Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dissecting Tadpoles for Literary Purposes


First off, thank you all so much for your good wishes on my recent news. I've been overwhelmed by all the woots and squees and other indescribable sounds coming from the comments section of my last post. Big bear hugs to you all!!!

Back to earth now. On to subjects more squeamish than squee. Like tadpoles!

I used to work in a lab in college and the few years after graduation. I did fun things like radioimmunoassays, thin-layer chromatography, slicing bits of paraffin-embedded frog for slides.

I also dissected out hundreds of tadpole gonads.

Ah yes. Those critters never stood a chance. Call me the Jean Claude van Damme of tadpole dissection. I'm fairly sure I could still snip out a tadpole's gonads in three minutes flat.

Why does this matter? It didn't occur to me that my experience there might pop up in my writing later. A lab plays prominently in The Fountain (the lab, mind you, not the tadpoles), and I'm so thankful for that bit of experience I didn't have to research on the fly.

Do you have a life experience that's made its way into your stories? Do tell! And for the non-writers out there, I'd love to hear an unusual life experience that your blog followers don't know about you. :)

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Also, go check out Deb Salisbury's blog on how kids/pets/plants (or other things cared for) affect her writing. See my previous post, Laura Diamond's, and Sarah Fine's if you missed them!

50 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

Yes, often my experiences come into play but nothing like the tadpole gonad thing! Yikes!

Miranda Hardy said...

Wow, Lydia, tadpoles? Poor things. Lol

I would have to say that my experience in drama in middle school and high school, along with my college literature classes played a large role in my writing. I love immersing myself into my characters.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Nothing like tadpoles. But my experience as an attorney will be helpful for my next project.

Stephen Tremp said...

Well, I've never tried to assassinate powerful global figures, step through wormholes, or try to save the world. So I'll have to say no.

Amie Kaufman said...

Oh, your cartoon kills me! I've definitely used experiences, though nothing quite so dramatic -- little things, though, like remembering the first time I had to run flat out in the snow (last year), and the tricks the locals taught me so I didn't end up flat on my back!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lydia .. so useful to be able to pass on these great ideas - we can never use them .. but fun to read - and that cartoon is wonderful! Cheers Hilary

B.E. Sanderson said...

Tadpoles gonads? Seriously? You must've needed one heck of a magnifier and some tiny tools.

I borrow from my life freely. An experience here, character traits from acquaintances there - all nicely re-imagined to give depth without making things too obvious. =o)

Anne Gallagher said...

I used to be a professional chef and that played a major role in my second book.

Tadpole gonads? Never even knew they had such things.

Old Kitty said...

Poor tadpoles?!?! Why?!!? what have they done?!?! LOL!

And what on earth are they doing in your story? How exciting! Yay!!

Take care
x

DL Hammons said...

Oh yes...there are a lot of life experiences in my books, especially the first one. But those are stories I reserve for telling once the books are in print. :)

Connie Keller said...

When I was in college, I worked in a cytogenetics lab doing karyotyping. That eventually made its way into a short story.

Little Ms. Fun said...

Disecting tad pole gonads? Wow...haha That's a rare skill! Poor baby froggies...

Hmm..well, I used to be very involved in music. I know all the ins and outs to sheet music, rythms, and the piano. The piano used to be my favorite hobby. That eventually made it's way into a metaphorical piece.

Matthew MacNish said...

Absolutely. My own experience with reform school as a teen and wilderness survival actually heavily influence my story.

Write what you know and all that.

Bossy Betty said...

I think all my experiences somehow work their way into my writing. Tadpoles? Really? That's amazing!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

There are millions of tadpoles groaning at this post. :D

My background in sports physiology has been very useful in my novels, especially my current wip and an upcoming project.

L.C. Frost said...

Tadpole gonads. *giggles* And congrats on your book deal!! What an exciting, exciting time!

mshatch said...

I know my interest in history has played it's part in what I write as has everything else I've learned/done.

poor never to be froggies :(

Linda Gray said...

Love this example. There's nothing like expertise to translate into authenticity on the page!

Suze said...

Labs are unique breeding grounds for ideas ...

mooderino said...

I like to use experiences from people around me, with the names changed to protect the guilty.

mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino

Judie said...

Things from my life creep into my stories, but nothing as interesting as tadpole gonads.

catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com said...

What could beat the tadpole gonad thing? Great story!

Briane P said...

Not even a little bit beyond stuff like "I went to Las Vegas once, maybe I'll have a character go there." I blog about my life all the time; my fiction is about anything but me.

Taryn Tyler said...

I think my emotional reactions to things --sometimes very unexpected and nothing like what I would think they were SUPOSED to be in a given situation --have been more useful than any one direct experience. Especially since most of my stories happen long long ago in a culture far far away from twenty first century America. I lot of experiences have changed but people haven't.

Karen Lange said...

My life experience squeaks its way into many of my online writing lessons. Only a bit has found its way into my WIP since it is historical fiction.

Still quite excited for you when I think of your news! :)

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Until now, I have never thought about tadpole gonads. So, thanks for that (I think). : ) But yes, some of my experiences have ended up in my stories. It's just so easy to write about what I already know.

Olga said...

The strangest experience for me is having a cat. Since I never had pets in my childhood, living with this alien brings daily discoveries.

Meredith said...

Haha, what a great skill to have! I'm still trying to find a way to put my college thesis in one of my books. Since it was about King Arthur, there's got to be some cool idea in there, right?

Shelley Munro said...

Tadpoles? Now that's something I've never seen on a resume before :)

I do a lot of traveling, and many of my experiences find their way into my books. I think most writers put some of themselves in their writing even if they don't realize it.

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Now I'm stuck wondering how I can incorporate the phrase "tad nads" into a conversation.

LD Masterson said...

Um, I'd just like to say...blech.

M Pax said...

Poor tadpoles. And I agree with LD, blech.

Krispy said...

Yep, bits and pieces of life experience have slipped into my writing. The most prominent chunk was from my time working in a candy store - and not the self-serve kind. You wanted candy, I had to give it to you & weigh out.

Something fun that could probably be used for writing is my brief stint as an archaeology intern. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those poor tadpoles... I feel their pain.
I've done some work with military jets, and that helped when creating my space fighters.

Carrie Butler said...

Tad nads... hah! That made my day. :)

Kelly Polark said...

Tad testes. Never thought I'd have to think about that.

:)
Yes, parts of my life definitely seep into my stories!

David Powers King said...

Life experiences ALWAYS comes into my stories. I fear horse riding. I have a character who is afraid to ride them, too. We relate really well. :)

Mina Burrows said...

Oh yes, indeed! I think when you have certain life-changing experiences, it almost always comes through in your writing.

Nancy said...

Serval of the posts above need a like button because I was smiling all the way down. I am a psychotherapist and I find that is very helpful when thinking about motivations.

julie fedderson said...

Wow. Knowing about your twisted gonad skills makes me a little scared of you now, Lyd. ;)

Bee said...

Owing to the fact that my laptop got burnt this week I was kinda outta touch with the blogging community but OMG, I can't believe I missed your news!

HUGEST CONGRATULATION, LYDIA!

And about this post, very ordinary little things but something which seemed insignificant in my life,sometimes end up becoming incidents of magnanimous importance in my books.

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Eep! We had to disect frogs in high school and I couldn't do it. I'm way to squeemish.

Julie Dao said...

I've been really out of touch with the blogosphere and have seen so much great news lately!! CONGRATULATIONS! And that's very cool that you're drawing from your research experience to add to your story. I always add bits and pieces of what I know to my work subconsciously!

cherie said...

Poor tadpoles! I've only ever dissected a frog, a snail, a sea cucumber, and um, other weird stuff in my Zoology class. I prefer working in Microbiology, swabbing petri dishes full of agar to make cultures than dissecting anything. So far, I haven't had to use experiences like these in my writing. Maybe someday. ;)

Barbara Watson said...

Late congrats on the book deal!! AWESOME!

When I write MG historical fiction I put myself in times I wished I could have lived and create characters I hope I would have had the strength to be. Nothing quite like the tadpole, however.

Accidentalwriter said...

I think it is almost impossible to differentiate between the real and the fantasy in my writing. So much of whom I am and the life experiences I have had - prompt and influence the words I pen. I believe that is one of the great mystiques of writing for me - sometimes even the author struggles to totally interpret or understand the meaning of the piece.

Margo Berendsen said...

I always stick something related to horses and maps in my stories, because I'm knowledgeable in both areas, and I love them! Ah yes I had some lab experiences with collecting mice urine that i will never forget - but tadpole gonads beats that hands down!

You sent me an email which I somehow managed to lose in cyberspace. Regarding a medical monday question: blindness caused either by mental or phyiscal trauma. I was thinking physical trauma, but am curious about the mental trauma, too now that you mention it!

Munk said...

I am trying to picture you with a Belgian accent and ripped with muscles.
Yes, of course I use my engineering, farming, and mechanics experiences in my rural-sci-fi-thriller.

lbdiamond said...

Um, yes, I'm glad tad nads didn't make it into your book, LOL! ;)

I certainly have a lot of psych stuff in mine. But you know that already, haha!

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