Progress – June 25, 2018

June 25, 2018

Hail, fellow adventurers.

I don’t know about you, but last week was a bushwhacking week. Some incredible high points (so lows too, but balance in all things, right?) Whew!

Let’s see… I got my print copy of Eggs at Play. That was fun.

Some people have also already noticed that the next Loki novella, 1-800-IceBaby is up for pre-order. It will officially be available August 28th. Spread the word!

1-800-icebaby front small

Cover and layout copyright ©2018 by Morning Sky Studios
Cover design by Dawn Blair/Morning Sky Studios
Cover art copyright © Ileana – Marcela Bosogea – Tudor | Dreamstime.com, © Maglara | Dreamstime.com, © Phive2015 | Dreamstime.com

PS. That word is “mischief.”

(insert Loki’s laughter here)

Yeah, he’s a bit excited too.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The energy must give you permission

June 1, 2018

I heard several profound things at Anime Oasis in Boise, Idaho, last week.

One panel I attended was on cosplay characterization. Now, cosplay is not something I do though my son loves to dress up in costume (also different than true cosplay where you not only look like the character but act as them too). I thought it might be interesting to see different people’s takes on getting into character. It might provide me insight into designing my own characters.

I wasn’t disappointed.

There were several things that I “knew” in the back of my mind, but that I hadn’t ever really put into practice. A lot of that comes from writing about heroic characters, I’m sure.

Now the actor who cosplays as Jack Sparrow was on the panel, answering questions as Jack Sparrow. He has attended several cons as Jack and does not break character, except for maybe when he actually met Johnny Depp. For the panel, they had a stretch of ten minutes or so where the actor removed his Jack Sparrow wig and answered questions as himself.

He said probably the most profound things I’d heard at the convention.

He asked the audience how many people liked to cosplay because they believed they were the character. Not only did no one want to respond, but everyone kind of looked around as if not sure if he’d lost his marbles.

I whispered to my son, “Does it count if we’re writing, not cosplaying?”

Then “Jack” announced that a character was not a person, but rather an idea. While I could see where he was going with this, it was also something I felt. He continued to say that you needed to have permission to access the energy of that idea.

I wonder if anyone felt as in agreement with that thought than me. I wonder how many people thought that cosplay was nothing but dressing up and pretending.

I have spoken about how my stories have an energy to them, a life of their own, and I’ve probably even mentioned it for my characters. Even Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic mentions how she didn’t listen to one story and it went to another writer. But the idea that you have to have permission from the energy to gain access to the idea really made me stop and think.

Does some permission come easier than others?

Loki’s novellas are very easy for me to tell, but yes, he came to me and started talking to me. I was receptive and he kept going. Believe me when I say that I’m not trying to think things up with his novellas; I’m always in too much of a hurry to get things down. He talks, I transcribe. But his energy is not always available to me. I feel it when he withdraws and when he wants me to focus on his story.

All of Sacred Knight and Onesong have been huge stories which feel bigger than me sometimes. I know I have to just keep treading with one foot in front of the other and not think about the whole picture. Yet, I also remember a time when I didn’t have permission to tell this story. It took years for me to get back to it.

Dragons of Wellsdeep is another that I don’t always have permission to write. As is Stonecharmer — in fact, it was only earlier today that I felt like getting back to it. Am I now ready to access another part of the story. Did something happen in my life which unlocked something I need for the story. Is it an odd sort of gamification that goes on? Did I earn a trophy that lets me pass to the next level?

But not only can I see it so clearly with my writing, but with my painting as well. As I’ve been thinking of this concept over the week of having to have permission to access the energy, I recalled writing at one point that I hadn’t really painted a whole lot since my mother’s death. I literally had a series of paintings that downloaded to my brain that day. I have not been able to paint them up. And since then, I’ve hardly painted. I feel as if I did have permission to see these scenes, given to me at a very trying moment, and I rejected them. Is it possible that the energy as a whole revoked it’s permission toward my painting?

Could this be the same reason I couldn’t write for several years (as I mentioned above)?

Yes, I can see it.

I remember feeling so distraught and lonely when I couldn’t write. It hurt. A friend told me I needed to grieve and I did. Once I felt myself healing from that, my writing came back. This wasn’t overnight, none of it. It was a long road.

I would like to avoid taking that long path with my painting. I do want to paint, as much as I wanted to write when I literally couldn’t. Yes, this feels similar. But now I know that I need to respect the energy and have it’s permission.

I don’t what this means, either for the short term or the long term, only that I do have a new respect for the artistic process both as a writer and a painter. Stay tuned. I’m sure there will be more to come.


The Art of Making Hay – Cutting

May 6, 2015

So if irrigating your field is like a writer’s life, then we must move to the next act of ranching which is cutting. I should mention that this process I’m writing about is for alfalfa. That’s the crop we always grew on the ranch in Nevada, so it’s what I know best.

Cutting the hay takes place a long time after irrigating, usually several weeks. The alfalfa has to have time to grow and the land time to dry out. Swathers are large pieces of equipment which you don’t want to get stuck in the mud. You start by cutting a row or two around the whole field. After you go around the field, you start near a levee and begin cutting the hay in the section. The rotating cylinder full of tines takes in the hay and pushes them toward the blades which cut the hay. A long row of hay is spit out neatly behind the swather. You go around and around in circles making your way into the center until all the hay in the section of the field is down and move onto the next.

A swather from behind.  You can see the row of hay it's spitting out as well as the alfalfa crop growing off to the right of the photo. That's my brother standing on the tractor tire. Kids, don't try this at home!  (why is it that I say that often when I see a photo with my brother in it?)

A swather from behind.
You can see the row of hay it’s spitting out as well as the alfalfa crop growing off to the right of the photo.
That’s my brother standing on the tractor tire. Kids, don’t try this at home! (why is it that I say that often when I see a photo with my brother in it?)

How is this like writing? This is like idea gathering. Your brain is the swather going through all the information it has ever been given, It takes it in and chops it down. What it’s spitting out at you is all sorts of ideas for writing. Themes, characters, plot scenarios, all these and more are laid down for you like a clear path. After I have an idea and I’ve played with it a bit, I usually try to come up with some sort of outline. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. I’ve made up a template of The Hero’s Journey and I usually write one or two sentences for each stage. Sometimes I move the stages around. Yes, I follow a formula. That’s my cutting phase.

There is nothing like the smell of fresh cut hay. I remember going and lying down in the cool rows of alfalfa. Okay, so it wasn’t so great if the spot you decided to rest in had aphids and little spiders, but you could end up with ladybugs crawling over you just as easily. Yeah, those were the days.