Tuesday, March 4, 2008


In college we were given an assignment to make six graphics for a television class. I searched magazines and tore out interesting pictures. Soon, I settled on a few--several of women, one of legs and one of a pair of purple shoes. An art student friend showed me how to make the legs appear three dimensional. It was a fun project and I was excited by the outcome.

Thursday morning, I received a phone call from a classmate. She was in a panic because she hadn't started the project. "I don't even know what I'm going to write about."

"Write?" I asked.

"You know, the story that goes with the graphics."

I felt my insides flip-flop. I hadn't selected the photos with a story in mind. This was typical of me, not listening to the complete assignment.

My friend decided to skip. I glanced at the clock. Two hours until class time. I considered skipping. But I had worked so hard on those graphics. I gathered them up and headed to the campus library. After finding a cubicle, I took a deep breath and studied the pictures. What did they have in common? How could they connect?

Legs. Each of the photos, except the shoes, showed legs. But even shoes could relate to legs. Over the next hour I wrote a bizarre story about how everything in life--love, hate, work, play came down to legs. There might not have been an ounce of truth to that point, but I managed to make it sound convincing. And the teacher loved it.

Filmmaker, David Lynch, thinks it's interesting to see how unrelated things live together. In his book, Catching the Big Fish, he states, "It gets your mind working. How do these things relate when they seem so far apart?"

Lynch believes a Unified Field makes it possible for there to be unity between a Christmas tree bulb and a man from Poland wearing strange glasses, two details that helped lead him to INLAND EMPIRE.

My writing retreat pals and I apply this concept of a Unified Field every time we do our Five Words and a Pie exercise. Each of us throws out a word. Then we write for ten minutes, using those words. I love this exercise. How could I not? One night the words we offered gave birth to the beginning of my novel, Part of Me.

Once you're convinced that any two or more things create a unity, the possibilities are endless. The ingredients and directions are simple:

Take two, three, four or more items
Find their Unified Field
Then Write

Note: If you want to read more about the details of the assignment that led to Part of Me, take a look at the Writing Tips page on this website.

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