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Sparkly Stuff

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I went to lunch with a friend from work this afternoon. We’re both the kind of people who can multitask while carrying on a conversation. So as she was talking (about our mutual obsession with Vincent d’Onofrio), I was filling in the tip amount and signing the credit card receipt.

Suddenly, I interrupted Lori with, “Ooh, the ink is sparkly!” Of course I immediately apologized for interrupting, adding, “I get distracted by sparkly stuff.”

Some of you who know me may find that statement somewhat odd. I dress casually—wearing jeans to work almost every day of the week; I wear only a few pieces of understated jewelry; I don’t drive a flashy car; and I’m not someone who thinks the person with the most “bling” on in the room is necessarily the most interesting.

After a little self-analysis, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not necessarily sparkly that distracts me so much as unexpected details. Who expects to be signing a credit card receipt at Red Lobster in aqua ink with glitter in it? But now I’m determined to find out if they make a pen with purple sparkly ink.

It’s this same flaw in my otherwise logical, focused mind that leads me to want to include all of the “sparkly” bits of research I come across—whether it’s how a Regency dinner party was served and what they ate, the minute details of a character’s costume, or using period-authentic nautical terminology, which none of my readers will understand.

I get distracted from the forward progress of the story by the “sparkly stuff.”

When I was in high school, my tenth grade English class coined a saying that stuck with us for the next two years: “That’s so brown ink.” This meant something was stupid, ridiculous, or beneath us. Why? Because when our teacher read the instructions for the standardized state assessment tests aloud to us, he found it amusing that only black or blue ink was acceptable. “As everyone knows,” he said, “only the uneducated use brown ink.”

But now, twenty years later, I ask: what’s wrong with brown ink? or purple? or green? or aqua with sparkles? Sure, they can be harder to read, don’t scan/copy well, and aren’t “standard.” But they sure are fun.

I guess what I’m saying is that the sparkly stuff, the brown ink, is wonderful . . . in its appropriate place. But too much sparkly stuff becomes overwhelming, too bright, too distracting.

So I’m going to go to Staples tonight and try to find that sparkly purple pen. Then the next time I’m working on revisions, I can mark all of the details that are there just because I got distracted by them and get rid of them.

Well, most of them, anyway.

6 Comments
  1. Thursday, October 4, 2007 4:51 pm

    What a great analogy! As you know, I’m partial to the sparkly bits of historical research myself. Perhaps I need a red sparkly pen. 🙂

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  2. Friday, October 5, 2007 3:43 pm

    They do make sparkly purple ink pens! I used to have one, but it ran out of ink. Made me very sad.

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  3. Saturday, October 6, 2007 11:37 am

    I love this post, Kaye!

    I recently got a pen that not only writes in lilac, it smells like lilac. (Sensuous) It reminds me of Legally Blonde when she leaves her resume with her professor and it’s not only in her signature pink, but it’s scented (which of course we know doesn’t work with agents and editors…ha.)

    Anyway, it is a surprising little tidbit about you, to be delighted in the unexpected. (which you need to tuck this blog and your self-discovery into your building of your brand.)

    I like it! (And note that you also appreciated the teacher’s humor and thinking outside the box.)

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  4. Sunday, October 7, 2007 6:35 pm

    Sparkly 😀 Ahhh I have a soft spot for sparkly. Figure Skating, I get my competition dresses made and I do the stone work and they get to be sparkly 😀 My little bit indulgence since normally I’m pretty subdued 😀

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  5. Tiger Lily permalink
    Tuesday, October 9, 2007 5:01 pm

    Just let me say that we all get distracted by those things that “sparkle”, but it is the glimpses into ourselves that we find the most sparkling! Of course my pens are sparkle in the colors of the PLAINS! Orange and Blue!

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