Tag Archives: solstice

Summer Is A-comin’ In…

Right out of a John Constable painting….

We are nearing that time of year that marks the summer solstice, also known as Midsummer’s Eve, and school’s out, the garden is up and running (if you have one), and you’d rather be outside than inside, even if it’s hot. The beach is much more important than doing something that resembles work.

Instead of working on something like a short story or a novel, now would be a good time to take something off the shelf that will make you a better writer.  Take a break.  Don’t be quite so intense and worried about getting it done. Give your characters a little rest. Do some sketching or shoot photos. Do something that will inspire a book cover or illustrate a story or poem.

‘Writing In Flow’ by Susan K. Perry is one of the books I have recommended strongly for anyone who wants to write, if only for the sake of writing. I’m going back to that instead of reading novels this summer, because it is meant to jar you loose from being stuck. Being stuck for something to say happens to everyone, and is not something to worry about.

Take some time this summer and into fall to follow one of Susan Perry’s suggestions:  open up to new experiences.

Standing on the porch in the middle of a cloudburst, taking in the scent of fresh rain and feeling the changes in the air while it’s going on, and after it’s done and the storm has moved on – these are physical sensations that you can put into the lives of your characters.

If you’re stuck, don’t worry about it. The flow will return. But if you feel compelled to write, then follow a new path. If you usually create prose, then try poetry instead, as in making up some silly children’s rhymes. If you write poetry, turn a poem into a one-paragraph story.

It’s less important what it is than that you do it.



Well, I’m back….

Whitetail in the snow

Whitetail in the snow

That’s what Sam Gamgee said, after he returned from seeing Frodo, Gandalf, and the Elves off on their final voyage.

Oh, you haven’t read it in a long time? Well, then, take all four books out of mothballs and reread them from start to finish. Start with ‘The Hobbit’ and go from there, and no cheating by watching the movies, either. (Naughty, naughty.) Let the words on the page stir your imagination to life. I do that about once every five years. Allow yourself that little luxury, sitting in a comfy chair with good light and food and drink at your elbow, and no distractions. Get lost in the story.

There are so many, many stories to read, so many worlds to conquer, so many universes to explore, that not giving yourself the gift of living vicariously in another world through the pages of a story is depriving yourself of the wonder that you felt as a child.

I’ve had my share of distractions for a few weeks, but I struggled onward against them, no matter what. Even if I could only put a few words to a page, I still did that. You do get bogged down in the pale, grey cold of winter and being shut indoors. It’s as though there is no end in sight to it, and we’re stuck with it through eternity. And there are writers who have invented entire societies and stories based around that very idea – that winter never ends or is so prolonged that it lasts for generations. They make use of what may seem like living in a shoebox to some people.

I’ve had a few distractions for several weeks, but I struggled onward anyway, and managed to keep the continuity going, but it was just plain hard at time, and made worse by seeing bright sunshine on snow piled so high it might as well form a glacier.

Now it’s ending. However slowly it happens, winter is withdrawing – maybe by the end of March, but withdrawing, nonetheless – and before long the lawn will begin to show some green again.

Happy Christmas, Merry New Year… and, well…

Merry Christmas from Gaia, Mother Nature, St. Nick, and the Frost Giants

Merry Christmas from Gaia, Mother Nature, St. Nick, and the Frost Giants

Ok, I’m stuck. I’m stuck in a place that requires making a short story work and another place that will finish a chapter in a novel. Is it the holiday season? Or is it something about winter? Could it be cabin fever?

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it’s just what happens when you focus on something so much that you realize you’ve forgotten to do simple tasks like make red beans and rice for supper, fix a pot of soup for lunch, clean the catbox and change the water in the bowl, and do laundry.

That might be it. Whatever the reason is for getting stuck, it just happens.

In one novel currently underway, I cranked out 2 full chapters in 1989 and then came to a screeching halt, because I had no idea where it was going.

In the short story where I’m stuck for words, the continuity has to work or the story does not hold up.

In the other novel, chapter 2 has two parts. One part is finished, and the other part now takes its place, just as you see a movie cut from one scene to another, and these two parts take place several thousand miles apart, with different weather systems in place.

Oh, you think you’re confused? Try this: right in the middle of a nice dinner, one of the characters gets up out of his chair and starts telling me what happened. So do I go turn on my computer and start writing down his narrative? Or do I wait until I’m done with dinner, put the dishes in the sink to wash later, and then go write up that narrative?

Well, this IS the Christmas season. It’s time to not be quite so intense. Capricorn rules the sky right now, and we just passed the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the Earth’s axis moves to 0 degrees Capricorn, while the Frost Giants stand ready to overpower humanity with their bitter winds and freezing gales.

We hang holly on the mantelpiece (if we have one) or the door, because holly is what was used to keep the Frost Giants at bay. We burn the yule log to indicate the passing of another 12 months and wait for the sun to put in longer hours in the sky. We read old stories and legends and myths about winter following fall, and spring following winter, and wonder if winter will ever end.

And then some scientist will try to explain that it’s all due to climate change, which takes the romance out of it and destroys the imaginative stories and songs that make the season a lot more fun.

So my wish for this Christmas and for the New Year 2014 is that Imagination is allowed to rear her silly, giggly, frizzy head without being stifled or scorned or analyzed, and that she’ll have a crown of holly branches on her head, and a red robe with white trim and fluffy slippers on her feet, while she sits by my imaginary fireside reading someting I wrote and sipping hot cocoa with chocolate shavings, or hot apple cider with a slice of lemon.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and very Prosperous New Year 2014.