The Mind’s Eye

It’s a struggle to provide descriptive content when writing fiction, isn’t it? At least it is for me, although that’s certainly not the case for everyone. For example, John Sandford, the author, doesn’t have that problem.  His prose flies off his fingertips, much like a gifted watercolorist shading stormy clouds and greening fields. I can see his characters. I can practically walk down to the lake at the rustic cabin he describes, and even hear the gentle waves lap softly against the hull of the boat moored at the pier.

It’s different when I write, unfortunately.  In my mind’s eye, every scene lies before me, rich in detail, opulently colored – so much so, that it seems that everyone who reads my words will see the very same things themselves. Therefore, my fingertips skip right past deep descriptions and plod along muddy sentences. The results end up more like Mondrian color-blocked canvases than the richness of a Vermeer painting. Not that I mean to compare my writing to any kind of artistic master at all.  My stuff is more like paint-by-numbers, when it comes to that!

Perhaps the only good thing to take from this is the recognition of a severe deficiency. That at least provides a goal to strive toward – and that gives hope (and change? But we know that seems impossible, don’t we).

 

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Non-Sequiter

They sat in comfortable chairs across from each other, chatting, snug in the house, listening to fat raindrops outside plop steadily onto tropical leaves .

“Yesterday I struggled to remember the next door neighbor’s name before it finally surfaced in my memory,” she said.

“Huh! Stuff like that’s always been a problem for me, and it’s getting worse now,” he commiserated.

“For years I had a mental block against the word hydrangea before I figured a way to dig it out of my brain. Guess I finally laid down a new neural pathway because now I can remember it just fine.” She said it offhandedly, but recalled what a challenge it had seemed at the time.

How do I respond to that?, he wondered, so he simply nodded and shifted his weight slightly from one hip to another comfortable position as she continued to talk.

“In fact, I’ve decided to name my next protagonist Hydrangea…she’ll be one of five sisters, I think, whose mother named them after flowers.” She pushed a graceful hand out toward him, raising one slender finger at a time, giggling as she said, “Rose, Lily, Iris, Daisy, and Hydrangea!”

That’s funny, he thought, and answered, “Hydrangea will ask her mom why her sisters have such short,easy names, don’t you think? And her mom can say ‘you have a complicated name because yours was a complicated birth’.”

They snickered, living the moment and loving each other, while outside the fat raindrops made music in the tropical foliage.

 

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll wrote about his leading character, Alice, finding herself essentially in an alternate reality when she fell into and through a mirror. Those who are much smarter than I am described Carroll’s entire book as a statement on the politics of his day. Dumb as I may be, I tend to agree. Recently, I remembered the entire “falling through the looking glass” scenario as I watched first a bit of a TV program (Fargo – love it!), then bunches of commercials, then a bit of the program, then bunches of commercials – you get the idea, right?

But that’s not the “looking glass” part, though getting to the meat of a program is like cutting through the fat and gristle on a very overdone and extremely cheap steak. No, I became fascinated with how a couple of items are marketed.

First, let’s take cell phones, for instance: I’ve always understood cell phones to be primarily for the purpose of voice communication, haven’t you? Then, text messaging cropped up, followed by emails. But that’s not at all how today’s generation of cell phones are marketed; in fact, voice, text, and email communication is rarely mentioned. Now the ads are all about camera and video capability, remote access to cars, houses, and security systems. I do get a kick out of watching adolescent 20-year-olds jump moguls, but come on, people. These are PHONES, aren’t they? Well, maybe not any more. Now they’re video cams that incidentally include phones.

Automobiles are another product that is very strangely advertised on TV. (Trucks, too, folks.)  The purpose of cars is for transportation, isn’t it? To get us from here to there and maybe back again? Once more, I must say that I really love the erotic element of many car commercials – who doesn’t like a little bit of romantic whimsy, but even that is fleeting. The primary focus of the ads no longer seems to involve transportation, but rather the Bose sound system, the Cue infotainment center, Pandora and Sirius, etcetera, etc.  All these extraneous extras that will make us more powerful and attractive to others, and more relaxed and comfortable in our moving shell. Sorta makes me scared that drivers will be so relaxed they’ll snooze right off.

So when phones aren’t talked about as phones but as cameras, and cars aren’t talked about as cars but as nearly something else entirely, does that mean I have already fallen through the looking glass, but didn’t even know it?

Help! How do I get away from this nonsensical place and back to the land of reason? Or is it too late………