Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Take Chances. Make Mistakes. Get Messy.

Can you make a grape float in the middle of a glass of water?
This is the question of the day. 
In my house, we find the answer to questions through research and experimentation.

As Ms. Frizzle says, "Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy!"

Oh, the Magic School Bus!
I think I read each and every one of those books when I was growing up. The thing that amazes me now is how applicable the lessons I learned from those books are in my life to this day.
I have found I use Ms. Frizzle's philosophy in my writing process.

Take Chances.
Some times characters take on a life of their own. In a way they become like my own child. I have to learn about what kind of responses and actions are natural for them to take and which ones are not. The only way to figure this out is by taking chances.

Sometimes writing a character to do something which is uncharacteristic for them can lead to some very interesting plot twists.

Make Mistakes.
If an idea hits follow it though.
In design college I found some of the ideas I disliked the most were the best if I kept working on it.
For example, in my closet I do not have bins of shoes but Rubbermaids full of scenes for my books. Not all are boxed because they were poorly written. Many didn't make the final selection because it didn't fit, at the time.

A mistakes or misfit chapters in one book can correct a problem in a later book in a series or it has the potential to begin a whole new adventure.
This is why I toss left over chapters into a bin not the trash.

Get Messy.
Write from what you know.
Many times this means going places and experiencing things for your self to understand what the seasons are like, how the people behave and learn the quirks in the culture.

While Woodmere is a fictitious Minnesota town I used as the setting for the Trilogy, I wrote about a region of Minnesota I know very well, a place where I have lived.  While never explicitly stated  because I wanted the reader to bring the level intensity to the book themselves, it is obvious the main character Autumn has experience sexual abuse in her past. While the events in the book are once again fictitious, I wrote what I know, what I have personally experienced.

Life is messy and life is hard, but it is also rewarding.
By reading and researching things as an author you gain knowledge.
By experiencing the places and events you write about you have obtained wisdom.

Was the experiment a fail? No.
My son got the grape the float on the top of the water and to sink to the bottom.
Try as he might he could not get the grape to float in the middle of the glass.

He realized science is more complex than he had originally comprehended. He learned the concept of density and now is brain is hard at work while he places with his Hotwheels trying to figure out how to get a grape to suspend a grape in the middle of water.

I do the same thing when I write.

When I get stuck or start experiencing writers block, I go back tot he drawing board...literally!
I draw illustrations, I design invitation, I crochet or I cross-stitch and the whole time I am physically doing something other than writing my brain is trying to figure out a solution around my writing obstacle. 

There is a children's book I read to my son when he was a baby, Going on a Bear Hunt.
In it he learned if you can't go over it, through it or around it, you have to go through it.

Solution and answers to questions and problems exists.
Most the time it just means taking chances, making mistakes and getting messy to find them!

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