It’s the day after Thanksgiving, the leftovers are abundant, and the Apple Cup is on. I’m drinking white wine (because I’m allergic to everything else) and basking in the warmth of family. I know this is not the picture in everyone’s family. Holiday reunions can be rough. However, I’m soaking this up right now. Just as negative feelings can create powerful writing, so can joy. And so can a little interrupted time in your writing life.
Writing is emotional for the writer. And right now, sitting amongst many different personalities in my in-laws living room, I feel inspired to dig deeper into the lives of my characters. I imagine what life might be like for them over a Thanksgiving celebration or family event.
I suppose in my book, Mason’s dad would be out of town for the holiday, so Mason would hang out with the Nichols’, and be happier for it. Ashton would want to decorate the Christmas tree early, but Mason would convince her to go hiking instead. While they were gone for a few hours, Mrs. Nichols would throw in some organic prebaked pies and paint. Mr. Nichols would play some jazzy holiday tunes on his saxophone to the beat of John Coltrane. After a spell of complaining, during the hour Ashton would declare she’s freezing, Mason would pull out previously stored handwarmers and Sourpatch-kids candy. Then handwarmers or not, she’d use the cold as an excuse to stop for a latte break on the way home. Before they could swallow a drop, hawks would appear upon surrounding tree branches, causing Mason to clam up and proclaim the outing over. Aware of what lurks in the shadows, he bets on the spiral of anxiety Ashton could undoubtedly spin being kept in the dark, over the loom of their haunting reality.
Could this happen? I don’t actually know, because in my book, their story transpires over the end of spring and beginning of summer. But, it’s fun to imagine.
Holiday time is that pause in the real world where you can note-take for your imaginary one. While I’m held up in a momentary time of “visiting,” my typical routines (i.e. my writing rituals) are interrupted. I like to use the loss of productive time as research and to reimagine opportunities for the direction my writing is headed.
It also gives me a moment in the real world – and a chance to hear stories from other minds naturally sharing without a care about how it looks on the page. I listen to those around me. What are they sharing? What are they feeling? What are they projecting due to the scarier reality underneath? I listen because of course I care about my family; about people. But, isn’t it the perfectly blended bite of turkey, potatoes, and cranberry for the possibility to preserve these authentic emotions?
I believe I grow more during the down-time that family events demand. I get that needed break away from my work, and the chance to visualize my story in a separate realm. Might you reconsider your visions of family time… breathe in every last ounce for that reality check you might later use in your work. It’s a win-win. Or maybe I’m just feeling competitive during the Apple Cup my family is watching. Either way, I’ve been given a gift of time with my family, and suddenly see my story characters in a brighter light because of my time well spent.
Writing Advice: Drop your Characters
Sit down at your desk (or where ever you best write) and drop your characters into a typical family event. Maybe it’s a special occasion, like Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps a typical afternoon watching football. Maybe they’re in the backseat with you as you pick-up and drop-off your children to their multitude of afterschool activities. Just throw them in the mix and look for new angles in their reactions. Because you’re visualizing them from a new perspective, it just might help you show more about them in your story.
~By Celaine Charles, November 25, 2018
http://chronicallywhole.com/learned-simple-life-lesson-pause-perspective/ (pause and perspective)
https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-window-of-opportunity/830579/2802369/view (Window or Opportunity, by Bhamidipati Bharati)
https://www.moillusions.com/escaping-people-lined-paper-drawing-illusion/ (characters on paper)
https://oatleyacademy.com/eaj1/ (wolf reimagined drawing)
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