Kate Flora: We’ve just completed our three-day marathon drive to Florida, where we will spend the next month walking on the beach, going on bike rides, and mostly doing what we always do–writing–in a new venue. Yesterday we visited with relatives whose TV was always on, and the constant news and videos of the war in Ukraine were so deeply depressing and worrying that it was hard to even notice that outside, birds were chirping and the sun was shining and a pleasing breeze was rustling the palm fronds.
I was thinking about an antidote to such news, not to hide from it but to balance it, and how we all need some leavening after two years of the pandemic. I’m still mostly masked, and still startled when I see the lower halves of people’s faces. Those losses, of social connection and even of smiles, make me think about going forward. .After 70 years of dressing carefully (mostly in black), following the rules, eating my fruits and vegetables, and trying to be a good citizen, I want a bit more color in my world. I want to laugh more. I want more amusement. That leads me to whimsy.
I’ve written here before about the importance, for writers, of slowing down and looking around and seeing the world around us. One of the good things that world has to offer, if we’re willing to notice, are small, amusing things that can lighten our days.
I am always looking for signs, not signs from the universe but signs on walls and on posts that make me smile.
Sometimes whimsy arises not from what we see but what we do. These five authors in chef’s hats, Katy Munger, Taffy Cannon Gary Phillips, Lise McClendon, and me, became the imaginary writer, Thalia Filbert, for our group novel about a serial killer of famous TV chefs, Beat, Slay, Love.
More whimsy came into play when I was invited to submit a story to The Obama Inheritance. I am always grateful for the opportunity to be nudged out of my usual writing slot and challenged to write something new.
So, in observation, and in writing, sometimes we need a bit of whimsy to offset the troubled state of reality. And yes, this from someone who writes very dark, very gritty books.
Do you seek out whimsy? Does it find you?