Sunday, April 26, 2009

Again with the perspective

Life is good. I don't have to trek overland through drought parched terrain for a drink of water. Or lose my footing and slide on my belly right into the sharp claws of a hungry cheetah. Why yes, I did go see Disney Earth at the movie theater last night. The cinematography was amazing. Absolutely stunning. There's just something about watching nature in all its tooth and claw on the big screen that makes me realize how easy my domesticated life actually is.

I have my health, mobility and all of my senses. A friend of mine is struggling with ALS, cancer and the stupidity of a drunk driver who punched him in the face last week. The driver almost ran down my friend who was crossing the intersection on his medical scooter. Harsh words were exchanged. Then one brutal punch. Who hits an old man in a wheelchair? Fortunately, the primary witness was a police officer.

I have friends and family, jobs I like, food, shelter and wonderful companions. I'm easily amused and entertained. I get out. Travel. Life is good.

It's not perfect. We all have our trials and frustrations. Watching my friends cope with the imperfections in their lives helps me get perspective on my own.

How many times as writers have we struggled with scenes or characters failing to do what's best for the story? Often, switching the point of view will strengthen it. Who has the most to lose? The most to gain? Who is altered most?

After tossing the impaired driver into the squad car, and taking care of first aid for my friend, the cop asked him,"What's your story?" And that made me think. No matter what angle you see something from, there's always another way to look at it. I'm looking forward to hearing the driver's version. Was it fear, guilt anger or relief that made him get out of his car in the first place? What was he thinking? I'm curious about his point-of-view.

Perspective keeps life, and good reads, interesting.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rainy days are made for reading

It's finally a rainy day - perfect for reading. I am grossly unmotivated to do anything else. This past week has been a study in frustration as far as Casey's Journey to a Healthy Leg goes. Unlike my other writing projects, the non-fiction account of Casey's leg trials is ongoing, demanding and exhausting. Nor can it be put aside because I keep dropping the spindle, can't figure out genetics or how Iceland shapes the character of two protagonists.

We are running out of time. Casey will be a year old soon and his bones will start to set. Because of the atrophy in one of his shoulder muscles, he turns his leg at roughly a 35 degree angle. I'm swimming with him every other day, using a Pilates ball on alternate days and sending him out for daily walks and shoulder stretches. The brace keeps his leg straight but the boot does not. The consequences of walking him with the foot turning inside his boot are painful (yay, he has feeling in his foot;boo, it hurts)and damaging to tendons and ligaments. "It's always something."

SO, I'm trying to redesign the entire leg/foot support system.

Which is why I spent last night and today reading.
Travellers Iceland
Let's visit Iceland by I.O. Evans
Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox
Basket Case by Carl Hiassen
Save the Cat: The last book on screenwriting that you'll ever need by Blake Snyder
DK Eyewitness Scotland - Why do they not have one about Iceland???
Fool by Christopher Moore and finally
Men in Kilts by Katie McAlister.

Really. In the last 24 hours I've picked up, started or finished every single one of those books. Somewhere in there lies the answer to this current Casey riddle. Because thinking of it directly has failed to net any results. And Michael J. Fox makes me think I can accomplish anything. It's all attitude.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Research, research, research

First of all - someone needs to write a really good travel guide to Iceland. I went down to Chapters the other day and looked at the only three books they had on that beautiful country. I bought one as the other two weren't that helpful. I ordered three more through the library. I'll let you know how useful they are but from the quick look I got at all of them, they are lacking.

Stashaholic was here for the weekend. We did the usual red wine, ChedaCorn and a movie. We crocheted our fingers to the bone to finish up a couple of comfortghans. I dropped the ball, or more accurately, ran out of balls, so that I had to do some shopping before we could finish the last one. It's almost done and spread out on the spare room bed.

We also played with fiber and her spinning wheel. Wow, that's a workout. I couldn't believe the pull in my calves, thighs and butt. Way better than Pilates. I reacquainted myself with my three spindles and looked at plenty of sheep. Stashaholic is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on all of the above. I wish I'd taken notes. She's an invaluable resource.

We talked a lot about Sturla's Sweater; both the book and the actual article of clothing. So much of our own interactions, interests and activities are the basis for that book. We watched Wrath of Gods again and tried to freeze the DVD to get the perfect shot of that sweater. It was so like the opening scene that I'd already written, I couldn't help but laugh. No, I don't think he bought this sweater at WalMart.

Thanks to Jon Gustafsson for the still from Wrath of Gods

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The importance of good research

Last week was incredibly productive but not in the way I had expected. Thanks to the mindless bubble popping game I had found the solution to Kelli's identity,as well as a flicker of insight into DNA sequencing. It should have been a simple case of sitting down and writing what I knew.

For some unfathomable reason, Kelli's name was still giving me trouble. A quick email to Jon revealed the problem. Women's nicknames don't end with an "i" but rather an "a". That stopped me cold. He sent me a great link with Icelandic female names that led me to Brynja -which means armor. As her name was changed to protect her, that works. I've spent the last couple of days thinking of Kelli as Brynja.

In the meantime, I spent some time online researching airfare to Iceland. It's an essential scene in Sturla's Sweater. How does Callie decide that they should begin that journey? August has the best deals if anyone is interested. I have to watch Wrath of Gods again soon as that film precipitates the entire story. The opening scene involves that film, a bottle of wine and two life-long friends.

I'm not quite ready to go forward with Rootless Trees. Jon's input made me realize how much we depend on intrinsic knowledge to flesh out our writing. This book has two unfamiliar settings, Iceland and North Carolina. While I'm blessed to have friends who live in both locations, I've never personally walked the ground at either one. There are bound to be mistakes that have the potential to rip the reader out of the book.

That explains why Sturla's Sweater is progressing better. A large chunk of it takes place in surroundings with which I am familiar. The research I have to do is similar to the process one of the characters will go through so it's actually a part of the storyline. It's easier. Not to say it's without its own set of challenges. It does require some footwork in Iceland as well. And some quality time with sheep. But at least I won't blunder character names. Or have to worry about a hard science like genetics. You know that's going to take some serious research.