The Writer and New Experiences

Austin and his crew sculpted a zombie mask over my plaster head.  They will then cast a latex mask from this sculpt.

Austin and his crew sculpted a zombie mask over my plaster head. They will then cast a latex mask from this sculpt.

Some of the best advice I ever received from any writing instructor was that writers, in order to write better and more interesting things, must all the time be looking for new experiences to broaden their horizons.  This last week I did just that.

Most often, for me at least, experiencing new things usually involves a quick interview of someone who has an interesting career (i.e. policemen, morticians, road crew workers).  This time, however, it involved getting a life cast of my head and shoulders.

I was asked by my friend Austin Young with Endless Wonder Studios if I would do the life cast because he said I had “nondescript features.”  In the world of practical makeups this apparently is a good thing.  

The process took about 45 minutes from start to finish, but I learned so much about what it’s like to be completely covered in plaster with only a small opening over my nostrils for me to breathe.  It was claustrophobic, as one might imagine, but also interesting in that I wasn’t that uncomfortable.  I thought I’d be going mad after the alginate was poured over my face.  

The most annoying thing were the flies landing on my feet throughout the entire process, and me not having any method of telling them about it or shooing them away.  

I learned several things.  Plaster heats up when it cures.  Alginate dries incredibly fast.  If I pull out too fast from the mould I could potentially damage the alginate.  Also…vaseline is important on the eyebrows, eyelashes and any other exposed hair.

What this writer takes away from the process is that writers must try to experience all kinds of things (within reason) to be better writers.  I will never write about Key West Florida unless I visit there and experience it.  I set the beginning of This Broken Earth in and around Little Axe, Oklahoma because I’m live there.  

When in doubt, write what you know.

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