Two Cultures, Both Alike, in Dignity…

36th Trial: Taking a true inventory of my memories, as that is what my writing has become nowadays, a library of what I know in a land of completely new stimulation.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 3 hours, mainly while on the beach or at a quaint, adorable coffee shop.

Weekly Choice of “Tea”: Coffee! I will rue the day I drank coffee in Thailand

Biggest Success: Beginning to read The Alchemist

Being displaced from the scenes that have been the background to my story makes my writing now a process of filing through memories. I cannot see the busy town my character walks through, from my usual seat at Smelly Cat Coffee. So many exotic plants, fruits, and people surround me now, and it is as hard now not to mix oil with acrylic. Two cultures separate me, and while I look upon the beautiful tropics of Thailand, I am forced to look back to American culture as I continue writing. It makes me miss home, honestly, and I have to try very hard not to put a coconut tree in the front yard of my character’s home.

Southeast Asia, from what I know of Cambodia and Thailand, has taught me a great deal so far. The Alchemist has described this learning flawlessly, calling this transmission of knowledge a “universal language”. I do not speak the languages here, and yet the common tread of tourist establishes an understanding, and I have yet to feel out of place. Through their beliefs and way of life through Buddism, a universal intellect is in the form of enlightenment. I do not sit in this paradise and pick nervously at my fingers trying to figure out what comes next, how will I finish my novel, or will I find an office to work in upon my return. There are signs, omens if you will, that have brought me here, and will bring me home. It is my choices on a daily basis that will acquire everything I need in life. It is my actions that will complete this novel, that will open the doors to my very own chiropractic office one day. It is a power in us all, which is so thrilling and enticing. Stop waiting. Stop waiting for things to be the right moment an utilize your time so that you are working towards that dream. My novel is a dream, and as many who know me, I have far too many dreams to keep track of. But today I worked towards a purpose, and tomorrow as I climb the waterfalls of Koh Samui, I will work towards that same purpose.

 

 

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Something More…Oriental!

33rd Trial: Putting it all aside to pursue a 4 month adventure around Southeast Asia

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 4 hrs. I was not able to conclude at a good stopping point, but time waits for no man.

Weekly Choice of Tea:  Mint Tea

Biggest Success:  Fitting everything I packed into one backpack. I have no idea how that was accomplished.

This week I travel to Southeast Asia, and shall continue to greet the adventures that await me for the following 4 months! I shall not forget my purpose in literary pursuit nor chiropractic philosophy, and expect my time in these countries to inspire me to create. How interesting it will be to see what influences I can bring to the humble neighborhood in my story, though an Indonesian volcano cannot be the backdrop in countryside Ohio. But at least in seeing new lands and new cultures I can focus on the story’s morale, the heart that beats within the pages. I will not be able to progressively write the chapters as I have been doing, but I can progress it in other ways.

I look forward to sharing with my blog what I see and what will translate in my writing. But also, the beauty and knowledge that new landscapes bring. Here is an introductory to the trip:  in Vietnam we will kayak Halong Bay’s islands, caves, and clear water. In Cambodia we will walk around the ruins of Angkor Wat. The vast beaches, islands, and monasteries will meet us in Thailand. We will see Malaysia’s large tea plantations and the world’s oldest forest. In Singapore, we will go on a night-time safari and see the incredible city. Indonesia will amaze us with an orangutan reserve, crater lakes, active volcanoes, and the best surfing spots available! Boo Radley really, really wanted to come, but she will be happy spending time with her grandparents!

Boo for SEAsia

I am happy to bring you along on the trip, as much as Wi-Fi spots and down time will allow! See you on the flip-side of the world!

Follow our trip at:  www.tofallup.com

Art, Love, Loss, and Literature

29th Trial:  Interpretation.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 1hr. I am not sad about the lack of writing that has happened this past month–though any reader to this blog must be. I have decided that before Feb 1st, I will have completed chapter 5 and IDEALLY chapter 6.

Weekly Choice of “Tea”:  Gingerbread Latte

Biggest Success:  Jamie and I purchased tickets to visit Vietnam! Everything we own is now in boxes and storage…why not see the world before we have to be responsible adults again?

 

How does one interpret? Art, love, and the inevitable goodbye? Any absence or void leaves behind it a remembrance, just as any writer or painter leaves behind an echo of their voice. Do we look upon such voids or legacies with sadness and loss? Or with warmth and admiration? I had a very eventful visit with Jamie’s family over Christmas break, one in which I was left to ponder loss, love, and art. For one, Jersey their beloved husky, died the morning after Christmas after two emergency visits. The void was suffocating as it was quick and unexpected. While my heart was heavy with the feeling that something was taken that shouldn’t have been, others felt the memory of Jersey lived on and was enough to make their hearts light.

Secondly, we saw the Cleveland Museum of Art, where interpretation thrived in the whimsical strokes of Renoir and Degas, and hardened in the corners of Picasso. They created art that speaks volumes today, and still takes people by alarm and uncertainty.

Thirdly, we saw The Danish Girl, where I cried at any moment of love, longing, and insecurity. It was truly a story of acceptance, and the characters surrounding Eddie Redmayne were, to me, unparalleled in kindness and unprejudiced temperament. I was stunned by the attitudes and the beauty of each character we followed, and my interpretation, while my own, could not be more in favor.

Lastly, I have been so inspired by the aforementioned events, that I look toward the upcoming event in my chapter where I hope to illustrate my thoughts on reality and interpretation. To accomplish this, I reached back to 2014 where I stood in front of the infamous mural by Herakut while I was in Miami, FL.

This mural is pictured for you, and I would love to hear any interpretations you might have!

Herakut1Herakut2

A Room of Her Own

26th Trial: One must escape to create–I pull from Virginia Woolf’s quote a useful writing tip.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 4 Hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Sweet Macha

Biggest Success: Embracing the life of Carol K. (Grandma Perin)

 

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” -Woolf

I am not unappreciative of where Jamie and I live now, though the windows are painted shut and spots of possible mold intersperse the ceiling like a lethal starry night. The age of the Havisham-house is thick in the air, and Jamie and I share space with each other, our lovely dog, and a roommate of spectacular artist talent!  This is his home, and his space to work on his art. Where, among the dust and walls with ten-layers of paint, could my own personal creativity flourish? I attempt the impossible. I bite the bullet and sit down at the small desk in the corner of our small room, and write. I look at it with disgust typically, and my pen is useless within a half and hour. The attitude of my surroundings is not conducive! I have tried! Yet, tried in vain.

For me to have a successful time writing, I must scoop out $5 and go to a coffee shop in town. “Smelly Cat” is a room of my own, a space where I can focus and feel the juices flowing. I have found that not only a coffee shop makes a writer of me, as this week I house sat at a luxurious, clean, newly modeled home. I spent the majority of the evenings by the fireplace with Christmas music filling the background. I wrote an hour a night, gladly and progressively. What a relief! How simple the concept has become:   fill a space with the objective to calm you, soothe and caress your imagination, and give your mind the ability to think not on toxic fumes that leak from the walls, but instead on its limitless ability to create. The absolute cure for writer’s block as well! I constantly had Boo Radley’s toys or nose in my space where I read and wrote, and I found that there was plenty of room for her as well.

Boo and VilletteBoo Radley

I would like to end this post not with my acknowledgement of Woolf’s yet-again impeccable ability to hit the nail on the head, but with a tribute to a wonderful woman. Jamie described her grandmother as stubborn and unbending, and as Jamie laughed when she described such qualities, one comes to embrace them. Grandma Perin was a rock in Jamie’s heart, a kind and hilarious woman, who followed the Cleveland Cavaliers with the enthusiasm of a professional scout (of whom I believe she was in a past life). Her kids, her sports, and her home seemed to be her life. Today she passed peacefully, and Jamie and I are happy to think of where she could be now, of what adventures await her. Sending out love and hope to Grandma Perin!

Dumbledore: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

Peter Pan: “..to die would be an awfully big adventure.”

The Effect of a Pause

25th Trial: CHANGE. I have decided on a change, personally and professionally! So much different weights are now placed on my shoulders. What is next? Where will I go? Will it all Succeed? Will I put aside my literary passions in a desperate pursuit of other future goals or will it be these passions in the end, that I have left to live on?

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 2.5 Hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Sweet Tea. Tapping into the roots that I have developed here in the South

Biggest Success: Last weekend I spent a ridiculous amount of time watching Glee and The 100 episodes. I got so fed up with my addiction, that I have taken a 4 day break from them both.

A speaker came to Jamie’s work to discuss public speaking and self-presentation. Jamie then came home so animated from it, knowing well that I could benefit from the same information. As it happens, I come from a wonderful family-line that is popular for filling any silent space. A pause in conversation can only be wanting. And yet, is not a pause the most powerful thing in observation? In understanding? In absorption, healing, and dramatic effect? As a doctor, do I pause to make sure patients understand what I say, or understand myself what was just asked? Not only do I bring consideration of a pause to my professional life, but also in my methods of being a writer. How can you write of silence, inactivity, and the static background between sentences? I challenge myself today so create a pause in the next few pages.

But let me take this one step farther.  I do not pause enough to consider what will happen after the current chapter that I am on.  When I started writing I realized that I am going to take this chapter by chapter, however I can’t do that for the entirety of the novel. How choppy it could then turn out, and how easily I could lose the breath of certain morals that should flow throughout it. When I sit down to write, I must preserve an hour at least a week to consider the future of the storyline (I know, a simple concept that has sneakily evaded me until now).

Taking such a pause from the current chapter will satisfy novel planning, something I desperately need to work on. However, this does not mean to fill the writing hours with pauses filled with episode-watching on Netflix. I love watching episodes—a little too much! Lately it has been Glee that captivates me. No, I never watched it while it played on cable TV, and the fun high-school drama and breath-taking vocals give me a world to escape to. I have also been watching The 100, which is much different from the carefree world of Glee. It is a show that has recently proven to break my heart with abominable characters that do not act as I have trusted them to. I even went to bed crying after watching an episode, swearing never to watch it again! This series has recently taught me a valuable lesson:  do not escape the world you are in, nor are creating. Some storylines fail you. They cannot be trusted! I only want to be in the world before my eyes, and the world I intend to create. That, I can control.

I am reminded by Austen’s quote, “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery”. Alas! WWAD (What Would Austen Do). Some pictures from my Inner Eye, developed during my Austen-days in the Lake District!

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At the Center of Detail

21th Trial: What do you see when you look at art?

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 0 hours

Weekly choice of tea: Pumpkin Spice Chai

Greatest Success:  Swam Three miles! I’ve got a couple more to go, then St. Croix open swim race here I come!

I see this portrait of a husky that Jamie painted, and already its image steadies itself within my mind. You understand art, or you search within other’s interpretations and understand theirs. Within a minute or an hour, the observation of art brings balance with its ability to create knowledge. Look at the Husky’s eyes, the colors of contrast within its mane, and you understand Jamie more. How she views the beauty of her art, how she creates beyond the boundaries of reality.

I find that the time I have spent away from my novel, I look at it as of a stranger’s painting on a wall. In a second I know it–as naturally, it has my strings! However, the question arises of what I am trying to create. Alas! What does happen when the artist puts the art brush down, only to then pick it up again? Creation will ensue, however to what cost? I already am itching to retrace my steps. I see what could be inserted into this section, or maybe an event could be placed between such-and-such paragraph to foreshadow where we are now. Like the painted accents of gold that fleck through the mane of the Husky, the artist must know when to start adding, editing, changing, and knowing when to stop. Already I have not yet concluded chapter four–it seems much too soon to go back now and focus on what could be inserted. I find that the most assure way to not re-edit the same passages a thousand times is to blunder forward, and once I know the conclusion (or course for that matter) of my novel, then can I bend and alter the scenes that have led up to it. I just hope that the words penetrate in the future as they do now, as if to hope the blue eyes of the dog maintain their mystery, or that the calm yellow around it’s eyes bring balance to the fierce reds of it’s fur.

What I see when I look at my novel may not be the understanding that years of progressing it will induce. I can only rely on my taste changing ten-fold as I weave through the lives of my characters, and allow the unfolding plot to give direction on how to retrace the path back to chapter one. Like this artwork, I see my story’s center. Yet I cannot tell how I will accent it, or exactly how much gold I should use. Placing detail where it ought not be can be very distracting, and bring failure to the finished artwork. Does the same apply to a novel? Can one add too much detail? My answer changes depending on who I cannel!

The Goldilocks of Dialogue

20th Trial: How much dialogue is too much? It is often that we say little more than we should and/or spew a great deal extra than should be allowed.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 2.5 hours

Weekly choice of tea: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Chai (pumpkin has come to Trader Joe’s!)

Greatest Success: At the White Water Center, I kicked away my fear of heights and accomplished the ropes courses and went rafting!!! It is a place in Charlotte where the USA team trains for the Olympics, and is open to the public. So a whole day was dedicated to outdoor adventures! Just a couple fun tid bits from this weekend:

There are so many times that while writing an interaction between two characters that I sit back and wonder, how on earth is this dialogue going to end? Do I continue down a casual road, such as person sits, stands, talks, pours tea–or just get straight to the point? There is such a talent that I am realizing with long dialogue. A whole paragraph of uninterrupted speech in which unrevealing occurs, but does not show absolutely everything, is a beast within itself! I admire the cool mysterious dialogue of Raymond Chandler, who wrote The Big Sleep, where after every word spoken the reader feels as if they are standing at the edge of a cliff, in absolute suspense of what it could mean and what it will result in. And on the other hand, the whimsical entertaining discussion of tapestries and who-wore-what-lace in Austen’s repartee has its own significant effects. In both circumstances, the dialogue is not too much or too less. I am Goldie Locks, tasting for what will be just right when it comes to the feel of my novel. And if anyone has ever read Goldilocks, you will hear the dialogue debate within my mind. This sentence is too short! This subject is not right for discussion! This soup is too hot!

On a short, different note, I am influenced more than I realized by what I am writing. I admit that I am a leech, taking in my surroundings and relying on the people I meet to propel my story forward. My imagination to this point has had to work very little. However, one scene I wrote that was not from my neighborhood–you could call it the “meet-cute”–was with my character hearing piano music from a neighboring household. The gorgeous melody will then naturally begin the strings of romance! Now you can understand my astonishment when I was leaving my apartment to take my dog on a walk, when I heard from another door the beautiful sound of a piano! I stopped, stunned by the situation. How brilliant! Not only do I take from my surroundings, but now my story seems to take form around me! And the music was indeed beautiful, just as I imagined in would be. I am happy to say that my story does not leave me, and reveals itself in senses and physical manifestations, as much as I will perceive it to.