Loved One of My Inspiration

Yes, I’m still here, blog friends! I was going to do a #weekendcoffeeshare, but since the link-up is closed I’m posting this anyway. If you’re not familiar with #weekendcoffeeshare go to part time monster and investigate this fascinating phenomena. 

coffee

If we were having coffee I would tell you this isn’t your average writer’s block. And, it’s probably going to take more than a huge jolt of java to break through the monster stall in my brain. But, thanks in advance for the listen.

The urge for words seems distant now, almost as far away as the stars, disguised by uneasiness and cloaked in acute sadness. I tell myself that I will want to write again, that I haven’t come full circle and I believe I haven’t but, I admit, this is different. This is loss of mind power, of inspiration, of physical confidence.

Some days it feels like grief, like the of loss of a love, of a family member, or a cherished animal companion. The worst of it is, I know I’ll never see the loved one of my inspiration again…at least not in it’s prior form.

Honestly though, I don’t want my creativity to return in it’s old form – not really. When you’re truly obsessed with a thing, like writing or painting, I’m not sure you can be objective enough to see what you’re doing. I know I wore the first-timer rookie blinders with every keystroke.  Perhaps I should think of this change as a new range of vision. When I begin again, my view will be a wider angle, a panorama of words, paragraphs, chapters. I’ll see the timeline of my novel clearly and watch as the story flows and weaves itself from year to year, encompassing two generations of my world and the people who live there.

There are still holes in the story line, of course. Some of them are big enough to swallow a tank, but I know where they are now. I have time to fill them or erase them completely. Now that this pesky publishing thing is no longer an issue, I can do whatever I want and write whatever I want. In a way, that’s liberating.

At this moment my mind is only fit to read other people’s novels because they have already done the hard work. I don’t have to suffer and sweat over a hot keyboard, I have only to open the pages of their hard labor and be amazed. They created these stories just for me, for my amusement and inspiration. In the next weeks and months I’ll read for enjoyment with the knowledge that among these words is the spark I need.

Read. That’s one of Stephen King’s rules for writers. And, speaking of The King, I’d love to talk to him about long medical recoveries and its effects on creativity:) Anybody have his cell number?

How is your writing adventure going?

 

Photo credit: ultrakml / Foter / CC BY

BE NICE…Advice from Roadhouse

Happy New Year!

Christmas 2014 was the best Christmas for our little family in a while. Finally, the chaos of the last few years receded noticeably, washing us up on happier shores. Mother nature graced us with a white Christmas. Things were glittery, fragrant, comforting. We smiled a lot. Held hands. Toasted one another in restaurants. Shopped, read, played games. fireworks 2A delightful holiday buzz permeated the house and, when the time finally came, I didn’t want to take the tree down, put away the ornaments, or turn out the lights.

In honor of our wonderful festive week I decided to make a SINGLE New Year’s resolution and that is: Be Nice. Be nice to myself.

The moment Be Nice wriggled to the surface of my brain, Patrick Swayze’s speech in the best B-movie ever, Roadhouse, lit up my synapses. RoadhouseWho knew a cooler’s advice to his bouncers  made such an impression on me? I revisited his classic lesson on the following blog: How Do You Handle Angry Customers? Patrick Swayze Style! This link contains great advice about dealing with anger and providing good customer service. However,  it also works on a personal level when doing battle with powerful insecurities about writing or anything else.

So, here it is – tailored for the individual:

Picture yourself in a rowdy bar filled with your personal demons. No, you can’t party with them because while some of them may be attractive, they are not your friends.  (Actually, this isn’t a bad premise for a story…)

Patrick, RIP, is your very own mental bouncer, and he tells you how to kick these monsters to the curb…

  • Never underestimate your opponent; always expect the unexpected. (Your thoughts can manifest themselves in any form so be ready to deal with negative emotions and accept them without judgement. Ask for help if you need to.)
  • Never start anything inside the bar. (Don’t let your insecurities take over your thoughts. Take a break and step away. Ask for help. Your friends will help and encourage you.)
  • Be Nice. (To yourself.)

He continues on in graphic detail, of course, but you get the idea. Being nice is better…usually.

So,  what are you doing this year to be nice to yourself?

 

Thanks, BS, for the inspiration for this blog.

(Warning: Rating on Roadhouse is R.)

 

 

 

Winter Solstice Analemma

analemmaDefinition of ANALEMMA

:  a plot or graph of the position of the sun in the sky at a certain time of day (as noon) at one locale measured throughout the year that has the shape of a figure 8; also :  a scale (as on a globe or sundial) based on such a plot that shows the sun’s position for each day of the year or that allows local mean time to be determined
an·a·lem·mat·ic adjective – Webster’s Dictionary
Beautiful photo, huh? The definition doesn’t do it justice.
The winter solstice makes me wonder…does the lowest dot on the analemma represent the shortest day of the year? (That would be just left of the center of the fluffy cloud, by the way.) As a non-scientist, the idea of photographing the position of the sun intrigues me for reasons I can’t fathom. Perhaps it’s the daily routine, the high-tech camera equipment required, or perhaps the end result…a gorgeous figure eight framing the graceful twist of infinity. My fascination with the analemma reminds me of the ancients’ creation of Stonehenge and the Anasazi’s pilgrimages to local formations which captured the sun as it rose, flooding the Earth with information and omens. The movements of the sun are still important to us because, like the Anasazi, we still seek signs from the sky, knowledge from the sun, anything to guide us through the universe.
This time of year, with its many religious and secular celebrations, I always feel a bit like these ancient folks. I’m confounded by the events of our world and in need of explanation of the mysteries of life. But, as a realist, I know these annual events are just that: beautiful, predictable, undeniable.
All the same, deep in there somewhere, mystery and hope overrides rationality. Maybe people long ago tapped the conduit to the heavens; maybe they were closer to the truth than we can ever be.
bokeh-kiss_l
Wonderful Solstice and Happy Holidays greetings, blogging friends:)
What mystical feelings do you ponder?
Analemma – NASA

Writer’s Laryngitis

It’s rare my surly muse visits, and my writing has suffered in his absence. But, since I’ve reminded myself sucess is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, I’ve resisted the impulse to press the M key. Until now.

Alive or dead, Juan Reyes really is one of the most extraordinary characters I created. In case you don’t know, he was a videographer in my first novel. I killed him off so, in tribute to his stunning journalistic talent, good looks, irrepressible humor and selfishness, I resurrected him as my muse.

Tonight, in a gesture to the holidays, he wears new clothes, a black leather duster and broad-brimmed hat instead of his usual blood-stained fatigues. The overall effect is a bizarre combination of  western bad-guy and 1970s pimp. While I don’t comment on his clothes, I know he wouldn’t mind the comparison.Black leather jacket

Concern flickers in his eyes but, never given to sentimentality, a flirtatious grin immediately replaces worry.

“Been a long time since you summoned me,” he says, flashing his lighter and inhaling rapturously. Smoke wreaths my keyboard and while I can’t smell it, I remember the feeling.

I glance at him. He’s standing closer than usual tonight, almost within reach. Although he can’t enter the corporeal world, I have the strong feeling he wants to hug me.

“Laryngitis,” I say, turning to face him. “You know, my voice is gone.”

“Your voice sounds fine to me, but if it’s really a problem, try gargling with Jack Daniels twice a day.” In spite of his irreverent comment, he looks down at me, his dark face serious.

“Juan, I didn’t call you because…it took a while to figure out what was wrong with my book. My writer’s voice is gone, lost.”

dreadlocks 2He shakes his head, black dreads swirling over his shoulders. “I knew it was serious. I thought it was just my equipment when your words stopped coming. You put your WIP away, didn’t you?”

I nod.

“Don’t worry, girl,” Juan says, moving closer. I almost feel a rush of air as he brushes his hand over my keyboard and a single sentence appears on the monitor:

AN HONEST WRITER KNOWS WHEN TO MOVE ON.

“There’s no shame in quitting,” he whispers.  “Keep in mind the world you created will serve you well in the next novel. You have a character who’s so powerful, wise and relentless, I’m almost jealous. You’ll use him again. You have lyricism you’ll repeat while you fold it in with new inspiration.”

He crosses his arms. “When you blog about me, that’s your voice. That’s the way your world is. Remember: the definition of writer’s voice is the intangible power you use to make the reader wish he could live in your book or make him damned glad he doesn’t. It’s a sensibility; it’s like me. Always there in the background, adding all three dimensions, running like illegal software in the reader’s mind. He’s not even aware what’s happening, but you’re seducing him while he reads.”

We’re silent for a moment, and then he says, “I think we should watch a Christmas movie, don’t you?”

“Anything for you, muse. Which one did you have in mind?” I ask, my cursor hesitating over Netflix.

DIEHARD! Love all that 20th century American cursing,” he laughs.

“One of my personal favorites,” I agree and, as a young Bruce Willis fills the screen, my muse fades into the starlight of my office window.window stars

Have you ever misplaced your writer’s voice, if so, what did you do to regain it?

 

Photos: Foter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were Future Retro…

future retro woman

Warning: Blatantly sentimental blog ahead!

During a gigantic stall in revision I’ve been looking inspiration. Every time I think I’ve found a new source, I’m disappointed. My bad-boy muse is vacationing on stellar shores far from here, so I can’t count on him. Sometimes though, inspiration is right under your nose or, in my case, right under the stairway.

When my husband suggested we clean out the boxes from under the stairs, I was excited. We don’t collect much stuff and we didn’t bring a great deal of junk from our former lives, but what we do have has lurked under the carpeted treads… for the last twenty years. Filled with enthusiasm, he lugged the crumbling containers out, piling them in the middle of our walkout basement.Nikon

“OK, tell  Harry Potter his room is ready now,” he called, grinning at me as I stared down at the huge mountain of cardboard artifacts. Suddenly, I was Indian Jones unearthing relics from an ancient life – my own.  How will I feel when I open the photo albums, I wondered. Inside there might be dragons…or so I thought.

Instead I found inspiration.

As I looked into the faces of dear friends and an ex-husband, a lost lover and a sweet child named for me, my wonderful co-workers still living or long dead, I was amazed.  How could people who sucked the air from the room then appear so human and normal now? Apparently my eyes were dazzled by what was in front of them at the time, leaving my mind to expand moments of the past into infinite size.

The second those photos were snapped we all became Future Retro; we just didn’t know it yet.baby photo

So, after dashing away a tear, I decided to wrangle all that sentiment into something useful – Word fodder. Opening the door to the past sometimes tests our nerves but, even if we laugh or blush, nothing more can happen to those Future Retro days. Now they are strictly under our control, highly charged emotional clay we can mold into fiction.

Imagination is, after all,  the sum total of our memory and experience. Our fears and hopes, humor and chaos invade our writing resulting in characters who are fearless or weak, compassionate or wrathful. These people  are bold, they accomplish what we were unable to accomplish…maybe.  They succeed where we failed…or the other way around:)

Do memories inspire you? Have you tapped the aquifer of memory in your own mind?

 

Future Retro is a fantastic 80’s compilation remix released in 2006 by Rhino Records. Check it out on Wikipedia and, while you’re there, contribute to keep Wikipedia commercial free.

Photos: Foter

Great Galactic Couples

11954241201556281584tomas_arad_heart.svg.thumbAs I approach the most important scene in revision, the moment my two lovers meet for the first time, I’ve been thinking about my favorite SFR novels. They span decades, their styles are different, their characters unique, but they all have one thing in common. L.O.V.E. At first sight. Pretty much.

In preparation for this scene, I read through my male character sketch and I found the following:

“Who can explain the nature of attraction? The philosophers promise it is a gift of mystery, the devotees preach it is the will of the gods, the cynics sneer it is an accident of timing. Until Naomi appeared in my life, I never thought about these questions. Now I cannot stop asking them.”

So, here are a couple of early SFRs that explore the nature of attraction. If you haven’t read them, you’ll find they stand the test of time.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman51JF1gGjMgL._AA160_

Written in the early 1970s , The Forever War is an evolution of Starship Troopers, without Heinlein’s not-so-thinly veiled sexism. Haldeman’s love story is military science fiction set in a grim universe, but his draftee characters, William Mandella and Marygay Potter manage to triumph over the ruthless barriers of time and space. Haldeman’s irony and humor make this a true classic.

 

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

51eiH-Rv2oL._AA160_On a routine survey mission astrocartographer Captain Cordelia Naismith is taken prisoner by Lord Aral Vorkosigan, leader of a merciless expeditionary force. In spite of  their strongly opposing politics  and profound culture clash, Aral  is immediately intrigued with his serene and wise captive. And the feeling is mutual.Cordelia’s compassion and intelligence tempers Aral’s hunger for power and tormented nature seamlessly.  Bujold frames their unlikely romance with her truly remarkable world-building.

So, you tell me. What inspires attraction? Who are your favorite galactic couples?

 

Check out TaylorGraceauthor.wordpress.com for the 5 Books I re-read over and over.   Thanks for the inspiration for this blog, Taylor.

Also, J. C. Conway.com has a wonderful post about what happens when we fall in love – Love Science. Amazing stuff!

Book images: Amazon

 

Armed star-gazer in Elkland

2014-10-12 07.54.36Last Friday was a big birthday so we took a couple of days off and visited Estes Park, Colorado…just up the hill from our town. When you make your home in a tourist destination state it’s easy to let everyday life distract you, so it was fun being part of a tourist weekend. People were everywhere, visiting Rocky Mountain National Park and watching the last of the aspen leaves swirl from the trees. From a polite distance, crowds observed the yearly mating dance of the elk who reclaim their grazing rights among the buildings, parks, and golf courses of Estes Park. It’s a wonderful live-and-let-love tradition in town. I’ve enclosed a few photos.  To the left is the royal male himself, munching on grass in the Safeway parking lot.

To the right the former King of Elkland reclines in the sun by the soccer nets.2014-10-11 15.51.53 The cows grazed around aimlessly but, occasionally, I swear I saw one of the gals wink enticingly at the young King.

In any case, we had a good time, ate too much and went  off the grid.

During the day we also scouted out places to star gaze  in RMNP.  I wanted to see the Milky Way in its glory, but even though the weather didn’t co-operate, my husband was ready. At the beginning of our trip, as I searched through the center console of his pickup  for my camera, the unmistakable glint of a twenty-two winked up at me.

He grinned and shrugged. “Can’t go up in the hills at night without protection. Just think of me as your armed star-gazer.”

I whipped out my spiral notebook. “Do you mind if  I use that for the title of my next novel?”

He just smiled.

Where do the titles of your stories, blogs, or novels come from?