Hi, all! So glad to be here again, Chris. Thanks so much for inviting me—always appreciated.
Lately I’ve been writing these posts on Saturday, after a morning walk, which seems to inspire me. I use that walk time not only for exercise, but for prayer, reflection, quiet time and working writing-related things in my head as I go. So what’s been nagging at me this entire past week? Skin.
Huh? Yes, skin. Our body’s biggest organ: that multi-layered barrier between us and the elements. A post about taking care of it has been nagging at me, so being a pantser, I need to go with it. (I’m sure I’ll wind up somewhere, lol.)
I’m lucky enough to have been blessed with decent skin—far from perfect, and only at its best when I’m tending it regularly with the products that work best with my unique chemistry. For me, those come from Mary Kay cosmetics. Prior to being introduced to the products, I’d shush my friend whenever she told me my skin looked good—you know something erupted just to show her different every time she said that. (And I swear to you a patient commented on my skin within three days of having started using the basic line, and for the first time, my skin behaved.)
Anyway, I’ve had a (mostly ‘on’) love affair with these products ever since. Through the years, I’ve tried different things here and there. Sometimes I’d run out of product and buy something at the drugstore. For a while, hubby and I looked into direct sales; that particular company included skin care so I tried those products. Nothing has ever worked for me like my Mary Kay products. (Several years ago, I stopped messing around. Now, since my kids are using the products as well, I always keep a reserve of every item we like.)
So where am I going with this? First: when it comes to who I am, what I do and my general make-up as a person, certain things work for me. I can look around, read about other products, possibilities and strategies then compare to my track record and know, fundamentally, the best way to approach a given situation. That applies to writing my stories, posts OR reports; to the way I eat, or exercise or deal with my kids. Is it foolproof? Of course not. Being an analytical person by nature, I don’t take a leap of faith unless I feel I’ve educated myself to some degree and I’ve also learned to be quiet and/or not act until I know for sure what it is I want to say and/or do.
Next: foundation/protection. (Don’t ask where this is coming from. I’m just going with it.) Because I make skin care a priority, I often take note of others’ skin. Disclaimer: I consider this MHO—and what works for me—but my history with Mary Kay products (and my background as a now inactive consultant) taught me foundation is the barrier that protects my face from the elements: dirt, UV light—who knows what else? I hate the myth that foundation ‘clogs pores’ (uh, more the exact opposite for two decades or more now) and should be used sparingly or not at all.
That takes me into writing. Foundation (a.k.a. ‘base’) is akin to setting, the canvas on which an entire story evolves, takes place and finally, is. Recently, I attended my writers’ association annual conference and got to visit with many of my local writer friends and associates. One in particular caught my attention, mostly because she is such an attractive woman—but no foundation! Her skin seemed pale and blemishes jumped out. I couldn’t help thinking how the right color would have evened out the skin tones and made the rest of her makeup really bring out her features. Done right, no one notices the foundation; rather folks tend to compliment skin and/or how ‘great’ one looks.
Foundation is backstory: background work, character sketches, outlines, etc. (Eep! Is that my problem lately? No outlines???) Without it, a story falls flat and lacks the blend that makes a reader sorry it’s over. I just finished reading a friend’s debut novel, and I have to say it blended characters, setting, details, subplot and EVERYTHING together so seamlessly, I barely noticed I’d finished the book, that she’d brought the story full circle. That’s how makeup should look too—so beautifully blended you can’t tell it’s there.
Foundation is subtext: it’s there but its presence should be understated, if noticeable at all. Reminds me of a moment during my high school days, when I was hanging out with a friend who was complaining about how much he hated makeup. He put his finger on my cheek and moved it around, commenting how he knew I had none on because my skin ‘moved’ when he touched it. LOL, I was in full make-up form—one of my best compliments ever.
And taking this back to skin care: basic, consistent skin care with the right products for you are the foundation for the foundation. (Did you follow that one?) Knowing what works for you as a writer is part of the groundwork of your story. Following it consistently is the discipline, whether it’s writing every day or figuring out who that new hero is. Foundation, on your face or on the page, sets the stage on which your story will play out; it’s the canvas on which the colors will pop in a picture that’s all you.
So who knew ‘skin’ would take me here?