Advice from Elphaba

This morning, I woke up with this sentence on repeat in my mind:

“Don’t lose sight of who you are.”

That line is from the song “I’m Not That Girl” from the musical Wicked. It’s taken entirely out of context here, but that message was one I needed today.

For the last several weeks I have been bogged down, trudging through the unusual monotonies of life. I have kept up with the demands of eight schedules, school assignments for seven, and various other church and community-related activities. But, I have not been myself.

I know, because last fall, I was not myself. And I have felt that lost feeling again.

At one point this week, I decided I was finished with feeling that way. I broke out my toolbox of coping skills: more diligent scripture study, reaching out to friends, more fervent prayer, yoga, Temple attendance, running, and embracing my love of music (thus the song running through my head this morning). In all these moments, I felt like I was cracking open a window, allowing just a bit of fresh air and sunlight into the tired room of my soul.

But I had practically given up something that is an integral part of who I am. I almost stopped writing.

This morning, as I pondered that singular line from a most-beloved musical, I felt the message resounding in my brain.

“Don’t lose sight of who you are.”

I have to write. It is healing. Supporting. It is my sanity.

I created a poem once that begins with these words, “I was born to write a song.” Not just any song–but a song of words, woven with care. A musical.

So, I’m back to my desktop today, trying to remember, recall, reenvision through my own revisions the novel that is part of who I am.

And I am singing.

Pre-writing Activities

Before you write (or do anything creative), do you have a go-to activity to invite your muse?

My pre-writing activities vary, but here are a few that work for me:

1. Sleep. Sleep may sound counter productive to creating, but it clears my brain of prior activities, and those vague moments when my brain begins to wake up lend themselves to great thoughts and problem-solving.

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2. Read. Read. And Read. Reading the works of others helps ideas that might be buried deep inside of me find air and life and voice. The written word is amazing, so read it. Now.


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3. Take a brain break. If I’ve been sitting in front of a screen–feet tucked close and legs under my chin–sometimes I need to move. I will turn on something from Spotify or a Just Dance YouTube song and get moving for about five minutes. Then, I’m back in my chair with my feet tucked again, typing away in the world of fiction.


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4. Eat. Yes, I still remember my junior high teacher who bemoaned our B lunch right in the middle of the period. She said that the second half of the period after our necessary class interruption of lunch was pointless because eating sent all the energy from our brains to our stomachs to digest the peanut butter sandwiches and Little Debbie cakes we had just eaten. Well, that may be true, but I find sending a continuous stream of something to munch on can keep me interested in my project. My snacks of choice aren’t always the healthiest, but they keep me writing. 🙂


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5. Feed my spirit. Activities like visiting a museum, scripture study, yoga/chakra work, journal writing, chatting with a friend, taking a walk/run, writing a gratitude list or thank you card ground me and help me remember my higher purpose is to connect and share love, and that purpose is a main reason why I write.


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So, sleep a little, read stacks of books, take a brain break (or two), eat something yummy, feed your spirit and write a bunch. I’ll be here with you…ready to connect.

Much love!

Awaiting… (a poem)

ESTRAGON: Let’s go.
VLADIMIR: We can’t.
ESTRAGON: Why not?
VLADIMIR: We’re waiting for Godot.

–Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

I pause.

I sit.

I glance around me

Attempting to
Absorb existence

Occasionally, I move to show the

Vultures I will not become their prey

Pray
It is not my fate
but to

Wait.

Yes, Twice

We arrived early and scored an amazing parking space. I was floating on air, with anticipation the only possibility of bringing me back to my seat while reminders to silence cell phones played across a large screen.

I thought back to my experience reading the trilogy. The books spoke to me more than most books I have read and enjoyed–helping me see past fear and focus on the power of relationships, values, and choice.

Of course, I could hardly wait for the film’s opening night.

I purchased my tickets two weeks early. (I can’t remember the last time I’ve done that…if ever.)

The moment arrived, and the credits began to take their places on the screen in front of us.

When the film ended, though, I felt heavy and exhausted. I bemoaned the fact that I promised to bring two of my kiddos (who also read and enjoyed the books) to watch it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to sit through it again. I processed what reasoning I could find for my feelings…but was at a loss. 😦

I spent the next day heavily in thought, wondering if the changes from book format to film adaptation were bothering me. I considered other books-made-into-films that I had seen as an adult, but I couldn’t shake the let down I felt from this weekend.

Finally, on my return trip to the theater the next evening, I put some pieces together. I was looking for an intimate experience, one of connection with characters, one which reminded me of the triumph of human spirit I recognized within myself as I read of their struggles cuddled in a blanket on my couch. I didn’t get that through my first theater experience.

I approached my second viewing more analytically. I felt much more closure and was able to process what I actually liked or didn’t like regarding the adaptation to film–and I can honestly say that I enjoyed the experience.

Yes, watching the film was so different from reading the book (isn’t it always?), but seeing the setting and characters take shape while experiencing highlights of the story again filled me with a greater appreciation for writers and those who direct and adapt to the screen. What an amazing process!

Overall, I would see Divergent again. Want to come with me?

Writing With Perspective

My favorite aspect of writing (at least at this moment) is the ability to explore perspective. In most of the novels I have written, I find myself attracted to writing with multiple viewpoints, and I enjoy the exploration I find as a writer through the eyes of varied perspectives.

In fact, the novel I began earlier this year is my first experience writing from one perspective (in first-person). I’m learning to appreciate the mystery of knowing events through writing with one solitary set of eyes. An intimacy occurs there that I’m not sure I nurture as much when I am bouncing back and forth between character perspectives. I’m waiting to see if I will need to write from another perspective at some point for background or research purposes. Currently, though, I’m quite enamored of exploring life through the eyes of my main character.

I continue to find the study of perspective helpful beyond the work of writing, though. I try to see various events from differing vantage points. I delve into several sides of a debate or issue. I naturally find myself seeing value within multiple (and, at times, seemingly contradictory) philosophies.

I recall a drafting class I took in high school where I was required to draw a four-point perspective elevation of a house I designed. I loved the depth and energy and life the elevation took on through multiple perspectives.

While reading, I adored the journey and exploration through books like The House Girl, The Help, and even the final volume of the Divergent series Allegiant for the opportunity to read about events through the eyes of more than one character.

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What do you think about multiple perspectives in writing? In reading? In life? Do you prefer one viewpoint or to experience through varied perspectives? Why?

Name Hijacking

Courtesy of www.mysoulpurpose.org
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So, I’m working on this piece of writing–a novel excerpt–and I’ve been really struggling with naming one of the main characters.

He’s not someone I ever want to know in reality. I don’t like him. And, occasionally, I get a little creeped out editing chapters about him. (Hopefully, that occurrence means that I’ve written him affectively.)

Still, I’ve had a most difficult time naming him.

Now, I take naming real lives quite seriously. When each of our children entered our arms, we spent a minimum of a day reflecting on what to name them, knowing well that a name can have influence on your life in an almost tangible way.

I may be just slightly less serious about naming my characters.

(And this guy isn’t a great guy–so, of course, I don’t want to name him after anyone that I like….)

The only problem there is that I’ve known lots of people, and I like most of them. 🙂

We (the character and I) went through a transition from a name that started with a G (that was a real name, though it kinda sounded like I made it up) to a name that began with a C (but had a pretty obvious Biblical allusion…anyone care to guess?) to a name that began with an E (what he is named currently). The E name is not a name of anyone I know personally, and it is also the name of a fairly malicious character in a book series I read recently. I was okay with using the E name…at least for now.

While we are talking about names, I found a name that I loved but my husband wasn’t too fond of–and one that was in my ancestry. I didn’t have another daughter after I discovered it (which was probably a blessing since I don’t like to argue with my husband–& I just might’ve been willing to fight for that one). I was excited last month when I remembered the name while I started working on a new novel (I’ve been dying to try something dystopian). Hooray! I can name a character after one of my ancestors.

And, I actually like this character.

🙂

How do you name your characters? Do you try to make connections or simply find a name you like? Do your characters show up in your brain with or without names? Do you use online resources to do name research?

Struggling, Writers?

Well, yes, I have been struggling as a writer lately. I have this manuscript I’ve been writing and editing since November 2012–and this manuscript (though it has great potential) has needed some work–such as a new beginning. Not really a big deal, right?

Wrong.

And I have been struggling. And thinking. And pondering. And writing. And editing. And thinking some more.

I could have chosen at any moment to let it all go, to quit, to give in to the voices that tell me the process is too difficult, that I don’t have whatever-it-is that is needed to publish, that I really can’t be successful in a sea of so many voices.

But I did not. And I do not.

Actually, working through these moments, I have realized how much writing means to me.

Yesterday, I was in the midst of supporting a lovely community I found recently on twitter. As I was reading posts to retweet and favorite on #MondayBlogs, I connected with a fellow wordpress blogger who posted this lovely piece of amazingness. As I read about her journey, I was able to envision another moment in my first chapter–another beginning–one which I know is a step in the right direction (even if it might not be the final beginning). And the energy and life-giving writing is beginning to flow once more.

And I am grateful–grateful for community among writers, for support, and for the shutting down the negativity inside myself and feeding the positive!

Sending much love to all of you this year! xoxoxox