Monday, April 11, 2011

The Wallflower Way


L.G.C. Smith

A lot of writers are wallflowers by nature. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but, on the whole, if a body spends too much time at the ball dancing, flirting and drinking the spiked punch, that person is going to be too tired, busy or buzzed to write about it later. However, if a body lurks along the periphery observing the dancing and revelry, that person is going to hear and see a lot of interesting things. Some might resort to thinking interesting thoughts, or even, God save us, fantasizing.

And voila. Stories.

Wallflowers are ever alert to the scent of a story. Wallflowers watch. Wallflowers listen. Wallflowers wonder.

That last bit alone separates wallflowers from the gyrating masses.

When the wallflower gets home from the dance, he or she has built up a head of creative steam that must be vented. Clouds of words and sentences issue forth from teeming brains and hearts. Since wallflowers don’t expend all their energy dancing, they have enough to fuel sitting on their (frequently wider than average) butts for the hours it takes to hone their tales.

Many people assume wallflowers are forlorn souls yearning for the chance to waltz with the most desirable lad or lassie in the ballroom. They are frequently objects of pity and scorn. Ha. Being so misunderstood only preps them to write authentic Young Adult fiction well into old age.

Besides, it’s not always true. Some wallflowers could teach the whole room to polka if so inclined. Some are accomplished dancers who could make The Terminator weep for their grace and beauty. (It could happen.) Instead, the wallflower prefers to remain incognito in order to gather material and conserve energy for writing.

Wallflowers sacrifice. Wallflowers eschew pride. Wallflowers take the road less travelled.

Writing’s a dance that rewards wallflowers. I think it highly probable that wallflowers invented writing—possibly so they would have something interesting to think about during dances at the ziggurat.

6 comments:

Sophie Littlefield said...

i could have written this post except without the loveliness :) I love that you said writing is a dance that rewards wallflowers...it's true! It's one of the only occupations that really suits the sidelines dweller, the observer, the contemplater. You and I can share the sidelines together.

Mysti said...

Lovely defense of wallflowers, Lyn.

What's to become of a half-breed like me--starting a party as a Wallflower, but often ending up a gyrating mass? I was a Gypsy child kidnapped by a roving band of Stoics.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it :)

Gigi Pandian said...

Oh yes, I definitely feel most in my element when I'm in fun places observing and capturing the spirit with my camera lens.

Rachael Herron said...

I have the kd lang song in my head now, Wallflower Waltz, which is a song I love, but not as much as I love this post.

L.G.C. Smith said...

Hey, Mysti, I like that story. I know a roving band of Stoics, but I've just been calling them my in-laws all these years...alas, they are sadly short of gypsy children.

I think most wallflower writers deign to let their wallflower persona slip in the presence of other writers. Or under certain phases of the moon coinciding with the availability of certain substances. Gigi, what do photographers do when they get together? Who performs and who observes?

There are times and places I'll dance. Family weddings, but only one dance. Usually. Stoic Husband is even more of a wallflower than I am.

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