First off I want to mention this contest giving away an Arc of The Liar Society, a book I am anxious to read. If I am lucky I won’t have to wait until its release date. Go over to Jill Scribbles blog and enter to win. Maybe you will be the lucky one. (Poo on you) Better hurry, contest ends tomorrow!
On to my phlegm. I have a cold. Not a terrible one, just a run of the mill cold consisting of but not limited to: pressure against my facial orifices (oddly from the inside out), itchy eyes, tickly throat and infestation. You know, that obnoxious white trash green guy who thinks he can just go ahead and make himself at home in people’s lungs.
Anyway, I am on day four. Last night I was popping cough drops like they were my kid’s Valentine Day candy and I woke this morning feeling like a menthol breathing dragon with acid spewing from its nostrils. (Yea, you like that image? Your welcome.☺) I stumbled for the tissue box but before I reached it I became alarmed by this lump on the roof of my mouth. ‘Oh my God, what the heck is that?’ I pushed it with my tongue and it fell. Apparently my un-dissolved cough drop affixed itself there and conveniently dispersed little droplets of menthol down my throat throughout the night. Clever! I might be on to something here! Aaaaand I have sort of gone off on a tangent here. I forgot what the point was. *checks title of post*
I was in my car, taking my kids to school when I felt a disturbance in my tummy. I pictured the menthol and acid mucus engrossed in an epic battle at the bottom of my otherwise empty stomach. My gag reflex became instantly alarmed. You see, Gag, thinks the best solution is to just rid the stomach of such offenders. I protested. Enter Post Nasal Drip. They both took turns flicking my uvula.
I swallowed hard.
Gag and Drip went down kicking and screaming.
Oh wow, that was disgusting.
I dropped the tykes off and was thanked for not vomiting in the car.
As I drove off a thought occurred. Well, more like a scene played out:
My inner therapist is in his leather, wing-backed chair and I am lying on the couch. I have just told him (yes, my inner therapist is a stereotypical older man) what I’ve so kindly told you.
“Mmhmm, okay, hmm. And how does that make you feel?” he asks. I tell him. “Most interesting. Now tell me more, dig deeper.”
So I dug deeper. And ignored the growing look of disgust that spread across my therapist’s face.
I dug deeper still as he pressed his fingers against his lips as to suppress the urge to vomit. After all the guy is in fact me and I tend to be overly expressive. When I finished I looked up at him expectantly.
“That was, how shall I put this, vivid. Vivid and grotesque,” he said. I smiled. “So, how can we use these colorful details to better your characters’ experiences?” he asked.
“Well, I guess I can give greater detail to when my character is sick.” Wasn’t that obvious, I thought.
He sighed. “Yes, but I was hoping you’d think a little outside the box.”
“I’m sorry. The only thing that comes to mind is Taco Bell.” My tummy gurgled.
“That is ‘Outside the Bun’ you ridiculous moron,” he growled. “I am deeply embarrassed for you.” He rubbed his fingers against his temples.
“You ARE me, JERK!” That’ll show him.
“You’re right, I apologize. I am a jerk.” He smiled at me and I felt as though I was bested, but I wasn’t sure how. “This is what I was hoping to get from you,” he continued. “Think of other circumstances where someone might feel relatively like you do now.”
“You mean, like when I am nervous. Or super stressed. Or maybe heartbroken. Or if I had a huge fight with someone I care about…? Right?” I checked his expression for approval.
“Yes, good, good.” He nodded then leaned forward. “If any of these things are pivotal to the plot and journey of your character the reader needs to deeply connect. It is your job to paint these emotions on the page so that they leap out at the reader in all their glory and vivid grotesqueness. The reader must feel what your character feels. And since the vast majority of readers have yet to be involved in an epic battle where the fate of the world rests on their teenage shoulders, it is also your job to make these feelings somewhat relatable.” He smiled as he watched the light bulb turn on over my head.
“Ergo my acid snot belly,” I said excitedly.
“Exactly.” He tapped my chest and instantly dissolved into myself.
Back on the road I reflected on two things. First I was thankful I didn’t cause a fiery crash and was still on course toward my destination. Second, everything that happens to me, however insignificant, can be used to better my writing. This, of course, is not a new revelation. We, as writers, have been told this before. But I usually concern myself with the happenings of others when looking for inspiration. I’ve been told it can be helpful for my writing to keep a detailed journal. Yet I never got around to it. My life is boring. It didn’t seem relevant to the exciting life of my characters.
My phlegm story was my EUREKA moment.
*So, am I the only one that took having an acid snot belly to realize the relevance of journaling?
*Can anyone else tell me about an event that could help the reader connect with your MC?
*Was anyone deeply disturbed by my descriptions of mucus? Too bad, you read a post that had the word phlegm in it! Lol! Just kidding. Thank you for reading. ☺