Watching for Inspiration

Sometimes you have to just push the chair back and walk away from the desktop.You can only stare at a screen for so long before your mind goes numb and you’re searching for inspiration.

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Some of the best inspiration that you can get is from watching the people around you. This is especially true at large public locations. I’m lucky to live in South Florida; between the place where the mouse lives and the place where the dolphins swim there’s plenty of attractions to go and watch people. I don’t know what it is about people who are on vacation, but it seems like they’ll do the most amazing things. It might be because they’re letting their inhibitions down, as ifthey have an “I don’t care” attitude. Or maybe it’s because they think no one’s watching: at least no one they know. Young or old, male or female, there’s plenty of inspiration to watch for.

 

I especially like to watch the interaction between people;  what they’re doing while they’re talking. There are so many hand gestures and movements a person makes without even being aware of it and if you incorporate those into your story line you can add a lot of interest.

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Here’s a perfect example…

We were at the place where the mermaids put on a show in the springs  by Tampa. Two little girls very close in age were excited to be able to see the show with the mermaids. They jumped up and down and chattered non-stop. Their parents kept exchanging looks as they tried to quiet them down. Finally it was time for all of us to go in and sit down in the auditorium to watch the mermaid show. The two little girls were overjoyed with excitement and chattered loudly.Their mother tried to quiet them down but to no avail. Rather than getting in the middle of an argument with them, their father simply took each   girl by  hand and led them to their seats.  Instead of letting them sit together, he conveniently put himself and his wife between the two of them. They weren’t able to feed off the excitement of each other and they settled down to enjoy the show.

In that same auditorium over in the corner there were three little girls in the front row leaning over the railing. They were so excited to see the mermaids that they were pushing their noses up against the glass. Instead of being loud and rambunctious like the other girls, these three little girls were in awe of the mermaids. They whispered back and forth to each other and when one of the mermaids swam over and waved at them they were so excited they just didn’t know what to say.  As the mermaid swam away, the giggling and the whispering started. Yet, it was a smile on the adults around the three girls that told the true story. We were getting more enjoyment out of the children’s joy then out of the show itself.

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Children of all ages are great to watch, because they held nothing back. Watching an adult is a little bit harder; you have to really pay attention, without appearing to stare at the interaction between them. It can be something as obvious as to couples fighting with raised hands and loud voices, to another couple so comfortable with themselves that words are needed. They let  their emotions show through actions;   the older man holds the woman’s hand to help her over a rough patch in the sidewalk. To me that action was louder than the arguments of the other couple.

So, when you feel like you’re stumped, or that you need a break, get out of the house and see what’s going on around you. If you can’t do that, flip on the TV and watch the interactions of the characters on the show. Be sure to pay closer attention to the side characters instead of the main characters. Sometimes what you see going on in the background is funnier than the comic one-liners the main characters have.

Feeling inspired? Good, now get back in that chair and start writing!

 

 

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AnOther Writer?

I think I have a budding writer in the family.

She’s not your typical writer. No, her work habits are lazy and hap-hazard. She tends to write only when inspired by seeing someone else working, and she  often falls asleep in the middle of a sentence.

You see my co-writer is a pretty little thing, with four legs and a lot of attitude.20160902_080826

Meet Miss Marple. She’s the quiet one of my three cats.and if I’m at my desk, so is she. To tell the truth, she should have been named Shadow, because she is like my shadow, always with me.

Miss Marple is patient and seems to know my writing moods. When things are flowing smoothly, she sits in her basket (how she still fits in it I haven’t a clue) and grabs a nap. When I need to sit and think about the story, she will sit on my lap, hands or keyboard and offer her support.

Of course things don’t always go this smoothly, after all, she’s a cat with a mind of her own. And one of three in the house. I swear, when she thinks I’ve ignored her long enough, she signals the other two for reinforcements!

The second cat is Fletch.  She was named Mrs. Fletcher, but my son insisted Fletch was more appropriate-he was right. If there is trouble to be found, Fletch is in the middle of it. And she is not so tolerant of being ignored while I write.

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When the reinforcements are called in, my desk becomes their play ground. Drawers are opened for stealing paperclips and rubber bands. The pen in my hand is  mortal enemy that must be attacked and defeated. Urgent secret codes are typed into my manuscript as they pounce on the key board. And the back of my chair is commandeered and transformed into a launch pad.

Then, just as I’m ready to give up and pack it in, there is peace. As if sent by a secret code, they both settle down.

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Did I mention my third cat, Speckles? She is the matriarch of the three, over 18 years old. She’s too old to jump up on my desk, now. Instead she sits in the comfortable chair next to my desk, or on a rug in a patch of sunlight and watches the antics of the other two. In her time, she was the troublemaker. I think I can see her smile as Fletch steals my pen.

I wonder…is she sending them a secret code?

Finally, all three are taking their afternoon nap and I can get back to my work in progress. At least until they wake up and it starts all over.

Rituals of Writing

Every job has a set of tasks that need to be done to complete the job to your satisfaction. You have a goal to accomplish, often with a time frame in mind. You need to have your work tools ready at hand to be used, you need to be at the right location, and you might have to have some help lined up in case you run into any problems. Once you have all this lined up, you are ready to start. Hopefully all will go as you planned and your results will be everything you hoped for.
 thQA9LL7NIFor an author, writing is a job just like any other job. Our tools are just a little different, that’s all. We need our writing medium, be it paper or computer. Pens are always on hand for jotting notes as we compose. Some of us may use more technical items like a voice recorder or even a voice computer program where we can speak our words out loud and they “magically” appear on the screen.
But the most important tool that we need is our imagination. Somehow our thought have to be reigned in and put into some kind of logical order so that we can express them to others. There are some authors out there who can just sit down and start composing coherent thoughts and get their story easily down.
Then there are others, like me, who need to go through a warm up processes.
Some may do a quick bit of exercise to get the juices flowing. Or maybe a spot of peaceful meditation before they pick up their pen. For me, I need to make sure that all of my other day-to-day tasks are either done or out of sight to insure that I am not distracted.

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I think that if you asked most authors, you would find that there are certain items that they need to have within easy reach to help them with their work. It might be a cup  of hot coffee, or a glass of wine. A plate of healthy snacks might need to be on desk next to them. After all writing can be hard work, and we need to keep up our strength. My must have for writing time is a cup of coffee or a large ice tea (depending on the weather) and a dish of M&Ms (preferably dark chocolate).
Then there is the atmosphere. For some there needs to be quite, no outside distractions.  There are those who write only in a strict office setting in front of a desk, in a comfortable office chair.   Other’s thrive in chaos, and get their best work done amongst the sounds of TV & kids. Most seem to need some kind of background music. My taste run towards new age or instrumentals with nature sounds in the background. I actually do my best writing in my car, parked along the river, or on a towel by the beach.

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But not matter what the tools, what the setting, what necessary fortifications, or even what the atmosphere; the author has a job to do.  That job is to create a story that will keep the reader’s attention and give enjoyment for as long as they read along.

I’ve made the investment!

The last few days have been interesting & exciting, exasperating & time-consuming, fun and rewarding…
You see I decided to comment to this thing called writing. I took what money I have earned from the sales of my first book (Murder for Neptune’s Trident) and the little rainy day stash I had put aside and invested into a much-needed and updated laptop. So with my cats by my side (or on my lap or across the keyboard) I have spent hours getting my files uploaded and getting myself acquainted with windows 8.1. I have to admit there were a couple of times that I was ready to put the whole thing back in the box and go back to my desktop! But now that I am a little more familiar with getting around the new program, I really like it.
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So now that I feel properly equipped to tackle this new adventure I decided on, I need to set some goals and work towards meeting them.  It is so easy to just sit at the computer and get lost on the many social networks, vast amounts of interesting articles out there on the web, music to discover, crazy & silly videos to watch on YouTube; the list goes on and so do the distractions.  With goals, I hope to see results as I work on the next book in my series.

Some writers set goals of working so many hours per day, other set goals of writing some many words per day.  Some prefer to work a few days on just research for their book, other write and research at the same time.  I know of writers that work on more than one project at a time, keeping to a written outline that will take them step by step through their book.  I am not sure what direction I will settle on, but I think that I will be working on a combination of styles until I find what works the best for me.

My adventure continues, and I hope you will follow along with me as I learn more about myself, my writing and my laptop.  You’ve heard the expression “boys and their toys”-for me it will be “writer’s and their tools”!

 

I know Better Than That!

The direction is simple. It is repeated over and over as you master this tool of your craft. We know that we have to do it, and are reminded constantly. Sometimes it is even automatically done for us with out our even knowing…
BACK UP YOUR FILES!!!
General I am pretty good about this, especially anything to do with my writing. I back that up in multiply ways; flash- drive, the cloud, separate computer.  Losing hours of writing is a writers worst nightmare (other than writer’s block) and we all take extra care of our manuscripts.

It’s the everyday things that you forget about.  If you’re like me you click the “remind me” button because you just don’t want to take an extra 5 seconds to let the program back itself up.  Instead, you just keep adding more and more information.  Well, today my taking shortcuts came to bite me in the butt.  I lost all my contacts in my iPhone and had that instant moment of panic and devastation: I had everything in there: phone numbers, addresses, birthday, private notations, codes and directions.

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Lucky for me some really good friends were able to walk me through a few steps and I was able to restore an older version which saved about 90% of the information (thanks guys!)

So I’ve learned a valuable lesson, and I promise to back up my files every time I pause in my work or every time my computer promotes me

…until I forget again and it ignore so that I can keep writing!