In the Midst of Living

“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”
– Anaïs Nin, French Writer

First, I need to say that last week the lovely Evangeline at Edwardian Promenade awarded the I Love This Blog to me, and I have to spread the love around. See the end of this post for the award, and my nominations. ❤

This week’s exercise is to take a look around you. So often do we writers get lost in the act of writing, that we forget we are supposed to be writing about life. Who are these characters that we spend our every waking moments with? How can we possibly know who they are, and how to make them distinct, if all we do is sit around our houses dreaming about them?

NaNoWriMo is a difficult time for any writer, whether you have a plan/outline or not. I found that during the second week, I began to lag a little. Things weren’t coming as quickly, and I was losing some of my pep.

I knew I had to leave the computer. There was something about sitting in the same spot day in, day out, writing to fulfill the daily goal, that exhausted me. I took a digital camera and small writing journal, and went for a walk.

I took pictures of whatever I saw that inspired me, with the plan to print them out and tape them to the walls around my desktop. I sat by the little lake at the center of my campus, and absorbed. I never wrote anything.

Three years later (i.e. a couple of weeks ago), that moment crystallized into the following:

At Ohio State, my favorite place on campus was Mirror Lake. There are beautiful flowering trees there in the spring, and ducklings that swim in time with The Truman Show soundtrack on my mp3 player. In the winter, the lake freezes over and everyone tests their courage by walking across it. In the fall, the most zealous Buckeyes jump into the lake to show their loyalty against M*ch*gan. There are benches, and sometimes people play their guitars. I would walk around the lake, usually listening to classical music, and breathe it in. I’d stare at the fountain in the center, and how it sometimes made a rainbow on very bright days.

Simple, reminiscent, evocative. Do you have such a moment, and can you use it for your writing?

Awards to Blogs I Love

Dreaming on the Job

Graham Carter

Tales of a Fantasy Scribbler

Word Nerd

(Listed alphabetically)

14 thoughts on “In the Midst of Living

  1. I say "go for it!" Some of my most absolute favorite pieces I've ever written were my short stories from my fiction class in grad school. You'll learn a bunch, I'm sure!

    Like

  2. Word Nerd – No problem! You were one of the first blogs I watched regularly, and I’m still here 2+ years later.

    Zoe – Nice! I’m trying to finish the second draft this month. Turns out I did get into that advanced fiction course, but the professor wants me to write literary short stories rather than historical romance, to see if I can’t broaden my writing portfolio.

    Like

  3. Word Nerd – No problem! You were one of the first blogs I watched regularly, and I’m still here 2+ years later.

    Zoe – Nice! I’m trying to finish the second draft this month. Turns out I did get into that advanced fiction course, but the professor wants me to write literary short stories rather than historical romance, to see if I can’t broaden my writing portfolio.

    Like

  4. hehehe see? already they are trying to lure you to the dark side.

    Resist!

    Are you sure he isn’t just a literary snob … trying to get you to write something more “respectable?” hehe

    Like

  5. I say “go for it!” Some of my most absolute favorite pieces I’ve ever written were my short stories from my fiction class in grad school. You’ll learn a bunch, I’m sure!

    Like

  6. Zoe – I met with the professor in person because I was afraid of exactly that. Turns out that his reason is very valid: because he isn’t well read in the genre, he has no idea how to help me improve, i.e. he doesn’t know the cliches and familiar ideas. Same goes for science fiction, etc.

    I took a poetry workshop class for the same reasons I’m taking this class… I want to see how it will change/improve my writing. The poetry class was paramount to helping me be the writer I am today, so I look forward to seeing how this class will influence me.

    Word Nerd – I’m definitely going for it. I miss writing short stories; I used to write them in high school and have since felt like I lost the talent. The professor saw something he liked in my novel excerpt, however, because he actually held the last spot in the class for me. So I’m excited and terrified at the same time.

    Like

  7. hehehe see? already they are trying to lure you to the dark side.

    Resist!

    Are you sure he isn't just a literary snob … trying to get you to write something more "respectable?" hehe

    Like

  8. Zoe – I met with the professor in person because I was afraid of exactly that. Turns out that his reason is very valid: because he isn't well read in the genre, he has no idea how to help me improve, i.e. he doesn't know the cliches and familiar ideas. Same goes for science fiction, etc.

    I took a poetry workshop class for the same reasons I'm taking this class… I want to see how it will change/improve my writing. The poetry class was paramount to helping me be the writer I am today, so I look forward to seeing how this class will influence me.

    Word Nerd – I'm definitely going for it. I miss writing short stories; I used to write them in high school and have since felt like I lost the talent. The professor saw something he liked in my novel excerpt, however, because he actually held the last spot in the class for me. So I'm excited and terrified at the same time.

    Like

Comments are closed.