Saturday, April 25, 2009

Recycle, Reuse, Renew

I make dirt. But first I make dinner. Then soup. Then dirt.

How? First I freeze all my vegetable trims (a bit of lemon and lime rinds and fruit peelings can be tossed in as well) while I cook. When I have a bag full, I fill a big pot half full of water and light boil the trims for an hour or two, adding water as needed. Voila, nutritious, tasty broth. All that's left is to take the leftover vegetables out to the composter and I've got new dirt.

What does this have to do with writing? Simple. Reuse, recycle and then it's renewed. Stuck in your novel? Pull a character and write a short story. Short story is way too long--maybe it's a novel. Try using your characters/ideas/plots in a new genre. Write an article about what you learned. Need to research something for your novel? Research it for an article as well. How about a blog post?

It goes on and on. Painters have been doing this for a long time, scraping off parts of oils they didn't like and redoing. Or reusing the same canvas. Or cutting the canvas into sections (my dad did this and it worked).

So, recycle, reuse and find it renewed.

How do you do this in your creative endeavors?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eye of the Beholder

Yes, most people consider them to be obnoxious weeds, but...

...that's our culture as it is now. Dandelions are bright yellow, a yellow that we seek for "flowers." These "weeds" are edible and full of antioxidants that people pay big money for. The flowers are a bonanza for the bees. And dandelion wine is real and from what I've heard, tasty.

Why, then, is it a weed? Who says? Why do we spend millions of hours pulling the plant and millions on toxic chemicals to destroy it? And what does this have to do with writing?

Simple, it's all about perception. Cultural norms. Twist such things for character quirks--a woman who "farms" dandelions and makes all sorts of food from the plant, for an example. Turn a "norm" into "abnorm" for your plot--the Stepford Wives comes to mind. Turn an expected event into the unexpected--weddings are celebrations, have a bride who considers hers a funeral.

What are some perceptions to twist you can think of? Which ones have you done in your writing? Did it work, or were the readers too accustomed to the usual to understand?

This post was inspired by Earth Day.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter and Character Tags

Can you spot the edible eggs amongst the non?


Rebecca of Cornish Dreamer in her post "The problem with Easter" brought this post to my mind. I'm a seasonal candy eater.
This season, through today, it's Cadbury eggs--the old fashioned kind with the white cream filling only, none of that new fangled caramel or other stuff, please. After today, I don't want the eggs. Christmas is cherry filled chocolates and my birthday is chocolate cake with WHITE frosting.

It occurred to me that this is a character tag. Something I do that others don't that gives a little peek into my personality. By looking at ourselves and others and spotting these goofy bits, we can find great character tags.

Or at least I think I'm the only one who's Holiday candy specific...are you? Or do you have other oddities for a holiday that you're willing to share?

Whichever, have a fun Easter!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fiction and Non-fiction

It's no fiction. Here's the first daffodil of spring.

The comments on my last blog entry inspired this post. Sia McKye started it with "We can take a 'fact' of science, history, politics, religion, life in general, and weave a story around it with fictional characters" and Lynda Lehmann added, "unimaginative people out there who don't really like to peer out of the hole of their own subjectivity" while Helen Ginger took that a step further with "Why do people think fiction is based on a true story? Don't they realize writers have imaginations?"

The Muse added another side to the discussion, "Don't they realize that a lot of fiction is based on fact?" Kathy McIntosh mentioned, "the insights they could gain by some time with the masters of fiction." Swubird admitted that he read mostly non-fiction but, "Fiction and nonfiction are like like mom and dad. We need both to get the whole perspective." And Caryn Caldwell ended the discussion with "As for readers of nonfiction, I've had a few of them tell me snootily, 'When I read, I want to *learn* something.'"

All these excellent comments made me realize that really we can't have one form without the other. We're born to be story tellers. So we tell stories. All of us. All the time. Whether there's a facts underneath the fiction or whether there's fictional elements within a true story doesn't matter. It's all tales. Think about it. Even the most straightforward piece of nonfiction is structured with a beginning, middle and end. It's how we think, how we order our world.

And who can say what is truth and what is not? This is at the crux of a lot of the non-fiction argument, some people believing that somehow if something can't be proven to have happened, it's a harmful, evil, filthy lie. But except for a scientific fact (and some dispute those) what can be proven? Ask eyewitnesses of an event and everyone will have seen something different. Ask a sibling about memories of an event and be amazed at the difference.

Of course there's an aspect to fiction that can make it much harder to write. It has to be reasonable and logical enough to be believed. To draw the reader into the fiction world. This is not true of non-fiction, read Swubird's excellent and fun, fun blog for examples of hilarious and fascinating non-fiction.

Thanks to all the excellent bloggers who commented on my last post that led to this post.

So, what do write when you write? Fiction? Non? A mix? And if a mix, which is your fav?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April Fools

Cleo believes I'm playing an April Fool's trick on her.

But no, she's wearing a dress because she has an itchy skin condition and it keeps her from scratching. That's it for my April Fool's jokes and it's on the dog. Sorta.

Except for a phenomenon I've noticed in people who read only non-fiction. Some of them believe that all fiction is a trick. It's true. I've been, more than once, asked, "Yes, but what really happened? What don't you tell the truth? Why lie?"

Has this been anybody else's experience with non-fiction readers (and sometimes with people who don't read)?