Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fermentation--a writer's brain

My son, an unreasonably accomplished 20 something who had been married almost 2 years, used to make beer. The “used to” part may have something to do with being married, living in 700 sq feet and all the equipment beer making requires, especially while it is fermenting. Webster’s defines fermentation this way: a. state of agitation or of turbulent change or development, b. an agent that precipitates or is capable of precipitating such a state; a catalyst.

That process of fermentation, the mysterious state when sugars and other carbohydrates are transformed into alcohol has always reminded me of the process that happens in a writer’s brain in that turbulent change from catalyst to idea. Sometimes the process takes a very long time.

As promised in last week’s post I’m going to introduce to the first character in Beyond the Door, my MG novels that debuts in March, and share a little of my fermentation process. In 2009 we visited Oxford, England. Our daughter Claire was studying at St Edmund’s Hall. Of course we had to visit.  In one of Oxford's ancient churches I looked up into the shadowy rafters and there was a face staring down at me. It wasn’t any ordinary human face, but eyebrows curled in tendrils, leafs sprouted from hair and vines curled from mouth. Nothing like the commercial garden art, this face looming in the shadows was scary, unpredictable, not safe.  I was still carrying the surprise of this face with me when I left the church and encountered the second catalyst.

I began to wonder what it would be like to have my skin split and turn to bark, leaves sprout from my head, vines push their way up my throat. The character wouldn’t leave me alone. The Greenman was reinforced by own yard where huge, rough-barked trees, eighty years-old or more, stare at me every day.  And thus he was born, unpredictable, shapeshifting, not quite safe and animated by hundreds of years of mythology.

And now for the news update:
SciFi guy, have your heard anything yet?
Quieter than conversation on Mars?
The Martian atmospheric pressure is about 0.006 ATM, so it would be hard to hear anything
How about you?
Nothing. I think New York takes the whole month of August off.

Stay tuned….



Sechin Tower said...

Great metaphor for the development stage of writing. I usually say something about germinating seeds, but the beer sounds much more inviting!

Keep us posted on the state of things!

Maureen McQuerry said...

Thanks, Sechin. The post originally had photos but tech glitch caused by me resulted in things going wormy and I was away hiking at Mt. Rainier. So no pictures of the actual Greenman faces, but they exist in old churches throughout England.

Stephen Wallenfels said...

There may be something to this fermentation concept. I suggest a new category to the list of addiction support groups: IA, as in Imaginators Anonymous. Oh, the stories we could tell...