Monday, December 8, 2008

Sneaking in Some Depth

It's refreshing and uplifting when you're able to find the humor that's around you and greater depth and meaning in things. The music of Pink Floyd, for instance, sounds about as trippy as Strawberry Fields but it contains shades of sorrow and joy, irony and societal satire and commentary that is difficult to appreciate and notice at first listen. It's not exactly drug music, it's art. You can infuse and braid and paint multiple layers into your works to create greater texture, secrets for the setting/town that are uncovered little by little, codes to be unlocked, dark humor, irony, satirical statements, mini plots that weave in and out of your main plot.

My dad's mom died in 1994, a couple days after my graduation from college. She was my last living grandparent, so it was especially tough. Old ladies kept coming up to my sister and I at the wake, telling us how much Blanche adored us, her granddaughters, and that she spoke of us often and that we were like gold to her. Problem was, our grandmother's name was Rose not Blanche. "Oh no," I said to my sister. "These poor old ladies are at the wrong funeral." We laughed and laughed. As it turned out, our grandmother's nickname was Blanche, which we never knew. You learn something new every day they say, and sometimes that something new can be funny. I've had several circumstances that were not the best to to go through but my warped sense of humor kept me positive and laughing.

When I was twenty, I went white water rafting with some college friends, and it was far more life-threatening than it should have been. The outfit we went with only had one guide for ten rafts and we had wet suits and life vests but no helmets. Our raft had a 400-pound guy and three skinny chicks. With two people on one side and two on the other, we were little bit ill-proportioned. Not trying to be mean. That's just a fact. Our combine weight was not even as much as this one guy's.

The one guide kept yelling at everyone in the various rafts to row together. Um, does anyone know what happens when there's far more strength on one side versus the other? Anyone? Anyone? Yes. That's right. Circles!!!!! You go in circles. Not forward. But around...In circles or you hardly move at all. Hello! Even an inexperienced rafter, who's done little more than canoing knows this. Most groups were fine rowing together but not ours. The guide was a complete moron. My friends and I kept yelling at each other about how to best proceed FORWARD. We finally found success with two strokes on one side for one on the other.

During the more rapid rapids, we half-capsized and three out of four of us fell out. The big guy and my friend had to be pulled to the shore. I tried to climb back in, but I could hardly move. The shock, the cold? I'm not sure. But I couldn't climb back in and my friend couldn't lift me back in without having the raft flip on us. We managed to push the raft to a large rock and I was able to climb up and in. This was a perilous moment, falling into a frigid river, having all my energy zapped in a snap, but I couldn't stop laughing the whole time. My friend was crying and then started cracking up too. It was just so insane and the danger made rafting ultra-adventurous. Any breaks from the mundane excite me. It wasn't the best way to go rafting, and I don't want to repeat it, but it was a blast anyway. If I just say to my friend 2-for-1, even to this day, she knows what it means and laughs.

As a writer, if you choose to maintain a lighthearted view of life and try to find humor during rough patches or the rich details beneath surface material, you'll not only stay more sane, you're also able to give new dimension to your writing. As long as the things you write flow in the story, it's okay to weave in undercurrents and nods for things, tiny treasures to be unearthed.

For instance, I am a Red Sox fan, so my main characters in Kings & Queens are also Red Sox fans. One of my character's had a dog named Dewey (Forgot to note the significance. haha. Dwight Evans, for those that don't know) and Carlton Fisk's name pops up a few times (one of the best catchers ever). The two jersey numbers worn by Fisk during his career tie into the plot and I refer to Don Mattingly as being from the Evil Empire. Most readers will gloss over these details, but they're there for savvy fans to find.

In the 80's when Family Ties and Growing Pains were on air, Michael J. Fox and Kirk Cameron had an on-going competition with one another to see how many times they could spin in any given episode. Would any viewer even give the spinning a second thought? No. It's a private joke between them. That's funny and cool.

Not everyone sees the richness in the music of Pink Floyd. Don't be afraid to bury those deeper nuances, details and angles into your work for a few select readers to discover and appreciate. For keen eyes and minds, your hidden jewels will make the read all the more enjoyable.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

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