The Hopeful Hue of Morning

50th Trial:¬†How can you save money, and write during lunch breaks? It is winter still, and while only slightly chilly here in San Francisco, the rain has kept me in cozy coffee shops. I am doing as I faithfully promised you all weeks ago, dedicating 1.5 hr a day to writing during my lunch breaks. But this is now costing me $2-5 per day for the butterscotch lattes or earl grey teas! I realize there are worser things! ūüôā

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot:  5hr

Weekly Choice of Tea: Earl Grey

Biggest Success:  I have utilized my typewriter finally, romantically filling our tiny studio apartment with the sound of punching keys and scrolling clicks. While I am handwriting my novel, followed up by typing it on the computer, I am in need to find a purpose for my typewriter. What author does not have a typewriter, I ask you! And so far I have practiced on it, trying to come up with an appropriate novel title, but as I am less than half way through my novel, I am not sure yet what it will be.

typewriter

My commute from the city to work is lovely. The dark and sleepy city streets are close to empty at 6:30 in the morning, even with the buses ‚Äúpooof‚ÄĚing and clambering slowly up the inclined streets. The stop lights batt their eyelids, looking to see the few cars that approach their intersections. By the time I near the bay bridge, dawn either lays a misty pink hue around the towering cable lines or obscures them with a light fog. At that moment I sip from my mug and welcome the day, meeting it again as old friends. I am lucky to be able to drive through the east Bay of San Francisco, because the now green rolling hills are beautiful in the morning. The landscape goes from cramped and on top of itself, to wide, open, and inviting. My day begins in this inspiring attitude, and¬†I am thrilled¬†to admit that I am writing daily now. Who knows where this new routine in San Francisco will lead me, but I can honestly say that I am happy with it. The world around me is changing, and a lot for the worse (I promise to keep politics far from my blog). But every morning brings with it its hopeful hue, and for now I will focus on the good that change has brought me.

Fantastic Beasts: a Reality

47th Trial:¬†“I never worry. Because it only hurts twice.” ¬†A (summed up) quote from the ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ movie.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot:  3hr

Weekly Choice of Tea: Earl Grey with Almond Milk!

Biggest Success:¬†This blog post is inspired by the incredible movie that I saw last night, where J. K. Rowling’s imagination again found footing in reality. Maybe it was because I infinitely enjoyed magic in America that I loved this movie, or because I saw the beautiful care of precious creatures, or getting to spend an evening watching Eddie Redmayne (who is singularly adorable)! But the effect of the movie was immense! I cannot come back down so easily from the high of Rowling’s wizarding world, and am eyeing the latest release of the illustrated second Harry Potter book, ready to begin reading it tonight again. For the 15th time.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them” took even me by surprise, a die-hard Harry Potter fan. Its magic was innovative and full of wonder, and the creatures were fascinating. The movie was brilliant, funny, and brought back the names we know so well: ¬†Albus Dumbledore, Gellert Grindelwald, and even Lestrange.

Rowling’s world has turned out to be endless, naturally. I look forward to all the possibilities of Newt Scamander’s world and those of the multitude of other characters. These books give hope to reality, as their trials are the trails that we too have faced. We are no different, in our differences. To worry, to feel estranged, to feel obscure–though natural and intuitive emotions, have the power to grow fear and violence. How right it seems, to have this wizarding world show us all in turn our differences and our ability to always fight for humanity–in ourselves as well in others. Whether it be for the innocence of beasts in the wild, the abused and oppressed child, or for choice and free will.

I worry from the recent election. I worry for my stability in society, and my footing in California. But where there is imagination, hope, kindness, (and for me, Harry Potter!), there will always be a beautiful reality worth fighting for.

A Top Hat-less Hillside

46th Trial: Liking what you have written. That comes in phases!

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot:  6hr over the past two weeks

Weekly Choice of Tea: London Fog Tea Latte

Biggest Success:¬†I have finished Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaids Tale” and began Dicken’s “Bleak House”!

 

Isn’t it funny, how life just relentlessly goes¬†forward? Even after the events that we feel will end us, or will hold us back from where we should be or ought to be? Timelines, examinations, milestones, detachments, and displacements are things that most humans experience–some more than others. It wraps us in its momentum or makes us feel stuck in a bucket of concrete, and we will believe that Life begins afterwards.

These past two weeks have been wonderful. My brother, whose heart is rapidly mending from his past, came to visit. We indulged in the present bliss of the “nowness of life” while we swung off the side of San Francisco cable cars, confident that the passing rain¬†and fog over the city would not prevent us from moving forward. Worries, stresses, and heartbreak do cloud so much of what we see and what we experience; ¬†but we realized that San Francisco was still there. And Madame City was just beautiful.

After he left Jamie and I explored a bit outside the city, and I came to a realization myself. We were walking through Briones National Park, when I became engrossed in its wide open fields, rolling hills, and grazing cattle. The green grass has returned with the wet season of Northern California, and the dead tall blades of spanish grass lay limp, replaced, and only in scattered patches. It was a sight that astonished me:  had I found in America what I dream about in England? The wide open fields, people on horseback (though without top hats and tail coats), and hillsides that give those inspirational views?

I cannot tell you how often I think, I will finish my novel in the Lake District. My dream and destiny is tied to me being in the place that has always inspired me the most. While nothing in my opinion compares to the Lake District in England, I am comforted in the reality that life will not wait for me to be there. In the meantime, I must run along beside it, finding as many open fields and hillsides along the way. And one day I will be in that smokey cottage beside the stone walls and grazing sheep, but my life will not be on hold for that.

14855910_10157679523600082_197428481741847336_o

A Half-Priced Addiction

45th Trial: I sometimes think that if I surround myself with stacks of books, heaping amounts of tottering novels, words and sentences will flow out of me as Inspiration takes form. In other words, I cannot stop buying books. I have a problem.

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

Weekly Choice of Tea: Pumpkin Spice Tea

Biggest Success: This week I have began running and swimming again! If anything was neglected more than my writing, it was my exercise.

dsc_1458

I have plenty of inspiration. Sometimes I feel small next to it, like the redwoods that towered over me this past weekend. And most times, I feel amused by it. There are so many images and interactions that flow through my thoughts regularly, and I watch them as when I sit and ponder by a passing stream. Some ideas are great, and I throw my lure out to catch them. But like I do when I would sit and fish with my father, many rush on by or take my fishing pole with them! Inspiration should be an entity to any writer, a physical catch or tangible form.

Novels and books already written have always been my inspirational object, and as you read from my introduction, the British ones do it best. However, I am using this post to justify the fact that I cannot stop going to the nearby Half-Priced Books store, and purchase one to five novels. I hunch over the section of leather bound classics like a deformed addict, as if the act of bending over the shelves has bent my spine so that it has become perfectly normal for me to go there and do just that:  hunt for more books. I take them home with me and display them. And I am dazzled by that Inspiration. I see it nestle between the Dickens and the Brontes, or watch it stretch like a lush over the Melville and Hemingway. It jumps from Wilde to Twain, and tip-toes past Conrad. Yes, in just a week, I have managed to purchase books from all afore mentioned authors. I label it Inspiration, instead of addiction, thank you very much!

Levity

43rd Trial:¬†¬†Sometimes the world seems to squeeze around you, as if you were in the center of an overly packed elevator. Maybe it is because your career isn’t taking the bait you’re offering it. Or a loved one’s life has taken a turn, and as their heart breaks yours does too. ¬†Or maybe you put distance between you and your passions, whatever the reason.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: Happily 2.5hr

Weekly Choice of Tea: Chamomile and Lavender

Biggest Success: I have found that my friends are what make me most appreciative of this beautiful world, and some steal my heart with their own happiness

As you can see from my trials and my successes today, I am at two ends. There is hurt snuggling closely and confidently with happiness. As if divorce and marriage asked me to dance. ¬†People that are close to me, influence me more than I could’ve thought, and I am thankful for that. As one’s world seems to change with hurt and sorrow, mine cannot help but feel and resent the darkness they sit in. Yet a phone call with a dear friend, who asked me to be a part of his special day, brings that balloon of excitement and anticipation back into my chest. The tug of war is worth it, because the light and the dark compliment us all. With the levity of love from friends and family, we can all escape that which seems to close around us and restrict our breathing.

This week I will write about loss and renewal, as I am inspired to do so. And as with all things, it appears that was where my story was headed anyways. For those that feel despair, inoculate yourself with time and meditation. Open your window and let the new light in, and love will follow. I will do it with you, as will all who care about you. The beautiful thing about our world, is that in no time in our lives, are we alone.

1625547_10202390187730166_1642564087_n[1]

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‚Ķ‚Ķepisode 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 ‚ÄúWhen Calls the Heart‚ÄĚ. 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 ‚ÄúWhen Calls the Heart‚ÄĚ, 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.

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‚ÄĒlook 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚ÄĒan 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.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2160.

Canoeing Phang Nga Bay

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2122.

Canoeing Phang Nga Bay

DSC_0013

Royal Palace, Angkor Thom

DSC_0008

Angkor Temples

DSC_0541

Rive homes in Bangkok, Thailand

DSC_1249

Gateway in Angkor

DSC_0154

Motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The Extraordinary Snowfall

30th Trial:  Began another show on Netflix. Thank the powers-to-be that it is only one season

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

Weekly Choice of Tea:  Earl Grey

Biggest Success:  Finished Chapter 5

I woke this morning to a winter wonderland. I have settled myself in Ohio, where now the chill in the air makes me feel as though I am home for Christmas yet again. Yet it wasn’t the excitement of running down the hallway to see a tree base full of presents, it was the excitement of the extraordinary. Most mornings I do not wake with such an unexpected snowfall to greet me, especially my years spent down south with the warm, red soil.

There is nothing more exciting than surprise. Adventure awaits, and ultimately always follows! I immediately put on my jacket, hat, and gloves and leashed my dog for our winter walk. After a mile I realized how ill equipped I still was when the piercing wind howled against my face. My suffering was still little against the beauty that surrounded me. A land of untouched snow. Boo Radley quickly mucked up the restful snow with her tint of yellow and messy paw prints. But we were happy.

I set to writing afterwards, with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea, and joyfully concluded chapter five!!! Since being home I have been able to write a lot more, plan a lot more, and sleep a lot more (I could be doing more of the first two and less of the latter). And yet I can only see my place here as extraordinary. I have travel on the horizon and a purpose that evades definition or shape, giving me the hopeful youth of freedom. Each day, if we can only wake up with the eye for the extraordinary, or the ability to see it within the folds of the ordinary, then we can begin each day with more hope, love, and the chance to be better versions of ourselves.

Now, I am off to beat my aunt at Scrabble—cause like I said, though ordinarily she beats me to a pulp at that game, today is a new day!

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!

A World Built on Inspiration

12th Trial: Work out, or Write? Work out, or Write? Not. Enough. Time.

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

Weekly Choice of Tea: Turmeric and Ginger (again)

Biggest Success: Seeing the stories that surround me every day

I would like to introduce you to my very dear acquaintance, Charles. You can hardly be surprised when I tell you that writing did not fare for the better this week, but I feel so much ahead from where I was. And not because I spent the measly 2.5 hours writing, but because a character‚Äôs loose sketch within my imagination now has more defined lines and darkened shadows. In other words, a faint prospect has now a foundation and a personality. I have known Charles as a patient for some time now, an adorable older man of 89 years that always brings a smile through the doors. It wasn‚Äôt until I decided to stop by his ‚Äėshop‚Äô and see the model trains he always talked about, did I realize that all this time he is worth a novel in himself. I wish to introduce you to Charles, as you may all expect to see him again within the pages of my story (which again, if I have more weeks of 2.5 hours writing, none may live to see).

He has a small house for his hobby of creating a railway with moving model trains that carries loads from different parts of North Carolina. Of course, these loads and the quarries they come from have to be within your imagination, and the imagination of this place is truly to be witnessed. He began building it in 1955. He used plaster and other materials to build mountain sides; dyed fabrics to the shades of Fall’s leaves; took old photographs of his travels to Yellowstone National Park to make craters and ravines; used old cans to create bridges and openings within a mountain for the trains to pass through. All the model trains are operable, and have a destination and an origin. One weekend a month everything is unveiled, and a 24 hour functioning railway starts up where it left off last month. Charles and a work crew of about 6-7 people who have admired his work make sure the tickets accompany the trains, and that everything runs smoothly. Everything you see has been hand placed and made by Charles alone.

IMG_4193

IMG_4194

IMG_4200

IMG_4212

IMG_4204

Charles tells me this is his hobby. This is no more of a hobby that an artist works to create a masterpiece. Within every mapped region is Charles‚Äô story, the places he has gone and seen and been impressed by, while the names of the women he has loved are the titles of shipping companies or furniture storage units. He says America was built on the railway. He remembers chasing trains as a young boy with his father. Charles has visited all 50 states by car, because ‚Äúflying is for birds‚ÄĚ. I am so much better for the people‚Äôs lives that I touch, because they touch mine even more. Charles is such a strong character, and he is someone you pass at a grocery store, or a man that discusses his hobby for model trains. Just look around you. The stories that surround us every single day are breathtaking.

IMG_4213