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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rhubarb, rhubarb

Three cheers. Rhubarb is making a come back. Good news I say. And symbolic of the new world and the challenges facing writers. What? It's true. Here's why...

After years in decline the rhubarb industry is fighting back. If you doubt what I say (which I recommend on most occasions) then check out the BBC article here. Why is it back? Janet Oldroyd is the fourth generation of a family of rhubarb growers and she says, "...People used to have a really sweet tooth but now we like a bit of sharpness."

That's it right there. We are all on a fight back against blandness. Stronger flavours. Less middle ground. More differential. Why have parsley when you can have coriander? Why have coffee when you can have espresso?

And that, eventually, brings us round to our work. Is it enough? This is not a call for extremism in our work - although we can see that that is a trend that is also currently occurring. This is a call to say is our work strong enough, unique enough, or as Janet said - sharp enough? Or is it in that middle ground somewhere, being safe like a kid's jelly or a custard tart? Of course not everyone likes rhubarb and that's the payoff - passionate fans over bland middle ground.

An example from my own work: I'm meeting up with Dailymotion in a few weeks as they are big supporters of Mr Vista and I think this metaphor works for them. As a concept their website is similar to youtube. But youtube is a granny smiths apple. Their site needs to taste of rhubarb to make it appeal.

An example from my writing - my new treatment is currently being slaved upon. And its going well, unusual structure, odd characters etc. But does it have a strong enough flavour? That's my current question. I'm thinking of giving the lead character only one word of dialogue per scene. hmmmm - taste the sharpness.

Does your work have the tang of rhubarb my friends? Get sour.

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Photo by Dieter Weber used under CC

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