Saturday, December 05, 2015

Gifts: Tenderness

Hi folks, I'm starting a new series. I'm sharing creative gifts that I've received from others in my journey. I'm extremely wealthy when it comes to receiving these gifts. This week I'm going to talk about Bonny Becker. I had the opportunity to hear Bonny speak many times when I lived in Washington State. I also took the time to really study her books and think about her writing.

I received a bag of creative gifts from her but one stands out. Bonny taught me the importance of  a light touch--tenderness--in storytelling.  (It works for life too, believe me.)  Tenderness is about making vulnerable characters. They may be armored up top, but turn them over and they are squishy and soft. The story journey really is about turning that prickly character over and letting them get a little sun on his or her belly.

As a storyteller, I want to pack in stuff, get the plot going. Bonny has shown me it's about not rushing forward, but instead being patient and letting things work out. It's about heart with flaws. It's about tiny and mighty against huge and timid. Tenderness is found in the intersection of these opposites. Bonny has taught me about the absolute power of awareness. Tucking the truth about one character into the pocket of another transforms a flat story into something amazing.

Finally,I learned this from Bonny: how tenderness brings the beauty of the lilies of the field to story. She offers not just vulnerable but fragile characters. Beauty springs up like Texas bluebonnets when you thread in devotion and affection. Tenderness brings gravitas to storytelling. If you write quiet stories, tenderness will infuse them with  the sunrise. It is so quiet before dawn, but the sun rises and glory!  The birds' cacophony amazes. The clouds burn. The sky eats the darkness. This is the power of tenderness. Add it to your work.

Bonny teaches at The Northwest Institute of Literary Arts.  Her newest picture books is just out: Cloud Country. This was done in collaboration with Noah Klocek. It is amazing.  Don't just take my word for it. Give this and all her books a peek. You are welcome.

No doodle this week. Here is the cover of Bonny's new book in collaboration with Noah Klocek:

I will be back next week with more gifts.

A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them. Victor Hugo


Vijaya said...

Thank you for this gift! BB is a treasure! Yes, even the hardest character must have a tender center.

Molly/Cece said...

Yes, we have been really blessed.