This month is my birthday month. It’s a milestone birthday. Which means…. Milestone surprises. And I’m already being spoilt…
I have always been fascinated with the spaces where creatives love to retreat to. I loved the Hachette vlog series #WhereIWrite. I absolutely love Catching Days’ How We Spend Our Days interview series where Cynthia Newberry Martin asks writers to guest-post on how they spend their days. I have also just recently found the delightful rabbit hole of Novelicious’s My Writing Room.
To me there is something sacred about being let into a creative space. For many creatives, this space is often where they feel most like themselves. It is a nest where they can retreat to succour their creativity. So I thought I would invite you into my #WriteSpace for a short while.
It’s been 5 months since … Last Post
So let me begin by stating the obvious…It has been a
while a long while a bloody long while since I posted on here. WordPress is kind enough to inform me that it has been 5 months since my last post. So why the deep buzzing of mosquitoes and no posts you may wonder? I could tell you I have been:
swamped ~ overwhelmed ~ stressed ~ burnt-out ~ burnt-through ~ exhausted ~ sick&tired.
All of the above would be true and accurate. But mostly I have been so quiet because I have just been learning to
Stop holding my breath
and just breathe…
This year has been a tough one filled with more darkness than light, in more ways than one. But the important thing, even in an Annus Horribilis, to remember is that there have been slivers of light. The last 5 months I have been searching for and storing those slivers of light. That is why I have been quiet online. I needed to take a breath and then to breathe out again. Breath by breath.
It got too dark for me to write. So instead of forcing it, I did the unthinkable, and just stopped. I realised I needed to refocus on myself, get my emotional + physical health on a better footing. I needed time to just learn to breathe again because there have been moments this year when it took all my energy reserves just to breathe.
I could go into a few logical reasons as to why I didn’t want to write but that wouldn’t be quite accurate. The worst thing was that I DID want to write. But my well was empty. A perfect storm of events + emotions + health (lack of) = Empty, dried up well of creativity/inspiration/focus. Things, past things, that I had boxed up and stored in a dank, forgotten basement in my memory crept up out of the darkness and demanded to be dealt with. Where I thought I had been brilliant at compartmentalising I was proven wrong. Because nothing had been thrown away instead the boxes had just been hidden.
But I’m still upright. Bruised, battered and scarred from the Past-become-Present and the Present, kneeling but upright. Ironically enough it has been this WIP – Tattooist – that has forced me to deal with those memory-monsters hidden away in boxes in that dank, forgotten basement. I was feeling claustrophobic because it was in the writing and rewriting of Tattooist that these memory-monsters started creeping out. Tattooist was their siren call. So I did the only thing I could do, I boxed up Tattooist and all the poisonous emotions and I faced down my hungry memory-monsters. I faced them and although they put in more than a good fight, I conquered my inner demons and released those hungry memory-monsters.
That is what I have been doing for most of this year and all of the last five months. I haven’t been writing but I have been healing. In the next few weeks I’ll share a little on how and where I found the small slivers of light that took me from a dark place up into a place of faint, but growing, light.
Today there are exactly 6 weeks left of 2015. 42 Days. I won’t lie by saying I’ll miss 2015. I won’t. But today, with just 6 weeks left of 2015, I embrace my personal Annus Horribilis and I thank it. I embrace the hungry memory-monsters and I thank them. I embrace my stalled WIP and thank it. I embrace my creative claustrophobia and I thank it. I embrace the dark nights of my soul and thank them. I look at the reflection in my mirror and I see a woman who is stronger for the struggles and I thank her. I embrace and thank the girl that stands in this woman’s shadow, a reminder of what hope, joy, optimism and love look like.
So today there are 6 weeks left of 2015. 42 Days.
I have been holding my breath but now I’m breathing again. I’ve exhaled the darkness and I’m inhaling the light. It is time to dust off the creative cobwebs of that dank basement and step into an open space. A space where there is light and where I can breathe without fear, without panic, without doubt, free from the shackles of the past. A space where I can pour the elixir of story back into my soul. Tattooist calls me again but now I am ready to accept the call not as sirens calling me near treacherous, dangerous rocks but as a lighthouse guiding me back home to the written page.
So today there are exactly 6 weeks left of 2015. 42 Days. 42 Fresh starts. 42 Days to start over…
What are you going to do with your one precious life these 42 days?
This year is all about Getting Things Done.
I have my focus word to drive me forward: PUSH
I have a writing plan set into motion for 2015.
So, of course, the next step was an accountability plan. It is one thing having plans and talking about them at the beginning of a year. But it becomes an “expectation” when you’re made accountable. I am lucky enough to have an incredible Story Sister in my friend Darcy Conroy. Every writer needs another writer that they can turn to. You could call it a critique partner, a writing partner, a colleague but most importantly for me we all need support and Darcy is this support person for me.
But sometimes you need further accountability and then something like ROW80 happens.
ROW80 = Round Of Words in 80 days
What is RoW80?
The writing challenge that knows you have a life.
Perfect for rewrites/writing/editing
I signed up for the last round, there are 4 rounds per year, last year but life interruptus happened and I was not able to get everything done I wanted to for ROW80.
So I have signed up again for the first round this year. I have a writing plan and focus that is very specific this year. But there is something about Writing Down an action plan in S.M.A.R.T. bite size chunks that makes your plan doable.
2015 ROW80 Rnd #1
1. Be kinder to myself
This year I am going to be kinder to myself both personally and professionally. As a perfectionist and a daughter of a German mother, most times I do not need any other critics because I am my own worst critic. I am “never good enough” and things I do are “never perfect enough”.
I am shaking off the old German professor on the side of my shoulder and I am going to go easier on myself.
I am not going to use the words: _____…
not good enough / ____… not perfect.
I am also going to stop beating myself up about work not done on days when the migraine monster comes calling. Instead I am going to work through the good days and on the bad days I am going to be kinder to myself.
2. Listen to my body, nurture my body
I have a tendency to push past pain until I create more pain. It is one of the reasons I have never needed a personal trainer to push me to train. Rather I need someone there to help me put the brakes on.
Last year I ignored my body’s messages for far too long and put my physical health at risk which impacted on my writing life.
This year I am making a firm decision to intentionally listen to my body and to intentionally nurture my body.
3. Unplug, destress, relax…more
At the end of last year I took a wonderful week off…a week off from the internet, the constant information overload, the television and got back to nature. I realised 1 week per year of this unplugging needs to be more.
So this year I am taking every Sunday/Monday back.
Every Sunday: Complete unplug. No internet. No writing. No television.
Every Monday: Unplugged (except for the first Monday/month when I co-host #Storycraft on twitter). No writing.
Intention #2015 – I want to take a whole week off (Sunday – Sunday) once every 3 months and unplug completely.
To PUSH forward I need to allow myself rest days where I stand still in order to energise myself for the next week.
4. Make more time to read
Last year I did not read as much as I wanted to. Mostly because I was battling sapping energy/concentration levels. This year I want to read more for pleasure. As a writer, I do read a lot but this year I want to read every day.
I’ll also be reviewing more books. I have baulked for a while about reviewing books but realised that before I am a writer, I am and have always been a voracious reader. So I am going to set an intention to have a Kaffeeklatsch, where I discuss my current reads along with what coffee I am drinking, at least once a month, aiming for two per month on Wednesdays.
5. Getting words done in S.M.A.R.T bite-size chunks
I have been looking for a productivity tool for a while now.
The thing is: I love being organised but I hate lists. But this week I found an app that just Zings for me.
It is called droptask.
It is the Visual task organiser/project planner/team collaboration tool that is built for some like me. It is visual, colourful and there is no list in sight. Instead of telling you I am going to show you what it does.
Along with Tappsana/Asana, Droptask and my incredible Lifetopix organiser – Aside: watch for a “Favourite Productivity Tools and “How I use them” post next week Thursday – I am completing small daily bite-size goals of words done/edited/rewritten instead of just focusing on a large, looming volcano of a deadline.
6. Accept “Good Enough” and Move Forward
Words are never “done” for me. I can edit until the proverbial cows come home and leave again. But…this year I am going to STOP at “good enough”. At the end of the day I need to accept what I have done and the next day “turn the page” and move towards the next goal-post.
So I have come up with a plan for myself. Every day I am going to print off the page/s I have completed and file them. That means I am not allowed to go back over those pages on the screen once I have printed them. I am also filing them away digitally in my Dropbox as an added backup.
7. Finish and Submit
I have the intentional goal of finally finishing my Rewrite on Tattooist and submitting it to publishers. I am itching to get this rewrite done and dusted and off my computer screen onto a potential publisher/editor’s screen so that I can move on to something new and shiny. I already have a loose plot for book #2 in The Blood & Ink series and even have a working title. So the sooner I finish the rewrite on The Tattooist (Book #1) the sooner I can get going on book 2.
The long-year goal for this year is to find a publishing home for Tattooist (Book #1) and secure a publishing home for “The Blood & Ink” series.
8. PUSH forward
PUSH : My intention and focus for 2015. PUSH forward with each new day’s task. Focus on the small goals in order to Push forward to the large goals. Push past procrastination and perfectionism and get to Progress and Achievement.
PUSH = Persist Until Something Happens
Check in with what the other writers are doing for #RoW80.
Tell me: What are your intentions for 2015?
Imagine being one small part, a word, of a story…Now imagine your skin being part of a global story.
This is what SKIN is.
…while thinking about how much I liked forms that reflected their content, I thought of my unfinished story “Skin,” and suddenly it suddenly occurred to me that there is a kind of “publishing” we already do on skin: tattooing. The idea of publishing a story on volunteers, one word at a time, was only a few mental leaps away. The whole concept of the Skin project leapt into my mind in that moment. I put out a call for participants in summer of 2003…
– Shelley Jackson
2003 – Shelley Jackson came up with this idea to craft a new medium for story. She would write the 2095 word story and then request volunteers to have one word of the story tattooed on their bodies.
…The existence of the author is a necessary flaw in this (every?) story. But this project makes me keenly aware that I am not the only, or even always the dominant voice in it. I recently took great pleasure in watching three “words” coach a fourth, nascent word through her first tattoo: “Have you eaten anything? Here, have this apple. Do you want us to hold your hand?” My presence was a comfortable irrelevancy to them at that moment. Furthermore, my story is being rewritten, one word at a time, by my participants. As my words enter the specific contexts of their lives, they change forever. In the end, 2095 other people will have signed their names to my story…
– Shelley Jackson
Each person would be given a word by Shelley and would then need to tattoo this word on their body. Once accepted as a WORD each volunteer would then receive the complete story. The provision being that they would keep this story forever confidential.
…I was quite serious when I called this a Mortal Work of Art. As words die, the story gradually changes; it’s possible that the first word will die before the last one has been published, meaning that no complete version will ever appear. But I consider each version of the story legitimate; each successively shorter version of the story that will be created by these deaths is the story too, right down to the one-word story that will be its final printed form. If all my words hold to their promise not to share the story, that will truly be the end. The work includes its own disappearance in its aesthetic project, so it is not complete until it is gone. However, like all living things, each “word” has a complex destiny of his or her own, affecting many other lives, and I consider that part of my project too. When I die, the destiny of the project will fall into the hands of the remaining words, who might decide, who knows, to do something different with it than I intended! Some people have asked if they could will their words to their children, creating a second-generation story…
– Shelley Jackson
I love the idea of this project on so many levels. I love the exclusivity of the story only being made available to 2095 people. I love the secrecy and the intimacy of tattooing a story one word at a time on different people around the world. I love the idea of being a WORD in a story in both a figurative and a literal sense.
Tattooing is an ancient art form. I have always been fascinated by the whole process of tattooing.
Who gets a tattoo?
Why they get a tattoo?
Where they choose to be tattooed?
“There is something wonderfully melancholic about a piece of writing that’s living flesh and finally dies and is grieved over.”
– Shelley Jackson
Tattooing is one of the most intimate experiences.
I have long been fascinated with tattoos and I have been designing my “dream” tattoos for years now. I have not yet found the perfect tattoo that I would want inked on me permanently yet so the search continues. But a tattoo is so much more than a symbol or a fashion accessory, in many cultures it is an integral part of the culture’s history and spiritual practices. Tattooing is a bizarrely intimate ritual: a ritual where a person literally carves a symbol, words or an image into your skin with permanent ink.
…the body interests me most as something to write about, not to touch (not in a professional capacity, anyway). I am fascinated above all with using it as a object of fantastical transformations, because we care about the body and we know it intimately, and I think that makes it possible to invest bizarre scenarios with very strong, creepy, personal feelings…
– Shelley Jackson
As a writer alone this bizarre ritual where blood and ink are fused together into a permanent “stain” sparks my imagination.
This long-held personal fascination with tattoos and the desire to seek out their history in different cultures sparked the idea behind The Tattooist my current WIP.
Would you get/Do you gave a tattoo?
Do you prefer Literary (words/quotes/mantras) tattoos or image tattoos?
Would you be a WORD for Shelley Jackson’s SKIN project?
All Quotes courtesy of
Written on The Body: Interview with Shelley Jackson
Images courtesy of Shelley Jackson’s Ineradicable Stain
So I have seen a few posts on various blogs, facebook statuses and twitter where writers give the world a glimpse into their google searches. I was mostly inspired by the post by Leigh. K. Hunt.
As a writer I tend to do a lot of research. I do it the old fashioned way by taking out library books. Believe me I have lived down my fair share of raised eyebrows by blue-rinsed-haired little old ladies at the check out counter. Sometimes I am tempted to ask them what they are thinking as they stamp my books of nefarious themes.
But I probably do about 60% of research with the help of Google. Google is my friend. Although sometimes that friend takes me to places I may not want to go. Did I mention I Love to research. When I get started with a new W.I.P (Work in Progress) it becomes both an obsession and an addiction to research. Let me preface this by saying, for those who don’t know me, I don’t write romance. I write about serial killers, unsolved murders and the paranormal.
Unlike actors who like to use The Method school of acting, it is unadvisable for a thriller writer to try this method to better get into their character’s minds. Unadvisable because it would mean breaking quite a few laws, committing crimes, having to evade the law by obtaining a false identity and skipping the country to some tropical island where nobody speaks your language (preferred), where cocktails are the preferred beverage (goes without saying) and where there is no internet (less likely to be caught by the law).
Although in the interests of being open and honest, I have placed my body in weird death positions to see if it is physically feasible to lie in that way. As I reread what I just wrote I realise how ridiculous my logic is because after all if you’re dead it does not matter if it is “physically feasible” to be in your death position.
I have been a thriller and crime reader since I can remember. For me the thriller especially gives the deepest insight into what makes the Homo sapiens tick and more importantly what makes the ticking manic enough to give into a darker nature. I follow true life crime stories too because of this same fascination. So naturally it was natural that I fell into writing about the darker side of human nature.
Of course by now we are all aware that every little thing we do online is seen somewhere by someone, usually a worker drone at some international alphabet lettered company. If you’re online, you’re not private. I have often wondered what people would think about my google history.
So first let me repeat that I AM A PARANORMAL THRILLER AUTHOR.
It is vital that in the interests of authenticity, I must know about what I write. Which is where Google comes in. Just like the saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”; Don’t judge this writer by her google search history nor by the books she chooses to write.
Let me ensure you:
I am sane.
I do not have mental issues.
I do not want to nor have I murdered anyone.
I do not keep a list of people who annoy me.
I do not own a weapon of any sort.
I do know how to take an intruder or person with bad intent down.
I do know how to take a weapon off someone.
History of Tattoos
Mythology of Tattoos
Understanding Serial Killers
Serial Killers, Motives, Crimes
Psychopaths vs Sociopaths
The Nature of Evil
CSI and Forensic Investigations
Multiple Personality Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder
Nurture vs Nature
Crime in New Orleans
Old New Orleans
The History of New Orleans
New Orleans Mardi Gras
New Orleans Jazz
French Quarter, New Orleans
Streets of New Orleans
Famous sites in New Orleans
Food in New Orleans
Crime in New Orleans
Crime Investigation in New Orleans
So what’s in your Google Search History?
Do you make the cut for any Big Brother Suspects list?
What is the weirdest thing you have searched for on Google?
Posts of Interest
Books that I recommend to hide those weird search subjects from Big Brother:
I just recently found the books below and now I swear by them. I have not given up Google yet but these books answer so many questions about forensics in fiction, many I had not even thought of. Both books are in question/answer format. The questions come from fiction authors and the answers come from experts in the forensics/medical/criminal investigation/legal fields.
Highly Recommend adding these two books to your book shelf. Even if you are not an author the books are intriguing enough to keep anyone interested.
Related Posts as suggested by my good friend: Google
The Tattooist – Blood & Ink #1
I was reading an article about tattooing and how intimate an art form it can be and it sparked an idea. A few nights after reading this article I dreamed the first scene of the story. I woke up at 4am and started jotting down the dream and within a couple of hours I had the first draft’s main plot-points drafted out.
Paranormal Psychological Thriller
Heroine = Sasha RouletteKeira Knightley is the perfect actress to play my main character in The Tattooist. She has that rare quality of being believable as a bad girl turned good but also has this raw vulnerability that gives her depth. Keira IS Sasha in The Tattooist.
Hero = Shane PatrickColin Farrell IS my bad boy hero. He is the perfect flawed character, the bad boy who you want to reform. He IS Shane Patrick, my bad boy hero.
Villain = Michael DaliFor my villain I needed to cast someone intense, charming, seductive but chilling – who better to fit this role than Viggo Mortensen. My villain is known by many names but the one he chooses to call himself is Michael Dali. Killing is not just an occupation but it is a calling and an art form to this ice-cold killer. Viggo IS Michael Dali.
A paranormal psychological thriller about a tattooist who bonds psychically with the people she tattoos who realizes that she can now read a sadistic serial killer’s mind and is the only one who can stop him but if she can read his mind, can he read hers?
I will be submitting it to agents.
I am still in the process of the first draft but typically a first draft takes me 4-6 weeks to write.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I have long been fascinated with tattoos and I have been designing my “dream” tattoos for years now. I have not yet found the perfect tattoo that I would want inked on me permanently yet so the search continues. But a tattoo is so much more than a symbol or a fashion accessory, in many cultures it is an integral part of the culture’s history and spiritual practices. Tattooing is a bizarrely intimate ritual: a ritual where a person literally carves a symbol, words or an image into your skin with permanent ink. As a writer alone this bizarre ritual where blood and ink are fused together into a permanent “stain” sparks my imagination. This long-held personal fascination with tattoos and the desire to seek out their history in different cultures + the article I read sparked the idea for The Tattooist.
The Tattooist is the first book in a Series: The Blood & Ink Series. The what if’s started piling up in my imagination and before I knew it I had a plot.
Next the characters themselves inspired me to write their story. All three main characters, the heroine, the hero and the villain have a very strong voice. I also wanted to write a story where the heroine is not your typical girl next door or perfect heroine. I love flawed characters and characters that have to fight their way through life. All three of my main characters are deeply flawed and in this story the truth is never just black and white. Nobody is all good or all bad in this story.
The story’s theme is about facing the fact that we all have darkness within us and that we could all be pushed to give in to that darkness if the stakes are high enough. All three main characters, the two protagonists and the antagonists fight this inner darkness as their own demons threaten to overwhelm them. At the end of the day whether they choose the darkness or the light is what will be both the making and the breaking of them.
- New Orleans
- Criminal Profiling
- Serial Killers
- Evil vs Good
- Darkness vs Light
- Psychic powers
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)
Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
Is obsession a bad thing? Sometimes it can be especially if your obsession is a person. But for most careers and most dreams obsession *in a particular field/set of skills* is not only healthy but necessary for success. I – like so much of the world – have been caught up in the Olympics over the last few weeks. With 9 dedicated channels to 24/7 Olympic coverage on the television, there is always some event to watch or some interview with an athlete. These Olympian athletes are prime examples of Obsession being a necessary boost to fulfilling their ultimate dream of besting their personal best times and ultimately standing on the podium accepting a medal.
Growing up I was fascinated by the law, science and journalism. I chose my high school subjects with that focus in mind. It was a toss-up between being a criminal prosecutor, a pathologist, a criminal psychologist or a National Geographic journalist or a war journalist. I was also enamoured *and still am* with the FBI and MI6. Unfortunately though geography did not favour me here.
“A writer is someone who writes, that’s all. You can’t stop it; you can’t make yourself do anything else but that.” Gore Vidal (Writer)
Life had another route for me though, one that would lead me to the truest path for me and that is writing. If I had pursued any of those adolescent dream careers I might have come to the writing path much later. I am certain no matter what route I chose it would have eventually lead me to writing. But for now I am really glad that due to life circumstances I did not pursue any of those careers.
obsession |əbˈseSHən| noun the state of being obsessed with someone or something: she cared for him with a devotion bordering on obsession.• an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind: he was in the grip of an obsession he was powerless to resist. DERIVATIVES obsessional |-SHənl|adjective,obsessionally |-SHənl-ē|adverbORIGIN early 16th cent. (in the sense ‘siege’): from Latin obsessio(n-), from the verb obsidere (see obsess) .*Dictionary Definition*
I am a 100% all or nothing type of person. When I put my mind to something I put it in 100% effort and everything else falls to the wayside. I also have a perfectionist gene inherited from my German mother that won’t allow me to be anything than the best or put any less than 100% effort in. Which is why I am glad I did not pursue those early dream careers. I would have thrown myself headfirst into them and writing would have fallen to the side.
But my dogged determination, my stubborn perfectionism and a tendency to obsess serve me perfectly in Writing. As a writer my characters have their own careers, their own obsessions that have to come across as authentic. So here is where my leaning towards the law, justice, science and journalism can be played out on the page.
One of my favourite parts of a new story, any story, is the research. To come off as authentic your plot, your setting and your characters have to be obsessively researched. Once you have come up with the idea then the FUN part begins. You get to throw yourself into a hunt for information of all kinds.
“If you don’t have obsessions, don’t write. My characters are obsessed.” – Marguerite Young
My current WIP deals with serial killers, psychics, tattooists and the FBI. So to get my facts correct I must study up on everything I can to get the characters right and to come up with an authentic plot. The internet is fantastic for the modern-day writer. Now with a tap of a button I can research millions of articles related to the subjects contained in my WIP. I can connect with experts in these fields through their online presence by following their blogs, emailing them pertinent questions and picking their brains on likely hypotheticals.
Even though I am writing fiction, I still have to get the facts straight. If I don’t, the errors will be picked up by readers. The worst thing for a writer is to come across as inauthentic. So for this WIP a tendency to obsess combined with an adolescent fascination of criminal law and justice gets to play out in my research. This means I am in my element. For the time that I write in the Voice of my characters I get to see the world and the story through their POV. I get to “be” a criminal profiler much like the actors on shows like CRIMINAL MINDS (One of my television obsessions.) have to step into the shoes of criminal profilers. I also get to understand the alternative world of the tattooists and psychics.
“The trade of authorship is a violent, and indestructible obsession.” – George Sand (Writer)
So even though I did not become a criminal prosecutor, a criminal psychologist, a pathologist, a National Geographic journalist or a war journalist…I get to “be” all these for a time period in my stories and through my characters. I get to write about people in these fields and for as long as I crank out the words in the drafts I get to “be” these people. I get to rub shoulders with the experts who are willing to assist me.
“You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.” – John Irving (Novelist)
Yes, a tendency to obsess over the details and the facts and to walk in your characters’ shoes/inhabit their lives is necessary to write authentic fiction. I know I am a writer because even in life’s worst circumstances in real life I am spinning these seeds into story ideas. I hear things, see things, experience things and my itch to get it into a story is nothing if obsessive. It is true what they say, be careful what you tell a writer…you may read about it in one of their stories. Writers are the obsessive magpies of the world always on the hunt for that shiny new idea.
What are your obsessions?
If you could have your life over, what dream career would you have?
As a reader, have you come across glaring errors in stories that have had you questioning the author?
As a writer, what has been your favourite subject to research and obsess over?
Mmmmh…There is nothing like the smell of hot, home-made bread, fresh from the oven. I wish the internet/WordPress could figure out how to embed scents into blog posts but since I know you have a great imagination…Close your eyes and picture/smell bread fresh out of the oven.
Bread is a world-wide symbol of nourishment. In my own home, I have many fond memories of my mother baking homemade German bread *recipe passed down through the generations* and the amazing smell wafting through the house, guaranteed to pull all of the family to the kitchen.
So…what does this have to do with writing? Well, bread has to have one key ingredient to give it that rise and that ingredient is yeast. Much like a story has to start with a kernel of an idea. A question of what-if? A character with such a compelling story that you have to be the one to write their story. A setting that teases your imagination. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Secrets. All of these are the yeast to a writer’s baking.
Home-made bread is the symbol for my month of August.
July was a wash-out for me as personal issues pushed writing to the background and at times I felt like I was a wheat kernel on the threshing floor waiting for the harvester to scoop me up. But sometimes we don’t or can’t control our external lives and we just have to keep our head above water and keep swimming.
The good thing about real life dramas is that we can use them for fodder in our stories. I don’t mean writing a tell-all or fictionally “killing off” your most troublesome relatives. *Even though it is incredibly tempting to do both.* No, you can use the emotions – both high and low – to bring depth to your fiction. Going back to my bread analogy: Baking bread is tough on the muscles. You need to knead away any imperfections and to continue until you get the perfect consistency. Then you need to have a hot oven or hot fire to bake the bread. In just the same way the fire of real life dramas can help you bake a story that is rich and layered. For this writer, writing is both my therapy and my sanity. It is the best place I know to throw excess emotions leaking out from real life dramas…
So this August I am going to be baking my bread and watch it rise into a hot, fresh and new manuscript. (Genre: Paranormal Psychological Thriller) I already have all the ingredients mixed in especially the yeast of a sparkling idea, now I just need to pop it in the oven and see what rises. Hopefully what comes out of my efforts is hot, fresh and delicious. I am really excited about this new WIP and have been itching to get to work on it. The main character is already a favourite of mine: She is complicated and strong-willed but she has a secret she can’t tell anyone because if she does they may just lock her away in a padded cell. But keeping this secret makes her the #1 suspect on investigator’s lists which leads her into a whole world of trouble. Watch this space and I may drop a few more breadcrumbs about her story.
I have a ^word count goal all set in Scrivener^ for the whole month and broken down into the individual word counts for each day. I have a plotted out first draft, character profiles and backstories. I am ready to make this the month of the WIP.
(Aside: ^^ = To edit and utilise Project Targets in your Scrivener project. See below.)
On your Scrivener Menu – Go to Project, Then Show Project Targets
There you can edit either a session goal (words/pages/chapters) and/or a project goal. You can also add in a deadline date as well as mark what days you will be writing on. Then Scrivener will calculate it all together for you and give you a daily total of words/pages/chapters needed to reach either/both the session and the project goal. *This instruction is for Scrivener Version 2.3 for Mac*
What are your goals for August?
Bread-wise…do you have a favourite bread recipe you would like to share?
Stories are passports without borders. Stories are passports without visas. Stories are passports to adventure. Stories are passports into the exotic and the extraordinary. Stories are portal doors into worlds unknown. Stories are magic carpets.
One of the first reasons that made me fall in love with stories is the ability to travel to exotic places, experience exotic cultures all without leaving my chair. I love traveling and often call myself a Gypsy at heart. New places usually mean new people to meet and new adventures to experience. In an unknown place the average and ordinary can suddenly become extraordinary. Having a coffee in my local cafe is very been there, done that. But having a coffee in some little plaza in an Italian village on the Amalfi coast would immediately be extraordinary for me. In the same way, that Italian local may find having coffee in my local cafe an extraordinary event.
For this reason I have always read books that are based in foreign countries and even foreign cultures. I come from South Africa, now live in New Zealand – to me neither of these two places is exotic. They are what I know. They are familiar. But when I have told American friends that I come from South Africa and now live in New Zealand – they are always fascinated. They want to know if I have seen lions in the wild. When I tell them that we had a family of leopard living on one of the farms my father managed, they go: “WOW!”. They want to know all about New Zealand especially since the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that really put NZ on the map. But for me exotic places are in Europe or in Central Africa/Northern Africa or the Amazon in South America. But I doubt those same locals who live in these areas think that they live in an exotic locale.
That is the joy of reading stories and in my case going one step further and creating your own stories. I love writing about places I have not been because I find often what may be fairly ordinary to the locals there becomes extraordinary and special in my fresh eyes. One of my favourite pastimes is searching for fresh inspiration for not just story ideas but setting ideas. Pinterest (new addiction) comes in as a very useful tool in these moments. I also love reading/studying/researching the history of each setting and often finds it seeds an idea in my imagination that I let lie and germinate to see what it could potentially blossom into. Nowadays with the ease of the internet and software like Google Earth/Google Maps your research into a place can become acutely accurate down to the street names and the name of that cafe on the corner in that Italian village on the Italian Amalfi Coast.
But at the end of the day the best research you can do when checking out a setting in an exotic locale (if traveling there is absolutely ruled out) is to talk to the locals on the internet. In this day and age there is an internet group for just about everything and there are blogs for just about every type of subject. So I trawl the blogosphere and see if there are any local-specialised blogs devoted to the locale I want to set my story in. Setting is so much more than just a geographic location or street names. Setting is also about the quirks that make that place unique. Is there a particular smell? Smell is a big one. For instance when I smell oranges and lemons I immediately think of Athens, Greece. One of the strongest memories of my time spent there 12 years ago was the tree-lined streets with trees heavy with oranges and lemons. So the smell of oranges and lemons now sums up Athens for me. Location bloggers will give away a lot of these type of tidbits in their blog posts. And most people are always flattered when you tell them you want to learn more about their home because you find it fascinating.
So while I have begun writing on my next project I have been trawling the internet for setting ideas. So I will leave you with some images from my Pinterest board. Some of them are definite settings in my story and some of just teasing seeds of inspiration right now…Mum’s the word (for now) on which settings I am actually going to be using in both the current WIP and upcoming ones. Perhaps you can guess which settings I have chosen.
Perhaps you have been to these places or live there. I would love to know at least 2 quirks that I could not find out from the internet that is unique to each place. Leave me a comment in the comments.
Tell me>> What exotic places would you like a story to be set in? What places grab your imagination?
All imaged embedded via My Pinterest boards – Feel free to follow me there…