exercises in style

In our writing workshop we were asked to take a quiet, mundane, every day task and repeat it twelve different ways. We were challenged to experiment with voice, perspective, character, seriality, and genre style. The theme that stuck with me was gardening and related Botanical Endeavors (so it is called).

I wanted to address the internal, solitary act of gardening and the study of plants but also to look at the flipside – interactions and relationships, seed exchanges and community gardening, etc. I know that these things are often considered a feminine pursuit so I was sure to include male perspectives.* These were not necessary to the actions the characters took (except perhaps a single story, which was rooted in a female perspective) but were more or less used so that it wasn’t assumed that flowers and gardening were only woman’s pursuits. That was important to me. I also wanted the characters to seem race neutral (or at least left it up to the reader so they could apply their own assumptions if they chose) because there shouldn’t be any reason that any person from a multicultural perspective would perform these actions and think these thoughts differently from any other. These are all things that I think about and are behind the writing but that you wouldn’t necessarily get on the first reading.

A few pieces felt more complete than others, a few were not fully worked out yet. I’ll post some of them in the coming week or two. If anyone wants to give constructive criticism that would be great.

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*I have been thinking and talking about gender a lot lately, especially the fluidity of gender/sex/sexuality. Its been more at the forefront of my mind because of the very vocal struggles of a few friends that have been bubbling up in recent months as well as the base level discussions we’ve been having in my women’s studies service learning course. I have been reminded almost daily that this isn’t something that everyone understands at a fundamental  (yet?) and that the duality of gender is still pretty much taken as the assumed norm in average society. I considered a pronoun neutral or trans POV but didn’t want it to seem forced or distracting from the rest of the story, which is really what is important in this exercise. I think this will be something I look at more in future revisions and work. There is something about reading and writing short fiction that is constantly calling attention to gendered pronouns (both unnoticed and unavoidable at the same time). I don’t know yet if using terms like “perself” will constantly disrupt the readers’ flow and become more pronounced than is really necessary. Should there be more of a push in writing to reflect this, making it a more common case? Where does it start? When reading flash fiction is it always even necessary to assert the gender of the protagonist?

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