I want to say thank you for everyone who commented on last week’s blog! I got a lot of good feedback and I think I can finally move on! Thanks for your support!
Tasty Tidbit #1: Mr. Fish
I may or may not have mentioned that my husband bought me a Beta fish for my birthday. I like to be creative so I named him, Mr. Fish. Like most Beta fish, he’s beautiful. I suppose I should say handsome, but since he’s a fish and doesn’t know the difference we’ll go with beautiful. He has the classic fan tail, which is a fabulous royal blue with blood red highlights. You would think blue and red would look strange, but with just a few of the red streaks Mr. Fish pulls the look off nicely. So why am I talking about my fish? Because he’s a good teacher. The other day I was laying in bed trying to meditate, although really I was slipping into nap mode which is the trouble with laying down and meditating. While I was laying there I watched Mr. Fish in his little five gallon world filled with plastic plants, red and black gravel, and of course, a castle. I have to add to his water once a week and I noticed it was about time, the water level had dropped about two inches. When the water level drops, the current from the air filter kicks up a notch. I watched Mr. Fish lean against one of the tall plastic plants. He just leaned into the plant as it swayed to the rhythm of the filter. He was one with nature for about five minutes, when he decided to take a swim. He backed up to the edge of the tank and then started darting through the main stream of bubbles created by the filter. Every time he would enter the stream he would spin himself around, doing underwater acrobatics. The best part was when he would spin his tail fin would flow completely out and you could see the whole thing and all of its beautiful colors. I was pretty convinced he was showing off. After a few minutes of this dancing and spinning, he went back to the tall plant and leaned on it again. Once again he stayed there swaying in the plant for about five minutes and started all over again. Mr. Fish is smart. He knows there is a time for rest and there is a time for action, even if that action is play. At first when the shop closed I was antsy for some action, now however I have gotten into a routine of leaning and swaying. My problem is that my action and resting periods are still not balanced. The moral of the story, be more like Mr. Fish. Learn to be balanced in your rest and play and always show off your beauty!
This writing stuff is hard! Somehow I was under the impression that when you were a writer you just write and everything else just falls into place. Not so much. As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs I managed to complete chapter one of a story I am working on, at least I thought I completed it. Again with the not so much. Turns out that even with thirteen pages of writing, which I also found out was short, I had a lot of work to do. I had the chapter reviewed and at first I was pretty pissy about the comments that came back about it. Although the person that read it thought it was a good start, there was room for a lot of improvement. I thought I was getting better at the constructive criticism thing, but I guess that’s just one more thing I need to keep working on.
Anywho, this person said that the surface of the story was good, but that I was lacking in details. I balked at this at first. Duh, what do you call all those words on the page, those would be details. Areas where I had tried to be clever appeared confusing to the reader. I have a whole meditation/vision scene and I thought I did a great job describing it, the reader however said that they had no idea what the hell I was talking about. Well, they didn’t say it exactly like that, but I got the jist. This person also went on to point out tense changes (something I have a major problem with, but don’t like admitting), and other various grammar issues. By the end of it I was convinced that what I had written was a piece of shit not worthy of the paper I had printed it on. That’s not what the reader was trying to convey, that was just my own self-worth issues cropping up. Like I said I was pissed at first, I didn’t want to hear what this person had to say. I only wanted to hear the good things about my chapter, wasn’t there anything there worth noting? There was and it was noted, but there was more work to be done. The reader told me that I need to add a lot more detail, my scenes jumped with no detail on how the characters moved from one place to another. The reader said I needed to work on creating my world, I was going to create his world all right and it was going to be painful.
After I got over myself, which took considerably longer than I would like to admit, I sat down with the reader again and asked him to repeat his comments. I realized that I didn’t really hear what he was saying the first time and that it might be worth hearing again. He pointed out the places where my scenes skipped and offered suggestions on where to place details. The toughest part was when he said it looked like I had started three chapters in one chapter and that it needed to be completely redone. When I looked at the chapter again I could see where a reader would get confused. It was choppy and it did jump around a lot. There wasn’t much character detail either. In fact, in thirteen pages I only described what one of six characters looked like, oops. It was at that moment that I realized there was a lot more to this writing gig than I originally thought.
I realized there are several other subjects and projects I have been working on that requires some detail. One of my main projects besides writing is making candles. I love making candles and it has been a mini dream of mine to make and sell my candles. One of the weeks that I was moping around my husband suggested that I begin working on making that dream a reality. At first I ignored the notion, but boredom got the better of me. I knew that the candles I had made previously had problems. Bad wicks, poor burn time, and low scent throw. I would occasionally have a candle that came out okay, but that was more luck than skill in making them. I had always thought that making candles was simple, just like writing. You melt the wax, you pour the wax, poof, you have a candle. This theory had been proven wrong by my many past failures and while I didn’t mind if my candle melted all over, I knew that customers would care if my candles unexpectedly oozed wax all over. Again with the details. Since there are bunches of books on candle making, I figured there had to be an even greater number of websites on the subject. I wasn’t disappointed. I took my time sorting through waxes and wicks and I have figured out many of the places where I went wrong in my previous candle making ventures. I still have a lot to learn though.
I have never liked details. I figure if I can get it done without the details than it’s just as good. I hate to keep saying it but, not so much. I have learned that skimming the surface, doesn’t get you that far and you lack understanding. If you don’t know how something works than it’s probable that you won’t be able to make it work. You might get lucky and get it to work some of the time, but for the most part you are headed for a fail. If I only tell the surface story in my writing, how will people understand the depth of what I am attempting to convey? If I want to make a product and sell it, how can I make sure that people are getting the best product I can make if I don’t take the time to learn about making it? I can see many areas of my life where I have floated on the surface, figuring that a small amount of knowledge would get me far enough, but what is enough? Probably not the quality I am hoping to achieve. Everything in life takes practice and I see it as a good thing that I made so many mistakes in the past. At least I get to learn from them and improve because of them. When I pay attention to the details the things I create show it. I have never been able to make votive candles; I just never figured it out. After researching and a couple of test runs I now have a beautiful votive candle burning on my desk, which has been burning perfectly for almost four hours now. I can take pride in my creations when I take time to understand the little things. By looking past the surface I get to find the beauty and wonder previously unseen and take my creations to the next level.