Waiting on Inspiration

I’ve been waiting on some inspiration for the past couple of weeks, hoping for some idea for a blog post. Then it hit me—like inspiration does. I’ll write a post about inspiration because, at the moment, I feel inspired to do so. Inspiration often hits us like the shot from a gun. Bang! She kind of blind-sides us at the strangest, most inconvenient times. We’re waiting in traffic, sitting in the dentist’s chair, fixing dinner for a hungry crowd. She doesn’t give warnings. Oh no, that would be too easy for inspiration. She’s cagey, a bit of a trickster, but no matter what her terms are we welcome with her open arms. IMAG0574AShe comes right out of the blue when we least expect her. Dropping what we’re in the midst of, we hurry toward our computer, or if our computer isn’t handy we whip out a notebook, and scribble down that brilliant thought, paragraph, sentence, or word. Satisfaction forms a smile on our face as a comforting feeling wraps a warm arm around our heart. Finally, the waiting is over. We’ve found the very inspiration we’ve been longing for. Most times when we weren’t even looking. One thing is for certain we can’t rush inspiration—nope, not at all. Like an apparition stepping through the mist she comes to us in her own good time. She can be illusive, sometimes shy, other times she appears in her party dress, classy and down right sassy, ready to entertain us with her flamboyant moves. She can dance for hours if we’re willing to watch. No sense in letting our frustration build as we wait and wonder when she’ll appear. There’s no point in sending her a gold embossed invitation or attempt to serenade her in the evening hours beneath moonlight and stars. We can’t coax her out of hiding like a kitten that’s crawl under a doorstep the moment a little hand reaches out for it. She’s a free spirit, who comes and go as she pleases. What’s most amazing is the way she can appears to us in so many different forms. No two people will ever see inspiration in the same way. Just as we are one of a kind, her relationship to us is unique, therefore everything we create, even though it may come from that same place of inspiration, is totally different. How cool is that? IMAG0581AIt has taken me quite some time to realize that no one will write a story the way I do, about the things I do, in the way I do it. Some people will like it, while others won’t. It’s that simple. I can’t/ won’t please everyone, but that won’t stop inspiration from seeking me out. She’ll come to me in spirit, in truth. She’ll touch me with moments of insight and send me in a direction that has never before held the weight of footsteps on its path. Do you often find yourself waiting on inspiration or is she a constant companion?

Some Days I Just Want to Quit

Some days I want to know what it would feel like to abandon the page for more than a day, a week, or a month, or a year. I want to know if the longing to produce words would consume me or if I’d move onward without ever looking back. Would I choose a different way of expressing myself or would the need to express myself dissolve into the Universe never to be thought of again. Would anyone look back one day and say, “Hmm, Laura Best,  she used to be a writer, didn’t she? I wonder whatever happened to her?” Would it matter if they didn’t?

Some days I want to just quit and spend my time not thinking of that next sentence or the story that’s waiting to be written— perhaps the story that will never be written— because I’ve run out of time.

Some days I want to know what it feels like to not think about my books and whether or not anyone is reading or even caring about my work because in all honesty I know most of them don’t.

Some days I want to go in a totally different direction and forget the fact that I’m a writer. I want to play with my grandchildren, see the world through their eyes with only acceptance and love. I want to feel that love, be that love, unconditionally.

Some days I don’t want to face the fact that my writing is mediocre and not even second, or third, or fourth best. I want to throw away the numbers and simply see my writing as a gift, something to be shared with no strings attached to anyone. Sales figures won’t matter.

Some days I want to know what it would feel like to wake without that first thought being a new character, a new plot line, a new word that titillates the tongue when spoken. I want to drift off into dreamland without a story churning in my mind and just sleep. I wouldn’t be faced with the burden of getting the story right and the knowledge that no one else could tell my story. If someone else could take that same story, and mold it in their hands, would anyone even notice the difference? Of course they wouldn’t.

Some days I just want to quit, sit on that pity pot and show the world that I’m ready to give up. But the Universe doesn’t feel pity. I’ve known that since I was a child, and ended up picking myself up again and again because I finally realized that no one else would do it for me.

Some days I don’t want to be a writer at all. I just want to quit. Who cares? What difference does it make?

The answer to that is simple. It wouldn’t make any difference if I quit writing. The world would continue to spin. People would live and die. Day and night would come and go. Because you can’t miss what you’ve never known and there would be no one to grieve those unwritten stories. BUT ME.

Some days I just want to quit writing. But something won’t let me.

I won’t let me.

Tomorrow I will write. Again.

 

5 Reasons For Not Writing That Novel

I hear people all the time express a deep desire to write a book. It happened just the other day. “I always wanted to write,” an older woman said to me. Had I not just met her I might have asked, “Well, what’s stopping you?”

Often when someone learns that I’m an author it brings their own unfulfilled dreams of writing to the foreground. It seems that many people would like to write, they just don’t get around to it. Really, it makes me a little sad to know this. Whenever possible, we should try to pursue the dreams we carry in our hearts. Have you ever stopped to consider there is a reason those dreams are there?

Some dreams are fleeting fancies, as wistful as pink cotton candy — “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to write a book?” These dreams don’t really count because they really don’t come from the heart. They come from an idea that might have popped into our heads one day as we stood in the bookstore musing over the bestseller’s list thinking it would be super cool to see our name there. I’ve known people who thought they’d be able to whip up a story, no problem, but ended up discouraged after their first few tries.

Other dreams are of the niggling kind, they stick to us like grease, and no matter what they never go away. If we’re lucky we may be able to keep them at bay for a time, by allowing life’s distractions to keep us from taking action, because one of the scariest things in the world to do is to follow our dreams. I mean, what if we fall flat on our faces? Maybe even scarier—What if we succeed?

So here we go…..5 Reasons For Not Writing That Novel

  1. I’ll start writing that novel when the kids are a bit older— A facebook buddy cited this one awhile back. It sounds like a good excuse. It’s up there with “the house won’t be messy as soon as the kids move out.” Hmmm, I believed that illusion for years, but now that the kids have moved that theory’s been shot to pieces. When my kids were small I knew that I had to have something in my life for me, something that defined me in some other way other than a mommy. Not everyone feels this way and I get that. But remember when those kids finally do move out you may end up asking yourself what am I going to do now? If you’re already writing, for whatever time you can allow, you won’t be asking that question. The answer will already be there.

  1. I’ll start writing that novel once I retire…Many people say this, but here’s my theory, if we couldn’t find the time to start writing in the first 65 years of our lives it’s unlikely we’ll find oodles of time once we retire. Retired people are some of the busiest people I know. They just never slow down. They’re off vacationing and camping and having a grand old time.

  1. I’ll start writing that novel when I have the money to take a writing course right now I’m barely making ends meet. Okay, I get the money thing. Years ago when we were first married there was barely enough money to pay the bills let alone dare to dream about spending money on something so frivolous. Here’s the thing… While writing courses are wonderful, not everyone has access to them. Here’s the other thing…You don’t need a writing course to get started. Think of all the great writers out there who wrote their books during a time when writing courses did not exist. It’s not impossible.

  1. I’ll write that novel as soon I broaden my vocabulary because we all know that writers need to know the meaning of every word especially those twelve letter ones. When I first started writing I thought I had to wow everyone with my use of the English language—Wrong. Writing that is simple and easy to understand will resonate with many readers, your storytelling ability is far more important than twelve letter words. Learn to tell a good story.

  1. I’ll start writing that novel as soon as I’ve experienced more of life  so that I will have plenty to write about. Well, guess what? My two-year-old granddaughter is starting to tell bunny stories. They may only be a paragraph long, but she’s only two. Now if a two year old can come up with something, I’m willing to bet you’re selling yourself short if you think you need more life experience. People mistakenly believe that in order to write you have to have travelled and experienced the world, but some of the loveliest stories I’ve ever read were based on very simple themes.

There you have 5 reasons why would-be writers are not out there writing. A few of them worked for me in the past until I finally determined that nothing would stop me. The truth is there will always be things out there that will take up our time, but if you’re really meant to be doing something (and it doesn’t just have to be writing) by letting your dream fizzle away you’re not being true to the person that counts the most.The happiest people I know are the ones who work toward making their dreams come true. Be that person!

What reason do you have for not writing that novel? 

This Week

It’s been an interesting week. I like weeks that are interesting, when surprises nab you by the scruff of the neck and you end up doing and seeing a lot of different things instead of the same old, same old.

I’ve been managing to get up at 5:30 each morning to get in a bit of writing before work. For me, that’s the big news. Yay me! This is big because it means if I have a hundred and one things to do in the evening I still have some writing time in, and I actually feel like a writer for yet another day. I’m excited about the story I’m working on– although shouldn’t writers be excited and enthusiastic about all their work? Hmmm, that’s debatable and seems to depend upon how smoothly the words are flowing and how forthcoming the story is. Sometimes a story is down right stingy and will only come out a trickle at a time. It ranks right up there with pulling teeth—slow and painful. If you’re lucky the story is generous and provides you with the perfect flow of words at just the right time. You’re never stumped as the story unfolds and it’s totally delicious and fun.

I attended an afternoon tea at a friend’s house on my day off. There were twelve of us, and some of the most interesting and talented people I’ve met in a long time. The muffins were none too shabby either. Mmmm, thanks Gail!

I went in search of  a place this week  as part of some research for the story I’m working at.

Earlier in the week I was in the Chester area. I strolled around the grounds of a property that is valued at a cool 5 Mil. Rather impressive and wishing now I’d snapped a few photos of the view as I ate lunch overlooking the ocean, watching the sailboats glide across the water. This photo was snapped as we drove past later in the day and is just an example of what we saw..Trust me it was amazing, and yes I did feel special. The home had obviously been built many years ago from rocks washed smooth and round from ocean waves. It had three stone fireplaces and four stone pillars. The gardens were to be admired. Hard to imagine all the work that would have gone into making such a property the showcase that it is. And that’s just the outside. I would have jumped through hoops to see the inside but, alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Anyone from Nova Scotia knows that Chester is pretty pleasing on the eyes, not to mention there’s some fine real estate in the area. The view of the Atlantic Ocean is awesome, with many tiny island offshore. To top it off there have been plenty of movies shot in Chester.

  • Echoes of a Summer (1976)

  • The Secret (1992)

  • Dolores Claiborne (1995, exterior of Vera Donovan’s)

  • Two if by Sea (1996)

  • Black Harbour (1996)

  • Love and Death on Long Island (1997)

  • Catch a Falling Star (2000)

  • The Weight of Water (2000)

  • Deeply Lynn Redgrave and Kirsten Dunst; East Ironbound Is., etc. (2000)

  • Blackfly (2001)

  • A Town Without Christmas (2001)

  • Beach Girls (2005)

  • Candles on Bay Street (2006)

  • Noah’s Ark (2008)

At the moment the TV series, Haven, is being shot there. I sat right across from the spot where they were shooting a scene. I’d like to say it all looked pretty darn impressive. The truth is, if you had no idea what was going on, well, you wouldn’t have had any idea what was going on. You might just wonder why so many people were gathered in one place. You might even think, so what?

Here are a few small discoveries I made this week:

I discovered this week that “Catching Fire,” has 485, 121 ratings on Goodreads. Makes the 15 ratings that my book has on that site look a bit measly. I didn’t even bother looking at how many ratings “The Hunger Games” have. One thing is for certain no one with anything at all to do would check out every single one of those ratings or the 47,000+ reviews… But that’s the way. I just feel happy and fortunate for the few my book has.

I ate the most scrumptious scallops in the world—seriously–in a little place in Western Shore called Mo’s. Who knew?

I also discovered that I’ve been quite slack at visiting all your blogs…Believe me when I say, there just hasn’t been enough hours in the day..But if you haven’t seen me for awhile I ‘m going to try and fix that this weekend..

I discovered a few moments ago the spam monsters are trying to infiltrate my blog–400 spam comments in my queue. That’s crazy.

Lastly I’ll leave you with this photo of a beautiful spot I discovered  this week and simply couldn’t resist taking a photo. It’s lovely and secretive, and brimming with inspiration. I could write a short story about this place I’m sure. It sets my mind afire.

What new discoveries have you found this week?

Inspirationally Speaking; I Like Change

Last post I wrote about how inspired I felt, how ready to embrace changes in my writing and personal life. I was excited to get going, still am. Each day I’ve been waking with a sense of optimism, a knowing that everything is exactly where it needs to be at the moment. This doesn’t mean I have to stay stuck in one place. On the contrary. It just means that all the previous steps I’ve taken in the past have helped get me where I am right now. It’s all right. It’s all good.  Only now I’m ready to make some changes.

It’s okay. I’m allowed. No one’s the boss of me.

Most times change doesn’t happen at the snap of a finger. It can if we want it to, (a change of attitude for instance) but, be honest; most times we have to work toward bringing whatever change we want to fruition. And so we inch our way along. Hoping it won’t be too painful a process. Maybe we even close our eyes.That’s okay, too. It means we’re still making progress. We can breath easy.

Staying open to the possibility of change isn’t a bad thing in my mind. Our truths today won’t always be our truths tomorrow. That warm wool blanket can sometimes get mighty itchy all of a sudden. Don’t you think?

Thank goodness we have the ability to change our thoughts and minds. We don’t even need an excuse. That’s the beauty of it. It’s just enough to know that we changed our minds about something because we wanted to. And no, you don’t have to justify a change of mind. Not if you don’t want to. Just seems like sometimes our minds have a mind of their own.

I’m reminded of a neighbour of mine who is forever bringing up a comment one of my children made in the past about a certain town where she didn’t want to live. Turns out that’s exactly where she’s living today. My neighbour is constantly perplexed. How can this be? I know, for some, it’s a hard concept to follow. Life circumstances changed for my daughter. She changed her mind about where she would live. Simple dimple. I’m not confused by it at all.

Ask any writer you know. This happens more times than we can articulate. Our writing is forever undergoing change. We change our minds about the story we’re working on. We suddenly realize the character we’ve create doesn’t like horses, not since being nearly trampled to death in childhood by a runaway steed. (The writer is sometimes the last one to know!) Maybe the entire story was written before we even knew this.

It’s as if a lightening bolt zaps us and immediately we know what we have to do to change that story. These lightening bolts can strike right out of the blue. We can’t stand around and argue the fact that there wasn’t even a cloud in the sky.

But get this— it’s allowed. That’s the truly marvellous part.

Now I’m off to revise a very old story. You see, I changed my mind about how I would write it. Much of it will remain the same. I’m just going to breath new life into it. I didn’t know until a few days ago that I was even going to make changes. That’s the truly exciting part. It had been sitting unchanged for many years, but as I was reading it over a bolt of inspiration suddenly struck me.

Nice to know that change can/will come when the time is right.

 

Get Off Your High Horse

What the heck does it mean to  be on your high horse?

For me, being on your high horse means you’re indignant over a situation. How dare so and so expect this, say this to me or do that? I’m much better than that. Who do they think they are?  Sound familiar?

Well, maybe we don’t articulate our woes in quite that manner. Maybe we’re annoyed and hurt by something without feeling or even thinking about the reason why. We’re just annoyed, and we have a right to it. We’ve been done wrong. I mean, they write songs about this kind of thing, don’t they?

But you know what, being up there on our high horse doesn’t serve any real purpose now does it? I’ve been up there a time or two, and I can unequivocally say it never did me any good. It was a miserable, cold and lonely place to be. And I’m not all that crazy about heights if you want to know the truth.

Some years back an editor sent me some feedback on a story I’d written. I’d had problems with the story. I’ll admit that. I simply couldn’t find the voice I was going after. But I had worked my little heart out on it, and was basically being told the story wasn’t worth working on.  Ouch!  Talk about a slap in the face, an upper cut to the jaw.

When we hear something we don’t want to hear, it stings at first. Maybe more than we’re willing to admit. But then reality sets in and the hurt turns to anger. How dare this editor suggest that my story is crap! What do they know anyway? Everyone knows it comes down to personal likes and dislikes?

You climb up on your high horse and there you sit looking down at the world. For awhile you feel as though you have every right to be up there and you’re even enjoying the view. The winds blowing through your hair, feels kind of nice. You’re the injured party. You’ve been done wrong. Surely, this editor could have spared your feelings, broke it to you more gently by perhaps suggesting you take a nice long trip, all expenses paid, and leave that manuscript behind when you go.

The truth is, editors don’t say things to be mean and hurtful, and likely no matter what words they offered up would not have been the words you desperately felt you needed to hear at the time of rejection. Granted, I’ve received as few rejection in my day that had me feeling pretty darn good about my work, ones that offered some solid feedback for improvements and a whole lot of encouragement sprinkled on top, a bright red cherry too if I’m being honest.. One would like to think, that no matter what we’ve written, there is something worthwhile and salvageable. But sometimes, what we’ve written is only practice for that stunning masterpiece that is waiting for us down the road. We sometimes need to get real. If we’re serious about writing that is, and even more serious about being published. Anyone can write (at least in some fashion) but not everyone will be published. That is the reality we face, people.

So what does getting on your high horse really do for us except make us feel indignant and done wrong by, maybe even cause us to be frightened of heights?

Nothing.

It doesn’t make us feel good about our situation nor does it do anything to improve our writing. If anything it holds us back, fills us with miserable and self-defeating thoughts, that keeps us stalled in time until hopefully we get up the courage to climb back down again.

Have you ever been on your high horse over a comment an editor, or even a critique partner, made? What eventually made you get back down?

The Voice of Stories Past

I interrupt my writing this evening for an important question for you..

It seems no matter how much I write, or how many stories I’ve had published, there are always questions that pop up from time to time.The art of writing, in itself, is always a constant work in progress as we tread from the familiar into the unfamiliar. Each writer has different experiences, learns different things. Hopefully, we share what we’ve learned. Since I don’t have a writing group to ask these things of, I’ll see what you all have to say.

Here’s the problem, or should I say my question.

When a story is set in the past, let’s say 1930 for argument’s sake, and the main character is telling the story in first person, do we assume that the past this character is speaking from is the recent past or could they be telling a story that happened in the distant past? Am I making sense?

It seems to me that the voice used in the story would definitely be different if it was a story told in the distant past. Say if I was telling a story that happened to me when I was twelve wouldn’t the story sound different than if I had told that story a few weeks after it happened? I have to say yes. That said, I’m thinking it should be made clear to the reader that the story happened in the distant past or else, as the reader, we generally assume that the narration if coming from the recent past.

For me, this could become an issue when I write Young Adult if my character was to sound wiser than their years or experience might dictate.

So, here is my questions put clearly: Is it generally assumed that a story told in past tense has just recently happened and if it happened many years ago should it be clearly stated at the onset?

Writing Through The Mist

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

Lately, I’ve been feeling as though I’m in a fog. Not in my every day life, but my writing life. I have a story idea in my mind but can’t seem to get my brain in gear. It’s as if the story is far off in the distance and I’m in the foreground squinting my eyes to see.

I’ve tried not to make it a big deal. There are other things I can busy myself with, other stories to be revised; notes to be made. There is even cooking and cleaning to do if I am desperate enough. Always, there is a book I can pick up and read. But it’s difficult to feel settled hearing the whisperings of this story inside me, niggling, taunting— “Write me..”

The ground work for this next story is already in place. The characters exist, and for weeks now I’ve been living with a vague sense of where the story will go.

But today, I had a break through. I caught a small glimpse of the sun through the mist and fog, and I ran with it. Suddenly, the story began to unfold before me, details began to reveal themselves to me. All those vague plot ideas came together and made sense.

I jotted down the storyline at lunchtime, in the notebook I carry with me to work. I love when a story, that once seemed murky, begins to make its way though the fog and mist. This doesn’t mean the story will simply write itself. I’m sure along the way the fog will overtake me again, but for today I saw the sun and I was well pleased.


Have you ever felt as though you were writing through the mist? Did you wait for it to clear or did you trudge your way through until you made it through to the other side?

What Makes Me Love You?

I’ve been thinking about what makes me love a book, and about what things need to be present in order for me to declare my love.

Often times, I can tell by the first page if I’m going to enjoy a particular book. There is something in certain books that is present from the beginning. The tone, the voice, is there from the start, and I immediately feel that connection to the characters in the story, the reasons why I even give a damn.

Even with the tone, the voice being right there, I still need a good story to sink my teeth in. I don’t necessarily need an action-packed book with twists and turns galore in order for me to be smitten.

Characters are important to me. I need to know their thoughts, feel their emotions. I need to hurt when they hurt, and soar off into the clouds when they finally reach their heart’s desire. I don’t need to even know what they look like. Chances are any description, unless it is something out of the ordinary, will be forgotten as I become engaged in the story.

I also like what I call clever writing, writing that makes me see the world in a way that I previously had not considered, or else those bits that make me sit up and take notice, declare, “Oh my God that’s exactly right!” You’ve got to love the author who can do that.

The book I’m reading at the moment is good solid writing. I would challenge anyone to say otherwise. However, here are no eloquent phrases, nor flowing sentences, no lovely passages that insist, “read me” one more time. Did I mention that those are some of the things I also like to see in a good book?

When describing this book I compared it to one of those books that we don’t want to put down, but saying that in the case of this book I wouldn’t care if I pick it up again. And yet, it doesn’t mean I hate it. If I don’t finish it I won’t really care because there’s a question that is plaguing me about this book and it’s this:

Where’s the story?

This is what I keep asking as I forge onward.

In order to make up for the plethora of questions I asked in an earlier post I’ve decided to leave you with one this time.

What is more important to you in a book the writing or the story?

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. They are whispers of past events, and the imagining of things that could be. Sometimes they are smudged images of the truth, other times they seem to materialize from thin air.

A few years before writing “Bitter, Sweet,” I came across a newspaper article that caught my attention. I clipped it and put it in a folder for later reference. I imagined that one day this article would be the inspiration for a short story I would write but other than a certain event that had taken place I knew nothing else. Every so often I’d come across the article, read the headline, and file it away (always with the thought that something similar was going to happen in a future story.) I wasn’t worried; I had plenty of other things to work on.

Then one day Pru Burbidge whispered in my ear. I thought she had given me the first line for a short story. Turns out it was really the first line of chapter three, only I didn’t know that at the time. As I continued to write I began to see that somewhere further on these four kids were going to get into a whole lot of trouble and I even had the newspaper clipping as proof!!

At the time I wrote “Bitter, Sweet” I was working every day so I’d take along a notebook and pen. At break time I’d jot down what Pru had to say hoping that by the time I got home, and was finally ready to sit down and write, she would still be willing to tell me her story. I’m glad she didn’t bail out on me!! Her voice came so easily; it was as if she was patiently waiting for me to start writing her story.

Where do ideas come from? The ideas for writing fiction are born from tears, fears, joy and laughter. It is a scraping together and melding of the tiny scraps that makes up real life. It is inspired from the past, present and future– not only of our own but others’ as well. It is an assortment of random thoughts that spring from somewhere within us just begging to be heard.

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