Dry Umbrellas: A New Turn of Phrase

There was a good bit of exhaustion-fueled hilarity at the day-job, yesterday. Some very interesting conversations. The regular overnight associate, with whom I worked most of a 17-hour shift, is a fount of such quality material.

Last night's story was about her elementary-aged son. He has a backpack that he takes to school each day with a full compliment of "survivalist" supplies. A bottle of water, a utility knife, gloves, umbrella, cell phone with emergency phone numbers, that sort of thing. Earlier this week, her boy returned home from school absolutely drenched. Wearing a thin jacket not designed to keep one dry, the boy was saturated with water. And pulled his umbrella out from inside his jacket as he stepped inside.

The umbrella was closed, and safely dry, tucked against his torso. I imagine the boy had a passing thought at how useless an umbrella was in the rain, for keeping one dry.
A hilarious example of how having the right tools at the right time (an umbrella, when it's raining) is only one small part of success. Knowing how to use those tools (he knew to get the umbrella OUT of his backpack, obviously) is only part of the battle. You also have to weigh the benefits and consequences, and make use of the tool properly. Over time, you learn to wield the tool with a unique flair all your own. Functionality gives way to art.

It seems apparent that he didn't want to get his umbrella wet. For whatever reason seemed utterly logical to him. It's been too many years since I was that age, I couldn't begin to hypothesize. Well I could, but I'll leave it to your imagination. We were all elementary-aged, at one time (just the very distant past for most of us, I'd wager.)

This concept, though, is applicable to the writer and the writing.
The tools are there, and through the course of trial and error a writer learns which are best applied to what situations, and how best to implement them to greatest effect. Few children understand the importance of an umbrella in a torrential downpour until they've been uncomfortably saturated in one. Few writers appreciate the role depth and development of character plays in a story, until they've read a "chicks with dicks" story and been disgusted by the shallow identity that they can't relate to and the inconsistent character facets.

Or worse yet, perhaps, written one.

I loathe that conceptual phrase though. Gender identity of a given character, and the quirks and foibles that make them unique, is autonomous of physical gender. If a certain character has "traditionally feminine characteristics" and manifests as male physically, that does not preclude them from being a rich contributor to the quality of the story. Likewise, female-presenting characters that demonstrate "traditionally masculine characteristics."

Let us leave gender out of the discussion of quality writing, or how the lack of such tends to manifest.
Going forward, I will call these "Dry Umbrellas."

Comments

  1. I loathe that conceptual phrase though. Gender identity of a given character, and the quirks and foibles that make them unique, is autonomous of physical gender. If a certain character has "traditionally feminine characteristics" and manifests as male physically, that does not preclude them from being a rich contributor to the quality of the story. Likewise, female-presenting characters that demonstrate "traditionally masculine characteristics."

    Yes. This.

    Lol. The umbrella story is cute. Poor little soakin' wet dude. Gotta love the little ones. :)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Anonymous commenting is enabled. However, I reserve the right to censor content that is not civil and respectful. Discussions are welcome and encouraged. Attacking is not.