12 January 2017
I had a special delivery on a recent (non) vacation. Three bushels of lemons were delivered to me, as I was trapped in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. My first instinct was to take these lemons, find a way to crush them, add sugar, vodka and ice and I would have a refreshing alcoholic drink that would be consumed rather quickly and ready for a second or third. However, because I was in parts of the world where we were advised to drink water from a bottle and not have any drinks with ice, my few chunks of ice made me slightly uncomfortable for the evening; not enough to make me sick, but just enough to not want to stray too far from a restroom. The beer wasn’t any better.
This takes me back to May 2016, when I was in Budapest, Hungary, and the pictures of lemonade outside of restaurants and stands near Buda Castle Hill looked really good. However, the beer was safer. Without knowing much about the beers in Hungary and Bratislava, Slovakia, they weren’t bad. And safer because water is boiled in the beer making process.
We find ourselves enveloped in being safe and being comfortable. Too much is not a good thing and that is when it’s time to step away from it all and learn how to be uncomfortable. This can be a little scary because of the unknown. It’s the unknown we need to pay attention to. There’s an experience or life lesson that will transpire.
When considering putting pen to paper it’s easy to write “safe.” We are comfortable in settings. Characters live, breathe and move around comfortably; at least for a while. However, we’ve all heard the saying write what you know. At this time what I know is that I am outside of my comfortable space and this is a time when any characters I create have to learn, discover, and experience something never encountered before. Perhaps it’s a fear of being vulnerable. Take advantage of that vulnerability and listen to the fear that can help with your writing.
Those lemons could be lemonade. Or perhaps they become a mushy mess of pulp that leaves a mangled lemon left behind. What I begin to understand is that I don’t want to make the standard lemonade. I want to create something new, something different with the lemons. It will be trial and error to concoct something new, but the end result will be enjoyable. Pushing beyond boundaries, moving beyond safe and comfortable, makes us, and our characters, stronger in the end. Whatever drink you end up with, pour it into your favorite glass, find a comfy chair or sit outside to soak in the sun and enjoy what you have created.