I Went to a Writing Group Today - September 10th, 2019

A picture and an assignment concerning gnomes. That was our prompt for the day.


The picture had two similar looking gnomes. One had a green hat. The other had a blue hat and sunglasses, and was giving the peace sign. The prompt read:

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Good writers bring their story characters to life. Choose one of these gnomes and give a detailed character description. Include physical characteristics as well as character traits, and likes and dislikes. Use your senses and vivid adjectives to bring the character to life.

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One of the most important things in writing, as in any art, is to know you can break the rules. They're more like guidelines. In the picture of the gnomes there is another gnome slightly visible in the background of the picture. I took this to be the mother of the two gnomes. You'll see how that works out in my short glimpse of a story.

I recently read "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave", and it's a great book. I have about a dozen memoirs on my "A Few of My Favorite Books (At Present)" list, and I wanted to work with the idea of a memoir. Here's how it went.

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Recovered Fragment of the Work - "Memoirs of a Green-Hatted Gnome"

Fragment Begins

... and that's how I ended up with the green hat and Nathan ended up with the blue hat.

It would be reasonable of me to say that mother didn't always favor Nathan, nor did he always get his way, but if I was speaking to you, my face would betray me and my emotions would show through.

They looked somewhat alike in appearance, and exaggerated that natural likeness by wearing matching orange shirts of the exact same hue, and matching sunglasses too. Even when it wasn't sunny. They had the same carefree attitude and were completely unconcerned with the future. That's why I was in charge of the books.

Ma was the master planner and Nathan was the action hero. My job was to move the merchandise after we had acquired it, launder the money, and to make sure that we ended up with enough funds to live from job to job.

Oh, how far we gnomes have fallen. The history has now been covered up, but the oral tradition has kept the truth alive. We gnomes were once known and revered as sages of great wisdom, full of what the ancient Greeks called gnosis, or knowledge. But, a few misunderstandings and those great gnomes and all their gnosis was driven underground. Now here we were, trying to take back what at one time had been rightfully ours to begin with.

This next job was a turning point for us as a family, and maybe ...

Fragment Ends

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I was curious about the etymology of gnome just a little ways into writing. So I looked it up on etymonline.com and found this.

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gnome (n.1)
"dwarf-like earth-dwelling spirit," 1712, from French gnome (16c.), from Medieval Latin gnomus, used 16c. in a treatise by Paracelsus, who gave the name pigmaei or gnomi to elemental earth beings, possibly from Greek *genomos "earth-dweller" (compare thalassonomos "inhabitant of the sea"). A less-likely suggestion is that Paracelsus based it on the homonym that means "intelligence" (see gnome (n.2)).

Popularized in England in children's literature from early 19c. as a name for red-capped German and Swiss folklore dwarfs. Garden figurines of them were first imported to England late 1860s from Germany; garden-gnome attested from 1933. Gnomes of Zurich for "international financiers" is from 1964.

gnome (n.2)
"short, pithy statement of general truth," 1570s, from Greek gnōmē "judgment, opinion; maxim, the opinion of wise men," from PIE root *gno- "to know."

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Notice that in my story I mixed both of the histories into one, and adjusted number 2 to fit the better known Greek term gnosis. Also, an eight-year-old girl recently told me I had wisdom because I had a beard. So I wanted these little bearded folk to be wise as well.

It was fun. A 30-minute project to mix fantasy and memoir together into one. A tale just begun to be spun. An exploration into the unknown, with a nostalgic and revealing tone.

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Read more of what Jeff deems worthy of attention at: http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

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