Chhabria Says:

    “Shape Shifting nature of writing” is a wonderful way of describing our thought process. Love the catchy phrase, Melissa.

    A lot of our writing depends on chance, and of course what and who we read does subconsciously influence our writing. I am always scared that I will be accused of copying some writer because of the subtle influences that do creep in.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I think all writers fear they might inadvertently copy the style of someone they’re reading WHILE they’re writing. I’ve read many famous writers who say they’ve been guilty of “writing like the person they’re reading” at different times in the process … just because it’s such a subconscious act. I guess the key is to find your own unique voice as you ‘try on’ the styles and techniques of other writers. Easier said than done…?

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  • avatar K Says:

    CHANCE…how life all comes together. From the miracle of life starting- to the inevitable end. Your blog touches on so many philosophical subjects Melissa. It is a joy to read even to us that do not write for a hobby or occupation. Keep it up.

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    Melissa Reply:

    K-
    Glad you’re enjoying and finding some “philosophical messages” behind my musings. I’m just happy to share the things around me and appreciate your support!

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