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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Winding down

Well, here we are.

The Farmer's Market had its final day yesterday; I decided to run an end-of-season special and hung a giant "$1" sign on the front of my booth, figuring I would rather do henna for cheap than sit on my behind for three hours and be bored.  I had fun doing a couple of large, intricate designs for a couple of ladies who almost certainly would not have stopped otherwise.

What this really means is that, apart from one booking coming up in November, I have nothing going on henna-wise, and I would very much like to change that.  I have way too much fun drawing pretty designs on people, plus it gets me out of the house.  So book me!  I've added a phone number to my contact information, over there on the sidebar, to make it easier.

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that there are plans in the works for an indoor winter market.  I've been in contact with the organizer and she has graciously decided to accept my ideas and suggestions for ways to get things off the ground and working smoothly.  It's a bit of a stretch to say that we're actually working together, though - I'm presenting ideas pretty much as a volunteer at this point, in the form of a proposal, with no way to predict which if any suggestions will actually see the light of day.

Gives me something to do, though, and I'm having fun pretending that I'm in charge... you know how sometimes, you sit back and you go, "well, if I were the president" and proceed to solve all the world's problems in twenty minutes or less?  Yeah.  Putting this proposal together is giving me a great outlet for that energy.  The trick is to keep from sounding too obviously as if I'm trying to tell this nice lady how to do what really is her job.


The garden is nearly put to bed for the winter; only a few more plants that are still kicking and asking for water and the occasional trim.  My friend Amy Prettybaby says that if I run out of room over here she has plenty of yard begging for attention, but I don't know.  First of all, I'm only pretending to know what I'm doing, I just happen to be very very skilled at pretending - skilled enough that sometimes even the plants believe me.  Also I have the Internet, so if I don't know what I'm doing now, chances are good that I will know in a half-hour (I could say "five minutes", but the Internet is like potato chips. You can't just dip your fingers into the bag once and be done, unless there's something wrong with you.)

Second, her yard is way different from mine.  I live in a cookie-cutter house in a division that used to be a cornfield; backyards resemble the Serengeti Plain, except when it rains and then they resemble either a mud-wrestling pit or a demolition-derby arena.  Amy, on the other hand, lives in the kind of yard I always had growing up - even through college, moving out on my own, all the way up to our previous house - an older neighborhood with actual trees and lots of shade.  Deep shade in some places.  Where my yard is the Serengeti, hers is more like the Hoosier National Forest, except with kids and a dog.  Where I have Grass That Will Not Die, she has rich dark soil underneath pine trees where nothing wants to sprout.

Uh-oh.  Writing about this has gotten me thinking about it.  Now I have ideas.



Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend.  Thank GOD.  I despise Daylight Saving Time with a passion, and refuse utterly to "let it go already".  The logic escapes me: the idea is supposed to be to shift your clock to take advantage of the extra hours of daylight you get when the sun is up for more than twelve hours.  That only happens between the first day of Spring and the first day of Fall. So could someone explain to me, please, WHY are we still using daylight saving here at the tail end of October?

I also am perpetually irritated that the experts in Washington DC (which is, of course, the center of the universe) placed our state in the Eastern time zone when geographically we belong in Central.  This means that our clocks are already shifted by one hour year-round, and by two hours whenever we have to adopt Stupid Daylight Saving Time.  We get two obnoxious results from this: First, our kids are getting up and going to school in the dark, as early as the first week of September.  A couple years ago this got a little girl killed in my area.  Second, we don't see sunset until a ridiculous 10pm in midsummer.  You try putting a preschooler to bed when it's still light out and see how well that works.

There's a third irritating result, though I admit it's pretty minor: people insist that their sundials are wrong, or that we've wasted money putting up the ones in public areas that are "inaccurate".  I'll save my educational rant for another time, though.


My overall point, though, is that with the garden winding down, the henna season ending, and the days getting shorter, I'm finding my energy shifting inward.  I've been re-reading lately the books Digging Deep by Fran Sorin, and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, while also slogging through some self-help titles.  One thing these books all have in common is an examination of the creative process, and the process of discovering: whether it is discovering your likes and dislikes, or your writing style and voice, or your beliefs and values and power.  I'm finding that these books all connect to one another without intending to; and that I'm uncovering new territory, or maybe unburying old territory, that makes me uncomfortable.

Of course I'm uncomfortable.  No one likes to feel vulnerable, after all.  People might not like your choices, even if they're only the flowers you chose to plant in your bed.  They might reject your expressions of self, disagree with your beliefs, dismiss your deepest values as wrong or misguided, or worst of all, irrelevant.

I've been struggling with this vulnerability for awhile now.

I have this story I've been trying to write.  I have a setting, sort of a character, but I've been unable to come up with a plot to save my life.  And I'm reading that plot comes from characters, and that characters in some ways have to be naked before their readers.  No one in our real world gets to see inside one another's head, but in a story, you get to see the characters' thoughts, fears, dreams.  You get to see how those influence the choices a character makes and the actions they take as a result.

Author Holly Lisle, to paraphrase, says that characters who don't make choices are not characters, they are victims.  And they are boring to read.  It follows that characters who don't make choices don't take action; in other words, they don't build a plot, which means they're not contributing anything to the story itself.  They're a waste of a reader's time.

Both Lisle and Demott are telling me that characters have to really feel and choose and move; they are both saying that in order for those feelings and choices to resonate they have to come from someplace real; and that the only real place any would-be writer can pull from is inside themselves.

Yeah.  In other words, for your characters to work, you have to get naked.  Did I mention I've been struggling with this for awhile now?

It's no wonder my story is going nowhere; I can't let go and loosen up long enough to give my character any real motives, or choices, or feelings.


Hmm.  Should I have titled this post "winding down", or "winding in"?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout out! Would love to hear your ideas for my yard. I hate DST too!

    Great to talk to you the other day, by the way... :)