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Treatment Plan #9: Be a Geek!

Treatment Plan: Get You an Aesthetic, Girl

Emii's wordHey, Insanely Interesting Writerly Women. Recent private interactions I've had with a few of you, as well as your novella-length comments (which I love!) have brought back a memory.

In the fall of 2019, when we could still safely go out and do stuff, I was at a craft show and a woman came up to me and said, "You look beautiful. I love your aesthetic." I thought, Huh, I didn't even know I had one. What exactly is that, anyway?

My ten-year-old granddaughter, Maeryn, is way ahead of me. Recently we were talking about her goals, and on her list  she included, "I want a more pleasing aesthetic for my room." 

They're getting smarter, these mini-women.

Lately that word has been popping up in my daily round. In Bella Grace magazine, which I highly recommend by the way, I read an article about an aesthetic known as Dark Academia. Some of it (not the darker, more horror-slanted aspects) intrigues me and I'm reading more about it. Mae's birthdayThe aforementioned granddaughter is going for an Anime aesthetic, and pulling it off nicely, I might add. 

Then quite without realizing it, some of you gave me glimpses of your aesthetic, or what is even more commonly known as your core, from the French word coeur, the heart (as in Cottage Core, Bardcore, Fairycore etc.) .

LILY sent me this picture of the things that inspire and encourage her. The firewood, the Phantom of the opera and the books and the jar of gratitude and the feedback from a friend -- there is something positive Lily's writing encouragementsand earthy about her intentional journey.

EMII shared the above visual which she created for her word for the year -- HUMAN. It is spare, full of space, and the use of gray is significant it seems to me. She gives us a peek into her aesthetic of grace and patience and humility.

This nudged me to ask GLORIA if I could use some of the artwork she did for the online courses I eventually opted not to develop. THIS is the Gloria aesthetic -- somehow zany yet straightforward in a simple way. In essence, she artistically nails it. Gloria's drawing

And what, pray tell does this have to do with our writing? Everything, ladies.

Teachers of the craft call this style, which most will admit they can't teach you. They can only open the doors so you can discover it and remove any obstacles that stand in your way. They aren't wrong by any means. I've said and done that myself with clients and students. It's tough for a lot of writers, especially in this competitive climate where everybody seems to be writing and nobody we know seems to be getting published. The temptation is to find out what's selling, what's trending and then somehow shape our work to fit into that.

Have you noticed that it doesn't work?

What if instead we thought of writing style as simply a reflection of our personal aesthetic. Not the aesthetic we're going for or trying on. That's great for Maeryn. She's a tween, experimenting with different selves to see which one really fits. I'm talking about that natural vibe that when it's there in what we do, what we say, how we dress, how we create our environment, we feel that sweet peace down in the core of ourselves. It's right. We're in the groove.

So, new CHALLENGE. Here are the suggested steps. Note the word "suggested." Feel free to be creative, as long as the intention is there:

        1. Take some time to look at yourself when you are the most authentic. Think about what look makes you feel confident. What decor draws you in when you're flipping through a magazine or wandering around in HomeGoods (is anybody actually doing that right now?)? Is there a theme to the books you reread or have on your Amazon wish list? What's on your playlist? What's in your podcast cue? Who do you admire, alive or dead, not to copy but to be inspired by? 

    2. I love me a collage for putting this kind of thing together. A mood board is also effective. Even one photograph or piece of art can capture it.You may be more partial to a list. I can see Gloria, Lily and some of our other visual artists drawing images. A fair few of you will naturally turn this into a poem or creative paragraph. Whatever it is, find a way to get the big picture in front of you.

    3. Try to put it into a few sentences. Remember, this is about your aesthetic, the look and feel and sound of your life.

    4. THEN, look at your most recent piece of writing. Does the style you see there match your personal aesthetic? Is the essential you reflected there? If so, go with that. Be even more brave and free in expressing that core in your work. If not, can you rewrite a portion of it while --

    * wearing a confidence-inspiring outfit

    * with your playlist on shuffle

    * and something on your writing space that makes a statement about who you are?

Will you share #3 and #4 with us? Take your time. Don't rush this. Enjoy this delicious process. I'm going to do it right along with you, since some things have definitely emerged for me of late. When you do feel like, yes, this is it,  think about how you might share this with us.  Your visual? Before and after paragraphs? A creative description of what you've discovered?

I want to fill up the blog next week with daily reports from you. ONE of you will be selected (not sure about the selection process yet) to do a guest post here on Doorways, based on your feedback.

Oh, yeah. This feels luscious.


Nancy Rue    P.S. Just to get your started. This is what I surround myself with on the regular. Fireplace aesthetic
Am I going to be writing dystopian YA or a gritty thriller?        



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Nancy Rue

I like how you put that, Emii. I think we do have to fall in love with our own aesthetic. Can't wait to learn more about yours.

Nancy Rue

Sounds delicious, Natasha. Can't wait 'til you serve it up for us! I have my spoon ready!

Nancy Rue

Fun? You're having a BLAST! But when were you looking in my refrigerator?


Natasha, I love that you're finding more of what you love in your own work. That's inspiring in itself.


I love this idea so much!! Especially the reading part- there’s a very clear flavour in the books I adore, and I’m delighted to report I’m getting closer and closer to finding it in my own work. Things are taking me a bit longer these days as I figure out a schedule that gives me life while still permitting me to pass classes- heheheh- but I’m excited to dive in when I get a chance :) excited to see more of your processes!!!

Pam Halter

When weather permits, I love walking on our country road. I've taken lots of pics over the years of fairy homes, mushrooms, tree gnome homes, trees eating those gnomes, and more. I even caught an emerging dragon across the street from the irrigation pond! I see speculative things everywhere. And yes, my writing reflects that. I have 3 picture books out that feature a dragon and his friends, one A novel (high fantasy), and most recently, a short story in a speculative Christmas anthology where my characters are guardian angels.

I'm currently working on a chapter book for ages 7-10 about a boy learning to cook. Doesn't sound speculative until you get to the parts where the foods torment him. Like this:

He turned to the fridge. There was a note on the front: Gone to the grocery store. Mom.
He opened the door and immediately heard a gloopy laugh. He moved the gallon of milk to reveal a plate with a big lump of ground meat on it. It was covered in some kind of green sauce. Was this the flopped dinner?
“Buuuuuddy! I’m gonna be your dinner tonight,” it teased. “Don’t I look yummy?”
“You look disgusting,” Buddy answered.
The shriveled carrot and celery sticks giggled as the onion told him not to be a baby.
“Waah! Waah!” it whined.
“Not tonight,” Buddy said. “I’m not gonna be here.”
“Leftovers!” the meat screeched. “Leh-ft-oooooovers!”
Buddy grabbed two apples that looked fresh. “Nope,” he said. “Not gonna be here for lunch, either.”
“Buddy,” the leftover Crab on the Waves, which was behind a leftover casserole called. “I’ll be here when you get back!”
“Not if I toss you in the trash first,” Buddy said. He reached for it, but the Crab on the Waves screamed, “Tuna! Tuna! Hellllppp meeeee!”
Buddy slammed the door shut before the three-week-old tuna casserole could chime in. He had argued with that casserole so many times. And it stunk. And it cackled like a Halloween witch. But no way was he gonna touch it. It could stay there until it petrified.
He could still hear muffled laughter, but he didn’t care. He was free from dinner and he was gonna learn to cook.

Can you tell I'm having fun? haha!

Nancy Rue

You go, Emii. Keep us posted. Cathy, um, yes, you are completely in tune with your aesthetic! Thank you for sharing that. I hope you're inspired others among us to do the same.

Cathy Mayfield

Quite an interesting exercise, Nancy, especially when I got to #4 and my most recent writing. I think you'll agree when you read it.

First, the few sentences about my aesthetic:

"I’m sitting on the steps of the cabin in Potter County where we vacationed so often as a family, in youth and with our children, my journal and Bible waiting to be opened. My family—my husband, our daughters with spouses, grandchildren, brothers and their families—is asleep inside, dreaming of last evening’s drive to spot deer. The creek bubbles gently a few yards from my feet. At the feeder on the hillside across from me, a buck and three doe graze the corn the farmer put there. A red-tailed hawk soars above my head, as a chipmunk scurries to hide. Nature. Family. Words. Jesus. This is who I am, all I want to be."

And then ... wow ... an excerpt from my most recent piece, a Little Golden book style, for our soon-to-be 5 grandson:

“As Malcolm and Willis set off, an icy wind blew, and snow squalls swirled around them. The two wolves, Malcolm dark as night, Willis a softer hue of gray, pushed against the wind’s force. Malcolm’s bulk hindered him, but his strength knew no bounds. However, the wind drug against Willis’s small body. He grit his teeth and determined not to let Malcolm or his father down. Willis discovered if he lowered his body and pointed his snout straight into the wind, he lessened its power over him.
On and on the brothers strode, one with the wind and snow and earth. Their instincts of family protectiveness drove them. Willis wondered how much further and almost asked Malcolm, but he knew it would sound like whining. He was no coward. He was a warrior! Even if it was miles and miles and took all night, he’d follow Malcolm one step at a time and not care how long it took.”

Guess I must be in tune with my aesthetic, huh? LOL!


I was just doing the first challenge and I'm loving it. It's so freeing to think of the things that actually ARE inspiring me, instead of the things I think I 'should' be inspired by. I'm going to keep going with this list awhile longer, just wanted to check in and let you know it's a wonderful prompt, Nancy!

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