Inspiration · Research

Time Travel: Would You Go Backwards or Forwards in Time?

back-in-time-rose-1706449_1280If I could travel through time, I wouldn’t hesitate in going back in time; reliving my carefree days as a kid or even venturing to a different time period altogether, just for a day. Personally, I wouldn’t care for travelling forwards in time. Having two kids, I naturally worry for their future and I don’t like the way this planet is heading. Besides, travelling to the future takes all the mystery out of it, and I guess I’ll get there eventually. 😉

I’ve always been a sucker for the past. I guess from an early age I continuously romanticised it. Whenever visiting old towns and houses in and around Sydney as a child, I liked to imagine what life was like back then. My childhood fantasies fired my imagination and elicited a life-long interest in history. From the ancients and medieval times to the Victorian era and the 1950s, there were very few periods in history that I didn’t wish to find out more about. I absorbed what the teachers taught us throughout school and I had no hesitation in choosing history subjects at University level as my electives. To travel back in time I hold no illusions though; the days of early medicine before anaesthetics and just being a woman in general was a tough life, but the past fascinates me and we can learn so much from it – there have even been reality television shows based on this very premise.

As a writer, the past has always been an endless source of inspiration for me. Travelling back in time and really living the experience would make the best possible research material for our stories, don’t you think?

If you could travel in time, would you go to the future or the past? Why? Is there a period in history that you like best?

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 Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Inspiration · Writing

Using Cemeteries for Writing Inspiration.

local cemeteryGrowing up in suburban Sydney, I lived near Rookwood Cemetery, the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere. Generations of my mother’s family have been buried there and we would make regular visits. Graves and cemeteries had therefore become second nature; so when I spent a quiet, misty morning some years ago in winter at my local cemetery, I found it to be quite peaceful.

I’ve always been fascinated by death and the thought of an afterlife. It could explain my interest in ghosts and other spooky subjects. I found walking alone amongst the graves intriguing. Each and every one of them had a story to tell. I was surrounded by history; some dating as far back as the 1880s. I was surprised by the number of smaller graves – one child died the day it was born, either still-born or it was too late to be christened. One grave was of a twelve year old girl; another girl dying at eighteen. My curiosity aroused the writer within me. What happened to these children to die so young? How did they die? Who were they?oldgrave

Some years ago, while visiting relations on their property, I encountered an old grave of a six year old boy. Apparently he had drowned in a nearby creek during a flood and straight away all sorts of questions came into my head. The writer within me thought of the many hardships encountered by our pioneering women and this idea became the inspiration behind my first bush poem.

I entered that bush poem in a competition, without success. Now I have dusted it off and begun to breathe new life into it (don’t throw anything out remember 😉 ). It had been suggested to me before that the poem could become a short story and I am currently trying to work this into either a long short story or novella. I am having fun using Pinterest to help with inspiration for setting, characters and undertaking some research.

So next time you’re struggling for a bit of inspiration, try your local cemetery. I’m sure the residents won’t mind you telling everyone their story.

What unexpected places have you found inspiration for your writing? Are you comfortable around cemeteries? What are you currently working on?

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Writing

Being a Writer: Worth Taking a Risk?

takingrisksI’m sure everyone has got at least one in their life; the naysayers, those bloodsucking vampires that want to drain all the hope out of our lives. They have a tendency to fill your life with such negativity, that you begin to believe what they say; that writing is not a ‘real job’; that you’re wasting your time because there’s ‘no money in the arts’. When you get told a lie over and over again, you start to believe in it (hey, it works for politicians).

Being surrounded by such people can become emotionally and sometimes even physically draining. The best thing is to stay away from them, yet it can prove difficult when these people happen to be members of your own family. Even to this day, for example, my mother feeds me the same old lines I’ve heard so many times before (at least I know what to expect). My interpretation: I’ve always been a problem because I’m not like my older siblings. When others fill you with negativity, you begin to believe in what they say and therefore begin to doubt yourself. That doubt then turns to fear and you find yourself hesitating in even wanting to try.

On Australian television, we have a show called Q&A, which consists of an audience asking questions to a panel of guests. Recently, one of their guests was astronaut Chris Hadfield. He had the audience, panelists and host alike all enthralled with what he had to say, he could have been the only guest that night. There was one thing he said in particular that caught my attention and I had to write it down.

“A lot of us just deny ourselves something in life because we’re afraid of it. We say I won’t do that because I’m afraid. Which things in your life do you decide are worth taking a risk? Give yourself a definition of what success looks like. What am I really trying to accomplish with my life? The real question we all face is not what do I want to be doing in thirty years, but what do I want to do next? Give yourself a long term definition of how you want this to turn out so that you can tell yourself is this a risk worth taking?’

He knew the risks involved in becoming an astronaut, but he did whatever it took to fulfill his dream. If he had any naysayers in his life, he certainly paid no attention to them whatsoever! And this is how it should be for those of us who also wish to fulfill a life’s ambition.

Being a writer can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. Life’s too short to worry about what other people think. As the saying goes – feel the fear and do it anyway.

Which things in your life are worth taking a risk? Are you surrounded by negativity? Do you pay too much attention to what others say or do you ignore them? 

* In November, I’ll be taking the plunge and diving back into NaNoWriMo – who’s with me? Also, in order to spend more time on my writing projects, I’ll be cutting back on blogging and will now be blogging on an intermittent basis.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing

How Music Can Help Writers.

harpwithflowersBecause writing is such a solitary pursuit and can involve a great deal of silence, listening to music can help break that monotony. There is a quote that I find seems to sum up music pretty well – When Words Fail, Music Speaks. Of-course, as writers, we don’t want our words to fail; however, there are times when music can help us find exactly what it is we are looking for. Here are some ways in which music can help us as writers.

Motivation

I find listening to music can be a great motivator. In order to help with a positive start to the day and even get some writing done, listening to certain music can help. Find the music that cheers you up and/or songs with lyrics that get you motivated. My ‘go to’ motivator at the moment is Butterflies and Hurricanes by Muse (preferably the live version) – brilliant song and the lyrics are well suited to start writing.

Song Titles

Song titles are a great source of inspiration. After reading Anne R Allen’s post regarding book titles, I googled the discography of one particular artist and wrote down song titles that appealed to me. As a result, I came up with 55 song titles that could be used for ideas for short stories, novellas or novels. Through various other song titles, I have also come up with an idea that can be explored within a genre I generally don’t write in.

Video Clips

Watching video clips can often spark an idea for a story. They can also help envisage setting and/or a particular mood. One video clip that has always captured my imagination is The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails. It has a wonderful gothic look and, combined with the lyrics, it helps conjure up ideas for one of my WIPs.

Soundtracks

Some people write while listening to music, but I find it distracting; however some music can be of benefit to setting a scene or a mood within our stories. Movie soundtracks, or music from video games or television shows can really fire up the imagination or bring a tear to the eye (The Death of Jane Seymour – A Howling Wilderness from Season 3 of The Tudors gets me every time). Feeling such emotions from the music we listen to can help transform that emotion into the scenes we write.

Can you think of any other ways in which music can help writers? Do you use music to help you get motivated? Have you turned to music for story inspiration? Do you listen to music as you write or do you prefer to write in silence?

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Inspiration · This Writer's Life · Up Close & Personal

A Special Place.

A Special PlaceAs a child, my family and I would make regular trips down the south coast of New South Wales. I enjoyed being outside, and despite my fair skin, would spend many hours under the hot, Australian sun.

Back then, the caravan park in which we stayed was basic in its facilities. Toilets were little more than a hole in the ground. We were thankful for electricity, but we cooked on a gas stove until we eventually ‘upgraded’ and installed an old fashioned fuel stove outside. To have a hot shower, one needed to be quick; one needed to place a certain amount of money into a machine to get a hot shower that lasted five minutes. You needed to keep your eye on the clock and have a steady supply of loose change.

Campers could camp anywhere, and our caravan was perfectly situated directly opposite the beach. It was not uncommon to spend the morning at the beach, go back ‘home’ when you were hungry and then back to the beach again.

To break this monotony, my sisters and I would go for walks with our mother, either exploring rock pools or go on bush walks. It was here that I discovered the wonders of the Australian bush. One regular spot we would visit was a magical place for me. The trees were so tall and closely compacted, that it allowed very little sunlight to filter through. Images of Hansel and Gretel or strange beasts lurking further amongst the shadows entered my mind. We would always stop at one particular place and turn back, yet I always wondered what lay beyond in the distance, where the darkness seemed to go on indefinitely. The atmosphere and the silence fueled my imagination and I was always disappointed to turn back towards civilisation.

On the drive back to our true home in suburban Sydney, we would pass acres of farmland, and I could never decide where I wanted to live; country, bush or beach. I have since lived in the bush of the Blue Mountains and currently reside in the country (my last home the beach?), but there has always been the certainty that being out with nature is my special place. As a writer I enjoy the silence, being alone with my thoughts and my muse. Over the years I have discovered that setting and sense of place is important to my stories. These days, whenever I need to feel inspired, I just have to walk out my back door.

Do you have a special place? Do you enjoy the outdoors; maybe even ‘roughing it’? If you’re a writer, what do you do to find your ‘muse’? What do you prefer – the bush, the beach or the country?

Image by Debbie Johansson

University

Writing: Take Time Out for Inspiration.

Since I commenced study back in February, I have found myself snowed under with the workload (hence the slackness with my blog).  As I have never studied three subjects a semester before, I am finding it quite difficult to cope with.   It has got to the stage where I am now studying practically seven days a week, day and night.  Why so much?  I’m afraid I feel that in order to get good marks, I have a tendency to put in more than is required of me.  This workload has got to me at times that I have considered giving up, but I know that what all I really need is a break.

During these school holidays and in the midst of writing up an essay, I have managed to take some ‘time out’.  This has given me time to reflect in order to persevere until the end of May when my studies will be over for this year (and it’s not that far away now).

I’ve managed to find some inspiration from some of these quotes.  I hope you do too!