The Influence of Pop Culture

Guest blogging this week is Cerella D. Sechrist, author of Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I know that Cerella is quite influenced by pop culture in her writing and other creative endeavors, so I asked her to spend some time today speaking on just how various mediums affect her craft. As you can imagine, this is a subject dear to my own heart, and I’m thrilled that Cerella is willing to take some time to share her musings with you, as well.
Be sure to read all the way to the end for details on TODAY’S GIVEAWAY. I think you’ll absolutely love it!

Cerella D. SechristI believe that art bleeds into itself, and one medium has a definite effect on another, a reverberation of feeling and experience. Art is never something that just happens. It is affected by everything that has come before in the artist’s life   every experience, every moment, every heartbeat and tear and gesture. If we are the sum of our experiences then art is our reflection of that culmination.
That being said, here are a few ways I feel other artistic mediums and outlets have had an effect on my own ‘art’.

MUSIC: There’s this episode of the television show La Femme Nikita where the title heroine is undercover and asked what type of music is her favorite. It is a tension-filled moment in which she must answer without a misstep — if she gives the wrong reply, they will know she is a spy. So she answers unexpectedly that there is no answer — she does not listen to music. The terrorist questioning her demands to know why this is, and she coolly replies, “Music evokes emotion.”
I have a limited musical ability. I can read music, I play a little piano, and I sing fairly well (mostly if I’m harmonizing with someone who sings much better!) But I value music, for that very reason — it evokes emotion in us. Films and television would be flat, dull things without the sweeping swell of piano, the mournful resonance of violins, or the reverberating bass of a drum. Music moves us in ways we cannot define. Without words, without imagery — it compels us to cry or frown or sigh.
It’s because of this that I employ a large collection of instrumental movie soundtracks when I write. When I touch upon the right song, I will simply put it on repeat and let it play for HOURS while I write a particular scene, carving out with words the emotions the music is stirring within me. Music moves and inspires, and our lives would be a pale echo without a soundtrack to back it up.

VISUALS: For me, writing is a visual experience. I want to SEE it. It comes from growing up in a culture where so much is visual these days, with film and television and the internet. We have become a people who judge books by their covers — even the best among us are prone to it on occasion. Even though I’m a writer, I’m no different in this.
So when I set out to tell a story, I need to be able to watch it in my head before I can transfer that vision to paper. I cast the major players in my books with actors who fit the part, and I’ve even been known to hang up photos of my dream cast around me as I write. At times, I’ve even gone so far as to choose photographs of houses or rooms to set certain scenes. This can be particularly helpful when writing historicals — if I’ve visited a historical site with a house that fits the one I want my characters to live in, I’ll use those photos as a diagram for the layout of the home in my story. It’s not a bad thing, in my opinion; it keeps me consistent, grounds me in my own descriptions and rules and makes the setting a tangible place.
I gravitate to photography far more often than paintings. Maybe because photography gives me a solid visual image to work with. A photo often tells less lies than a painting, which is rendered according to the artist’s personal lens. That’s not to say I don’t value paintings, especially employing them when writing historicals, but when telling modern tales, I trust the camera more.

UNEXPECTED MEDIUMS: When I began writing Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania, there was one thing for certain I knew my main character, Sadie, was passionate about: food. Obviously, I understood this. I love food myself — texture, taste, visual appeal, history. I’m a foodie.
But as I learned more about Sadie, she pressed something upon me: to her, it isn’t just food. It’s ART. And I realized this is true. Art is not always obvious. It’s not just painting or composing or drawing or crafting words. Art is creation. We are all artists, in one form or another — some of us just have slightly less obvious mediums.
I began to look at food differently, seeing it through my character’s eyes instead of my own. It changed my perceptions of what art can be.
There’s a scene in the novel where Sadie surveys the dining room of her restaurant, noting the suncatchers that decorate the mirrored walls and the flowers she’s placed around the room. It reads:

…the effect was magnificent — a soothing atmosphere of the suncatchers’ brilliant, jeweled colors and the flowers’ soft, transparent light. Sadie sighed with contentment. This was what a dining experience should be: ambiance, texture, flavor, and comfort.

It’s such an insignificant slice of the book — only a few sentences. But I learned more about Sadie in those lines than in anything I had written up to that point. She enjoys cooking for people because it’s rewarding; it is creation, and it moves others without them even realizing it. I began to have a sense of what food is: something that warms us, brings us together, satisfies and delights.
If that’s not art, I don’t know what is.

These are just a few of the things that continue to shape and develop my own craft. But all this just nicks the surface of the way the arts define each other. For this reason alone, a Creator God makes perfect sense to me — we create, as we were created. In every age, through every season, we mold and craft, build and compose, draft and call forth. It’s what we do. Part of who we are. It’s in our DNA and genetic makeup.

With that said… Go on. Get out of this interview. Create something. =)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY is special treat. Cerella has graciously agreed to offer one lucky winner a $5.00 gift certificate toward a purchase at the Chocolate Fiction Etsy store. You can find all kinds of handcrafted literature-themed gifts, including a candy bouquet for readers and the most adorable little petaled magnets made from the pages of old books!
Chocolate Fiction Merchandise
To enter* for your chance to win, leave a comment here and tell us what influences you the most in your own creative endeavors. Comments will close tonight, Thursday, at 11:59pm EST. The winner will be chosen by random number generator and posted on this blog.
*One additional entry may be earned by mentioning this post via Twitter. Be sure to return here and add your Twitter post link to a second comment so it will be counted as an entry.
*One additional entry may be earned by leaving a comment on Cerella’s blog via this link.

Be sure to join us for one more day with Cerella during which she’ll take a special version of the Pop Culture Personality Quiz. It promises to be a lot of fun! And don’t forget that we’ll be giving away another prize to one lucky winner — and we’ve saved the best for last!



Posted on 4 February 2010, in People I Love and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. What a cool blog

    Love it!



  2. Pat Hoffmeister

    I admire people who are creative. I don’t have a creative bone in my body. Even when I cook (which I enjoy), I am a scientist and not an artist.


  3. I love to listen to movie soundtracks while I write. That helps me be creative and stay focused. I also cut out photos of my characters and keep those handy while I write, or for my latest book, I have photos up on my screen around my manuscript. That’s been fun to see the characters there looking back at me.


  4. My creative endeavors are inspired by my late mother’s passion of painting. I have many of her watercolors hanging around my house and have only to look at them to be inspired to draw.


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