Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Devil Is In The Details, If You Like That Sort Of Thing

A funny thing happens when I sit down to write a blog post. One minute I'm in my study at home, then without even a nudge of conscious effort I'm transported into the hazy ambience of the Salon. In some ways it's not so different: I'm still surrounded by tall shelves packed with books and there's an old, beat-up wreck of a desk piled high with papers and writing tools. But the bright sunlight from my desk-side window turns to flickering candlelight, my laptop and speakers disappear, and the room expands in order to accommodate a plethora of comfy chairs and couches. I pretty much imagine a loose version of what our banner implies.

But if I look closer I start to see the smaller details. The sketches scattered over the tables and walls depicting hot-air balloons and aerostats in various stages of development. The scent of my favorite incense, Nag Champa, mingling with the aroma of strong, dark-roast coffee. My Salon has a slight breeze coming through the wide open windows which reveal a stunning panoramic cloud view from the lofty tower. I’m pretty sure my own balloon is tethered just outside, toys and games gather in every nook and corner, and there are two very familiar cats curled up on the cushions. I can’t help thinking how an invented place such as ours acquires a life of its own with a slew of unique personas.

Does Melanie's Salon buzz with the sound of shuffling automatons circling the room to refresh our drinks? Are there massive medieval tapestries falling from the vaulted ceiling in Elizabeth's? Would I hear the faint tinkling of a classical piano accompanied by chirping birds in colorful hanging cages within Stacie's? Is RJ's close enough to a rocky shoreline that I can smell the salt air? Can I visit Marilyn's Salon and use the fine china dishes while walking barefoot over oriental rugs? I’m probably way off on these (sorry ladies), but I think you get the idea.

Bottom line, specific details can be a wonderfully personal glimpse into a character’s world, but focusing too much on the minutia in every scene and location is unnecessary and sometimes a bit boring. What really matters is getting across the general vibe you want to portray and letting everyone else fill in the blanks to their liking. The important stuff will set the tone: it's cozy and congenial and serene in the Salon. I kick back with my friends, tell a story, crack a joke, have some tea and all is right in the world. Whichever one we happen to be in.


EW Gibson said...


You're so right about details. It's like cooking with too much spice which can easily ruin the meal, too little and it's bland.

BTW, who told you about the tapestries? hehehe!

Ella Gray said...

LOL! Guess I'm just psychic, Elizabeth.

Marilyn Muñiz said...

I agree about the details Ella.

It's funny because I walk barefoot at home all the time. Do you have a third eye?

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