Happy Sunday! It’s a nice day, finally one whole weekend off which I’ve taken advantage of to just write! I’ve finally began my New York essay, and it’s so exciting, particularly after finding the right form in which to tell my story. As I’ve been writing about the story over these past two days, I am determined to post by Friday, and I’ve discovered something quite useful for any writer to do. Tap back into those senses, revive your passion and inspired self of past moments in method writing. Like method acting I guess, in which by all means necessary you fully come into your starring role. I’ve realized how much of a method writer I am, not just for works like this but in my actual job too. In copywriting for a variety of trending collections, pumping yourself up means a load of Wikipedia research and web surfing. When I had to write about pineapple products I changed my desktop default to a cheery pineapple print. When it came to cats, I listened devotedly to Nyan Cat. If you want to sell a product, get as excited as you would want your consumers to get, that’s the best way I can really justify this weird approach to writing at work. Keeps you on your toes.
But now as I write about New York, there’s never enough Gershwin and Ella Fitzgerald crooning “Manhattan” with each part I pen. I’ve surrounded my desk too with all the lovely and delicate souvenirs I found over in Manhattan, too, in trying to retrace all the senses I felt when I was still there. What I love the most about New York was the idea I’ve always had of it, the place I would read about (Tree Grows in Brooklyn!) and see in old films come to life. It was a different place, of course, when I went to visit, but traces of the past lingered in the emerald trees stiff and sprawling with age, and the brownstones scattered throughout the city. And the always humming of the strangers who come and go and never stay long to realize the little impressions they’ve made on the whole of this place– that’s never changed. Romantic New York. That’s what sings to me.
Recently have become fascinated with images of Gibson Girls. It falls in place with Progressive-Era New York I love so much, and there’s just a simple elegance about their appearances and the way they’re illustrated by Charles Dana Gibson. It’s weird to think that at one point this was the standard set for the thousands of American girls, just like any celebrity of today would set those exact same standards. Nowadays beauty and ideals are projected from one individual rather than an idea, like the Gibson Girl or the 1920s Flapper Girl who would soon follow. Such a melting pot for beauty diversity and acceptance means the fading of thousands of girls looking the same, striving for the same effect as THE It girl. It’s a good thing no two girls are alike now. But for the bygone eras like this, there’s just something fascinating about them and especially how they were depicted in the media as one unique individual alone. Take a look at the illustration above by Charles Gibson of the girl at the seaside. In the caption he chose for that particular drawing, OF COURSE THERE ARE MERMAIDS, he’s setting the tone for a mystical being as this type of girl, one where’s there more that meets the eye. I like the contrast of the Gibson Girl persona, she’s a sweetheart who is all but, a working girl and free-spirit, an independent soul with graces and charm to mask her playfulness and self-ambitions.
I grew up reading about my Gibson Girls, in stories like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Anne of Green Gables. Childhood books forever stay with you, and coming of age stories like those two inspire my works today. Those classics were my YA of now, and that’s probably why, save for Harry Potter, I’m not a big fantasy reader. I praise the genre and love the idea of fantasy worlds being the prime example of the imagination at its finest, but I’ve always been about realism. In a way, it’s so easy to write about fantasy worlds that anyone can build from the ground up. I find the challenge in the real world, making the ordinary become the most fascinating stories to tell. Works like Brooklyn and Anne showed me that even the most complacent events in our small lives can give you the best material for extraordinary tales, without witches or mythical creatures all the time. I relate more to realism because it’s real, it can happen to anyone, you. There’s hope to be found, and a hope in any story is great, but one in a world that’s just around the corner from you is even greater.
Back to writing. Or maybe I’ll pick up Anne of Green Gables again?