Writing Right with Dmitri: Noticing the Odd
It's that time of year when we tend to ignore the doom-and-gloom news and think about odd things. It's a good idea for writers: the more we notice oddities, the more likely we are to be able to encourage lateral thinking in our readers. People need to do this, particularly in an age when mass social media are herding participants into the 'me too' mentality.
Here are some stories I noticed today:
- The inhabitants of eastern Iceland have been on Facebook complaining about the weatherman. No, they don't mind the cold, they're Icelanders. But the guy keeps standing in front of East Iceland, and they can't see the map. 'Scattered white shirt and a suit in the east tomorrow,' was one comment.
- An off-duty Turkish policeman assassinated a Russian diplomat at an art gallery opening in Ankara. That was a terrible event. But a photographer captured the whole thing. Do I think he was brave? Sure. But my thought was, Paul Ekman will want those photos for his collection. Paul Ekman is the scientist who studies facial expressions. He'll want to take a good look at that shooter.
- NASA have grown lettuce in space.
- Scientists are firing lasers at antimatter.
- Somebody's built the world's smallest radio based on two atoms in a diamond crystal. And what did they play on it? A schlocky Christmas tune.
You get the idea. The imagination starts working overtime. What about a short story based on an Icelandic weather forecaster? Ground Hog Day or close encounter up in the Arctic Circle? An essay musing on what photographers see through their lenses? A story or poem entitled 'Space Salad'? (Or a Gheorgheniplex cartoon?) A Guide Entry on the history of tiny radio building as a hobby? It was a big thing in the 1920s. I remember a picture of one in a peanut shell. . . The list goes on.
Why is it good to notice the odd? Mass movements are mundane. They're just what everybody thinks they're doing. Change and progress come from the unusual. Those odd bits? They're the faint stirrings of what might become, given time and room to grow. Pay attention, writers. You might be onto something.
And somewhere down the road, somebody in the future might look back and say, 'Hey! That writer was ahead of her/his time.'
Meanwhile, enjoy these headlines from UPI:
- 'Pagan minister' who fought to wear horns in photo receives Maine ID (with photo)
- Rhinos in South Africa charge tour group (How much?)
- New Zealand police officer targeted in sheep 'assault' (Wash your mind out: the sheep assaulted the New Zealander.)
- Baby Jesus thief wrote statue was 'neglected' by Joseph and Mary (She turned it in at the hospital. She ended up in jail. They didn't appreciate the joke in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.)
- Merry Christ-hiss: Woman finds deadly snake imitating tinsel on her tree (Shame on that snake.)
- Obama staffers prank president with window-peeping snowmen (Yes. There are photos.)
You don't have to be a media victim. Have fun in the webverse.