Monday, February 6, 2012

What Jelly Bellies can Teach us About Writing

Yes, Jelly Bellies. Those little, glorious jewels of unabashed flavor. I'm currently resisting the urge to nosh on the little buggers, since some horrid demon decided to bring some into my home...okay, I'm not really complaining, but still--they might be gone by tomorrow.

Just saying.

Anyway, back to the subject. Now, my personal favorite are the Belly Flops--the little mistaken buggers that don't meet the quality control standards. Today, I found a triple watermelon, and nearly shat. I've always loved the watermelons, just because they're red on the inside, green on the outside--like a watermelon. Amazing, the things that inspire me to write these blog posts, isn't it? I'm sure we'll be talking about lessons from cat crap, next week.

Back to the jelly beans. Aside from the obvious lesson--higher quality equals more money--there's something deeper. As a reader, I (and, I believe, most people) will reread a good book over, and over, and over, and I (and I also believe most people are like this) like to be surprised when I reread. Give me something deeper, something that only slowly savoring your book can reveal--like biting a watermelon Jelly Belly in half instead of just gobbling it up.

As a writer, that means we should strive to include thee things in our books. If there's a fresh layer to be had the second time, you've written a very good book. If a reader still finds new, tasty bits after a fifth reading, you've written a downright great book. If, after ten, twenty, fifty readings, you can still captivate your reader--well, I bow at the altar of you.

The Belly Flops themselves are also a lesson on wastefullness--your mistakes, if they're well-crafted mistakes--will be accepted. Don't just give up because your story isn't what you want--somewhere, at least one thing is salvageable, often the whole thing. Show it love and you'll have a very pretty mistake--like a Belly Flop.

Now you can return to your lives--my psychotic rambling is over for the day.

Peace, love, and chicken grease,

NOTE: Jelly Belly and Belly Flops are registered and trademarked by the Jelly Belly Candy Company.

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