The Chaos Layers

“Icon writing is chock-full of interesting metaphor. In some icons the layers of paint underlying all but the skin are called the “chaos” layers… and it really does look chaotic – darks and lights, blotchy. It adds life to the work. And, like life, chaos is just under the surface.

Chaos layer. Pure gold.  The perfect metaphor for writers.

We’re writing out of chaos; all darks and lights and blotchy. Not only does our work feel like chaos, but our live usually do too. We’re all trying to subdue the chaos with palm pilots and blackberrys and to distract ourselves with Ipods and the internet. But it is all chaos, and that’s why we write. To make order and meaning out of it. And our first task is to get calm long enough to sit in a room all alone with our thoughts and fantasies, and then let our writing get as messy as it needs to be,  let the chaos spill out on the page, before we find order and meaning.”

“Courage and Craft: Writing Your Life Into Story” By Barbara Abercrombie


In Icon painting, called writing, it is not about the painter. And one of the main tenets of Icon writing is that you never turn back.  You must keep moving. It will turn out like it is supposed to.  You are to be obedient and do the work.

Perfect is too often the enemy of good (and the good).