Progress – October 22, 2018

October 22, 2018

Four hours of yard work on Saturday has left me sore and achy. I didn’t even get up Sunday morning to record audio as I usually do. I was hard to get my words in Saturday night, but I did. I should have listened to the little voice that said I should have gotten my words done in the morning before tackling the pine needles in the back yard. Whoever thought to put a Ponderosa pine in a residential neighborhood was an idiot. The tree was planted years before I moved in. Now it’s a behemoth.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to get back into routine this week from Adrian’s play last week. My maniac drive to get audio done seems to have subsided for the moment, giving way to my need for sleep.

The only thing I can really claim that I’ve accomplished this last week, other than my daily word count and my daily Inktober posts on Instagram, is that I’m nearly done with the full plot outline for Tangled Magic and Walk the Path. I’m so glad that I’m building this because I’ve found some spots where I can move things around if necessary as well as a few holes from the mess of writing I was doing posting it as Onesong here on my blog. These two books are so going through two readers — one for continuity and the other for proofreading — before they see the light of day. I hope the two readers I have for this are ready. Read the rest of this entry »


Progress – October 1, 2018

October 1, 2018

I can’t believe we’re sitting at October already. Where has the year gone?

Okay, it’s still only September 30th as I write this, knowing it will post tomorrow morning. But by my clock, we’re about an hour and a half away.

Snake River Fandom Con is wrapped up for this year. I am signed up to attend next year. It will be earlier in September. I’ll be sending a list of my 2019 shows in a later newsletter, as well as updating on my websites when I have a moment. Right now, the con in Pocatello was my last show of the year, though I do hope to find another one or two before this year closes out. Heck, I still have one who box of books that I haven’t even opened up yet, so I want to do that before year end.

After the show, I had dinner with my boys, one of which lives in Pocatello right now while he’s going to school. That’s another thing that makes SRFC so nice because I get to spend some extra time with my baby.

Then, Adrian and I drove home. He’s got work tomorrow. I’ve got to go get the dogs and get things settled, so I’m betting that Monday, when this posts, is going to be another busy day.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rousing of ideas

August 9, 2018

I wrote about how ties and carpets have inspired ideas before, but here’s another thing that spurred an idea. You may actually recognize him from the cover of Mystery of the Stardust Monk.


This little monk statue was in the courtyard at the Anchor in Lincoln City, Oregon. Look at him closely and you’ll notice that he’s been cleaved in two it looks like. I always wondered how the split came about and what was holding him together. I think that’s why he sat in the back of my imagination. Read the rest of this entry »

Ideas in weird places

August 2, 2018

Writers are often asked where they get their ideas.

While I can’t speak for other writers, I know that generally something (anything) sparks a character to start speaking to me. The ones that stick are typically very loud and won’t leave me alone. They tell me their story.

But that’s how the stories get started. Sometimes the more important plot elements of the story come from different places. I never know where I will get inspired.

Here are some examples and a little bit about what they roused: Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of Making Hay – Raking

May 7, 2015
Me (in the red hat) and a friend sitting in the hay. I told you in the last blog that I really did that. DId you believe me? Look at all the rows of hay.

Me (in the red hat) and a friend sitting in the hay. I told you in the last blog that I really did that. Did you believe me?
Look at all the rows of hay.

A couple of days after cutting the hay into neat rows comes the process of raking the hay. This basically means that you turn the hay over so that it can dry on the underside.

For this process, you start by going around the whole field to get those outer edge rows. Then you start on the nearest section and, dividing the number of rows the swather cut into two, begin in the middle row and work your way out. Once you’ve done one section, you move over to the next. The process continues all the way across the field, then move onto another field. To top it all off, you have to start early in the morning, usually before sunrise just as the light is starting to come into the sky, and you can only work until 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. before you start losing too many leaves. You need the morning dew on the hay to keep it flexible while you rake because the more leaves on the alfalfa the better the quality. Once it gets too hot and the morning dew has burned off, you’re done for the day. If you’re lucky, you won’t have afternoon rain. Rain is horrible for the downed hay because it causes the hay to mold. Too much rain, and you have to rake it again. Rake it again and you lose more leaves. Not good.

I can’t believe I missed Saturday morning cartoons for this!

I do wish I’d taken this job a bit more seriously, hustled a bit more than I did. Not only was my time short for raking, but I also ditched the job for about an hour each morning to go participate on the swimming team. I do have fond memories of early breakfast with my dad at Sturgeons and driving the tractor through town.

On to why it compares to writing…

As I mentioned in my Twitter reply, I said that raking was like the actual process of writing and turning the ideas over. Once I have my Hero’s Journey outline I mentioned in my last post, I begin to write. I’m taking the ideas I had and I’m turning them over. This is why I don’t build anything too structured. I need some room to work and to turn. I never know what’s lying beneath the initial idea. I let my characters run and hope they surprise me. I let myself get off course. As long as it feels right, I keep going. If it doesn’t I go back to when it did last feel right and start again.

When you’re raking, you start to see the moisture beneath the hay from the dew and the cut alfalfa as gravity pulls it down. It’s always so green. It looks just slightly different than the cut alfalfa that’s been growing in the sun for two days. I remember thinking back then about how a little bit of protection can help renew life.

Let’s just hope we don’t have an afternoon rain. It’s dreadful to watch the sky turn gray and the thunder roll in. In writers, it’s called depression. We all know the stories of talented writers who kill themselves all because they can’t cope in the world. Let me say that if you are depressed and you know it, get help. You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. And your brain is awash in chemicals that you can’t fight. Not if you are depressed. Now everyone has mood swings, everyone gets down every now and then. The weather, an inciting incident, a snappy word, stubbing your toe, etc., each can put you in a bad mood where you then start to feel down. Don’t let the rain day stay because it will mold your ideas if you do. You won’t write; you’ll just think about it. You’ll start a cycle you can’t break out of. I have learned that one thing that picks me up is to go for a walk. Not just any walk, but one where I let hold my head high and I walk just a little bit faster than normal. It’s usually not long then before my characters start talking to me — they like it when I’m feeling confident, especially Loki.

This series will continue on Monday, so get back to writing. The time while you’re waiting for the hay to dry (again) after it rains is a waste; in short, don’t let the rain come. Your time is already too short and you don’t have long to work. Keep the sun shining and making hay.

The Art of Making Hay — Irrigation

May 5, 2015

Last week, Brian Rathbone made a comment on Twitter that editing was like baling hay. The ranch girl in me couldn’t resist. I could see a certain truth in it. I responded with writing was like raking hay because you were turning over ideas.

As I was thinking about this the next day, I wondered if I could equate the writing process to ranching. After all, most people don’t think writing is “real work.” Let me tell you, the artistic process is work. Creating something from nothing does take effort. Even those of us who enjoy it so much do still have to apply ourselves. As with any work, you have to “put your butt in the chair” and get it done.

Before I get too far off-topic, and also because this kind of bleed into today’s point, let’s talk about irrigation.

Irrigation is watering the fields. When I was growing up, we flood irrigated. That meant the water came to the ranch by canals and by opening or closing a series of gates we could divert the water down the ditches to whichever field we needed it to go to. We’d open the head gates at the top of the field to let the water spill out over the land. Before the water reached all the way to the end of the field, you ran up to the head gate on the next section of land to water, opened the gates, then closed the gates on the first piece. It you had “nailed it,” the water reached to the bottom part of the land without leaving too much water, running off somewhere you didn’t want water (as possible in the picture below), or without missing plants there. It didn’t take long to get use to the flow of the water and how long it would take for each section of the field to be irrigated.

Me, out irrigating (the driveway) I've got my boot and my shovel. Ready to work! Not sure if the water was actual irrigation run-off or from watering the trees.

Me, out irrigating (the driveway)
I’ve got my boot and my shovel. Ready to work!
Not sure if the water was actual irrigation run-off or from watering the trees.

How does this relate to writing? Irrigation is like the writer’s life. You have to enrich yourself with the experiences life gives you. Since feelings are universal, you need to allow them to wash over you and seep in, saturating you so you can recall them when you need to. I’ve often said that everything you experience in life is fodder for your writing. People, experiences, emotions, etc., all become a basis for you to gather ideas within.

I use to think this wasn’t true. Of course, that’s why I’m a better writer now than I was then. I used to believe that since you were making it up all along, you didn’t need to be around other people. The introvert in me really loved that excuse. Fortunately, I was still having to participate in life whether I liked it or not. Ah, to be young and stupid. Now I know that when I can look back on an experience and relate it to the scene I’m making up, I delve into the emotions of that memory and apply it to the scene. It becomes richer. I can mash feelings together. I did this a lot when I was building the relationship between Steigan and Lord Ithanes of Dubinshire in Manifest the Magic and To Birth a Destiny. Steigan is so distrustful of Ithanes at first, but he’s also intrigued. As their friendship grows, Steigan always had a wary sense that Ithanes is up to something, but he’s started to trust the Lord of Dubinshire. I’ve felt the way Steigan feels in Manifest the Magic where he was intrigued and scared of Ithanes, but it was the wariness as we went into To Birth a Destiny that I needed to merge emotions because I’ve never quite felt that way. I have had people break my trust, so I knew that pain and I felt Steigan anticipating it. If I’d never built a friendship though, would I have been prepared to build the friendship between my characters?

This is not an excuse for an artist to be flighty though. Don’t get all emotional and claim that it’s your right because you’re an artist. Keep it inside for when you need it. Don’t waste it. I’ve often been called cold and insensitive during my life. I’ve been told I’m like Spock. I had the contrast come very sharply to me when I was writing an information sheet for Art & Soul of Magic Valley and thinking about how my co-workers would take it if they read it. Would they see that level of emotion I had within myself? Would they think I was making it all up as I went along?

So, irrigation is your life. Let it flow over you. The land does not spit the water back out, but rather it soaks it all up. Take your life in. Don’t judge it, don’t get wrapped up in the drama other people try to give you, just absorb. You’ll need it all to grow. And we all know that you reap what you sow.

Leaving you

November 4, 2014
Key  4×4 acrylic on canvas  Dawn Blair ©2014

4×4 acrylic on canvas
Dawn Blair ©2014

Currently on eBay

At one of the panels I did at Pac-Con Spokane, I had a gentleman ask the panel if we ever had a story come to us, were really enthusiastic about it, then it left us. This particular person said it happened to him and about a week later he saw a show that followed his story to the letter.

At the time, I answered that I had stories come and leave me just like that. I even said something to the effect that I believe sometimes stories are taken away from us if we don’t get to work on them. I really do believe that. In some ways, I feel that Harry Potter should have been my idea, even though I’m not British and I wouldn’t have had any clue about a boarding school.

Unfortunately, at the time of the panel, I couldn’t think of any stories that came and left. Then, I was working on rearranging a few things in my office and looking for a story I wanted to get back to work on when I came across two old files. One was called “Vapors” and the other “Overboard.” These were two stories that I was all raring to go on and that came to a sudden halt. Heck, I can still remember when Vapors came to me — I was 15 at the time. I really felt like it was going to launch me to stardom.

So why can’t I work on it?

I just don’t feel that passionate about it right now. That’s not to say that I won’t ever. In fact, as I’m sitting here writing this post, I am remembering the storyline even though I never opened the file; it wasn’t what I was looking for so I had moved on. I do also remember seeing The Mummy – they actually use “my idea” in it very loosely. I’ve seen another movie that made use of “my idea.”

Some may say, well, if he just started working on his idea and it got “taken away and given to someone else,” why is he seeing the show a week later? Timey-whimey, is my reply.

There is nothing new under the sun. Even so-called “original ideas” are really just spins on other ideas.

So how do you get ideas to stop from leaving you? I don’t think there is a way to force the Muse to stay on your shoulder and tell you a story. Sometimes, you have to just put your bottom in the chair and work on the story without the Muse. Sometimes all you need to do is show up and the Muse “feels guilty” and joins you. Sometimes you just have to have faith in your story. Sometimes, it might be time to let the story “winter” for a bit and when your life enters another season it might come back to you or you might find something better. You just never know. It’s okay to let the story slip away.

The story you let get away might be the treasure for someone else. Don’t worry; your time will come around too.