Life can throw us curve-balls. In baseball I’ve seen hitters knees buckle trying to judge a curveball’s trajectory. I saw Phil Niekro throw the exaggerated Eephus pitch to Glenn Davis of the Astros. Davis knocked it a country mile – his patience paid-off.
There’s an old saw about making lemonade out of lemons – when life gives them to you. In life, a good recipe for proverbial lemons is necessary. Can you think on your feet in the middle of ongoing challenges?
Perspective is a necessity whether handling lemons or hitting curveballs. But while these can be tricky how about when life brings you something more serious? Perspective becomes a car spinning wheels in the mud in the middle of big things.
On April 27, 2011 tornados of massive proportions struck Alabama. A morning squall-line of rain carried “smaller” embedded tornados. An EF3 tornado literally went through the backyard. A few feet from our deck, a tree-top was broken off about forty feet high. Trees came down from adjoining property. Other trees in the backyard were tossed to the ground – big trees. Destruction stretched from our deck back about one hundred feet. Amazingly, the deck furniture never moved and the shed remained intact.
That was the first wave of storms that day. Afternoon and evening weather spun-up three EF5 tornados up to a mile wide. These storms suck up pavement, scour structures to the ground and carried debris as far as Tennessee and North Georgia – from Tuscaloosa. The Tuscaloosa tornado may be one of the most videoed tornados ever – check them out on YouTube. The storm ran from the Mississippi-Alabama state line almost without leaving the ground until entering North Georgia. I had always heard about such a storm running from Missouri to Indiana in mile-wide devastation but we lived it that day. Hundreds died across the state and one such tale among thousands is recounted here.
The house was surrounded by downed trees. After a tornado literally rumbles past your back windows your nerves are jangled. Gaining perspective is difficult in the widespread destruction.
Many lessons were learned from that day. Helmets of any kind could have save more lives so now we keep them ready. Affording a generator and keeping emergency supplies are important since we were almost six days without power. Safe rooms and community shelters were constructed soon after. Who knows, maybe newer homes will have higher construction standards.
A major change in life can be like these storms. Changes are forced. Lessons can be learned. But these take perspective and it can be hard to come by in the heat of the moment. These types of events are emotionally taxing. Who you are comes out. How you will be changed will begin in your thoughts and actions almost immediately as perspective grows from your reactions and choices.
As writers, how are we affected with storms. Are we backing up files or waiting for disaster? I’ve written for several hours only to lose the text when the word processor locks up. Perspective becomes necessary as I tried to re-construct what I had written.
How about that re-write that requires shredding most of the original draft to bits. It’s daunting and disheartening to face the prospect of such major lifting.
We needed a bulldozer to remove all the trees – it was like structural editing. Then we could rebuild the fence and approach other repairs around the house – which were like other forms of editing. You get impatient for everything to be finished and life to get back to normal. Each accomplishment becomes a milestone – from fence restored to roof repaired and grass growing in the yard again. So it is with each kind of edit until the writing project resembles something readable – and worthy of publication. It takes patience born of perspective, seasoned with skills learned, faith in the work, hope and determination.
Character and Characters
Storms bring out the worst and best in people. Hopefully, deeper character is forged out of extreme trials. Decision-making and skills can be honed. But also injuries are suffered and the emotions must heal.
It’s the same thing with our story characters. How will a proverbial storm in their lives build character? How will they react to extreme difficulty? How will they be injured? What emotional damage will they suffer and how will they find resolution? A battle is lost and survivors must rally. A kingdom is lost and shock ensues. Characters don’t just move on without a struggle to gain traction through perspective. It doesn’t happen overnight. People are tied to their surroundings whether they realize it or not. How do soldiers react? these are all important questions to be considered when writing. Mythic Scribes posted an interesting article about war by Aaron Prince that brings home similar realities and details to consider.
Take some time, consider your twists and storms. Learn from editing so the task is easier next time. What storms, curveballs and lemons have you experienced in life or while writing ? Can you use them to strike a nerve with your readers? Please share your experiences & thoughts in the comments section. Also, take time to follow me on Twitter, Facebook and even sign up to follow my blog via email. I’ll be making announcements over the next several weeks about my progress and plans toward publication and I welcome you on the journey.
Thanks for reading and visit often,