Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Tag

Seasons of Writing   11 comments

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

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The answer is – yes.

It depends on what I’m writing. When I feel passionate about what I am writing, it’s like a pot of coffee to my system. I feel an increase in adrenaline that spurs me on to the end of the scene and sometimes beyond, creating excitement. What’s more writing releases endorphins like oxytocin into the brain synapses, giving a boost not unlike heroin or nursing a baby.

Adrenaline and oxytocin are a powerful combination that make it hard not to feel energized when doing whatever it is that stimulates them, be it writing or binge drinking. Yes, writing can become an addiction not unlike alcoholism. We’ve all heard sad stories of gifted authors who have hurt themselves or fallen into the bottle. Ernest Hemingway and Jack Kerouac are just two who come to mind whose joy in writing turned to despair. How do we know the difference?

Sometimes you reach the bottom of the well and you have to take a pause to let it refill. I have those times – when writing has exhausted me and I need to go live real life for a while. It’s not that I never want to write again. I haven’t run out of good stories. I’m not giving up. I just need a break. Or maybe a shift of focus. Whatever it takes to stave off burnout and reinvigorate my love of writing.

And those times of refocus and renewal are how I know I’m not addicted to writing. It is my obsession, but it is one that I am still in control of. So long as I don’t have a project on deadline, I don’t despair when the words stop flowing. I recognize it for what it is – a needed time to allow my neurotransmitters to replenish. While I can’t imagine never writing again, I know I can not write for a few days or weeks and not be harmed in the least by it. If I find myself feeling anxious about not feeling the writer’s muse, then I know it’s time to step back even further and analyze why I’m writing – to satisfy my muse or to stimulate my endorphins.

That isn’t me at the moment. My muse showers blessings on me most days. I am writing on deadline, closing in on the rewrite of “Gathering In” (the 5th book in Transformation Project series). And I’ve just had a wonderful burst of creativity toward other projects. I’m not exhausted by writing currently – although the smoke from nearby forest fires and warm nights that don’t cool down because the sun never sets makes me tired and cranky unfortunately. It also causes me to be awake nights — a really good time to write and stimulate some endorphins to overcome my current life circumstances.

Writing has seasons and we all go through winters. What is exciting in June may seem impossible in December. It is the nature of the creative process, but seasons are temporary and after winter comes spring.

Posted July 22, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Spark That Lights the Fire   4 comments

Feb. 19, 2018 – Tell us a story about a time when a piece of inspiration hit you. We’ve all had them.

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I get inspiration from a lot of different places. My apocalyptic series Transformation Project comes from news media interacting with my college studies of political science and all the lovely conspiracy theories available out there.

The Willow Branch (The Daermad Cycle Book 1) by [Markham, Lela]But I can’t point to just one point of inspiration. It’s more like a lot of bits of information that finally got together to propel me toward a story.

Now, Daermad Cycle started with an inspirational moment. It was close to 25 years ago. Our daughter was a baby. It was a hot summer day and a rainstorm rolled in. My husband and I were sitting in our one-room cabin, watching the kid try to catch her toes and listening to the raindrops pattering on the roof. Brad turned on one of Enya’s albums.

I remember the dog and the baby were snoring in unison and the music and the rain took my imagination to a new world. It was a rainy green meadow that stretched from high mountains to distant forests. A man was riding a sorrel mare along a trail between tilled fields and intermittent copses of trees. I could see water around the foots of bushes and trees and see young shoots pushing their way into the spring air. And, then, ahead, was a stone wall and a rough gate in it.

And that was my image of Celdrya and the character of Padraig who forms the central ensemble of Daermad Cycle. The scene appeared in The Willow Branch. I wanted to get to know that character and actually, the first several scenes for the book wrote extremely easily. Of course, things have changed as I worked on the early drafts, but that scene had to make it into the published book because … well, it is the spark that lit the fire.

Posted February 19, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Whence Did My Muse Wander?   4 comments

Inspiration. Where do you get your inspiration for writing? When you’re running low on ideas or creative flow, how do you get your inspiration back?

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My inspiration comes from life and the news and, sometimes other authors. It depends on the genre and my mood at the time.

Image result for image of literary inspirationFor example, Transformation Project is largely inspired by the news. It’s sort of bleak out there in divided American these days, which just begs for someone to write an apocalyptic about people overcoming the mess created by the demon spawn of division and tyranny. Rather than fuss overmuch about the Resistance, the Revolutionary Communist Party of America and Black Lives Matters planning a series of “color revolution-like” demonstrations around the US during the month of November, I choose to write about Kansas farmers hiding corn from off-the-lease USDA agents who mean to take what these farmers grew and give it to people in the cities. Which is worst – reality or fiction? The reader gets to decide, I guess.

My fantasy series is inspired, really, by my admiration for a whole lot of other fantasy writers and a love of medieval and Celtic history and culture.  Maybe there’s a desire to get away from our overly-technological society, to slow things down to the pace of a horse. You can dead with issues in a fantasy setting that would just plain sound strange in a contemporary setting. Jazz in Transformation Project can certainly be equal to a man when she has a gun, but Ryanna in Daermad Cycle, as a female half-elf is nearly as strong as a human man. She can sword-fight a male and, with superior skill, best him. So questions about strength and equality can be tweaked because of that differing dynamic.

Other stories are inspired by life events. Yet-to-be published “What If Wasn’t” is largely drawn from the experiences of a friend of ours who spent time in prison and then tried to make a normal life for himself when he got out. My book is not his story — that would be an invasion of his privacy — but his stories are threaded throughout the novel.  A YA I’m working on started from a story someone else told me that I changed and developed into something that is quite different from the original true story. I’m also working on another story that is based on a shooting here in Alaska, but my story is not about that particular shooting. I’ve fictionalized it.

Related imageSo, what do I do when “my muse” stops talking to me? That rarely happens because I shift around from project to project to keep myself from getting bored. BUT … when I find myself staring at a blank screen with nothing coming to mind and that lasts more than a day, I usually take a small break. I go hiking in the woods … design and construct a quilt … read a bunch of books. I once binge-watched three seasons of Vampire Dairies … and, no, I’m not a fan and I don’t write supernatural fiction, but apparently that month of wasted time was what was needed to get my inspiration back.

My goal is to distract myself, but only temporarily. While I’m distracting myself, some world leader says or does something that gets my interest. A friend forwards me an article on economics, history or political anarchy. I read a book on medieval marriage laws. Maybe I hike by a wonderful lake that just insists upon being described. I overhear a conversation in the coffee shoppe that just begs to be recorded. I hear a song or read a poem that just speaks to something deep in my soul.

Some time in that process of letting my mind rest for a few days or weeks, the voices return and offer to tell me more of their stories. Inspiration returns. They weren’t gone. They were just taking a siesta and are now ready to give me something to write once more.

 

Posted October 30, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Seeking Inspiration   6 comments

This week’s blog hop topic is “What inspires you, and why do those things inspire you?

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Inspiration surrounds us. All you need do is open your eyes and your imagination and let it in. Inspiration comes from the words of your favorite author to the leaves blowing across your path on your morning commute.

Image result for image of inspirationSometimes it’s hard to see the muse while you’re living your daily life. My husband Brad wonders how I can spend my workday planted in front of a computer screen writing for other people and then come home and write my own stories. And, I can’t really explain what’s going on in my head while I’m doing the mundane parts of my job and my standard life. Exactly what is it about filing or data entry that gets the creative juices flowing?

Inspiration is innate — intimate — to a writer, I believe. I know there are people who do their best thinking while lying awake in the middle of the night, but I do mine in that margin between when I lie down and when I go to sleep. It’s about a half-hour where I can daydream without interruption and those are often times spent at the inspiration well. I’ve trained myself to remember so I write down what I learn later.

I find inspiration in the everyday. I’m fascinated by relationships – happy ones, complicated ones, weird ones, even painful ones. My writing is often an attempt to dissect the meaning behind an event or to describe a particular feeling or emotion.

I’m inspired by things I face and work through in my daily life. The news is a constant source of inspiration for my apocalyptic series Transformation Project. Sometimes when I’m reading or watching television or doing research, ideas will fall on fertile imaginative soil and slowly a story will spring forth, again while I’m doing something completely unrelated to “being creative.” My most recent book, the novelette Hullabaloo on Main Street was inspired by a Washington Post article about how Democrats in Wisconsin were shocked that their neighbors had voted for Donald Trump, but when I opened my imagination to it, I overheard dozens of conversations by people from both sides of the aisle. Yes, I’m inspired by eavesdropping too. Connor’s observation about how his conservative and liberal neighbors asking for help differently is actually inspired by a liberal coworker’s observation about that dynamic.

Living in Alaska is a powerful inspiration. Long walks just through my neighborhood brings me in contact with nature right on the edge of a vast wilderness. I see colors that I want to describe, smell fragrances that want to be put on paper, watch my neighbors do things that just must be captured in word pictures.

I’m inspired by investigating my life — taking it apart at the seams and seeing what’s inside. How did I become who I am? How did someone who shared their story with me become who they are? I look beneath the surface of this visible reality and find places that are more felt than seen.

The creative process itself brings me to a place where I am often in that world and the process itself is inspiring. The act of having to type words slows me down and connects me to emotions, places and characters in a way where I feel what they feel, see, hear, etc.

I’m inspired by challenges. When I reach a point in a book’s narrative where things are hard, I love the feeling of finding the just-right turn of a phrase that solves my characters problems … or drives them forward to face those problems. Don’t we just wish our own lives were that easy?

(Note – not really. I’m pretty mean to my characters and I would not want anyone to treat me that way.)

Although the sources of my creativity are many, back of it rests the one main foundation of my life … my faith. I find literary themes and ways of addressing problems on the page in the words of my Savior. I learn ways of seeing things that are different from what is “normal” because of the tenets of my faith. Writing fiction somehow draws me closer to God and allows me to not only say, but sometimes realize insights through my characters that I’d feel awkward and foolish saying myself.

Inspiration comes in many forms and myriad sources. It’s kind of cliche to say that inspiration is everywhere, but I get my best moments with my muse when I’m filing paperwork or scrubbing the tub, so I think that “everywhere” is about right.

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Posted May 15, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Jane Bwye Announces Book Launch   Leave a comment

Jane BwyeMy friend Jane Bwye (Breath of Africa) has announced publication of her new book I Lift Up My Eyes.

Her online launch party is October 7 at 12:00 pm UTC+01, which I have just learned is the designation for Western European Time (I never knew how you wrote it before). You can join the festivities and RSVP at:

https://www.facebook.com/events/284107581774947/298711503647888/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity

Her website is here: http://www.janebwye.com/about-me

Or you could give her some lift on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jbwye

I will be hosting her that day for a brief interview on her new book. Come visit for Writing Wednesday and here all about it.

Posted October 3, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Writing

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Visual Inspiration   Leave a comment

Andrew Wyeth is my favorite artist.

Posted July 23, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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