Friday, November 23, 2012

Going Global



On Monday, Sharon, Katy and I met with Megan Sayer for lunch in Old Sacramento. Megan is a regular reader of Novel Matters and comments often on our posts, and she  had come all the way from Tasmania (not just to see us).  We spent a delightful afternoon together before she headed for colder climates. Here we are:


It’s so interesting to get a glimpse of your culture through someone else's eyes.  The pumpkin that Megan is holding was one such glimpse.  Pumpkins are a symbol of autumn, harvest, Halloween and Thanksgiving in the U.S. When I see them on display, I get all warm and fuzzy.  They call up visions of chilly autumn evenings by the fire, the family around a Thanksgiving table, carving jack-o-lanterns with my kids, and remind me that the holidays are coming!  Megan was a bit amused by them. They are just vegetables in her experience. She asked what we would think if we saw a potato sitting on someone's porch.  I had to admit, it would seem pretty silly without the experience that went along with it. After all, Tasmania is just coming into summer right now. The weather channel shows a high of 60s to 70 degrees (fahrenheit). Makes perfect sense!

Though our time together was brief, our discussion got me thinking about how many of our personal experiences get included in our writing under the assumption that they are commonly held beliefs.  They could be family traditions, or the expressions of regional or national holidays, for example.  I recently read Alan Bradley's Flavia deLuce mysteries and really enjoyed the setting (both in time period and location) and the stories made sense, but I can't say that I 'got' it all. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this, unless the plot turns on what we perceive as a common experience, and we lose our readers.  

My takeaway is to see through more of a global lens whenever possible in my writing. Does any of this post-Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) rambling ring a bell with anyone? We'd love to hear.



9 comments:

SharonK Souza said...

Debbie, thanks for sharing about our visit with Megan. We had such a blast. It was humorous and interesting to compare cultural habits and practices with her. And it was awesome getting to know her!

Latayne C Scott said...

Jealous!!!!

Megan Sayer said...

Haha! I didn't expect to see a photo of me on Novel Matters today!
Thanks again for lunch Debbie (and Katy and Sharon). I had such a wonderful time! And in your honour I will put a pumpkin on my porch next April, which is our pumpkin season. I might need to print this post out to explain it to the neighbours though :)

Kathleen Popa said...

Or you can go home now and put a can of pumpkin on your porch. And offer no explanation at all.

It was a wonderful visit. What an honor to be part of your visit, Megan.

Kathleen Popa said...

Oops. Not that you should go home now. But when you GET home...

It's late. Good night.

Karen Schravemade said...

How fun!! Loving these anecdotes. And Debbie, great takeaway. As an Aussie attempting to write for the American market, my crit partners are constantly pulling me up on things I say that I had no idea were Aussie-isms not understandable to the wider world. :-)

Latayne C Scott said...

Now I know why I awakened one morning last week with a craving for Vegemite. Really. Must have been fellowship pains.

(And yes, I had some in the fridge...Vegemite, that is; not pains.)

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Being international is EXTREMELY important to me. I have lived on 3 continents and absorbed enough of each culture to not fit into any. Canada is a great place for this. Those who emigrated as adults feel like complete strangers. The children feel divided, anxious to integrate and then disloyal and suffer anxiety from being different from their parents. There are thousands of compelling, poignant stories to be told!
I am fascinated by the adaptability of humans. Start with the mind blowing diversity of cultures that seem so entrenched to the people who have not moved out of them, and think of the complexities of adaptations made when even two cultures meet. Think of all those cultures mixing and mingling in heaven! Only God has MIND big enough to comprehend. One more reason to worship Him.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

It sounds like a story you need to tell, Henrietta. :)