Walking Cody, our Black Lab, has many benefits, one of which is taking notice of elements of the natural world otherwise missed when speeding by in a vehicle.
What elements? It’s usually the small flowers or plants that I stop and notice. I don’t always have my camera, so on occasion, I will return with said camera and get a picture. What has this to do with writing? I think it has much to do with the writing process.
It can, not always, inspire us to think on several levels, i.e., the metaphorical level. When I stopped and grabbed the above picture, I couldn’t help but stare at the “urban mushrooms” as they are called down here in Alabama and suddenly see “three sisters,” the smallest of which partially hides behind sister number two. One may also see three umbrellas, or one may see, well, three tiny mushrooms! That’s okay too. How does this work with the writing effort?
I believe that detail, especially in descriptive writing, is absolutely essential. The detail may be nothing more than naming a tree or plant. I believe if one can write, “mimosa trees provide shade for the driveway” that you have improved that image than if you simply wrote “trees shaded the driveway.” Once you have identified your tree, you can use known characteristics throughout your narrative. For instance, the fact that the Mimosa tree leaves fold up at night and awaken with sun rise, might be worth something for your character development (in Japan the Nemu Tree means “night sleeper.”) or that the tree attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, or that it’s invasive! Who knows?
Look at things. Grab a few moments to look at the world about you. I believe it was Georgia O’Keeffe who remarked that most people don’t take the time to truly see things.
So what about it fellow writers and thinkers? What small things have inspired you lately? a buzzzing wasp? the moon and clouds at two a.m.? A cicada shell? a small blue flower at the edge of the looming woods?