Archive for April 2009

Sailboats, Weather & Wagons

April 26, 2009

We had a few days of spring weather here this past week.  Then Saturday morning the winds shifted to the north, and the temps dropped 40 degrees.sailboat-in-spring

 

I took this photo of one of the first sail boats out on the lake, scurrying back to the less choppy waters of the marina when the weather changed.  But seeing sailboats and sport fishing boats on the water once again lifts the spirit.  We don’t see those in the winter months.

 

Along with the drop in temps and the shift in wind came the rains.  Heavy rains and thunder and lightening storms.  I drove into church this morning and saw that all the normally tranquil, tiny creeks and streams that gurgle their way toward the lake are rushing rivers now, overflowing their banks, flooding fields, and making low spots in the roadways more like swimming pools.  I have noticed the migrating ducks seem quite content with all the additional water on which they can land. However, the mud-tethered tractors trapped in watery fields can’t make the farmers happy.

 

seawall-aprilThe grass has greened up before our eyes with all this rain and the early week warmer temps.  Wherever I look I see blossoming forsythia, magnolias, daffodils, crocus.  Probably in another week our ravine, with one of those gurgling brooks running through it, will be filled with trilliums, buttercups, violets and lilies of the valley. 

 

The resident fox family definitely weathered the winter and now has kits which have been spotted by some of our neighbors.

 

While a Wisconsin spring isn’t as beautiful as it is in other areas, nor does it last as long, it is a season that uplifts my soul. Spring makes me happy. My family, friends, and I have come through another winter, another year with all its trials, triumphs, grief and gladness.  If those foxes were Disney foxes, I bet they’d feel the same way.

 

I think all this living creates the uniqueness within each of us. Meeting life’s challenges gives us our wisdom and strength.  I’m sure that is why I’m drawn to take photos of old, well-worn, useful objects.  They’ve survived, weathered who knows what, have character.  I leave you with one of my favorites. old-wagon-at-mission

 

I took this photo on the grounds of a California coast mission, not one of the ones usually visited, so it wasn’t so prettied up.  I’d like to think this shot reflects me, battered, broken sometimes, but still inspiring to some.  I feel inspired every time I view it.

Inspiration on a Spring Day

April 19, 2009

Memorial garden with jonquils

Memorial garden with jonquils

Yesterday, I went to the Milwaukee area writers group meeting. Our state writer’s group, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, runs the FAB 5 a writing contest every year for unpublished authors. One of the finalists this year, Betsy Norman, was at the meeting and it was so exciting to see her glow.

We also had an excellent speaker, Sandee Turriff, who talked about hypnosis and what it really is. In addition to being a published writer, Sandee is an RN and a clinical hypnotherapist. She explained away some of the myths and how understanding of hypnosis can help us in our daily lives as well as perhaps aid us be more accurate if we should use the concept in our writing. More than 24 hours later I’m still mulling over all Sandee explained.

While I’m not planning on using hypnosis for a book in the near future, who knows when such an item might become useful? I could even use it myself as she did discuss applying self hypnosis under certain conditions.

However, what I also found at the meeting and in the drive up and back were the inspirational seeds for this blog posting. Sandee explained that often can happen in driving or in listening to certain types of voices because our brains switch to a different mode (my interpretation, not hers). This mode allows our creativity to come out to play.

I’m not quite sure how playful that part of my brain was at the time, but I’m thinking about how interesting all the participants at the meeting were yesterday, each with their bits of news. Watching body language, (I’m reading a book on that right now) I also started thinking about new bits of behavior for future characters in my books. All this information is filed away and will emerge when I need it come my next writing project.

Yesterday was also a delightful day for a drive. Blue skies, 70 degree temps (those don’t come often in WI in April), greening fields, and budding trees. Farmers were in their fields, kids were outside playing soccer and baseball, Moms were walking babies, and anglers in waders were fishing in the streams. Just my smelling the air and seeing these signs of spring invigorated my creative muse. seawall-tulip-bed

Inspiration comes to us in many ways. We need only open our minds and let the world around us enter. Then we can do with those images whatever we want. We are writers.

When Writers Meet

April 11, 2009

j0341562Last week, I posted about the Iditarod and its solitary nature—a quality the race shares with writers.  While most writers enjoy that solitary time, we also love those times we find ourselves with other writers.

 

On Wednesday I drove 180 round trip miles—alone and thinking about writing projects.  My purpose for the trip?  To meet a writer friend.  The trip to my destination provided me few clues about my creativity. However, I saw 5 large hawks, several flocks of geese and ducks–all heading north, and livestock, mostly dairy cows and horses.

 

What a perfect day. 

 

The Wisconsin weather cooperated with gentle breezes, sunny skies, and 50 degree temps.  My friend and I meet at a Starbucks which wasn’t busy. After a hug, we got our coffee and settled at “our table for conversation about happenings in our writing lives.  She shared her joy at being a Golden Heart finalist. I shared my agitation about where I go from this current stage in my writing career.

 

We skipped to politics, health care, finances, religion, philosophy, family, friends and back to writing.  Then on to books we’ve read, movies we’ve seen, plots and story lines we are considering. And found ourselves back with the concerns we have with our current writing projects or issues.  During all this chat, we moved from Starbucks to a restaurant for a meal to fuel us for our long and solitary trips home.  Hers is about the same mileage as mine but in a different direction.

 

On my trip home, I pondered all we talked about as it related to my writing and where I want to go with it in the next few months.  What I decide to do will reflect on my family, my friends, and my own life.  Each writing project takes a different toll on me (I suspect this is true of many writers).  Each project imposes certain constraints on me also.  These elements must come into play when I make my decision (with some prodding from my creative muse) as to which project path I follow next. 

 

My writer friend—one I didn’t know five years ago but who’s become very important to me since then, helped me a great deal.  I hope I do the same for her.  When we both get our creative energy flowing from these times together, we anticipate and make sure our next “perfect day” happens.asiatic-lillies

 

My writing life has gifted me with meeting so many supportive, creative people. Some I “know” only in cyberspace from various writers’ loops.  Others I’ve actually met at conferences, retreats, and gatherings.  Yes, writing has its solitary times, a necessity to write. But our technological world has given writers the means to reach out and connect, and discover new friends we may have never encountered otherwise. We need these friends to keep ourselves sane and on track as we pursue writing goals.   

Iditarod And Writing

April 5, 2009

My Alaska son sent me this photo. He took it of an Iditarod musher a few miles after the race’s official start in Willow, Alaska, last month.  Twilight comes early that far north, and I find the lighting makes the photo even more haunting. Think of it: a lone musher striking out into the wilderness, alone except for the sled dogs.

iditarod-3-09-n-of-willow-start-rev

 

 Why, when we all desperately want spring to arrive and stay, am I talking about probably the most grueling and frigid sport competition, one that always happens in the winter?

 

Because it also made me think of writers. J 

 

CB040414The Iditarod race is one of isolation within the wilderness.  Pitfalls can happen.  The only companions for hours at a time are a musher’s dogs.  They speak the same language regarding the race and its objective.  The musher and his/her dogs become one during the race.

 

Like a writer and her/his words and story.

 

The Iditarod has history, personal stories and rivalries, interesting participants, mystery—the stuff of great books. A really great mystery about the Iditarod was written by Sue Henry, an Alaskan author, and titled Murder on the Iditarod Trail. I picked it up in an Anchorage bookstore on one of my trips to Alaska to visit my son. 

 

I thought of that book also when I viewed my son’s photo. (If you get a chance pick it up.) J

 

For over a thousand miles this team of dogs and musher battle nature and compete with others to win the prize.  But the race is solitary and the musher’s unique vision is what sustains him or her and produces success: winning the race—getting first to Nome.

 

Sort of like a writer’s life, right?

 

 

We are a solitary profession.  When we enter our writing zone, our vision of our story and the computer and keyboard consume us as we pound out our plot. But when writers have to chance to get together, what do we talk about?  Writing–its challenges, its glories, its pitfalls.  I’m not so sure about that with the mushers, and at checkpoints they do gather together throughout the race.

 

 

We have scary moments like mushers do. How will the markets, the changes in publishing, the loss of an agent or editor affect me?  What if no one loves my books, my voice, my unique world view?  What if I never finish this book?  Get into trouble along the way to the last chapter?  Do I have a plan to solve it? 

 

Sounds like the mushers with their steel-willed determination to get to the end of the race.  And writers need that same determination and perseverance to finish the books.  That, in itself, is winning, just finishing the damn race or the damn book.  J

 

Because some don’t.  For whatever reason.

 

Starting a new writing project or moving off into a new genre in our writing is much like starting the Iditarod in Willow.  You head out into the twilight, you’ve got your plan, you know the route, you’ve got your aids…but dangers lurk.My First Book Cover

 

Like mushers, writers must be prepared for the dangers they anticipate as well as for those unexpected ones.  Like mushers and their dogs, we are solitary, we are strong, we are determined, we will force our way to the finish line.  Then we have the satisfaction of knowing we’ve once again beaten the odds, finished a book, and just maybe, found the publication prize.

 

Yes, the Iditarod photo haunts me.  Inspires me.  Makes me think.  What about you?