Day 17: Weathering

Day seventeen, I mightily regret this rhyming scheme…

But poor live choices aside, day seventeen! Look at us go!

It’s about this time of year that the passage of time suddenly becomes a bizarrely tangible yet incomprehensible concept (HOW is it almost 2022?!) and you get to thinking about, y’know, EXISTENCE and stuff. All that we’ve been through the past year (or two). What next year might be like. How we’ve changed in that time. What things will look like five, ten, twenty years from now…

OOF. Time, huh? What a headfuck.

But while the passing of time in human terms can feel holy-crap-terrifying, when it comes to the passing of time in nature, things tend to be a lot slower, gentler, and holy-crap-beautiful – the gradual effects of weathering and the turning of the seaons aw yeah…

The slow erosion of a hillside to reveal the chalk beneath.

A fresh autumnal carpet of leaves on a forest floor.

The creep of lichen across a rockface.

The skeletons of abandoned birds nests in naked wintry trees.

A piece of sea glass worn round and smooth by the ocean.

Hmmmmm yessss much more relaxing.

So how do we turn this concept into a story? Well, as always, we need to take a big, broad idea and make it a bit more specific.

For example, there are a load of houses near where I live that have copper roofs. Once, long ago, when they were first built, they would have been a shiny bright orangey colour — but, because oxidation has done its thang over the years, the tiles have now turned an amazing virdigris green patina. A green roof! Just like the Statue of Liberty! How cool is that?

A green copper roof
This is not near my house! This is the train station in Quebec city.

I’ve always wondered why the heck copper roofs exist (coolness notwithstanding) and a little light googling tells me it’s because the corrosion process is so slow and actually creates a protective layer that withstands the weather really well. Science makes everything even cooler.

But it’s still not a story — until you put some people and details and humanity into it…

So what about a character who HAS lived long enough to watch the slow greenification of their copper roof? What have they seen in that timespan? How could you weave in the gradual weathering of the tiles in amongst their lifestory?

And what other ideas might spark from this visual? The way a copper bracelet leaves green marks on your skin? The patina of an old statue? A copper pan made unusable because it wasn’t looked after properly? (Fun fact for your next murder mystery: if copper cookware comes into contact with an acidic substance like vinegar or wine it creates ‘toxic verdigris’ which is poisonous…)

So many stories from one passing glance up at a roof!

Now your turn. Keep the theme of ‘time’ and ‘weathering’ in mind and take a look at these picture prompts.

A gigantic tree growing right through an abandoned house covered in moss
An abandoned red car in the woods, covered in rust
A crack in a road 'fixed' with a plaster
A statue of a hooded figure with one arm outstretched, covered in green patina
A ladder and the supports of a jetty or pier covered in green algae and barnacles.
An abandoned house filled with sand
An elderly person with deep wrinkles on their face

Pick one (or more) that catch your eye and spend a few minutes scribbling some freeform ideas — let your brain jump from one thing to another and see where you land.

Think about how the image shows the passage of time and what stories, sights, sounds, and experiences might be lurking in its history.

Put a person into the story — what personal details and emotional layers might they add to the picture?

And is there any quick info or research on your chosen subject that might bring another angle? (My copper roof googling took five minutes but gleaned a whole load of ideas!)

Now WRITE. Do the usual 20 mins or so (a tiny portion of time in the great grand scheme of things, huh?) and then come and tell us allllllllll about it on the forum.

Oh, and give yourself a massive gold star for getting all the way to the seventeenth of bloomin December in this ridiculous year of 2021. That in itself is an achievement. We’re here. We’re writing. A little older. Perhaps a bit wiser. Probably quite tired. But awesome. Heck yeah.

We’ll see your awesome face again tomorrow because that’s how time works. Until then, happy writing. 🌟

Useful Stuff & Things

If you’re feeling the existential oof right now then this treatise on Why You Must Keep Writing Even Though The World Is Crumbling Around You might help?

And if you’re looking for a way to develop the charactery side of things — especially when looking at long timeframes like in this exercise — this unit from The First Draft on character growth is a doozy!

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