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’s 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’t until I decided to stop by his ‘shop’ 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’ 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 “flying is for birds”. I am so much better for the people’s 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