Sunday, June 28, 2009


Typically writers aren't the best housekeepers. It's a bit of a cliche but it's based on priorities. We focus on those things that require our personal attention. Anyone can clean our house, but we're the only ones who love our families in just that special way. Or write the stories that we do.

We are unique. Not just as writers or families but as human beings. And sometimes we have to make choices that encompass all of our individual characteristics, foibles and passions.

After a great night of good conversation with another creative friend, I realized that I've completely abandoned Hell to Pay. I finished the edit, put it aside to give to my critique partner then started on the three projects currently vying for my attention. Then life happened. I went to Scotland, started a library course and bought a spinning wheel(more about that in another post)

Hell to Pay needs to come out for another read-through before it's sent out to find an audience. Alex and Nea deserve at least that much. Playing with Bracken and Bryna has kept their story closer to my memory than if I was working with characters they'd never met. They're quite an interesting couple and their challenges were unusual. I had lived with Alex for so many years it was nice to focus on someone, anyone, else for a change.

It's time to give him back the attention he needs. Hell to Pay has moved to the top of the writing priorities. Just as soon as I clean the house. I need room to spread out the papers for editing. See, it's always about writing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

Writers are well aware of the importance of setting and time periods for their stories. Culture, climate and world events can add tension and drama to the simplest of stories. The subtext adds depth.

Energies are different throughout the year. Winter blahs can't compete to summer frolics. Spring is bursting with life, Autumn fades into winter. There is a reason we discuss life in terms of seasons. No matter how Goth some people look, they don't have the weight of life experience someone in their winter years carries on their stooped shoulders and lined faces.

There are other rhythms within the seasons; days, nights, weeks, weekends. They all give off different energies which can further be defined by the season of your life. There's so much going on in every moment that the context of time is interesting to me.

If you're a plant-based life form Summer Solstice holds great significance for you. You're at the height of your growing season, and power. If this is a novel about identity, Summer Solstice can be either a good beginning or fitting climax. Use the energy surrounding the longest day of the year to heighten the character's drama or increase the plot's tension.

Bracken is in the summer of his life. But he's failed to reach his full potential. While I'm easily influenced by the season outside my windows, it's important to nail down exactly what rhythms have the most influence on him. Regardless, he's a plant-based life form and the sun's strength is crucial to his growth. How would he survive without it?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life, art and the whole ball of yarn

I need a writing challenge. While all three projects are progressing as far as research goes, words are not filling pages. Part of it has to do with the work load I came back to; part of it is lethargy that lingers from my throat infection; and part of it comes from other commitments. Not that I'm complaining; we make our priorities. Some are easier than others to meet.

One of the best things I've found to keep my mind on writing when my hands are otherwise occupied is to surround myself with objects, artifacts and photographs that remind me of the current wip. Casey is easy enough. I pet him every single day. And admire how well he walks with his new brace. In all likelihood that is the project I'll finish up first. I'm able to see the big picture on his story, and why it's one for me to tell(as opposed to other people who work in animal rehabilitation). I need to take some action photos of him playing in the yard.

As for the other two projects, Stashaholic is visiting for her college reunion. Many years ago, I hired her to work as my sound editor. Several of her classmates worked on that film in other capacities. It was a blast to meet up with them last night and realize how much I still love to tell stories. I simply use another medium now.

So does Stashaholic. Watching her spin fleece into wool, then knit it into a sweater is wonderful. Each fiber has its own story, can only be told in a specific way. Not all of it translates well into mittens or scarves. Some of it actually begs to be a lacy wrap or dressy sweater.

She brought her spinning wheel and several fibers with her as well as one sweater, a sock, and a shawl for me to work on. Reading through her spinning magazine is like walking into a buffet. There's almost too much to take in. Wheels, bobbins, fiber, twists, drumcarders and the list goes on. Fortunately, Callie has more to learn than I do, and so far the research is fun. There are a lot of textures to keep my mind on that story. I now have my own bag of Icelandic fleece to play with. Stashaholic finds it coarse. I like it. That probably says something about both of us. We haven't had a chance to play with the fleece I gathered from the field in Scotland. Soon.

Until I start a writing challenge that will brook no excuses, I pet the yarn, fondle the fern's leaves(Bracken considers it his due)and drool over the photos of an Icelandic summer.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I had the most incredible visit with my Great Grandpa in the town he emigrated from - Dunfermline. This is us at the train station. The experience was too personal to relate here. In fact, I'm still processing it a week later. I understand so much more about my life choices after that journey.

The entire trip was an eye-opener. It's not so much about how much I learned as much as it was the things that I had confirmed. Good research, anecdotal images and great intuition served me well for the Scottish scenes in Hell to Pay. What I didn't know is how prevalent Bracken fern is. It grows everywhere - with great tenacity.
It gave me some great insight into Bracken's character. I also bought a fossil of bracken fern. I was impressed with how much information I gathered for Rootless Trees.

In the Land of Sheep, the Sweater Book was never far from my mind. Fleece was littered all over the ground. I stuffed my pockets with as much as I could carry. That led to some research about how to clean it so that it would be safe to bring home. I might not have enough to actually do anything with but it will be fun to play with. It's interesting how soap and water changed the texture somewhat. Of course that was all research as Callie and Tess need to clean the fleece they get from the Icelandic sheep. It was a time consuming process but fascinated me. Water really loosened the fiber so that I could pick out debris. Drying loosened it further. I'm anxious to actually spin it and see what happens to the colour and consistency then.

Walking along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh a couple of days later, I found just the tool to try it with.

These are the sheep from whom that tuft came.

The trip to Scotland was a well-needed vacation with several friends. Who knew it would turn into an excellent fact-finding mission as well? Every moment there was a joy. 1900 pictures and I repeat last week's post but honestly these moments, and blog,are supposed to be writing related. The rest of it was was not as blatantly so but don't you think this guy's story would be interesting?

Thanks to Sheena, Tracey, Moira, Gordon and Theresa for being amazing hosts and showing me how incredible a country Scotland is