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    Friday, 4 September 2009

    Chaos Theory

    The mirror is dark and still. I look down at my own reflection and see the familiar face staring back at me, pondering, thoughtful. Behind me a thousand suns rage and fight back the unending night, breathing fire and light into the void. But I am so far away and so very, very small. To me, they are pin pricks of light through a heavy blanket.

    For a while I watch them glimmer and twinkle in the dark mirror. They are beautiful and powerful and ancient beyond imagining. What world's have their light illuminated? What creatures have basked in their heat? How many have gazed up at them and marveled at their majesty?

    In my hand is a pebble, small, rough and porous. I toss it into the air, watch it spin end over end, hurtling briefly towards those distant stars before it is rudely pulled backwards by gravity's constant hand. It plunges into the cold, still water like a knife, and disappears. But its passing leaves a mark. Ripples on the water that disturb my mirror and make the stars dance wildly in the tenebrous sky.

    The ripples are unpredictable. The way they make the stars dance even more so. Yet in the chaos, there is a beauty that is as stark as it is unexpected.

    Writing a novel is very similar. You begin with a plan that is organised and sensible and perfect but then something strange happens. The characters who once fit so neatly into your little plan begin to breathe and grow and sometimes, just sometimes, they whisper to you. They dislike the boxes you try to put them in, or the words you want to put into their mouths.

    They have the audacity to suggest, even demand changes. So you make that change and it ripples outwards, backwards and forwards across space and time, leading to even more changes. To new places, characters and events your neat plan never imagined. And the really scary thing is, you can't be sure where they're leading you until you're there.

    So my four precocious orphans are treading a different path now to the one I first planned for them to walk along. I can see the end now, in the distance, but it's as far away as those blazing lights in the darkness. I don't quite know when we'll get there, my traveling companions and I. But I'll let you know when we do.

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