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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Struggles Shared by the Reader, the Writer, and the Open-Water Swimmer

24th Trial: Getting caught in the art of story telling, without infusion of personal opinion, biases, political passions, and ultimately moralities. I have decided to begin a separate journal of my own passionate rants, of my hopes for what this novel will come across as. And then there will come a time during editing that I can infuse the story with my mind, and make a chain of thought so that it is not mistaken what my overall message is within it’s pages. It is too easy for me to write event after event, description after observation– but I am realizing one must deviate from the material to formulate the immaterial, such as leaving a scene to ponder on dreams, aspirations, ethical struggles, guilt, ect!

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 3 Hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Pumpkin Spice tea

Biggest Success: Swam from Buck Island to St. Croix’s shore in a 5-mile swim race! Yes my friends, I did the big one, the one I’ve been training for! Little did I know the emesis that was to follow the rocking of the waves, as if the waters still teamed with pirate enthusiasm to pillage my stomach of all contents.

“Villette” continues to influence me, I am happy to say. Within her plot comes Bronte’s sound judgement and sharpness of character that one can only aspire to in their own writing. Such is my trial as stated above! While laying on the sandy beaches in the Virgin Islands this weekend, I sought refuge from the sun into the shade of a Bronte novel, its dark tone enough to keep one balanced. I ventured to the land of pirates to fulfill a goal of mine–to swim 5 miles in the ocean. The race began as I had hoped and expected it to! Transparent waters that displayed the coral reef that webbed the ocean ground like large sunken nets. Every breathe I turned to take– to the right showed islands sitting in front of the raising sun, and to the left showed nothing but endless waves. My arms pulled in front of me, clearly viewed as if I was flapping them in air. It was pristine and beautiful. I marveled at my experience, and compared it to the pages of the novel that accompanied me there. While my experience was a beautiful one, it came with is own darkness. Nausea! Sea-Sickness! Puking into the waves till they calmed! Alas, like Bronte’s “Villette” it was a wonderful and yet abrasive experience in terms of humanity and reality!!

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Directly after my race!! I accomplished it, 2hr and 59min

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Post race-day lounge at Magen’s Bay in St. Thomas

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This beautiful gentleman helped it all happen! Here we we at the East most point of the US off of St. Croix.

And lastly, here is a paragraph from Bronte’s “Villette” so that you may taste the genius behind the ink.

“A strange, frolicsome, noisy little world was this school:  great pains were taken to hide chains with flowers:  a subtle essence of Romanism pervaded every arrangement: large sensual indulgence (so to speak) was permitted by way of counterpoise to jealous spiritual restraint. Each mind was being reared in slavery; but, to prevent reflection from dwelling on this fact, every pretext for physical recreation was seized and made the most of. There, as elsewhere, the CHURCH strove to bring up her children robust in body, feeble in soul, far, ruddy, hale, joyous, ignorant, unthinking, unquestioning. “Eat, drink, and live!” she says, “Look after your bodies; leave your souls to me. I hold their cure–guide their course:  I guarantee their final fate.” A bargain, in which every true Catholic deems himself a gainer. Lucifer just offers the  same terms:  “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of it; for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine!”-Villette by Charlotte Bronte

A Philospher’s Stone

21th Trial: Following brain, heart, and environmental responsibilities all at once! I am lucky enough to be able to, even when they collide.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 2 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Orange and Ginger from Scott and Lori’s home!

Biggest Success: Finishing Chapter Four!

This weekend was particularly exciting, and I was happy to find it filled with the essence of that something-more-British I gravitate to. I was in Atlanta to see “old” friends from chiropractic school, and could not say anything but that I am beside myself proud of them and what they’ve accomplished. The weekend was filled with visiting my old favorite haunts and reconnecting with a city that has left bitterness in my mouth ever since I sat in four hours of unmoving traffic. I could write twenty more paragraphs on the merits and qualities of the excellent people I spent the weekend with, but that would take me from the topic I wish to discuss.

And what that topic is, you may wonder at, is something I am surprised I have not focused on before. What else is there to say? I am proud then to express my absolute obsession and adoration of a book series that naturally has contributed to my literary development, a stone in my philosophy! That is of course, Harry Potter!

Two friends of mine from school were with me this weekend, Shaun and Jenna. They are the great friends that I found myself many nights playing scrabble and eating fondue with. Anyways, they told me just days ago, that they just now started reading the Harry Potter books, and that the movies do not actually do them justice! I was told this at Der Bier Garten, and immediately dedicated our first sip not to seeing old friends, but to the growth of their knowledge! The expansion of their imagination! The light that shall always follow such literature! How exciting, how amazing!

I will not continue to divulge the extent of my love for those books, that I have spent summers reading them repeatedly 14 times, or that I have a weird shrine in my house (that will just always be there. There is just no going back). However, I would like to share with you all the fun collection that I began a little while ago. Pictured above are Harry Potter novels that I’ve acquired in different languages and/or from different countries. Anywhere I travel, I pick one of these guys up. Currently I have editions, mainly of the first book, from England, Scotland, Italy, Sweden, and Austria!

I have finished my chapter four, and this week I will dedicate my time to typing it up. Thanks Jenna and Shaun, for stirring the love for literature this weekend–just as naturally as you spooned the cheese fondue a year ago!

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At Harry Potter World!

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Missed this man this weekend! Benard, who has shared my love for HP!

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Embracing Austen

19th Trial: When burdened with hitting a wall in your writing, seclude yourself in an area conducive to writing. But more importantly, when you feel that you have hit a wall, pick up a writer you aspire to and let their language guide you

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 1.5 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Turmeric and Ginger

Biggest Success: Embracing Austen Dialogue

Currently, the novel I am reading is Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Though I have seen the BBC version of the book a many, many times, I am always pleasantly surprised with the development of her characters in text. I love the general summing up movies produce, and they typically do a faithful job giving the character their due respect when it comes to character qualities; however, I know Fanny (main woman in the book) so much more faithfully now, and I see the absolute necessity in reading the thoughts behind her dialogue and actions.

Reading Austen does not just fulfill my understanding of her stories displayed by British Broadcasting. Oh, how better and improved my dialogue is! Last night I sat my book down as Jamie asked me a question.

“So, what movie do you want to watch tonight?”

I responded, “Whichever would oblige you most, my dear.”

“But I want to know what you’re interested in watching.”

Again, I responded “Quite right, my love! Shall we progress further through the episodes, or view a movie not yet seen before?”

This was a rough summation of the conversation I remember, however I felt as if the attitude of Henry Crawford radiated into my own dialogue as he would talk to Fanny. I could not think of how to replace words such as ‘oblige’ or ‘progress’ or ‘quite right’ at the moment I said them. I laughed at myself naturally, but honestly, I marveled at how improved I seemed by the novels I read!! I sincerely attribute British authors to a portion of the success I will hopefully feel when this novel is finished! And I am happy to announce that chapter four is closely being finished. This coming week should be QUITE productive! The picture featured above is where Jamie sits to design and work on her website, but little does she know that while she is away, I take down the electronics and make it my space!

I Will Show you Fear in an Author

16th Trial:  Confidence

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 1 hour (oomph)

Weekly Choice of Tea: Turmeric and Ginger (see a trend?)

Biggest Success:  Purchasing Harper Lee’s latest release!

I have had a stressing and therefore indulgent week and weekend. I am no closer to catching that stray cat than I am to finishing typing up Chapter three. And as you may not yet be aware of, my system is just that:  finish a hand-written chapter and type it up. The OCD that runs rampant in my family does not allow that process to be disturbed! So tomorrow and Monday will be dedicated to checking that off my list and by mid week, chapter four will begin. I promise you that, and as this blog will therefore show my feebleness if I do not, I shan’t let you down!

I spent a wonderful day in and out of stores with Jamie and her mother yesterday, where at one point her mother curiously looked at me over a table at Barnes and Noble. To set the scene:  I had Harper Lee’s novel in my hand, “Go Set a Watchman” (which, having only one novel in my arms while moseying around that store, is a rare thing to behold). I looked back at her, my mind still engulfed by what I was currently reading.

She asked me, “What does it take to be an author?”

I am ashamed it took me so long to give her what ended up being a shoddy answer. “I mean, you have to have a natural talent for writing.” After the words came out of my mouth, I laughed and hastily added, “I mean no, you really don’t even need to have that.”

How interesting! I degraded almost every author in that store and even myself! Of course I believe you must have a natural talent for writing to be an author of novels, and most do. Even the ones with writing styles that make me want to jab a pen in my eyeball have a knack at least for storytelling. I cannot compare everyone or myself to that of Austen’s or the Brontes’ talent, because the variety and the standards are very different. However, authors that I respect and aspire to, write with the same passion and prose as those of whom set the bar (in my opinion). So was I entirely wrong in my response? Can you create a story, write about it very poorly, get it published, and be an “author”? I guess, though I am sure I will not think much of you as a talented author, but I will concede to put you in the category. I do wonder how my book will look once finished. I have no idea in what opinion I will hold it to!

I must believe that if you want to write a novel to the quality of Charlotte Bronte in the language of your generation, you can. Tap into natural abilities you may not even know you have. And then yes, anyone can be an author worth literature’s sacred regard.

“And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

 Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

 I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” -T.S. Eliot

Manatees <3

Manatees ❤

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.

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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.

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Backpacking Cold Mountain

6th Trial: Once a you realize you are in a rut, how do you change the course you are on?

Weekly hours spent writing or in pursuit of plot: ZERO–though the inspiration gained filled more than a weeks worth of struggling motivation

Weekly choice of “tea”: Hot chocolate by the campfire

Greatest Success: Backpacking to the summit of Cold Mountain, a 16.4 mile hike and an elevation of 6,030 ft

This was a tribute to the book by Charles Frazier, and a challenge to say that I hiked up one of the tallest peaks of the eastern United States.

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Like any connection with nature, there is a residual feeling of loss when you leave it. That is not the case today–I close my eyes and I see Frazier’s description: “It stood apart from the sky only as the stroke of a poorly inked pen, a line thin and quick and gestural. But the shape slowly grew plain and unmistakable. It was Cold Mountain he looked. He had achieved a vista of what for him was homeland.” I feel its wild peace in my heart still, and its beauty is what steadies my mind.

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I think of Charlotte Bronte’s quote from Wuthering Heights, as these moments are essential to my existence today, a small light within the fleeting and ever changing jobs and stresses of my life.

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.” -Wuthering Heights

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With these images in my inward eye, I can start a week dedicated to chapter two, and next week you shall hear my success in advancing out of this rut I am in with my writing! The view from the Summit of Cold Mountain:

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I guess the only way to get over the rut you are in, and start fresh, is to shake it off!

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Downton Abbey at Biltmore

3rd Trial: Feeling the back drag of accomplishing a milestone

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 4.5 hours

Weekly choice of Tea: Chamomile

Greatest Success:  Discovering the daily work life of lobster fishermen, and words like “shedder”, “stringer”, and “bait drums”!!

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Procrastination is one word that I want to make sure I don’t use too often. Last week was a huge success–I had laid the beginning chapter to rest, ready to start chapter two–which is ultimately a whole new world. I was feeling ahead of the game, and felt an inexcusable desire to relish in it. And so a week passed in that attitude, and little progress was made. As anyone who has been into the ocean, trying to swim into shore: there is always a wave that pushes you forward, and the ease of that moment is a luxury. You don’t have to kick and pull so hard. And then the back drag comes that is expected and unfailing, holding you back until the next wave comes. One chapter is nothing, and its back drag teaches me that accomplishing a milestone only means that you have to work harder for the next one, that it doesn’t get easier, and it shouldn’t. As each chapter will pass, so will the complexity of the story increase, surfacing the need to know more of the characters, and the need to illustrate the morals you wish to exhibit. This is hardly a time to take a break and relish in ill-defined successes!

And for my blog I selected gorgeous photos taken this weekend at the Biltmore House, a place where I placed pencil down and ran off to, where I saw the amazing story of Downton Abbey displayed. I found it incredible the ability of a show, through fashion alone, to display social change that came after World War I at an impressive rate. My taste for something more British was again satisfied seeing the romantic story displayed in front of me! At its winery I met an incredible woman from Germany, who has lived in the states for around 30 years now. She is a creative writer that whistled the same tune:  it is hard to find the time to write! How I can empathize with her! And what advice did I give her? Create a blog!