Springtime awakening

May 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Posted in writing | Leave a comment
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Standing by the creek, you can hear the quiet splash of water flowing.

Standing by the creek, you can hear the quiet splash of water flowing.

The scene I’m working on is resisting me—not quite sure why yet, though I just scrapped the 1500 or so words I had written on it and started it afresh from a different POV. That feels better, but the resistance is still there. I think it might just be loss of momentum—I have to push through and get back into it. But for now, I’m taking a brief “blog break.”

These past couple of days, it’s like my senses have been awakened with the spring. Not that I’ve been senseless before this, but in retrospect, my appreciation of the winter was all about the crisp clarity of bare, filigreed branches and starkly exquisite detail, against a cool palette of whites, blues and sparkling ice. It felt refined, aesthetic and cerebral, though my appreciation was no less profound for all that.

Spring is different. The Ontario spring is brief, electric, colourful—like a jolt in the arm. And suddenly, I’m noticing smells, textures, colour.

Breezes cool but not arctic, whispering across the bare skin of my arms as I pull up the healthy crop of garlic mustard that has sprung up under two of our trees. The air is redolent with the smell of garlic from the plants. The cold of the moist earth in my fingers as I get at the root and tug, gently. There’s either an exquisite sense of release, as the root yields and emerges whole, or a quiet, disappointing “pop” as it breaks off partway. Whereupon I sigh and move onto the next one.

One of the trees has soft, silken needles, like the pelt of an animal, and climbing under it to get at the garlic mustard feels like an embrace, its soft branches parting gently to allow me in. The other is spiky and harsh, its needles a pale, frosted green, as if it carries with it a touch of ice, even in midsummer. If I forget my gardening pad, then I dare not kneel or sit under that one—the fallen needles, branches and cones are sharp and leave splinters, often as not. But once I find the hidden entrance, where the branches are thinner, and sneak under its canopy, it feels like a hidden fortress. A quiet sanctuary. The dappled light shines through onto the layers of discarded needles, the breeze tickles my bare arms and I can hear the sound of the nearby creek plashing over rocks and branches, such that I simply have to pause and honour the moment, if only briefly. With much of the garlic mustard routed, I can now smell the bracing cleanliness of the pine itself.

Later, I sit out on our crumbling, overgrown terrace in the back, listen to the birds, and watch a languid, furry bumblebee browse through the catalogue of our bushes and tulips. The green of the moss is almost neon in its sunlit vibrancy, and the early blossoms of blue-purple periwinkle, yellow daffodils, red tulips and white trilliums entice me into the little grove beside our house, where I feel the rough, varied textures of the tree bark under my fingertips as I reach out to trunks and branches for balance.

So it is that the world blossoms, and along with it, my senses.

The tumbledown terrace.

The little grove, with daffodils and trilliums.


911 Writers Block

April 29, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Posted in writing | Leave a comment
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911 Writers Block

This is kind of a fun little website. Don’t know if it would work for me, except possibly in the planning stages, but it’s basically a little telephone console, and the sidebar instructs you to “Punch a Key to Break the Block”. The writing prompts and ideas fall into a list of different categories:

Dial 1 for Settings

Dial 2 for Characters

Dial 3 for Dramatic Entrances

Dial 4 for Dialogue

Dial 5 to Commiserate

Dial 6 for Verbs

Dial 7 for Calisthenics

Dial 8 to Kill a Character

Dial 9 for Endings

Dial 0 for More Help

“Dramatic entrances” is intriguing. 😀 At any rate, if you’re really stuck, something like this could well be worth a try. If this whole planning ahead experience (which thus far has been really positive and fun for me!) works out, then I suspect I’d have recourse to something like this during the planning stages. By the time I actually started writing, I’d hopefully have ironed things out enough that this wouldn’t be necessary.

On the other hand, I ended up inserting a bit of a revelation in my scene a couple of days ago that came much earlier than I planned. I knew it was the right time for it, but it does mess things up rather nicely. I’ve got to shuffle around and rework the next couple of scenes to get things back on track. I suspect they’ll get there–I have a few ideas floating around for what and how to shuffle my stuff. But, such surprises aren’t altogether eliminated from writing, even with a ton of planning ahead of time. And I think they’re important. Sometimes the story shapes in a new way, and action gets switched around from the original plan–and it’s all to the good. Forcing it the other way in such cases often just results in stiffer, more stilted prose.

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