Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's What You Leave Behind

So I am back in the land I like to call the cold and the north.  This is to say Minnesota.  And while it might be raining outside or as my weather app likes to call it "winter precipitation" it's been a great visit.

I have lots of friends here who do all sorts of things in the arts.  There are theater people, dance people, film people.  People people...errr.  But the best thing to come out from one of these meetings was a  conversation I had with some of my friends who are costume designers.  If you are in the arts (and you are all writers so yes, that counts.) then you know how hard it can be to be an active artist.

I once has a teacher tell me that there was no space for art in the future.  That if the world would end the people leaving on the spaceship bound for distant galaxies would not be filmmakers or theaters artisans, but scientists and such.  There was no room for art.

How sad is that?

Speed forward to me meeting up with friends.  After a tough semesters, and really all semesters are tough, they were down about what they had chosen to do.

I was reminded of a paper I wrote for an assessment test that asked about state funding for the arts.  My answer really hasn't changed.  If you look back through history, the only things we remember or the things that flash instantly into our minds is art.  The pyramids in Egypt, the plays of Ancient Greece, fashion, architecture.  All art, all stamped for eternity on the page of history.

So remember if you ever get down in the dumps about art, this is your mark on history.  This is something you can leave behind.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What I know.

The typical list of "how to be a writer" usually contains the phrase "write what you know."  And when what I know isn't enough?   When confronted with this question, I used to say, "Yeah but I don't know what it feels like to live in a dystopian future or be mixed up with faeries.  Or..."  The list went on and I slowly but surely wrote off the "write what you know" mentality.

Because really, I don't write what I know.

While reading through some notes on my most recent story, I discovered one vital thing.  I write ALL about what I know.  I mean A LOT.  So I started to think about how much of "me" was in each one of my stories.  Not me as in the protagonist is me, but how much of my knowledge has impacted my novels.

There are strange medical procedures, leaving home for the first time, medical procedures, shots, clothing....

That's when I realized, I know a lot.  Or at least I'd like to think I know a lot.  I can make an outfit if just given a picture (Admit it, that's cool).  I can shoot you a movie given the proper camera and equipment.  I know what it's like to be injected with radioactive isotopes (that is not made up people.) (And, no, I don not glow).  I'm deathly afraid of shots.  I know what it's like to have a broken heart, to fail, to question what I'm told.....  If you think about it for a few moments, you can probably come up with your own list and anything from that list can easily become the foundation of a novel.  I could write a novel about costumes designers trying to finish a show or movie producers desperately pulling their movie together.  What you know can take you all kinds of places.

And what you don't know.  Research!

Are you using what you know if your novel?  Wanna share?  Leave a comment!