1. Sharie
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    Sharie Member

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    The value of stuff

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Sharie, Jan 4, 2015.

    I have a somewhat philosophical question about the value of stuff. As background, I've written a couple of stories set in an antique/junk store where the shop cat helps people find things which help them. I've tried to keep the assistance covert, where it looks like a coincidence that the cat was involved. In my favorite story, the cat "accidentally" discovers some old WWII memorabilia that helps a vet close a chapter in his life.

    Here's my question for you fine folks - given how materialistic our society has become, how plausible is it that stuff could have value to help people help themselves?

    In the story I'm currently working on, a re-write of the first story, a young girl, 13ish, loses her parents and is brought to the shop, under protest, so her little sister can play with the shop pets (there are 2 dogs in addition to the cat). The cat manages to dump an old artist's sketchbook on her head and she takes an interest in art. Much follows from there but that's the start of it.

    So, do you think this kind of thing, minus the helpful cat, happens to people? I know it's one of the great myth plots - person goes on quest for fabulous treasure, their life is made complete, etc. Has something like that every happened to any of you? Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    Sharie
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Sure. For all the disdain for 'stuff', how many of us would like to live without any? Things can certainly make our lives better, and I've never really bought into the meme that we're too materialistic (except for the mentally ill, like hoarders).

    I really like the cat idea.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That sounds like a sweet and quaint story and reminds me of Miyazaki's Japanese movie "Whisper of the Heart" - an animated movie about a 12-year-old girl who stumbles upon an antique shop and is capitvated by the beautiful glass eyes on an ornamental cat dressed in a suit and top hat. There she also sees a special grandfather's clock. The story develops that she strikes up a friendship with a boy of her age and discovers his love for the violin, and his determination to enter a music academy to study the violin inspires her to pursue her own dreams, and so starts her journey in becoming a writer. The film centres upon simply this period when she begins to neglect school in favour of writing her novel, and always, always revisiting that little antique shop for the cat with the glass eyes. It's the sweetest, most heartfelt little story ever.

    Anyway, yeah, I don't see anything implausible about your premise. Objects often become more than objects to us. Think of the significance of a wedding ring, why after a divorce or your spouse's death you might find this ring and suddenly breakdown in tears. Think of why people throw stuff away after a break-up, or perhaps keep stuff in a box but they're never willing to throw it out. One of my neighbours, after having lived in her house for about 40 years, finally moved away. After she moved, she became depressed, always saying, "This isn't my home." I'm not sure that she ever recovered.

    It isn't really about the object, but what we've turned it into, what memories and emotions we've invested into it, and what seeing the object might trigger in us - what thoughts or emotions, and sometimes that's the only way to get past a block because they are not thoughts you would've thought or emotions you would have allowed yourself to feel otherwise.
     
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  4. Sharie
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    Sharie Member

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    Stevesh, thanks - I really like the cat, Manny, too. The idea of him came to me when I caught one of my cats drinking out of my water cup once and I swear he looked at me and winked. Little bugger.

    Mckk, sad about your neighbor. Thanks for the heads up on the little movie - I'll check it out. Yes, the item as a trigger for further emotions/thought/growth is where I'm headed with this concept. In this case, how the girl responds, if she'll allow herself to move forward, will make an interesting story, I hope.

    Talked this one over with my hubby and he said what if it didn't trigger a response? That is, what if the stuff should trigger a response and doesn't, like your example of finding a wedding ring. Hmmmm, more story ideas!
     
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