Writing Practice and Meeting up with your Muse
Writing Leap #68
Delve into how your character relates to the natural world and see how you can evoke deeper aspects of his personality. Maybe he’s an obsessive recycler, a passion that comes from his relationship with his mother who refused to recycle anything. Or maybe your character scoffs at the idea of global warming because she’s a very conservative thinker. As with other grand issues like religion, love relationships, power struggles, your character’s take on the environment can reveal much about how he maneuvers through your story.
Gilly was happy to be an assistant counselor at Junior Environmentalists Camp for a hundred reasons. She loved that the campers and staff picked their way through the woods like she did, breathing in the oxygen offered by the trees, breathing out carbon dioxide to send back to them. She loved using electric lights and computers sparingly. She loved teaching her little campers not to pick the wildflowers. “Enjoy them where they grow! Aren’t they beautiful?” She was part of a huge commitment to revere the environment and the feeling of belonging to this little community assured her that she measured up, that she was on the right side of things and that consequently she was an appealing person.
Gilly also loved Jake, a fellow counselor. They shared the same birthday, July 29, when they both turned fifteen. They gave each other “Surviving in the Wilderness” manuals for presents. They had both read The Legacy of Luna, The Story of a Tree, a Woman and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods.
But Gilly had a shameful secret that burned in her stomach and chest. She was terrified of bugs. She couldn’t help it and she was in constant fear that some one would find out. One day in the woods with Jake and their campers she felt something crawling up her leg. Ugh! Involuntarily she slapped off a large, green, pokey thing, Ugh, and then squished it with her sneaker. She looked down. It squirmed. Then it didn’t. Dead.
“Oh,” she said. She felt her mortification pop out all over her. “I don’t know why I did that, I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“That was bad, Gilly,” Jake said backing away from her. “What did that bug ever do to you?”
He turned his back and walked away. The campers followed him. First they looked at Gilly in disbelief, then, Gilly could sense it, with disdain.
She was a fraud. For sure Jake thought so now. She had no business being in this camp. She was shallow compared to every other person here. Gilly flushed red and wished she could melt right into the leafy path and disappear.
Note: I could never just leave this story here. I would have Gilly find her gumption and most of all her sense of self-worth some other way and she would triumph inside herself!
Happy summer writing everyone. A perfect time to find your muse outdoors somewhere.
LINKING THE ARTS
Julia Butterfly Hill lived on a platform in a redwood tree for 738 days to protest the clearcutting of a grove of giant redwood trees in California. And then she wrote about it.