Snow

If you’ve checked the news or been on Facebook at all in the past week (or looked out your window, depending on where you live), you know that the east coast of the US got some snow. More than is usual for most of that area.

There's actually garden statuary under there somewhere...

There’s actually garden statuary under there somewhere…

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10 Great Writerly Quotes

I’ve done a post about quotes for writing and inspiration, but I’ve been collecting more writerly quotes, so I thought I’d share. Who doesn’t love a great quote about books, storytelling, and the passion we feel for the written word? Enjoy!

“A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann

“I love studying folklore and legends. The stories that people passed down for a thousand years without any sort of marketing support are obviously saying something appealing about the basic human condition.” Ti Schafer Continue reading

10 Quotes for Writing and Inspiration

I collect quotes. Quotes about writing, about life, quotes from books and movies, quotes from real people. So today I just thought I’d share a few of my favorite quotes. I hope they bring you some inspiration or deep thoughts. And please feel free to share one of your favorite quotes in the comments!

A stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from the bristles. – Kosh, Babylon 5

What I find interesting about folklore is the dialogue it gives us with storytellers from centuries past. – Terri Windling

Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet, sage: these are the makers of the afterworld, the architects of heaven. The world is beautiful because they have lived; without them, laboring humanity would perish. – James Allen

Do or do not. There is no try– Yoda, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood. – Peter Handke

Not all who wander are lost. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Always remember there are only two kinds of people in this world – the realists and the dreamers. The realists know where they’re going. The dreamers have already been there. – Robert Orben

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. – E.L. Doctorow

A child who can love the oddities of a fantasy book cannot possibly be xenophobic as an adult. What is a different color, a different culture, a different tongue for a child who has already mastered Elvish, respected Puddleglums, or fallen under the spell of dark-skinned Ged, the greatest wizard Earthsea has ever known? –Jane Yolen, Touch Magic

I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. –Joss Whedon

The Corruption of Creativity

We have all been given creativity. You may claim that you’re not the artistic type, or that you’re often stuck for ideas. But never say that you have no creativity.

What is creativity, after all? It is imagination, originality, resourcefulness, vision. Have you ever had a good idea, then put it into practice? A good idea about anything—a more direct route to work, a way to rearrange your living room, the perfect gift to cheer a hurting friend. That’s creativity.

Imagination, ingenuity, vision—the ability to see something in your mind before it exists in reality. We all have this power, we all do this every day. You imagine what fun you’re going to have at the beach this weekend with your friends. You have a vision of the joy on your child’s face when sees that toy he’s been wanting under the Christmas tree.

Many use this creative power in a far less positive way. You imagine the next phone call will be the debt collector because you’re behind on that bill. You imagine that storm growing worse and your spouse’s car sliding off the road into a tree. This is called worry.

Worry is a corruption of the creative power of your mind. That imagination you have was intended to help you build a business, raise happy children, write a book, design a home. Worry brings fear, and fear brings a halt to all of the good ideas you have.

You have the ability to see something in your mind before it exists in reality. Take note of what you’re seeing. Think about what you’re thinking about. Do your ideas point towards a positive manifestation, or a negative one?

Don’t let worry and fear corrupt your imagination. The world needs your creativity.

The Awesome Idea

Everything that’s ever been created or ever will be created starts with a thought.

Sometimes this idea starts like a tiny seed—just one small unassuming thought that grows and develops into a full-blown Awesome Idea.

Other times, the Awesome Idea hits full grown and the one doing the thinking is bowled over by the intensity of the beginning, middle, end, and solution all wrapped up in one package all at once.

I’ve had story ideas come to me both ways. Sometimes I’m inspired to write because I get the whole plot—or at least the rough outline—all at once. Even this full-grown Awesome Idea gets built upon, of course, as I write it down. (I have yet to think up a whole story—complete with every word in place, dialogue tags done, no mistakes—without actually writing it down first. Now that would be an Awesome Idea indeed).

But usually, the Awesome Idea for a story comes to me in bits and pieces, and I have a lot of work to do before I have something that’s concrete enough to even begin writing it down. A character, a loose concept, one word or one line, an image or a musical phrase that captures my mind—these little disconnected flitting thoughts are usually what I begin with. Then comes brainstorming, building, experimenting with combining two or more of these disconnected ideas to see if they could gel together to begin growing into the Awesome Idea.

For my current project, I can actually trace the Awesome Idea that is the trilogy I’m writing (hopefully it’s awesome!) to one exact moment, one specific kernel of an idea. It’s grown and changed, of course, and went from a stand-alone book to a trilogy. The setting moved from Russia to Finland, and my one main character was joined by a sizable supporting cast.

But it all began when I was watching a movie called Kautokeino-Opprøret (a Norwegian film; the title translates as The Kautokeino Rebellion). The movie is based on the true story of a revolt by indigenous Sami people against the encroaching government, in a remote village in Norway in the 19th century. There’s one scene where the Sami are combining their separate herds of reindeer into one giant herd, to prevent one particular woman’s reindeer from being taken by the government in payment for a fine.

A line popped into my head: what if an entire herd of reindeer just vanished? And thus was born The Vanished Reindeer, the first novel of my trilogy. I then enhanced that core of an idea with a small dose of Finnish mythology and a large dose of fantasy.

Just a reminder: I’m talking about the birth of an Awesome Idea. The final product—my novel—has absolutely nothing to do with the Norwegian movie, is not based on a true story, and is not intended to be a commentary about indigenous peoples or governments. But that’s where it started.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Writers, artists, musicians, and creators out there—how do your Awesome Ideas develop?

Music video/trailer for Kautokeino-Opprøret, music by Sami singer Mari Boine:

Olympics, London, and Other Stories

I’m not really into sports at all, but I love watching the Olympics. I especially love the stories of the Olympics—athletes overcoming odd to get to the games, last-minute surprises and underdog victories, picking up and moving on when defeat hits.

Watching these past games in London brought to my memory the trip I took last year to visit London. The trip had nothing to do with the Olympics (I was just visiting a friend) and I was in a different part of the city, so the only evidence of the upcoming games that I saw was an Olympic count-down clock in Trafalgar Square.

But just like the Olympics, my personal experiences in London were full of stories. I might blog about it in more detail in the future—I could do an entire blog post alone on just the ancient Egypt exhibit at the British Museum, but for now I’ll just post one picture:

Part of an ancient Egyptian wall relief. Still pretty colors, after thousands of years!

There were plenty of little memorable moments that I could easily turn into a blog post, or even use as a prompt for a fictionalized story—like our mad dash through King’s Cross Station asking anybody we could where Platform 9 ¾ was, or my attempt at eating so-called B-B-Q chicken at an Italian restaurant that was run by Pakistanis.

I also made a quick detour by Norway on my way home from London. More stories could come from that short trip—like me accidently dropping a bottle of Pepsi at the grocery store and frantically wondering how to apologize in Norwegian when the thing exploded all over the aisle, or getting up at 3am to go catch the plane home and seeing that the sun had already risen.

So below I’m including a few more pictures of some of these random little moments. Each picture could be a story in itself, or I might use some of my adventures as prompts or fodder for future fiction stories. And if any of these pictures prompt an idea for a story in your mind, please go ahead and follow that prompting and write! Inspiration can be found anywhere!

London:

Anybody want a sewing machine? There’s got to be a story behind this one.

Old winding steps. Every foot that ever walked on these steps had a story to tell.

Bergen, Norway:

Another intriguing potential story–what’s up with all the doors opening into the air? Gotta watch that first step…

There be trolls in the forests of Norway!

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Has anyone else felt prompted or inspired by one little glimpse of something, or one picture or one incident? What stories do these pictures make you want to tell?