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Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 15: Mapping Out Writing Time: Pay It Forward


We went apple picking today. I almost had a heart attack when I saw the entrance fee. If you need a better view, click on the photo. This is a haven for little kids. There's a huge play area--complete with moonbounce, petting zoo, jungle gyms, climbing walls, a maze, haystack climbing stack, etc.

But, I digress.

There were four lines of people waiting to gain entry. I couldn't help but notice that once some people paid the fee, they handed tickets to the folks behind them. This went on for some time, a few people shared these tickets, while most tucked them away for later use. Of course I was curious what this was and found out soon enough. Included with my receipt were 4 coupons for 50% off the next visit (1 coupon per person). I admit, I was small-minded enough to be jealous of the lucky people who saved money. For a moment.

Because what I noticed, was even better. Once I gave away my tickets, I bored my girls with an informal 10 minute observation on human behavior--specifically--paying it forward.

"In the order of nature
we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them,
or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again,
line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

What do you think I discovered?

Write-a-Scene-Writing-Prompt: Few people are made of altruistic goodness--wanting to pay it forward--every single time someone shows them a kindness. Some people are generous, but know how to show restraint if necessary. Others, are a little more careful with what they are willing to give up. Generosity can be shown with money, time, efforts, friendships, love, gifts, coupons, etc.

Where does your protagonist fit on the Pay it Forward scale? Write a scene where your MC gives back, ie: to the community, to a friend, to a stranger, etc. Is this a punishment, that turns into a pay it forward situation? Or is this something your MC wants to do because someone was kind to her? Is this something he can do easily? Or does she fight it every step of the way? Does he pay it forward in the midst of lots of fanfare? Or does she do this anonymously? Have fun!

10 comments:

Christine M said...

I love your observations on paying it forward, but I must say those prices seem outrageous! That much just to get in (even if you get the 50% off ticket) and $2.50 a pound for the fruit! Yikes! I thought $1.25 a pound was expensive where we went - and there was no entrance fee!

Vivian said...

Chris,
It is outrageous, isn't it? I couldn't believe more people weren't shocked. We went to this orchard since it's about fifteen minutes away. The other places are over an hour away. Still, these other orchards have entrance fees and charge extra for rides and petting zoos and everything else kids want to do (translate to expensive).

It made me sick to my stomach watching the kids have so much fun, but having to watch over how much fruit they picked, since this was over-the-top expensive. You can bet we are going to savor every bite. On the positive side, we have peaches, Asian pears and Honeycrisp apples.

You only had to pay $1.25/lb!!! You're so lucky! The apples are $1.99/lb in my local grocery store.

Christine M said...

Of course our place only had the pick your own. At their farm market (on another street) they had all kinds of activities because it was "Apple Days" and there was a $5 admission. We didn't go there, opting instead to go to a state park for awhile after we picked the apples. This places is about an hour from us.

Saints and Spinners said...

I'm guessing the prices are part of a Catch-22 situation: economic times are hard, orchard owners are suffering, so they charge higher prices which turn away potential fruit pickers.

I internalized a belief years ago about the three-fold effect: what you send out comes back to you three times over. It's not as I go around consciously thinking, "Hey, if I do one nice thing for someone else, three nice things will happen to me" but that what we do multiplies in the world.

I am going to think about where my protagonist fits on the Pay-it-Forward scale.

Vivian said...

Chris,
The state park sounds lovely.

Farida,
You're right. I'm sure these prices are a reflection of the economic times. Also, all the waste that comes from people improperly picking the fruit. I cringed at all the apples on the ground. Though, isn't that what goes into the apple cider?

Good luck with your manuscript!

PJ Hoover said...

I love the pay it forward mentality. I always want to do it more and more, and overall I think I'm improving!

Sierra said...

I think having a MC pay it forward makes a story richer. If, in the course of all the conflict you throw your MC, they can stop and help another character, then you've made a deeper person.

Am shocked--SHOCKED--by exorbitant entrance fees.

Kelly H-Y said...

Yikes! Those prices are outrageous! Great post, though! :-)

Val Hobbs said...

I love this idea. It really says something about a character, doesn't it? I'm really going to give this some thought while I'm revising my middle grade novel. Thanks for the idea!

Shelli said...

love this series. so true! we gotta pay it forward.