Friday, August 24, 2012

Little Things and Connections

You feel like there's a very tiny spider, very gently, exploratorily, thrumming just five hairs on the back edge of your hand there on the mouse. You check. No spider. But for just an instant, before your eye is completely on the suspected area of space, you see it there, in all it's miniature shining predatory splendor.

In some interpretations of string theory physics there comes the hypothesis that yes, there are infinitely possible dimensions or universes out there, including one in which the spider is now really there. Seriously.

And now that it's out there, and surely others have had that feeling, if one of us wrote "like that tiniest of spiders you think you feel touching five hairs on the edge of your hand there on the mouse..." some readers would get it. Immediately. Others might have to imagine it for the first time and would then have a similar feeling as the memory and connection kicks in. Some never will. Can't speak to everybody.

Don't know that one? Okay, I got more. I can do this all day.


The humming bird feeder.
Yes, probably that hummingbird feeder, the one hanging in your back yard. @karlaArcher posted some photos of a multi-camera setup they made to shoot their hummingbird feeder. Besides the fact that I heavily and shamelessly covet those cameras and that mounting system, right there in the middle of the photo, in front of "God and Everybody," was my bird-feeder

I've known Karla and @RandyArcher online for a couple of years now. We already had a pretty solid connection when I saw that posting.

Still, seeing that bird feeder brought a certain little "ping" moment of recognition of a real thing, common to me and them three thousand miles and whatever differences apart. It made it noticeably more familiar feeling, and I was eager for whatever came next.

Yes, in the end it will be the big connections that will make or break the story, but the little connections will help make ready the mind to tumble to the big connections, the big points perhaps, of what the story means.

There are a couple of things about this to note.

Quality of the connecting thing, observation, or insight---it matters.  
Connection: "He had that disconcerting  feeling you might get when you're picking your nose and realize you have a sharp nail."

Observation: "My God, you're a  Mess! Not only are you picking your nose but you've obviously got a bad manicure as well."

Insight: If you make a connection with that kind of observation, it's probably not going to get the reaction you were going for. Whatever that was. I mean, really...

Brevity.  Keep it short as so very many have said before. If it gets too involved, as many of mine tend to, left un-wrangled, then you will lose many people before you get the connection. That would be counter-productive, kinda like over-promoting your work to the spammy over-saturation level. The awkward moment when you realize that the other people in the room are listening to you talk about your new object of desire and looking at you like you're a stalker - which you're not, but people look at you that way with seemingly little or no provocation, just because you look, well, kinda Crazy sometimes. You know, that feeling? Oh. Yeah, me neither.

Don't push it. It's probably better if we don't announce to everyone what we're doing by shouting "Hey! You know that feeling? I wanna remind you of it so you'll feel just a little more connected to the character or situation, ok?"  Just better showmanship not to, innit? That also means I have to be careful about how often I throw those little connectors into the story. Sometimes, some of the best ones just seem to be integral to the scene, like they appeared fully formed within it. Those are the ones to keep.

Extra points - If you can make a unique and original observation or insight that is absolutely recognizable to many. Oh, and it's one that many have never consciously put to words, never defined in their own minds before and... ooh-ooh! And it's a ready-made analog to one of your themes or plot questions! Not as easy as it sounds.

Just some of what I've been thinking about small connecters in writing. 

Any favorite authors who you might've caught doing that? Any tricks you use to remember those kinds of moments or observations for later?

From Martin Scorcese's The Last Waltz - Joni Mitchell w/ The Band - "Coyote" 

In this song Joni makes it so you recognize the little observation vignettes she describes even if you've never had that

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