f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 1 of Complexity – Exchanging High-Fives With Myself

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Day 1 of Complexity – Exchanging High-Fives With Myself

Thanks for bearing with me over the last couple of days. Very busy here.

I’m going to be talking about “complexity” over the next few days, especially as it relates to publishing, though I’m sure we’ll draw on other disciplines, too. I want to start, however, by stating the obvious—Complexity does not equal quality. There’s no correlation. Unless you’re talking about mazes or something, just making something complex doesn’t mean it’s good.

That said, let’s move on.

Last spring in a softball game, I hit a home run. Over the fence in left field.

I am not a big guy. People have been known to call me thin. I hit singles and balls to the gap that I might be able to turn into a triple. I fly out a lot, sometimes to the warning track. I don’t hit home runs.

Last spring, in our team’s first game of the year, I hit one. My only one of the season.

Hitting a baseball or a softball, on one level, is an extremely simple process. A bat is swung by the arms at a ball, and the impact sends the ball out into the field.

Hitting a baseball with maximum efficiency, however, is a whole other deal. It’s incredibly complex with feet, legs, waist, torso, arms, and wrists all performing simultaneously to generate the greatest amount of bat speed and torque while keeping the bat at the proper plane. Batters talk all the time about their “mechanics” and this is what they mean.

For one at bat, my mechanics were “right.” The rest of the time my hips “fly out” and I end up swinging mainly with my arms. And let’s just say that nobody’s looking at my arms and starting a steroids investigation.
What does this have to do with writing? Nothing. I mostly just wanted to crow with pathetic self-aggrandizement about hitting a home run.

No, actually, it does have something to do with complexity. To me, writing is a process, an action that’s made up of component parts that all need to be working in concert together for a book to succeed. Likewise, a book itself displays its own complexity as we read it, and therefore reading—and comprehending it—becomes its own process. These are the things we’ll talk about for the rest of the week. Most likely there will be more baseball metaphors. I can’t help it. Spring training is coming and baseball moves from the hot stove to the front burner.
Go to Day 2 of Complexity.