Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday's Children: Inspired by Frites and Fries

I know you're thinking: what the heck is she talking about? Aren't frites and fries the same thing? By definition, yes. But you never see "fries" in fancy restaurants, do you? They are always "frites."

I am using this humble food item as an analogy for--what else--writing. Frites are served on dome-lidded platters. They are perfectly crisped, not greasy, and oh so delectable. In contrast, fries are limp, soggy, cooked in old oil and served in grease-stained cardboard containers. Frites = good, fries = bad.

I started my writing career as a business writer, which at least gave me lots of experience being succinct and meeting deadlines. Naturally, I wanted to write fiction (the most fun!)  since childhood but I lacked something vital: inspiration. I quite simply didn't know what to write about.

Like most aspiring writers, I devoured frites constantly and avoided fries whenever possible. But it was a serving of fries that first inspired me. Surely, I said to myself as I threw the fries across the room, I can do better than THIS! Those lousy fries gave me the confidence to try.

Disclaimer: I know in the superstitious society of writers, we're not supposed to criticize anyone's work. Reason one is, who are we, lowly writer-worms, to judge? And two, if we diss someone, our work might be slammed in turn. Plus we know how much it hurts. OK, that said, how many of you secretly agree and have been inspired by fries not to our taste and standards of reading?

Now on to frites as inspiration. No, I never picked up Shakespeare and said, I can do better! Ha ha. But frites inspire me all the time. I love love LOVE frites. Deft description here, subtle plotting there. Atmosphere. Intrigue. Narrative drive. Heart-pounding truth. Tears. Laughter. Worlds you can dive into from page one. Characters that you don't want to relinquish at "the end." Sigh.

Frites and fries: all potatoes but some are better potatoes than others. However, tastes vary widely and other readers may feel differently.

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