Last night I received an e-mail from my writing group inviting me to an impromptu group writing session on Bowen Island an absolutely beautiful island just an hour from my home in downtown Vancouver British Columbia. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to live in Vancouver.
We departed on the 9am ferry and spent several hours eating, writing and socializing. Thanks for the food (mmm butternut squash soup) and hosting go to my new friend and member of the writing group I just joined Melanie (Mel) Anastasiou (and of course Mark). Mel is writing an amazing series of mystery novels that makes me want to read them all at once (I never knew how frustrating it would be to hear bits of great stories people are writing and not have the option to go and buy the book immediately to satisfy my curiosity bug.)
Mel’s place was inspirational indeed, a lovely home nestled in cedar trees overlooking the ocean with snow capped mountains on the horizon. A bald eagle flew over the water while I was eating lunch. I said it before, but it bears repeating, I am so luck to live on the west coast of British Columbia. I love to travel but I can’t imagine living anywhere else permanently.
When I sat down I had no idea what to write, a problem I am sure all writers share on occasion. I had just finished the first draft of my novel so I wanted to let that sit for a while before I tried to work on it again, or the sequel. That left me in a lurch so I thumbed through my moleskin journal for something I could work on and came upon some notes I wrote for a new novel idea. I won’t spoil the plot because I may post some of it for you to read later but I will say it is a book filled with what I like to call Maple Syrup Memories. These are the warm and sweet memories most people have that are a bit fuzzy and distorted and in my mind tingled like old photographs. They are the happy, idealized memories from the past that make you smile and provide a feeling of warm nostalgia.
So I had the inspirational setting for writing and the subject but was missing a topic. This was solved by a short guided meditation and a writing exercise our group uses to spur our imaginations. I don’t have the exact exercise at hand but in case any of you are looking for an exercise to get you inspired today I will share on of my favorites.
Close your eyes and imagine an antagonist. It could be the antagonist from a story you are writing. It could be your favorite villain from a book or movie, or it could be the boy or girl who pushed you down and made you cry in grade school. Choose one. Think about them, think about what makes them a villain (this may make you angry) then stop. Now think about that person as a child. Were they happy? Were they the active type or the loner? Once you have a good picture of them in your head, let the story of one childhood event flow out onto the page without judgment for the person they became. Did that event change them, or does it illustrate their personality that remains in their current villain persona? Every villain is the hero of their own story, put pen to paper and tell one small part of their story.