Today's Desk, Writing

Today’s Desk, 3/28

Another thrilling glimpse into the glamour of my writing life:

Out the window: High clouds shading from a cold gray, into the bluish Payne’s gray (one of my favorite colors!), into paler shades of off-white and gravel. Strong winds toss the shrubs and trees, so they dance and sway. But the temps are far nicer than expected–the low 60’s, I think. It actually feels like spring, for a change. And so far, the rain has gone around us.

On the desktop: Maps! Two at the moment, but I think I need to create another one. These are the maps I’ve made of the land, and the world, of my novel-in-progress. I started with the area, then spread to the country that the story will operate within. Then I expanded that to the populated world. I didn’t include the poles, since no one lives there, or the uninhabited islands near the equator, or a few other such things…but maybe I should? After all, while my characters will never leave their country, the greater world (though cut off now for nearly 20 years by an apocalyptic event) still exists and is referred to. Looks like I have work to do.

Also on the desk are a couple different notebooks, holding paper notes from when turning on the computer is likely to have me surfing instead of writing (sigh, yes: distractions R me).

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Well, obviously it seems, I need another quick, large-scale map. And then I get to turn my attention to further world building. Today’s topic to adequately explain to myself:  How does religion evolve in a world where magic is real, and practiced by humans (with training, but still) for profit? I can already feel the headache coming on as I wrestle with this one. I’d better schedule a couple days for this, I think.

And Another Thing: Remember that Coursera class I’m taking? I expected it to help with my SF short stories, but it’s helped in this fantasy story, as well. I needed a plausible reason why people wouldn’t live on the shore of the oceans, or close to the oceans on navigable rivers. You can only make so many coasts “dangerous cliffs” before it becomes a bit of a stretch, you know? So I pondered this, and it came to me–that lecture in the class, the one on moons? The instructor mentioned that multiple moons would make tides more erratic, and more likely to be huge, like Earth’s Bay of Fundy. Tah-dah!!! Perfect reason not to live near the very dangerous shorelines. My world now has three moons. Which also affected holidays, and their mythology, etc.

Magic of the Everyday, Writing

Stoking the Fires of Imagination

MP900305872One of the finest glories of moving is finding new libraries, and within them, new books. I’m doing this now. The nearest library to me just didn’t “speak” to me. It wasn’t bad, or ugly, or anything else that I could put my finger on, exactly. Nevertheless, it didn’t feel like home. The shelves weren’t stocked with enough of my kind of books (SF/F, of course, but also travel, and language, and reference, and…you get the idea).

Another library, where I’d gone for a writers’ group meeting, seemed nice enough, but still a bit…bland. Sterile. And definitely too far away to be an everyday kind of place.

Yesterday evening hubby and I ventured to another library, a different system in the same county as our local library. This library whispered seduction before I even walked through the door; artwork in the form of a sculpture guarded the steps, showing a seated male African lion with a young boy leaning on its flank, engrossed in a book. It was titled “Wild Imagination.” Yes, I thought. That’s it, exactly.

Still, I didn’t dare hope too much. Until I went inside and saw the stacks. Oh, the reference! I could live there. So much to learn, to read, to osmotically assimilate by running hands over pages and pages of glorious information! And the fiction was lovely and wild. With some trepidation I headed toward the Nonfiction; specifically, to 808’s. Dewey fans will recognize that as Literature, home of writing how-to’s. I needed to see how they stacked this area, what gems might be hidden there. And surprise me it did. There on the shelf was a book I’d heard referred to often, but had never read. It’s here beside me now: Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury, copyrighted 1989.

Let me tell you, if you haven’t read this little gem, run right out and do so. I’ve been struggling a bit with feeding my muse, with feeling creative. I know, I know–moving has thrown me for a bit of a loop, and I’ll overcome this. But still.

You’ll know the feeling if you’re a writer. It’s a combination of impostor syndrome and writer’s block and fear that you’ve burned out your entire arsenal of ‘good’ ideas, leaving you only a dried-up second-rate hack with nothing to say before you’ve even said anything. (sigh) I’ve only read Bradbury’s first two essays, but already my creative fires are burning bright, eagerly licking at my fingers, urging them “Type faster, darn it! I’ve got things to say.”

I’ve been focussing so much on improving my craft that I’d almost forgotten the pure joy writing can bring. I was letting my internal editor dampen my enthusiasm, and pre-editing my ideas into dull gray ash. Ugh. No wonder I was having a hard time getting enthused. Ideas are fire, bright and alluring. The best ones can burn the writer. Some stories burn out of control, never to see publication. But to me, a story going down in flames is far better than one that never left the safety net. That ‘boring’ story is never going to get published either, and is far less fun to write.

Another balancing act, then–the fire of creativity balanced by the dispassionate editor, carving ‘story’ out of dancing chaos. Sounds like fun, no?

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Rejection

Superstition or Coincidence?

So, today the unusual occurred. Again.

I saw a small snake on the path and had to wake it up to shoo it off before the dog or I stepped on it. And it was pretty warm, so I can’t figure out why it was so lethargic. Neat, but no big deal. Later we were walking (okay, my head was on writing, so I was likely trudging along) when I got a sudden weird feeling and looked up to see a large dark spot hanging in the tree branches. My hackles went up until it resolved into the back of an owl. How cool was that?

I put the dog into a sit-stay and walked some distance around the tree the owl perched in. I wanted to see if it was a barred owl, like I’d seen so often in the old home. (Barred owls are the only smooth-headed owl with dark eyes here in Ohio.) As you can see from this photo (taken with my miserable cell-phone camera – ugh!), it is.

I was really excited to see this guy, and to get a good picture of him (considering the camera, it’s good). Then I felt that old fear trembling my belly. ‘Oh no,’ I thought. ‘I bet I’m getting rejected again today.’ Then I told myself not to be so superstitious. After all, just because I see cool wildlife does not mean I’m going to receive a rejection. Right?

Wrong! A couple hours after getting back, there it was. Nice, personalized, telling me I’d made it to the last round but still no go. Sigh. So what is it with Mother Nature and my rejections? Well, at least I got to see a really cool owl.

Magic of the Everyday, Writing

Happy Halloween!

This Year's Porch Protector

All you fantasy writers, I hope you enjoy this day when the rest of the country indulges in our “normal” writing mindsets, when magic runs rampant in the world and spills over into everyday life. Witches at the bank. Fairy Godmothers running the grocery cash registers. Zoot-suited gangsters in the convenience store. Creativity runs amok!

Enjoy the company and have fun. Tomorrow’s another writing day. Maybe some of what you see–or think you see–will make it into your word-count this year.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Writing

Everyday Magics

Where does inspiration come from?

Each day I walk my dog. Each day, we watch leaves turning colors, growing or falling. I see the rivers’ levels rising and falling with passing storms and seasons. Vandalism occurs, and is wiped away. Giant trees fall, leaving gaping holes in the canopy. Smaller trees fill in, while the fallen wither from within thanks to termites. Mushrooms and giant puffballs sprout as if overnight, and are gone almost as soon.

These, to me, are everyday magic. I might not like each change, but still they come, and I am forced to notice them. Until I don’t, and they’re “the normal” once more. Like magic, no?