Today was my first day back to work after over two weeks with the worst cold ever. The cold cycled through nose, head, throat and chest, over and over again, ending with a bout of bronchitis that even now leaves me breathless (not in the good way). So, for the last two weeks I’ve done little other than sleep and avoid the glares of friends, family and strangers on the street, who were all hoping not to catch the plague.
Today left me exhausted. But, one of the things that helped me power through is that I’m still riding a high from last weekend’s Surrey International Writers’ Conference. I went sick, but I went and I couldn’t be happier. I met amazing people, took in amazing seminars (between coughing fits and naps) and pitched my novel Riveted three times. I don’t want to jinx my chances, but I had a request (or three) for chapters and I am now waiting (impatiently) to see how the agents like my writing. Wish me luck.
Songs tell a story. The story is written by the author, but the meaning is delivered by the singer. The singer has the ability to change a song dramatically depending on the emotion they bring to the performance. Songs present a similar exciting opportunity to authors. Singers can give the words emotion, and writers can give the words a history. Listen to your favourite song, then read the lyrics. Ask yourself where the song came from. Don’t research. Pretend your character wrote the lyrics then tell the story behind them. Are the words ironic? Are they heartfelt? Are they driven by a passionate life experience, or the canny mind of a professional songwriter looking to make a buck. Spend twenty minutes telling yourself the story behind your favourite song. Happy writing.
I think I might have seriously flawed judgment. Does it say something about me that I just watched the entire second season of The Walking Dead in two days? And it wasn’t one of those short six-episode seasons. Nope, it was 12 hours of zombies eating people. I loved it, and hated it, and loved it. I screamed out loud several times. Andre had to come out and ask me if I needed him to turn the TV off for me. I declined. Then I went to bed and had zombie related nightmares. But, one night of disturbed sleep wasn’t enough to stop me. The next day I dug right back in and finished off the season. My rationale was that if I finished it I would have concentrated the fear into two days and the nightmares would go away all the sooner. Right. Like I said, seriously flawed judgement. But that show is freaking awesome.
And in news of other scary things, I was watching the actual news yesterday and I saw a story on who has the most expensive wrist watch, Romney or Obama. And before you say “Laura, TMZ doesn’t count as actual news” it was CNN people! They are electing the next leader of the free world, and the best topic of conversation CNN could come up with was who has the shiniest timepiece. Really people? Can I quit the world?
Are you scared of monsters? Do goblins and ghouls make you run for the hills? Do stories of vampires and poltergeist keep you up nights? While some monsters can be scary, others just seem to be overblown. Consider a character who just refuses to be afraid. They still believe in monsters, and even meet them, but for some reason just won’t cave to the fear. How would that manifest? Perhaps the character would wear garlic to prevent vampire attack and then wander freely. Or faced with a moaning ghost in their home would simply insert earplugs and get a great night’s sleep. How would the monsters react? Spend a half hour writing about your fearless protagonist, then watch a comedy before you go to bed…monster stories can cause nightmares.
Yesterday I went to Victoria for work. Traveling for work can be stressful and exhausting, but I had a great time in no small part due to my method of transportation. I got to take a ferry. “Geek!” Hey, who said that? Well it may be true that a ferry isn’t the most traditionally exciting mode of transportation, but ferries hold a special place in my heart. Each summer as a child I took the ferry to Vancouver Island to spend time with my grandparents. The ferry always meant time with people I loved, two hours of running around in a new and exciting-to-a-child environment, searching the horizon or signs of whales, feeding seagulls bread (which I later found out was really bad for them – sorry seagulls), and eating Nanaimo Bars.
While I have now given up my Nanaimo Bar habit and no longer destroy the digestive systems of waterfowl with Wonder Bread, I still love the ferry. I love that when I’m on the ferry I don’t need to be productive. I have time that is actually free. Free because I’m already being productive just by being on the ferry (getting somewhere I need to be). That productivity means I don’t have to feel guilty about using the time any way I want. I can play cards, talk to fellow passengers, walk the decks, stand at the bow and pretend I’m flying (don’t judge me) or just watch the beautiful islands as we pass. I can even, gasp, do some writing. One the way back I managed to work on a poem/song that has been drifting around in my head. It’s called Living Deep in Desire.
I recently decided that if I ever get super rich, I’m going to buy myself a ferry. Now wait before you scoff, the idea isn’t as silly as it sounds. I can convert the top deck into a private yacht-type area with indoor and outdoor living space. That way, my home can be constantly cruising up and down past the beautiful little islands I love. A retreat where I feel creative and free, with the added benefit that it will earn money shuttling people to and from the islands and totally be a write-off. I may be a genius.
Do any mundane activities bring you joy because of an association? Do you love doing laundry just to get that fresh-towel smell? Do you enjoy washing your car because you fondly remember bucket and hose fights with the family? Take a sheet of paper and write “I love ____” then fill in the blank with your favourite mundane task. Then write down a handful of associations and reasons that you love the task. When you are finished you should have the perfect inspiration for writing a scene that revolves around your much-loved, but mundane, activity. Spend twenty minutes describing the scene, and if a story develops, so much the better.
NB. If you have trouble deciding why you love your activity, consider a mind map.