Dare to Dream Big

I’ve been thinking a lot about the main character, Cammie Turple, from Flying with a Broken Wing and, my new book, Cammie Takes Flight and how even though the circumstances of her life were less than desirable it didn’t stop her from dreaming of a better life for herself. In some ways she’s kind of my hero and probably has more nerve than I would have had at that age or maybe any age. Mostly, I like the way she never used her circumstances, her visual impairment, or her less than desirable homelife, as an excuse for staying stuck in the life she was familiar with. Let’s be honest, it’s sometimes easy not to stretch our wings too far. We settle into the familiar because it’s easier and doesn’t require anything too strenuous from us. Reaching into that great unknown can be scary as a friend of mine often reminds me. It’s good to have friends like that who don’t let you off the hook too easily.

I sometimes think we underestimate the importance of dreams. When we were kids we were made to believe that daydreaming was a frivolous thing, perhaps something only lazy people did. And I think what a shame that is to instill that kind of thinking into a child. Luckily, things are different today and I think people have started to realize that there’s nothing wrong in having a dream or dreams and certainly nothing holding us back from realizing those dreams except maybe ourselves.

Dreams make life interesting; they fill us with purpose and hope. The best part about dreams is that it doesn’t matter how big you dream. In fact, I figure, if you’re dreaming, why not dare to dream big. I mean, what’s the point in conjuring small measly dreams when we have an imagination that holds no limits.

And so there are times when I allow myself to dream big, very big. Do I share those dreams with others? Nope. No need to. I hold them close to my heart as I imagine how it would feel to have those dreams turn to reality. Sure beats the heck out of thinking crappy, negative thoughts and feeling the emotions that goes along with that. Maybe that makes me a Pollyanna, I’m not sure I care, and I’m sure there are some who would think my dreams are unrealistic, but someone has to make it onto the New York Times Bestseller List, right? (No, I didn’t say that was one of my dreams but come to think of it, what not?)

As the release date for my new book gets closer I expect I’ll have plenty to add onto my list of dreams, and as Cammie prepares to take flight so shall I.

The Word Tree

My daughter makes cool and neat things. Whenever I visit I find something new she’s made. It’s usually something simple that ends me thinking, I wouldn’t mind having something like that.

Here’s what I saw on my last visit. Couldn’t help but snap a shot of it.

I believe she used a page from an old book that had seen better days. With a little imagination we can find a use for most everything. Hmmm…. I wonder what happened to the rest of the book?

You know, I was thinking it would be kind of neat to have one with a page from my book, but…

This weekend I’ll be spending some time with Miss Charlotte. She’s only two, but she’s got quite a talent for drawing. Maybe one day I’ll share one of her pictures on my blog.

I’m off to have an enjoyable Canada Day weekend.

Happy Canada Day!

Do you have any special plans for the weekend?

 

Are You a Perfect Writer?

Have you ever noticed the thing we want often shows up at just the right time?

 

While I was thinking about writing a blog post I literally stumbled across the quote by John Updike—Perfection is the enemy of creation. And there I had it, an idea to blog about. Thanks Universe, you’re one cool dude!

 

Many of us admit to being perfectionists in some area of our lives if not all. While I hardly consider myself a perfectionist, I can be quite nitpicky when it comes to writing. I often spend outrageous amounts of time writing and rewriting paragraphs, waltzing around with an armful of words without ever making it off the dance floor. Sometimes the changes I make are so slight it probably makes no difference to anyone but me. I like to fiddle with words, and move sentences around. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s a delight!

 

I really don’t know if that means I’m a perfectionist or that I’m a little on the anal side when it comes to writing. So sue me. What I do know is, there’s no better way to stifle creative endeavours, no better way to stop a story in mid scene, than constantly striving for that perfect flow of words the first time through. In fact, that’s kind of where I am with one of my stories at the moment, and I’ve got to stop it. Okay, so I am anal—there I’ve admitted it. Are you happy now?

 

While it would be easy to become envious of those writers who can simply let their creativity take over as they write that first draft, I stand back in awe with hopes that one day my creativity will lead me to write a first draft without the need for me to look over my shoulder even once. I truly think that writers who are able to write, write, write are far more productive than those of us who write, revise, edit, write, and inch our way to the end. Getting that first draft down and THEN diving into revisions just seems to make more sense. Unfortunately, the things we do in life don’t always make sense.

 

To top all that off we have the word perfection to contend with. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but this perfectionism some of us strive for is only a figment of our imaginations. For some reason we think that we should be the judge of what is perfect and what is not, when we all have our own standards as to what we judge as perfect. Why do we assume that our opinion is the only one that counts? Will we ever find that perfect we’re looking for? Maybe, if perfect was something we could pick up and hold in our arms, maybe cuddle close to, something that any dang idiot could look at and recognize like a tree or a flower or a rock. But perfect isn’t any of these things. Perfect is a notion that we carry around in our heads. And unlike a rock or tree, my perfect is going to look a lot different from yours. So who gets to decide whose perfect is the right one? Danged if I know.

 

What I do know is this; eventually, we have to let go of our work if we ever plan to see it published. No matter how we want to polish our words, making them bright and shiny, eventually we’ll be left with nothing but a dull shine as we rub, rub, rub away that original brilliance. Will it ever be perfect? I guess we’re the only ones who can judge that.

 

Are you a perfectionist? Do you agree with John Updike that Perfection is the enemy of creation?

Enchanted

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Albert Einstein

 

In a wooded area not far from home is an enchanted forest.

 

It is the place where fairies and pixies live and play.

Sceptical? I don’t really blame you. We’ve been conditioned to think that such things as enchanted forests exist only in fairy tales or tucked away in our imagination for no one else to see. As kids we were taught that imagination had a time and place, usually an hour or so set aside during creative writing class. Imagination was encouraged, but only if it didn’t interfere in our “real” work, which had nothing to do with using one’s imagination.

I love the above quote by Einstein, one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century. Now if someone with Einstein’s intelligence acknowledges the importance of imagination, deeming it more important than knowledge then, who is this writer to argue?

So humour me as I allow my imagination to tread upon the moss-covered rocks.

I can’t help thinking/imagining that this small wooded area has the potential to make it into a work of fiction one day.

These rock formations are indeed unique to this area, and whenever I come across these photos I can’t help but let my imagination soar.

Do you agree with Einstein that imagination is more important than knowledge?

Let me Streeeeeeeetch Your Imagination a Little:

As a writer, I like to stretch my imagination. For me, this sometimes means looking at life from both sides of the coin. I like to analyze people’s behavior, determine what motivates them. I like to step inside their shoes, try them on for size, and be that person for a brief moment in time. I like to forget my opinions on subjects and think about how someone else might view the exact scenario. We all see life though a different set of eyes. Writers often speak about wiggling inside the skin of their characters, becoming them, breathing and laughing, feeling their emotions, understanding what their reactions to life’s circumstances are. One of the most important qualities a writer can posses is the ability to become that other person, to view them as people( take them or leave them) without passing judgment. Our characters can not always be the people we’d like them to be. Not if we want to write stories that keep our readers turning the page. Characters who are too good, too perfect are good for little more than putting the reader to sleep. We all have faults, some of them big, some little, but they are there nonetheless. And these faults that we seem to despise in other people, we love to read about. It’s interesting, what can I say?

Remember when you were a child and played make-believe?  Perhaps you took on a specific role to play. Were you a character who was looked up to? A villain perhaps? Did you act out scenes? Did you become angry and upset over some of the perils your character faced? Did you feel those emotions for yourself? Were they real?

I can vividly recall those feelings of anger, frustration, hurt, happiness as the character I was portraying in my games went through a series of life altering events. Who knew imagination could be so strong or evoke such emotions?  But our characters can not always chime out our own preferences or opinions, they can not view the world the same way that we do, or else we’re simply creating characters that mimic ourselves. Little mini-mes, if you will. I tend to think that would get a bit boring after awhile. I’ve got news for you all; I’m just not that interesting, seriously. So quite often I like to take a reverse role and try to imagine life through the eyes of someone totally opposite from myself.

This was partly the reason why I asked the questions I did in last week’s post, Cast Out the Writing Sob. I was hoping to have you reverse roles and view this subject from someone else’s point of view. Just because I don’t believe myself to be a writing snob, I was curious as to whether or not someone else might see me as one. Is it possible, I wondered? I have a awful lot of non-writing friends who maybe don’t understand why I have a blog or why self-promotion is pretty much a given once you’re a published writer. Maybe they see all these things as simply bragging on my part. Hey, you never know! Then again, I was also thinking (I  tend to do a lot of that sometimes) that perhaps the non-writing community can relate to what we writers go through just a bit more than we writers give them credit for. I received some great replies. Thanks! You’re all awesome and so very articulate. I love throwing out tough questions to you all, challenging you and asking you to stretch your imaginations.

So, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you to stretch your imaginations a bit by asking some tricky questions from time to time. I really like what you all have to say.  While I won’t admit to being nosey, I’m always curious as to what your thoughts are, not just my own.

Do you enjoy a good challenge and the chance to streeeeeetch your imagination? Or do you just enjoy life the way it is?

Have You Seen The Castle?

From where they stood, they could see the castle.
~~~Frank Yerby

Today, I saw the castle through the fog, through the mist, and couldn’t resist snapping this photo. Never thought there were any castles in Nova Scotia. Guess I was wrong.

I love it.

Both the castle and the fact that I was wrong.

Can’t imagine owning such a place except in my imagination, and yet imagination is what allows us to dream new dreams and rediscover old ones. Imagination allows us to build castles in the most unlikely places or, at the very least, dream them in our minds..

I’m holding this imagine in my mind as I venture forward in the coming weeks.

How about you, can you see the castle from where you stand?

Waiting on the What Ifs

One author I know openly admits to being nosey. She likes to get down to the bottom of things, find out just why people do the things they do, exactly what motives them. I love it that she admits to this (not everyone would). I’m sure it’s the spark that helps to ignite her imagination each time she sits down to write.

I usually think of myself as a live-and-let-live kind of person. I don’t often find that my curiousity has me asking, for example, why my neighbour is out digging in the ground during the middle of the night (okay to be honest, that one might have me wondering. I have my limits, but you get the picture.) I often see things that don’t make me question the why of it, but that’s just me. Where as, my friend says she constantly wants to know why.

I have come to understand, over the years, that most things do have a viable explanation we just don’t know what explanation is. In fact, we might never know and that’s something we have to accept.

I consider myself more of a “what if” kind of writer. I like to think of a situation and then sprinkle it with a magic dusting of “what if.” Life throws us plenty of curves that I like to think of as the “what ifs” in life. Say—we have a trip all planned to go to the zoo, but what if a bunch of animals suddenly broke out and started roaming around the city? What if they headed toward our house? What if we were the only one left on the planet capable of rounding up all the stray animals? What if there was one animal in the bunch who was devious and calculating?

See what I mean? For a writer, the “what ifs” are endless. I like to think it’s those very “what ifs” that make our stories, and our lives interesting. Seems just when we have everything planned out something comes along that we hadn’t expected. Hopefully, that “what if” is something we look at as positive, something so wonderful that we couldn’t even imagine it happening even in our wildest dreams. I think you’ll agree that those are the best “what ifs.” Showing up to totally delight us in a way that surpasses anything we might have planned.

At the moment I’m in the process of trying out a whole bunch of “what ifs” in my WIP. I know my characters well, know their basic situation, I’m just waiting for a storm of “what ifs” to rain down upon me. Then I’ll start sorting through them, deciding which “what if” makes for the most interesting situation. It’s a great place to be at the moment because I sure do I love those “what ifs.”

Do you often find yourself asking why when you see something unusual? Or do you accept things you don’t understand? If you’re a writer do you find yourself more often asking “what if” or “why” or is it a little bit of both?

Have any interesting and wonderful “what if” showed up in your life recently?

Notes From The Universe

Every weekday I receive a little note from the Universe in my inbox. Often it relates to something that is going on in my life. Sometimes the little notes make me laugh. Always they inspire.

Just thought I’d share the note I received this morning.

Shaping, shifting, molding, making… what people do when they discover their imagination.

Spinning, curling, dipping, twirling… what people do when they discover their wings.

Beaming, marveling, basking, sparkling… what people do when they discover love.

Here’s hoping you have all discovered your imagination, your wings and love….

What? No Imagination, You Say!

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.

—-Jean Jacques Rousseau

“What an imagination you have!”

Most writers have likely heard that a time or two, I know I have. Many non-writers seem to be in awe of what thoughts run though a writer’s mind. Some people seemed to be under the impression that a writer’s imagination is somehow different than the average person’s, that we posses the ability to think up the strange and unusual in a way they could only dream of.

I’m not so sure I agree.

Granted, as writers, we allow our imagination to unfold upon the page. It is not a private thing. Once it is written it is there for anyone and everyone to see. It is not the same thing as a thought. A thought is private, one we can choose to verbalize or keep to ourselves. What sets a writer apart from the rest of society? We write out our thoughts, create them into whole new world. We mould and meld them to suit ourselves. We write it down.

But imagination is not the only thing that a writer needs. It takes patience and a willingness to work with words, the same words over and over, as we move about phrases and sentences to produce the proper flow. We sometimes rewrite the same sentence many times before we get it right. Sometimes we even know the story well, yet we struggle to capture it on paper the way we envision it in our minds.

But the rest of you use your imaginations as well. How many times have you gone over a conversation with someone in your mind, struggling to express yourself coherently? Or have planned a set of circumstances for an event that has not yet happened and perhaps never will? Please don’t try to convince me that you’ve never taken an event say— someone being late for dinner—and spun a whole story around the what ifs and could haves of the situation. Don’t be ashamed. We all do it to some extent, some of us more than other.  It could just mean that those of us who do it more often are the ones who exercise our imaginations more.

Words are not the only place where out imagination comes into play. Anytime we create something we hold a vision of it in our minds before we bring it into existence. I can’t imagine someone thinking that they do not have an imagination.

Some of us try and define imagination. We describe someone as having a good or bad imagination. We might label someone as having a wild or even vivid imagination. Sometimes, in exasperation, we might even claim that someone has no imagination whatsoever, but of course that is impossible. One thing I’m almost certain of, we do all have an imagination. If we have the ability to think I would challenge anyone who says they have never dreamed a what if in their life.

Just for the fun of it (because I’m such a fun person) if someone were to define your imagination in one word, what do you imagine that word would be?

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