Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CONTRASTS--in writing and in life

The basic value of contrast in writing hit me in the gut several days ago. My sister-in-law and I were visiting in my den. She suddenly chuckled, at an inappropriate time in the conversation, to tell me "that's a perfect example of you and Frank (my dear husband)." I asked what and she broke into giggles and pointed at a corner of the room. "What?" I questioned.

"The contrast in that display of your shelf."

"What?" I demanded.

"It's just perfect. Your corner shelf filled with Seraphim angels and my grandfather's anvil sitting on the floor in front of it. Frank wants everyone to think he's tough and inflexible, but we know better. You have beautiful angels everywhere that accent your love of animals and life. But, you can be pretty tough."

"Anvils and Angels," I mused. The wheels of creativity began to turn. But, I put the thoughts on the back burner.

By the way, Frank and I have been married for almost 39 years. Despite the contrasts in our personalities.

It's the Contrast that makes the anvil and angels visually interesting.

On my way to see a friend in Wichita Falls, Texas this past weekend I witnessed another beautiful example of contrast. My drive occurred over semi-icy roads and six inches of new snow on the ground. The drive is rural, there are many cattle and horse ranches along the way. It was breathtaking to come to the top of a hill and see a herd of livestock pawing the ground in search of dry grass.

However, the contrasting sight for me, coming over one of those Oklahoma hills was a herd of black Angus grazing and searching for food in a snowy pasture. It had an impact on me.

Black on White. That's contrast.

Another example, seeing six or seven horses galloping in a snowy pasture is beautiful. Horses are graceful and full of soul. Horses stir something in me that I have difficulty describing. It is akin to seeing God.

However, on the way home from my weekend excursion, I saw a herd of about twenty full size goats galloping in a pasture. Not so graceful or soulful. As a matter-of-fact, it was humorous. I don't know why the group was galloping. They most likely sensed danger or saw their owner going to the barn with a bag of feed.

Another contrast, the grace of horses versus the frantic, lumbering, gallop of goats.

What sort of contrasts are you including in your writing? Do your characters have traits that cause turmoil in their life or in the lives of others? Does your hero and heroine have personality characteristics that cause friction in their relationship or that may cause your readers to keep reading to figure out if the contrasting traits cause a demise of their relationship.

Thinking of contrasts in my own writing these past days has led me to make several changes in my own works in progress. I'm showing contrast--in emotions, personality, events, geography, food, coping mechanisms, and other important writing tools we all try to have in the hope chests for our words and work.

I have few publishing credits, but I do have some. I am writing with a renewed focus. Because of that, I'm noticing things around me. Becoming more observant. I wonder if I would have been in tune with contrasts in life and in writing a few months ago?

Monday, February 8, 2010

fine tuning

Just an update--I've fine tuned a story and plan to submit it to a contest tomorrow. I have written two more chapters for "Rebecca's Journey." It is happening, folks.

Workshops and Writing

Good morning, Readers--I am taking an online workshop titled "The Xtremely Productive Writer" facilitated by Kara Lennox and sponsored by The Red River Romance Writer's Group of Wichita Falls, Texas. Kara has presented those involved in the workshop with much food for thought in only four lessons. We've discussed procrastination, more on procrastination, fear, and writer's block. I'm sure every writer can relate to these topics at some level.

I knew procrastination often paralyzed me as far as writing is concerned, but the lessons have awakened in me the reasons for my procrastination. I have little self-confidence regarding my own writing, I compare myself to others, I fear rejection, therefore not writing or submitting keeps rejection at bay. I allow life to get in the way.

Making a list of priorities in my life forced me to admit that writing is indeed very important to me. Not far behind God and family. I enjoy writing and when I allow myself to sit down and do it I retreat into the world of my story, my characters, and my scenes. When I am on the Oregon Trail in 1845 this world fades away. I taste the strong coffee, I feel the fatigue, my heart beats with fear and with love, I work hard to keep the wagon teams and the horses healthy, I rejoice with each day finished on the trail. And, I will shout "Eureka!" when my characters reach the end of the trail and I type "The End."

I have been writing more lately. Encouraged by monthly goals and writing challenges I find myself with pencil and notebook in hand. Writers, and everyone else, need goals to achieve their dream. My dream is, and has been, to publish "Rebecca's Journey," my short stories, and the two other novels I have outlined.

Self sabotage is a thing of the past for me. It really is, I'm not sure exactly when, what, or how that came to pass but it did and I'm thankful for it.

I would encourage writers of every level and genre to set goals, find inexpensive workshops through writing groups, attend conferences, and read books and magazines about the writing craft.

On a final, and sad, note I want to let everyone who has followed my blog know that my cousin Ron Cross died on January 29th. The cancer made his death quite painful. The nurse in me felt quite helpless because I couldn't fix it. He was a man of honor. He was a very successful business man and the Vice Mayor of my hometown. He was a loving family man leaving a wife and three children. Ron made sure he was doing anything he could to help our community and those in need. I will miss him greatly.