Here’s what the flower and tree look like in their true scale. Last week, I mentioned that if you take several photos with the intention of looking for stories, you’ll find a theme.
One of my favorite writers, John Patrick Shanley, once commented that you’re always writing about the problem you’re having – not your character’s problem. I believe that we writers are always looking for solutions, so what you notice around you is a direct reflection of what’s happening inside you.
When I looked at the above photo, I realized that my boyfriend and I relate size-wise to the flower and the tree. The story I created about the flower needing to realize that the tree was the right partner for her wasn’t personally relevant. Still, it was interesting to consider if the reason I noticed them in the first place was a kind of unconscious recognition of the relative scale.
How does that have anything to do with a recurring theme? This may seem like a bit of a stretch, but a theme in the story is the flower accepting who she is in relation to the tree. We can extract the theme of acceptance as something I’m dealing with in my own writing. When I looked at the story I’m working on, I realized that acceptance is the central theme in my story, but I never realized it until I wrote the blog last week! Why does this kind of inward exploration matter?
BECAUSE when you get in touch with these deep issues, your motivation increases! The direct result of this insight was that it put a V-8 engine in the sedan of my rewrite, and my productivity increased 100%! Am I also dealing with self-acceptance on a personal level? Of course, but the point of this exercise is to get better work done with greater ease.
Find Your Theme: I’m going to suggest that you use the photograph below as a writing prompt:
Set a timer for five minutes. Decide if you or a character is walking towards the setting sun. Ask what is your imaginary relationship, or the relationship of your character to the photographer? Decide what that’s going to be for the next five minutes. For example, using my character from last week, represented by the flower, what’s the story here? It could be that the “tree” in our story, the prickly pine of a man who’s actually Mister Right is the photographer, and she’s walking to tell him….What?
Keep writing for the time allotted. In my version, she’s never seen this guy before, and he will say something important that helps her with the story’s theme of acceptance. I’ll find a way to express his belief that taking a photo is a form of self-acceptance because it will never fully express what he imagines in his mind’s eye. Acceptance is about seeing things as they are rather than controlling things.
What you’re hoping will happen is that you get lost, and when the timer goes off, you’ve found something new.
Speaking of new, I’m so excited to share the latest episode of JOS Number #76.
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz