I've been thinking about the similarities between looking for the bathroom and trying to make decisions. It also applies to writing.
My wife hosted her book club the other night. Seven women joined her to discuss this month's book, "The Book Thief", and enjoy one another's company. I was in my office, the door closed. Thrice, my door was opened with someone saying, "Is this the bathroom? No, it's not. I'm sorry."
Mostly bemused, I considered it strange. There were five doors off this short hallway. The guest room entry marks the hall's end, and its door was open. My office was the first door on the left. Beside it is the garage entrance. Those two doors were closed. Opposite my office is the landry room, its door open. The next door beside it was the bathroom, its door open, with a night light to show the way.
I thought it strange because, if the bathroom door is closed, that means that it's occupied. Besides that, my office is beside the foyer. It has a large picture window. Any thought will make you realize that assuming it's the bathroom is wrong in so many ways.
But second thoughts on it came around. These were people in a strange situation, someone else's house. They came to the first door and rather than look around and think about, they tried it.
How many times isn't that the case in life? People come to the first door of opportunity and try it without considering the larger context. Sometimes they never consider other doors at all. Is this what leads people to distrust and even despise people of a different race, religion, culture, or sexual orientation?
Funny but it's the same situation with computers. I keep teaching and reminding people, consider the whole computer, consider the whole application. Too many become focused on a popup and forget that they're dealing with a system. When you think of it as a system, computers and the Internet makes a great deal more sense. Unfortunately, some of these pieces of system act up and we have little insight into what's happening. Companies put in expensive and relentless efforts to keep it pretty and uncluttered. The first click is with the eye.
And this all goes to fiction writing. A story, novel or play is a system. All parts must be considered and work together in sync. That's what we as writers and editors endeavor to establish, a seamless unique experience. It's hard to do. Some write beautiful beginnings or unforgettable endings. Others bring forth masterful characters or settings that awe you. A few develop plots and stories so compelling that body functions are dismissed to the point of pain while another contingent highlight new truths and insights. Few can do it all together well. When it does happen, we call the results a masterpiece. And those masterpieces that stand above them all become the classics.
I think these writers are able to do it because they don't just open the first door. They open as many doors as they can, and they keep opening them, no matter what they think might be behind it.
Because the other realization is, you never know for certain what is behind a closed door. You think you probably know but it may or may not be what you expect.
It's Schrodinger's Bathroom.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com