Recharge: Day One - In My Ears and In My Eyes
Hello and welcome to Day One! It's time to give your writing routine a little jumpstart and get out of your winter rut. For the basics of Recharge: Winter Writing Retreat, please check out the How This Works post.
- What is your name?
- What do you write?
- How long have you been writing?
- What location have you chosen for your retreat?
- How did you come up with the idea or find inspiration for your current WIP?
My name is Sara Biren.
I write mainly fiction - currently young adult novels, but in the past and for most of my time as a writer, I've written short stories. I've been writing since about third grade; I started dabbling in young adult fiction in 2006 and have been seriously focusing on it since 2009. I also write newsletter copy, human resources policies, company procedures manuals, training guides, etc. I write about children's books and reading for my local Patch, an online newspaper.
My great love, though, is fiction, and I someday hope to leave the business world behind and write fiction full-time.
And because time, money, and season are no object, I've chosen to spend my week at a quaint little cottage in the UK.
I'm currently knee-deep in revisions for my WIP, WAITING FOR THE SUN. This manuscript began as a project for Camp NaNoWriMo in July of 2011 (but did not end there). Like with most of my writing, I had found inspiration in real life, partly from the story of a local teen who had been diagnosed with bone cancer. I wondered about his family and friends, how they were dealing with what would ultimately claim his life. I'd lost classmates in high school; I wanted to write a story about the ones left behind. WFTS is written from two perspectives: Luci, whose best friend Trixie has died, and Ben, Trixie's brother.
Now that we've gotten the introductions out of the way, let's move on to our first topic. We'll ease into it for Day One.
Writers are lucky. When we're on top of our games, our powers of observation are impeccable and our imaginations endless. We find inspiration nearly everywhere. We are curious, we ask questions, we want to know more. We make the ordinary extraordinary. Not only can we find inspiration in our daily lives, but we can reach back into memory and use our experiences and emotions as a guide for creating something new.
Frequent readers of this blog know that I am a gigantic Beatles fan. (Today, by the way, would have been George's 70th birthday. We will celebrate at our house tonight with whoopie pies.) I'm currently reading a book called THE BEATLES WAY: FAB WISDOM FOR EVERYDAY LIFE by Larry Lange, and found this passage on inspiration:
Inspiration All Around You: The Beatles drew inspiration from their world as it happened to be, each day of their lives: their childhood, co-workers, friends, lovers, relatives -- in short, to paraphrase "Penny Lane," from the sights and sounds "in their ears and in their eyes." In fact, Penny Lane is a real district in Liverpool, and the barbershop mentioned in the song is where pre-teens John, George, and Paul received monthly haircuts.... The Beatles are master teachers of refining the most mundane events in life into the sublime....
If only it were that easy.George too took inspiration from his daily activities. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" came to him at the time he was being heavily influenced by the I Ching: The Book of Changes, which features the Eastern spiritual concept that everything is relative to everything else, as opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental or random. "The idea was in my head," said George, "so I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book, as it would be relative to the moment." He added, "I picked up a book at random, opened it, and saw 'gently weeps.' I then laid the book down again and started the song."
Exercise #1: What sounds and sights are in your ears and in your eyes right now? If you're sitting in a quiet room, take a walk or go to a coffee shop or grocery store, or think about a recent visit to those places. Or imagine that you are in your virtual retreat location. Make a list of everything you experience.
Exercise #2: Think about a person you've recently observed, either through Exercise #1 or a different occasion. Imagine a life for that person. Why are they in that place? Who are they with? What brings them the most joy? What is their biggest worry? What do they want for themselves - and what's standing in their way?
Exercise #3: Open a random book to a random page. What are the first words that jump out at you? Write a scene using some or all of the words. Mine are "This is an emergency. Forget about yourself."
Write a scene that includes the following Beatles lyrics as dialogue:
"Try to see it my way."FOR FURTHER READING:
- 3 Ways to Use Real Life to Write Better Fiction from the March 2013 issue of Writer's Digest. The online issue is not live yet; I will link to the article when it becomes available.
- THE POCKET MUSE: IDEAS AND INSPIRATION FOR WRITING by Monica Wood
- 31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing by Leo Babauta at Write to Done