The Web that Spins Itself

The Web that Spins Itself

Posted on October 14 by Richard Scarsbrook
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I am fascinated by the ideas of Synchronicity and Chaos Theory: that everyone is connected to every other one (genetically, coincidentally, necessarily, or randomly), and that every action has a consequence, from the seen to the unseen, from the sublime to the catastrophic. The idea that there can be a causal relationship between the flutter of a butterfly's wing and the typhoon halfway around the world is, to me, both poetic and profound, and this is the idea that connects all of the stories in Rockets Versus Gravity.

Initially, I was working on several separate storylines for potential stories, with each tale containing a specific contrast:


a spouse-abused lumberjack with a romantic penchant for rocketry

a sexually frustrated rural teen and a mysterious, street-fighting stranger

an insurance salesman who is sure that he could have been a rock star

a young hockey player destined for greatness, and a fourth-line grinder from the wrong side of the tracks

a wheelchair-bound teen, and a man who parks his sports car in the accessible parking spot

an elderly veteran, and the nurse who is a doppelganger for a lover from his wartime past

a nouveau riche family whose wealth is the source of their insecurities

a homeless woman who believes she was once a queen.


Then it occurred to me: Why not discover how all of the characters in all of the stories are connected to one another?  There was a specific moment of confluence that caused me to begin searching for the strands that connect one story and another. Let me tell you about it!

My partner, Danielle, is a Streets-to-Homes Social Worker, and my relationship with her has greatly amplified my awareness of homeless people in Toronto. Based indirectly on her observations, I was working on the stories of a couple of homeless characters (who eventually became Rhymin’ Simon and The Queen in Rockets Versus Gravity), when I noticed a conspicuously wealthy woman having lunch on a patio (who reminded me of another character I created named Brandy Foley). After berating her server over some triviality, this woman aggressively shouted down a homeless person who had approached her for change (and who could have easily been The Queen). Then, as she loudly berated someone else over her cell phone, I watched her daughter quietly slip away from the patio, to apologize to the homeless woman, and to offer her a handful of money, enough to (at least temporarily) change the homeless woman’s life.

It was like watching my fictional characters, from different fictional worlds, interacting and influencing each other’s stories in real time and space, and all of the other connections in in Rockets Versus Gravity blossomed outward from that point. Each time I discovered a potential link between one character’s story and another’s, several more connections would reveal themselves, like a beautiful, complex web spinning itself.

The connections between us are always there; all we have to do is stop and look for them.

Richard Scarsbrook

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
Richard Scarsbrook photo

Richard Scarsbrook

Richard Scarsbrook is the author of The Indifference League. His short stories and poems have appeared in Descant, The Dalhousie Review, Prairie Fire, Matrix, Toronto Quarterly, and the NeWest Review. He teaches creative writing courses at George Brown and Humber Colleges, and is a mentor for the Humber School for Writers Correspondence Program. He lives in Toronto.