A Little Something Different

Monday, August 15, 2011

This is my tree - the one in my backyard, specifically. (Please ignore my trashcan next to the pile of what would be a picnic table had the kit not been missing its braces.) When I first moved into my house a few years ago, this tree had issues. It had a weak limb, so I had to remove it to save the tree. The space left behind when that limb was excised created this image.

I'm not Catholic, none of my immediate family is Catholic, but everyone who sees my tree says the same thing, which is some variation of "That looks like Mary!" (or St. Mary or the Virgin Mary, or whatever the given viewer's qualifier is).

(ETA, one of them shaded in what they say they see to make it clearer, and to be honest, now it's all I can see when I look at my tree, too. Here's that version... yes, before anyone says anything THIS ONE IS PHOTOSHOPPED. Most people wouldn't question that, but there's always someone who thinks they're funny. )

So what does that have to do with writing or books or anything else? Not much, honestly, but I think it's unusual and interesting, and if I must tie this into something useful in the writing world, it's a metaphor. If I'd left the diseased limb on the tree, the tree would have still looked okay. It probably would have been strong enough to live for years, but by cutting off a seemingly good bit of the tree, something completely different became clear. Sure, it's just the way the wood snapped, but it's still nice to look at, and it gives my tree character it didn't have before -- editing books can be the same way.

Maybe what you've got works, but if you cut out the weakest portion, then you may find something completely unexpected that will take you places and directions you never imagined.

8 Chiming In:

Ishta Mercurio said...

Ah, great post!

I know what you mean about cutting out the weakest portion taking the story somewhere you never thought of. It's a shame that we can't see where it's going to take us ahead of time - revision would be so much less painful!

Kathryn Elliott said...

I suppose perception is all in the eye of the beholder. Revisions, cuts…any way you slice it, (sorry – unintentional pun), tossing away work can be a tough pill to swallow, but sometimes it’s the only way to keep your MS healthy. Great post!

Suzie F. said...

Well, I'm not seeing Mary (and I am Catholic) but when I enlarge your pic and squint my eyes, I can see about 5 different faces. Though, I'm one of those people who can spot a face in any design or texture, lol.

I agree. Pruning can be difficult but it can really help a story to bloom.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Never underestimate my ability to make anything into a metaphor! Bwa haa haa!

@Suzie F -- I'm actually happy to hear that. It's easy to "see" something after someone else says they see it, which I'm fairly certain has a lot to do with the number of people professing to see the same thing.

I'm going to add a second version of this picture where someone drew in what it is they think they see.

Michael Seese said...

Isn't that what writing is all about? Looking at something ordinary--be it a tree, a building, a puddle, or a spider--and seeing something else, something more, something wondrous within it?


Josin L. McQuein said...

EXACTLY! That's what's so wonderful about writing a novel. You can show someone something they've seen a million times and completely turn it on its head so that they see it in a whole new way.

It's limitless. And that moment where the reader finally sees the twist is priceless.

suzie townsend said...

Oh my gosh! I wonder if you could sell your tree on ebay :)

Josin L. McQuein said...

:/ I'd laugh if not for the relatives who think someone's going to try and enshrine the poor thing at some point. :/

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