When Calls the Heart

41st Trial:  I do NOT have a typewriter. That is unacceptable, for any author

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 2hr

Weekly Choice of Tea: English Breakfast Tea

Biggest Success: Finding a place to call home for the next six months in the East Bay

 

California is said to be the land of dreams, and as I said before, it may not be so. I defy California’s initial dislike of me, and intend to make it as dreamy as it’ll allow! My first weekend bed hopping through AirBnB was an excellent time to kick back and indulge in none other than, drum roll please……episode watching! I had finished my first week of working in a new office, apartment applications, and worrying about my car that was weighed down with a trunk full of books, kitchen appliances, clothing, and bedding. To protect all that I own, I kept my car parked and my days empty of traveling around the city. That being said, the episode series that now consumes my story-junky appetite and keeps my eyes sore with a consistent stream of joyful tears, is “When Calls the Heart”. It is as corny, heartfelt, and wholesome as it sounds, I assure you. It is enough to make me quit the city surroundings and live in the picturesque and romantic scenery of small town simplicity.

I laugh as I watch this show, as much as I do cry. Elizabeth, the main character, is a writer as well. And the past few episodes consisted of her, sitting in front of her typewriter and its empty-of-ink page, looking for inspiration. And her annoyance at others who try to intervene with their suggestions of plot. I have realized that I cannot be an author without a typewriter! As pitiful as I feel at times, spending all day watching episodes, I do find inspiration in the stories that movies and series bring me. They make me envious, hopeful, thankful, and expand a world beyond my reality.

Since being here, I have met people who are so drained of their inspiration. And then I watch “When Calls the Heart”, the corny scenes become the most influential to me. It is not complicated to pursue one’s dreams, to let their imagination guide them, and work to develop their own reality. I made a promise to myself to travel, to write, and to be passionate in all that I do. That, is what I’ll do.

Dreaming in California – Not Yet the California Dream

40th Trial: Totally separate from my writing. San Francisco Housing. Enough said.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 1 hour for plot – you would think with a 5 day drive to California with nothing to do much change CDs and ignore strange sounds coming from tired tires, I would have more time to consider the project and product our leading lady will immerse herself in.

Weekly Choice of Tea: Peach Tranquility

Biggest Success: Making it to San Francisco. Through all of the chaos of moving to a new city, I have been able to save some energy to consider a schedule for writing, swimming, and travel planning.

All of it is true. Jamie and I packed our cars just two weeks ago and came to the west in the same desperate desire for a next adventure. In our own way we pioneered a new life;  passing through the green crops that filled the rolling hills of  Iowa, the snow capped mountain ranges and deep canyon lined roads of Colorado, the vast red desert lands of Utah, Las Vegas, and the immensity of Arizona canyons. The road to California was primarily heat, dust, and desert. There were exit signs that were nameless, as if the roads that came from it went nowhere. The stars at night were as impenetrable and clear as they were in Indonesia. America is no longer a land without differing landscapes and cultures to me, and is just as vibrant as the countries that make up many other continents. It takes a drive across country to see it as such!

The next three years in San Francisco will be the most momentous of my life. Here I will finish my novel, gain all the experience to create my own business, and discover further the west coast of our wonderful nation. Something More British will document the entire process, and in turn create a network of aspiring writers (and anyone else!), so that we may all continue to pursue what seems impossible to us. You always have time to pursue your dreams, no matter how hard driving 14 hours a day across the desert can be. Or finding a new place to live in a city filled of chaotic opportunities. Or even when we allow careers to exhaust us. You only thrive when you are being who you love. How we look at our circumstances make our reality what it is, and you can change your reality in the same regard. That is the true plot of my novel, and in its own way it will show that our reality can bend in the way we accept nature, self, and love.

A Romantic Time Apart

39th Trial: How to bring the vibrancy of life experiences to a story created prior to its discovery

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 2 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Nettle Tea

Biggest Success: Began a side writing project with Jamie:  a children’s book!

There is an undeniable attraction to distance and time, in more ways than just theoretical physics. I look at the cobwebs that have grown within the web address itself, and know that I have neglected my blog site for far too long. I was fortunate enough to write my novel and a few posts while traveling in Southeast Asia, but three weeks has followed my return and my faithful blog continues to feel the weight of dust. But then I think on something more British, as I do to calm my heart, and there is nothing more romantic than distance and time. Yes, I have been apart from my blog, but the expectant blog can only excite! Imagine the relationship between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, if they were able to text and call each other whenever they wished. Wasn’t it time apart that brought clarity, eagerness, a desperate need? And didn’t love grow in the years that followed Anne Elliot’s rejection of Captain Wentworth, when nothing but fond memories filled the void? I hope all my readers can gladly welcome the rebirth of my weekly blogs, allowing the time and distance between them to applaud a love unspoiled!

I have returned from different worlds, to find my pages wanting. True focus and inspiration has filled me, but more importantly, I have seen the need for a deeper individuality within my characters. There is nothing more important than knowing oneself, and living for oneself (humanity does from time to time require us to live for others, but we are all within the bounds of humanity, so there is little difference between the two). A novel and the characters within it should be extraordinary, because it is within the power of anyone to live as such. Why would I write of the social ‘norm’ and impaired? Life is about challenging and bending reality, about overcoming that which brings you down. Any character defeated by the external pressures of life has no place in a novel, much less mine. So without much ado, I say welcome back. Imagine this my love letter to you, that the distance apart has only increased my dedication to my writing, and to my journal entries of it.

The Wizarding World of… Southeast Asia?

38th Trial: I wonder so much as to Joseph Conrad’s undeniable skill at detail. I have read ‘Heart of Darkness’, but have began ‘Lord Jim’ as I ironically began a 4-day boat trip through Indonesia, and am even more fascinated with his abilities. And now when I write, how can I describe better the brown of her hair? The sound of the wind and the emotions it stirs? Conrad has become a model of description for me overnight, and can be apart of my blog- as he did learn English while in England!

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 4 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Luwak Coffee, Bali

Biggest Success: Began typing up Chapter Six, sailing the islands of Indonesia, climbing Mount Merapi Volcano in Java, and not getting eaten by wild Komodo Dragons as I walked within their reserve. Amidst all my travel, I am lucky to have found time to write and work on my novel!

Do I have a blog focused on British influence and literature, and not yet have a post dedicated primarily to Harry Potter? I cannot imagine that to be true, and those who know the far reach of my love for those novels wouldn’t either. So I hope that I am repeating sentiments that have been illustrated before, and swim once more in the imagination of the world of Harry Potter. I am sure I can sit down and analyze the many ties that link that imaginary world to ours, and the powerful political, psychological, and ethical morals inlaid in its own illustration of life and humanity. But instead I wish to save my breath and my effort, because these books speak for themselves. You read Harry Potter, and you know Rowling’s imagination is a reality to her, and the world around us is a magical place. Many people may see my love for these books as juvenile, but it is my love for imagination and its ability for truth, love, courage, and to link endless possibilities to our own potential.

I know this, more now in Indonesia than I felt it back in America. Many Europeans have traveled in Southeast Asia, and I imagine Rowling did the same. I see so many things here, settings and people, that remind me of the wizarding world. Southeast Asia can be a playground for the imagination, and I sense the reality of that mystical and magical touch within the reach of my eyesight daily. I marvel at the acute sense an artist has, to look upon the ordinary lifestyle and the monotony of the daily lives of some, and wonder, what if? What if that motorbike can fly? What if I walked through that archway, and disappeared? I have no idea if Rowling did ever come over here, but I appreciate her novels even better now. I have said it before—look around you, there the stories and the inspiration are derived from for any piece of art. But not just in its reality, but in its potential and possibilities. For those who are interested in reading further, here is a small list of the things I have witness and thought Rowling’s eyes must have witnessed too.

The Knight Bus:  I rode in a night bus from Koh Rong to Siem Reap. It’s “beds” were flat to the floor of the bus, with a bunk-bed above me. While they did not move and swing above in Harry’s experience with the Knight bus, one could imagine it–especially because the roads and drivers here are truly insane. You move to and fro, and I have found out that it makes not difference if you are in a seat or not. “It’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

The Weasley house:  its shape is slanted so much to a point that magic must hold it erect.  I see houses here stacked impossibly on one another, and the angle of lean makes you wonder at how the splinter and broken walls still have a vertical element.

Harry and Dumbledore’s boat trip into the cave in search for a horcrux: In peninsular Thailand we visited many caves, and one cannot help but imagine the stone walls opening to a secret passage with the offer of blood. It was in Phang Nga Bay that we canoed through a cave where darkness was disrupted by just one ray of light from our headlamp. We saw the flowing rock formations and stalactites loom in the background, and no sound came from the black water as the paddle passed through it. A part of me was scared to disturb the water, should a zombie-skeleton hand reach up and grab me.

Hagrid’s Motorbike: There are many types of interesting transportation methods in Southeast Asia, and the motorbike is the most common. When in Phuket we were sitting in the back of an open taxi, watching the traffic build up behind us. One man pulled up behind us, sitting on the motorbike with one of his legs hidden by the attached cart. Inside the cart was a family clustered together, and it was apparent that it was used for businesses as well. I thought instantly of Hagrid’s motorbike J

The Veiled Archway:  While in Siem Reap, the many Angkor temples give a ghostly lure. More specifically, while at the royal palace of Angkor Thom there was an open doorway that say near the top of the staircase. No stone walls or sandstone sculptures rose beside it, and it looked as eerie and empty as the veiled archway in the Ministry of Magic. As I stared into it, the same whisper seemed to pass with the wind that I hear with most of the temples here—an old wisdom telling of its age and infirmary.

The Mirror of Erised:  The royal palace in Bangkok, Thailand is, as a friend of mine put it, a jewel box. But within it, we entered a stone building that showcased many ceremonial chairs and decor. Upon exiting, we passed an open room roped off, where nothing but a large mirror stood. It was very tall and wide, surrounded by a frame of engraved metal. It seemed oddly placed, as if there by chance or in changing its location. Maybe being moved deep into the heart of the palace, where nothing short of charming a dog, giving into nature, finding a key, grabbing a drink, passing a knocked out troll, and playing a game of chess would gain you access to see.

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Canoeing Phang Nga Bay

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Canoeing Phang Nga Bay

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Royal Palace, Angkor Thom

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Angkor Temples

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Rive homes in Bangkok, Thailand

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Gateway in Angkor

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Motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The Air is Full of Spices…

37th Trial: Walking through Kuala Lumpur’s largest bookstore, and experiencing two trials:  what NOT to buy and the oppressive intimidation that my writing faces when I look onto these great writers.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 6 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Teh Tarik and Malaysian White Coffee

Biggest Success: Where to begin…FINISHING chapter SIX! Also, finishing the wonderful Alchemist while traveling through the beautiful countryside of Malaysia.

“The air is full of spices.”

One of my favorite lines in the movie Sense and Sensibility is by Colonel Brandon, the voice and beautiful performance by the beloved Alan Rickman. He is talking about his time in the East Indies to the little Margaret Dashwood. I love Rickman deeply in that role, and even more so, I hear his line as I travel through the same countries his character was likely referring to. If not, I will imagine otherwise. Especially in Malaysia, where the cuisine is greatly influenced by many cultures, Indian and Malay curries here can be smelt and tasted as you walk the streets lined with open shops and restaurants. My literary and movie enthusiasm seems to follow me through the country side, and that one line continues to sound in my head as if on replay. It is like the fly that keeps landing on my arm or shoulder blade, though without the nuisance.

Maybe Jane Austen heard of travel here, heard of the exotic cuisine and the boiling nature of the tropical sun. Her novel Sense and Sensibility has made its way to where her characters supposedly traveled, and where her admirers currently do. If only Austen could have traveled here, what wonderfully colorful stories would come from it! I look to my own novel, already having the plot within a much different country than I am currently in. I have wrote before about my struggles of not putting a looming volcano in the heart of North Carolina, or of an ancient Temple at a corner in Charlotte.  While Austen did not have such influence, I can say that I now do. What will I do with it all? What can I grab, transform, and steep in imagination?

Currently I am in Malaysia, and today I thought about all the places that I have sat down and wrote pieces of Chapter Six. Ristr8toLab in Chiang Mai. Atop the coarse sand of Koh Phangan, or the soft grainy beaches of Koh Phi Phi. From Thailand this chapter has extended into Malaysia, where it progressed surrounded by the tea plantations of BOH and Cameron Valley of Cameron Highlands. In the heart of Kuala Lumpur, I finally finished the chapter. I am getting to a point in the book where I need to do further brainstorming. I jumped into writing because waiting to write was, obviously, getting me nowhere. But introduction of what I hope to be my main road of the symbolism is about to begin, and I need to buckle down. Because writing is easy. Plot has always been my unformed and jeering companion.

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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.

 

 

Heartache Motivates in the Land of Smiles

35th Trial: Wanting to go back and alter a past description or illustration, and realizing the manuscript is back home and I am across the world with only an empty notebook. Taking mental notes does not suffice anymore, and so I am making pages of things to remember to correct. I am finding it easy to change that which is already written, than brainstorming on that which needs to happen.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: Since last post, I would guess-timate around 2 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Chrysanthemum iced tea and Thai Milk Tea

Biggest Success: Visiting Angkor Wat temples and getting a spiritual Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok, Thailand! I am currently in Chiang Mai, and this backpacking trip has been the most thrilling, let-loose, connecting with humanity I’ve ever done.

My writing has been more in the forefront of my mind than I thought it would be. Grant it, I have not the time or energy to actually write–even more so than when I worked back home. My days have been filled with temples, site-seeing, and documenting through my notebook and travel blog. Facebook is getting its fill of pictures and videos on a daily basis. I am writing more than I ever have because the documentation portion of this trip has been the most consuming, and I find that it is still an exercise for my writing. I had not planned on writing any chapters while abroad, and yet I find I cannot detain myself! I love that I miss writing my novel, and I love that I miss Chiropractic. My life does not seem without or wanting, and seeing this new world in Southeast Asia strengthens my inner character rather than filling a void.

I have a stirring passion to pick up chapter six where I left off in January, primarily due to finishing the novel “Villette” two days ago. Charlotte Bronte is a mastermind. Her ability to grip the heart and tear apart one’s world is only paralleled by her sister’s ability. Whatever gene they have that makes them professors of unrequited love and debilitating despair sadly ended with their much too early deaths, and the world is at a loss without it. While I admire their ability to crush my soul into bits with loss of love, I have a cautious relationship with the Bronte girls. I can trust them only so far. I can rely on them heightening my spirits by connecting to my deepest desires, but am appalled that they could then treat me so brutally afterwards.

Regardless, I am so inspired by Charlotte. In regards to somethingmorebritish, it is ultimately authors like her that motivate me to write. I put down “Villette”, warming my sobbing heart with the thought of my own novel, and how I can end it however I wish. Love with always triumph–you’ve heard me say it before. However, I must learn from the Bronte’s how to pull at the heart stings a bit. Just a little.

Some Travel Photos for you 🙂 see more at http://www.blankpproject.com, my travel blog!

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