Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Entry # 169 – “What's The Difference?”

What do you notice in your world?  Do you tend to see similarities or do you dwell upon differences? Writers tend to notice the details of similarities and differences, whether watching and listening to people, or whether they are thinking about objects.  Details of the senses are essential elements to consider and notice if you want to write. And if you want to read good fiction or nonfiction, you expect the writer to look closely and offer readers a fresh take on the world.

For example, here is a luscious photograph of mangoes.
Photo by Jim Wilson
And below it is a photograph of lovely avocados, both taken from a close study.  If you were to describe them, how would you do this?  Would you focus on the similar physical appearance of color and shape? How would you help someone who had never seen or tasted either,  know what the experience of seeing, touching, and yes, tasting these is like?
Externally, mangoes have a 'pinkish hue' and the skin is a paler shade of green, suggesting that the skin is thinner than the rugged avocados in the bowl below.  If you painted this difference, rather than writing or photographing these how would you arrange them? And if you write about them, what would you focus upon.
Photo by Alex Dunn

Or - would you think it more appropriate to consider the more subtle, tangible and interior ways that avocados differ from mangoes?  You would need to cut one of each open and taste it, smell it and then describe it. Having done that, then - upon what do you focus? Perhaps, differences are likely to be more interesting than similarities. And if you are writing fiction - that is an essential thing to consider.  But I can't help but wonder, what the heck are avocados and mangoes doing in your work? Do they have some purpose to help connect something essential to some larger element in the work? Perhaps they are metaphors of some type or not. Maybe they just are what they seem to be. Something for lunch.

I am reminded that in Susan Sontag's essays "On Photography" she noted that... "The disconcerting ease with which photographs can be taken...suggests a very tenuous relation to knowing."  And words - to connect - to the objects around us are necessary if we are to know more, know deeper, know with the cognitive and emotional parts of ourselves, for as E. M. Forster and others have said, "The writer's task is to only connect."
About Jan Bowman 
Jan Bowman’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review and others. Glimmer Train named a recent story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers. Another story won the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, and her stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, Pen/O’Henry Awards. A recent story was a finalist in the 2013 Phoebe Fiction Contest; another was a 2012 finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. Learn more at or   visit blog:

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