A Tete-a-tete With a Storm Cloud

52nd Trial: Being in Chapter 8, I am eager to go back to Chapter 1 and change so much of how it all started, even down to the descriptive language and the dialogue between characters. But back tracking at this point may be detrimental – I may have the same desire at Chapter 10, or Chapter 15! There will be no end to the madness.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot:  Since last post, I have wrote for 12hr! Take that!! **knife hand strike to the throat of my work week**

Weekly Choice of Tea: Earl Grey (I am on a kick!)

Biggest Success: There are two main successes that I am particularly proud of! I have begun writing the Boo books (a children’s book that Jamie will illustrate), as well as my training for the Alcatraz swim!

Last night I swam in a lap pool after work. It was the first time I jumped right into the water, instead of my usual big-toe-followed-by-heel-and-then-retract ritual. I usually look like the cartoon elephant that dips a part of its foot in the water then runs away with a trumpet sounding protest! However, the chill in the air was worse than in the pool, and so went away my reluctance to enter it.

I use my swim for many things, from sweating stresses to idle dreaming of me saving the world in some fashion or another. But mainly, I use it to consider the plot of my novel. Dialogue and relationships. What direction the story will take next. It turns out to be a poor brainstorming session most of the time, as I do not have pen and paper readily submerged in the water with me to jot down ideas. The ideas themselves struggle against drowning, and sometimes I forget them altogether. However, I at least reconnect with the big picture of the novel, and leave the water refreshed and aware of my purpose with writing.

My mind during this particular swim went on a fun journey, and thus the point of this blog. While reading Charlotte Bronte’s “The Professor”, I became fascinated with her unique character descriptions of a few undesirable students at the school. I enjoyed her ability to write in the negative space surrounding a persons shape and attitude but telling me what they are not, or where they differ from normal notions of beauty, intelligence, and humility. My arms pulled me up and down the pool as the images of these characters swam into my mind, as if the ripples around me were them. They were joined shortly by characters of my own, and I noticed quick how ill defined mine were in comparison.

As I continued swimming, the weather changed around the time my stroke changed, and my mind wandered once more. My arms grew bumps as they met the cold and windy air. As I began back stroke, I saw the descending light of dusk change with the approach of a menacing cloud, and soon its light presence was extinguished. The cloud was truly a dark cloud, and its black surface crept closer and closer to the sky above me. Time passed as it usually does in a pool, monotonously, and the cloud continued to approach in the same, slow manner. And as there is not much to do besides count laps and think over and over again, I was thankful I had a storm cloud. I began by describing it by what it was not. Then I chased it, and it chased me, as I lapped the pool as if I were in a pinball machine. Before I swam my last stretch, I wondered how this cloud could represent anyone or anything? Can a character be built based on the description of a storm cloud?

In truth this lead me down a strange path, which is worth mentioning, where I seemed to internalized the storm cloud. I thought of its scary and threatening nature, and imagined it to be my own expectations of the novel. Its color reminded me of my Earl Grey tea. Boo could be considered a storm cloud, as her black fur falls in a steady stream of hair. I am swimming in components of a cloud. I wanted pizza tonight…and while this was a stretch, I quickly realized that both are pleasantly salty!

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

FALL-ing Inspiration

22nd Trial: Where momentum comes from

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

Weekly Choice of “Tea”: Spiced Apple Cider!

Biggest Success: Chapter four is typed up and printed! Began brainstorming for chapter five

While swimming what seemed like endless laps in the pool today, I realized that chapter five is before me. My goal is within reach, however if momentum does not befriend me, chaos will ensue within the plot. Who knows where we shall be when it then all ends! And so tonight I brainstormed. To begin writing a new chapter, I need a solid scene visualized, and the already-formed story will fill around it. So far I have had events as small as a conversation around a kitchen island, or as large as the classic ‘meet-cute’ which is important to any Austenite (I would like to hereby dub that word as defining a writer that follows the happy-ending-technique of Jane Austen….and not an allotrope of iron).

I pondered this as I swam, and images/scenes flashed before me. The falling leaves that bring the new season to my doorsteps; Boo Radley sitting by pumpkins. The smell of espresso as it fills the shot glass; the warmth of a coffee mug. Flyers that litter warehouse buildings of upcoming concerts and festivals. A community play for Halloween. Whether these visions will influence the next chapter, I enjoy the endless possibilities that could take this story to its new destination. I have no other option as of right now but to play it chapter by chapter. The little sense of security that I have is more empowering than I could have thought, as the direction can change with any gust of wind.

Thank goodness for my eternal muse ❤

NODA

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!