Monthly Archives: October 2014

Autumn Musings

You could stand on your front porch with two of your friends and watch something going on across the street. All three of you would see different things. You might notice the two children hiding with the dog, one friend might see that the female was scared and the other might notice that while they both were yelling that it was the male who kept backing up. Three people, three differing perspectives.

Ever had a discussion with your spouse and they simply aren’t getting what you are trying to explain? Several years ago, we had a fire in the house. There was a lot of smoke damage which led to the old wall paper coming down and my hubby having to hang more. We had the paper picked out and he was preparing the wall to put it up. I’d gone shopping to one of those stores where if you see something you like, you get it because it won’t be there when you go back. I’d found a bunch of wall type stuff that either exactly matched the border pattern or would go well with it. I had fun shopping! I came home with three bags of stuff. While my husband thought it was all cool and would look great, he could not understand WHY I got it right then when the wall paper was still on the roll. I, meanwhile, knew that it wouldn’t go up for a bit, but that by the time it could, I’d have figured out exactly what would go where so it could go up in a flash and the room would be ‘finished.’ We went round and round and it came down to a cliched Mars/Venus thing…or… two different perspectives!

Autumn. To me it means the deadline is approaching when all my authors’ books need to hit the printer and that Christmas is coming. To my hubby it means one thing: Hunting season! To my daughter, autumn means walks in the woods, falling leaves, cooler weather and school. To her boyfriend it means football and raking a ton of leaves and getting the house ready for winter. Same season…very different interpretations!

Perspectives will vary in character development as well. Too often, it seems that writers forget this and that the author’s viewpoint varies little between characters. Sure, the two main characters might have very different viewpoints, but everyone else seems to be peering through the exact same lens and, as a result, it doesn’t work or seems skewed. Bottom line, it doesn’t read as realistic.

People’s viewpoints or perspectives change as they age and characteristics become more set. Some guys are neat, some clean when ‘Mom’ comes over and others look around, shrug and think all is fine because they don’t even ‘see’ the laundry pile, empty cans and the dead plant. I know females like that as well. It is important for writers to realize that when there are numerous characters in a novel, that each will bring it’s own viewpoint to what is going on around them and that each will have their own unique way of handling a situation. Letting your characters own their own viewpoints, perspectives, idiosyncrasies and habits will allow them to have depth, be a solid entity and make them come alive.

Readers are the same. Each can and will bring their own experiences, emotions and attitudes to your characters when reading. One person’s ‘favorite’ character in your writing might be another’s least liked. It really may not matter that one is written to be likable and another is not because a reader will always view them through the lenses that are bases on their lives.

A few ideas to keep in mind…

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Word Gardens

Writing is, very much, like having a garden. You plant your seeds, water them, talk to them, fertilize them, wait a bit, weed the sprouts, water them some more, stake flowers up when they’ve been trampled, thin the plants, move around a plant or two so that it looks better, weed out the crabgrass, water when it doesn’t, stress when it rains too much, and, eventually, sit there with dirty knees and grubby fingers and be dazzled.

Gardeners learn by trowel and error. ~Gardening Saying

You learn to deadhead so the plant will bloom yet again, you cut a bloom or three to take inside, and then realize the garden looks better for it. You learn that upon seeing it for a first time, the looker cannot tell you had to move a plant, compost one that didn’t make it through the hail storm or that the for-get-me-anyway smells absolutely horrid and your daisies ran away from it!

There is a satisfaction from seeing hummingbirds, butterflies and hummingbird moths sharing your calla lilies, butterfly bushes and phlox. There are smiles in every palm-sized tomato I pick and more as they migrate to neighbor’s kitchens. What is a garden, if not to share the bounty of vegies and blooms?

A rainbow of soil is under our feet;
red as a barn and black as peat.
It’s yellow as lemon and white as the snow;
bluish gray. So many colors below.
Hidden in darkness as thick as the night;
The only rainbow that can form without light.
Dig you a pit, or bore you a hole,
you’ll find enough colors to well rest your soil.
~Francis D. Hole (1913–2002), “A Rainbow of Soil Words”

A poem is planted, the seed of thought sends forth shoots, that, with brainstorms, the light in one’s eyes and a sprinkle of energetic scribbling blooms that one, perfect flower. Ah but flowers fade, need to be deadheaded (which let the plant bloom again) and ‘played with’ a bit. Perhaps this verse here, that planting there nudged between the red and blue… verse six between verse one and two.

The writer is a gardener, you see. Every review a chance to show off the bouquets, and then prune or cut back, encourage and flaunt! It is said that a garden never looks the same two glances in a row. So too, it is with a poem: author or readers–the words may lie untouched upon the page and yet, the time between one reading and the next is colored by happen-chance, a kittened- smile or a pot of overdone coffee. Very much like a storm’s hail, a blustery day or a a week with a dry well. With care and tending both gardens and writing will endure the storms and spring rains, And each, upon a new viewing has something completely new to offer the discerning viewer!

I like to jot down thoughts and ideas as I tread life’s garden, for then sometimes when I am weary I can turn a leaf and find what my mood was on a certain day and that changes a train of thought and brings back sunshine. ~Helen Rose Anne Milman Crofton, My Kalendar of Country Delights, “September Nineteenth,” 1903

The searing heat played havoc with the garden until I, brain-numb from editing, tossed the pen and grabbed the shears on my way out to the garden. There, without mercy I cut, beheaded, de-budded and hacked at the over-grown and the ‘in desperate need of’ cutting back. Afraid, I’d over done the onslaught, I worried a bit, but knew the plants would grow back, if not this year, then in the next. Not too different than the character I’d just performed a theoretical lobotomy on; changing their focus, motivation and destiny in a few swoop of several pages. Feeling somewhat like I’d had a cathartic cleansing, I then washed the dirt from my hands and went back to hack heads off dead plants–only this time in the book.

Funny, a few weeks later, lo and behold, the garden’s in full bloom, yet again and the character, having shed the unnecessary plumage I’d buried her in, went on to do exactly what she needed to, wanted to do!

The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.~~James Allen

Harvest time comes round with that last great burst of foods for canning, and sharing, the ‘invite the whole block’ meals and the plotting and planning for the next garden-generation. The plucking, the plowing under, the reinventing, the tilling, the layering, the mulching…much like the revision/editing of a novel. When the last word is written; tis then the true work begins! What worked, what didn’t, what bloomed and which needs to be plucked out and tossed? Was the garden at its prime all we envisioned or was there still more we could fertilize and revamp? Did the bees move from flower to flower or did some plants wither along the way? Were there plants/story lines that never bloomed or plot holes left by the side-tracking moles burrowing through our minds?

The harvest is in, the nights grow cool. Still, after a few weeks, there will be one final harvest: the last flowers plucked, the last paragraph rewritten, the final batch of still green tomatoes bagged and the last proof gleaned for any stray weeds of omission.

It is only through books that we partake of the great harvest that is human civilization across the ages.~~Ibrahim Babangida

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