Last weekend I traveled to Lanesboro, MN for the town’s annual Rhubarb festival. I really didn’t have any plans to learn anything that had to do with my craft. It was a vacation. My immediate goal was spending some much-needed time with some close friends and perhaps get some new ideas for my rhubarb patch.
Lanesboro is a little tourist town along the edge of the Minnesota/Iowa border. It is a tiny town with some beautiful falls and even more beautiful people. There is a little something for everyone in Lanesboro. From its historic, though bawdy, Slant Ave. Mercantile to the antique junk shop, which carries everything the name implies, and everything in between. It also has a flourishing Amish community.
My friends and I were most looking forward to taking an Amish tour. We rented a CD from the Amish Experience Quilt Shop (which interestingly enough, does not carry quilts nor quilting supplies) and followed the directions to about 7 different Amish homes to shop and meet some wonderful people.
At a particularly nice talkative woman’s home, we saw her children cutting the tops off of some rhubarb. I took the opportunity to ask about harvesting rhubarb. She told me she picks around the edge of the plant, does not let it go to seed, and picks it all summer long. I was shocked. I’ve only picked mine in the spring. I had been told (by the internet, no less) you could only pick it in the spring. This information changed everything I knew about harvesting. I can make so many more wonderful things now!
So, what does this have to do with writing? You are never done learning. That’s right, I feel strongly enough about this to use the dreaded never. Even if you are at the top of your game, selling in the millions (and if you are, why in the name of all that’s good are you reading my blog?) keep learning. Try writing in a new way, even if it’s just for your enjoyment. Try a new point of view, poetry, song, verse, or memoire. Why not? Keep abreast of trends, learn how to pick your rhubarb all summer long so you have some for that rhubarb/blueberry torte in the middle of winter. Learning something new should make you salivate with the want of it.
I learned about rhubarb, but I came away with so much more. I paid attention to people I had never had the good fortune to observe before and that can teach you about life and how the people in your novel may react to a given stimulus. Someday, I will use that. I know it.
So, what makes your clock tick? What do you crave to learn?