The past week has been super busy. I had a party, so my house – and the dogs! – were clean and sparkly for a few days. I finished one writing class and am in the middle of the second. Jasper and I practiced our turns (as in dog agility turns), I planted more flowers and herbs, and I froze 135 peaches.
If you think those look yummy now, imagine how much better they’ll taste in the dead of winter in a sauce with cardamom and vanilla bean… 🙂
Freezing that many peaches on top of everything else I’ve had going on was a little time-consuming, so I’m not quite as far as I’d hoped to be writing-wise. But the good part about doing a task like that, or hiking with the dogs in the morning, is that it gives me time to work out what I want to write. This sometimes backfires, like a few weeks ago I took the dogs hiking and by the end of the trail I’d sketched out a brand new novel. (I made notes so I won’t forget the details since I have plenty to work on already.) Usually, though, this works out quite well. I often find that doing some activity while thinking about a hole in one of my stories helps me figure out details of the plot or ways to enrich my characters.
I don’t know how much of this is the activity and how much is just giving my brain time to wander off on its own, but I suspect it’s the combination of the two. Many, many years ago I accidentally took a mini slinky to a meeting at work and found I was able to concentrate significantly better on what was happening if I was playing with my slinky. Sudoku puzzles work just as well, if not better (as long as I’m not doing a crazy hard one), but for some reason people consider it rude to do puzzles during meetings, whereas playing with a slinky is considered perfectly acceptable. (A tip: playing with a slinky will also help keep you awake if the meeting is super boring.) Since I’m conscious of how well this type of thing works for me, I’ll sometimes plan to think about a problem when I hike with the dogs.
So this week I didn’t write much, but I did work through a few story details. I sure hope I wrote them all down…but I guess I won’t know if I didn’t if I don’t remember them. 🙂 I’ve started carrying a pad of paper in my car so I can make notes when I’m at a stoplight or something, so hopefully that will help because lately I feel like ideas are practically spilling out of my mind and I don’t have enough writing time to catch up.
One idea I had ago came from my hairdresser, Laura Cornish, who is a very talented photographer. At the time one of Laura’s photos of a famous cistern built in 1514 in El Jadida, Morocco, was hanging in the hair salon. Here’s an image of the cistern from Wikipedia – Laura’s looked even more intriguing because of the angle and the light.
I was so taken by Laura’s photo of this cistern that I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and quickly realized I need to use it in my water novel. I’ll actually use a cistern based on this one, since my novel isn’t set in Morocco. I’ve had this setting in my head for a while, but I didn’t know enough about what was going to take place in this scene. I wanted to have something important tie back to another part of the story, but I didn’t know what the important thing was, nor did I know what it would tie back to. So I made a point of thinking about it while hiking, or in the middle of the night while I was trying to get back to sleep after letting the dogs out. And then voilà! There it was! Now I just have to wait for tomorrow to finally write this scene because we’re taking a cooking class with my family tonight…