Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is it Passion or is it Magic?

I am reading a really great book called The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. In it he says, the thing that makes a book great, the thing that is often called magic is really passion. Passion is the defining quality that makes a great book great.

I whole heartedly agree. But I do have to wonder if there isn’t some magic involved too. He says that many of the authors of these great books look back and say that the manuscript wrote itself. Obviously that is literally impossible, but I’m sure you’ve had this same experience a time or two when the words just flowed as if from somewhere else. You sat down and felt the inspiration of an image or scene so beautiful and unexpected and were somehow able to translate it perfectly from the vision in your head to words painting it on paper.

Maybe this is talent or imagination at work, but sometimes it feels like magic. Where do these amazing images and scenes come from? How did you miraculously translate them onto page, perfectly, without stumbling over your own head or tongue like you normally do?

I recently had such an experience. I wrote a short story from a scene that came to me while doing something mundane. I pulled into the driveway came inside and sat down and wrote a story I didn’t know from one scene in my head of a psychic watching a man in an interrogation room. The scene she saw was dramatically different than the one the detective or anyone else would see.

I posted this short on my writing samples blog and submitted it on twitter for #Fridayflash. The feedback I got was amazing. Maybe these people were just being kind because that is what you do when you read #fridayflash writing? I’m not sure. Even without the feedback I felt really good about this story when it was complete.

I have never been a psychic. I do not have a southern accent, though my main character came to me with one. I’ve never even been further south than Nevada. I have stood face to face with monsters but not the kind she did. So where then did this story, her voice come from?

I don’t have an answer to this question. But I would like believe there is a little magic in this world even if it doesn’t come in the form of pixie dust like we believed as children. Maybe though, this is the form it comes in for those of us who love to write.

(For those who are wondering about the above mentioned short here is the link: Judge for yourself. Feel free to leave feedback if you’d like. I’m happy with it though and felt like it was a kind of magic and I’m sticking with that because I think we all need a little magic in our lives.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The People you knew when you were young.

There is this song, I know it as The Sunscreen Song by Baz Lurhman others might recognize it as a graduation song. It's a song of advice and in it he says "The older you get the more you need the people you knew when you were young." I don't know if that is true or not. I venture to guess it probably is.

There is absolutely something about spending time with family or those you've grown up with that is different and special. I'm not sure what it is. If it's due to genetic bond or if it's caused by knowing someone so long that they know you better than everyone else. It is through this strange link it seems that magic can happen.

Today I spoke with my older brother on the phone and we were discussing music, something we often do. I was trying to think of a band that I knew he liked to compare them to a song I'd recently discovered that I knew he'd like. I described them as the robe wearing, love, bubbles and tree singing band or some fluffy silly thing. He knew exactly who I meant and said their name. (I wont say it because you might like them and be offended by my mental word associations.) Often with him much less of a description is needed and he is on the same page. I can name a time or a feeling and he knows what I'm referring to.

After my conversation I made the 55 mile trek to Anchorage to bring a friend some medication and have lunch with him in between his flights. Afterwords I went to hang out with my two younger brothers. Being with them is like getting in a time machine and traveling back to when I was 8 and there was no such thing as economic recession or health care reform or debt and gas/electric/mortgage bills. A time when the world was fun and you could get a stomach ache from laughing to hard cause everything was funny.

That is how it is with them. We got McDonalds and were eating when I realized I wanted my sweet and sour sauce but at the time having too little sleep my brain couldn't form the connections to think up the words so I said. "Where is..." (that is literally all I said.) and scrunched my fingers together. My brother bent over pulled out my sauce and handed it to me. You might say yeah no big if you had the nuggets its an obvious thing to ask for. I didn't even order nuggets I planned to steal some of his and hadn't gotten around to it yet.

We have our inside jokes as everyone does but we have so many and they are so silly. Anytime anyone says "I'm gonna kick you in the face." They hold up their hand and we all fall into hysterics. (I won't embarrass myself by explaining why. just know it's truly hilarious... to us.)

So in my long and convoluted way of saying it, what I am saying is that family is important. Maybe for you it isn't because they let you be a kid again or they know exactly what you mean to say even when all you say is. "You know that time when you did that thing." But they know things about you no one else ever will and they'll typically be there for you also when no one else will. So enjoy them while they are here. Hug them every chance you get. And if at all possible tell them you love them every time you say goodbye because you never know if those might be the last words you ever get to say to them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I love music. Currently I'm listening to Well Enough Alone by Chevelle on my Zune software. But that isn't the point of my blog. The point has to do with how I listen to music. I do enjoy having it as background music just coming out of my speakers often. Or in the car blasting at ridiculously high volumes.

I'm usually a source of entertainment for other drivers because I sing and dance (as much as one can dance while driving) along to the music while driving. I often get stares and smiles. There is something about seeing someone enjoying themselves that makes others happy for one reason or another.

Back to my point. (I am easily distracted, if you've read my blog you know this.) My favorite way to listen to music is on headphones. I like how when you listen to music on headphones it's like the music is inside your head. I love that because of this you get to hear things in the music you might not notice otherwise. I also like that when you have headphones on it's like you are in your own world and everyone else just exists around, but outside of it. (I could be crazy but its ok cause I like it.)

So for these reasons even at home I listen to music on my headphones while cleaning, writing, working out or just because. I'm a small person coming in at just under 5 feet. And as a small person most of my parts are also small. My ears for instance look normal sized in proportion, but they are yes you guessed it small. So I cannot wear those ever popular ear buds they do not fit in my ears, and the newer inner ear squishy things don't stay either. (Ear plugs don't stay either incase you were going to argue that if ear plugs fit so do those types of earbuds.)

I have discovered that I do like the over the ear behind the head combo because the clip on kind don't typically stay well on my small ears. But I have recently found a pair of Sony brand retractable cord over the ear clip on's that do stay put and have a beautiful sound. These are the cause of my rant this evening. I take them everywhere with me along with my trusty Zune. Though being in a hurry after work Thursday I forgot them at work. Sad. And since it is a long weekend for me I've been without them for nearly two days now.

Somehow I've lost all my cheapy pairs so I hunted down my favorite pair that due to a faulty wire only plays in one ear. I tried to perform electrical surgery but was mostly unsuccessful. I was only successful for long enough to be reminded of why they are my favorite ones. The sound they produced for the 20 seconds of life I was able to extend was like hearing music after being forced to live in silence for a year. You adapt and forget how great it could be but once reminded it is hard to go back to the way it was. Phillips no longer makes the over the ear behind the head version of these particular headphones anymore. But after last nights 20 seconds of bliss I think I'll have to accept the silly over the top of the head style as a sacrifice where the benefit far out weighs the cost.

I don't remember what my original point was for this blog. I'm sure it got lost somewhere in there. But in closing. Music makes the world brighter, and a good pair of headphones allows you a world where you have your own soundtrack.

(I probably shouldn't blog at 2:30 in the morning.)

Please Don't Leave Me and other things I never think or say

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