Monthly Archives: October 2016

When Did It Stop Being Fun?

For a while now, I’ve been experiencing an annoying dose of writer’s block. It’s not simply a case of sitting and staring at a blank screen waiting for the words to come, this is a flat out case of not even wanting to go near the computer or notebook. There’s just nothing there story-wise. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Wikipedia describes writer’s block as a condition “in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown.” Yep, that’s me. “The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years“. Yikes. That last part inspired me to take action. So…

I’ve decided to jump off the deep end and have signed up for National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. This, according, to the official website, is “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing” and means that on 1st November until the 30 November, participants are tasked with writing a 50,000-word novel. The essence of NaNoWriMo is Don’t think. Just Write. Well, signing up seemed like a good idea at the time, but now panic has well and truly settled in. But needs must and all that.

I’m not entirely sure what started this downhill slide into writer’s block, but for some reason, the joy of creating stories has left me, albeit temporarily I hope. It makes me long for the old days when, charged with an idea, I couldn’t wait to get to the computer and start writing. They were heady days. So involved was I in the story that I’d go crazy if I was interrupted. I remember once when AJ called me away for lunch and I told him I couldn’t be long as I couldn’t wait to get back to the story to find out what happened next. It seems a long time since I felt that way. So what happened?

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Years ago, I read a really great article by author Holly Lisle called Are We Having Fun Yet? She talks specifically about writing, but her words can be applied to almost everything we  once loved to do but ultimately lost its magic for us. Holly talks about doing what we love simply because we love it. When we first find something that fires us up we throw ourselves into it. Of course, since we’re beginners we don’t always know what we’re doing, we don’t know the rules, but isn’t that part of the magic? We’re doing it simply for its own sake and for the pleasure it brings us. Then we start to discover the ‘rules’ or someone implies we’re not doing it right, and in trying to do it right the magic slowly begins to die

So, during November I’ll be throwing out the rules and attempting to find that magic again. What I write will be just for me, for the sheer pleasure of creating. There’ll be no thought of reader preference, editor requirements, publisher expectations, and not even concern for that insidious little voice that lies deep within and loves to tell me that I’m doing it all wrong. And, if my cunning plan works, I might just might, find that magic again.

What about you? Is there anything you’ve once loved/enjoyed, but somehow it’s lost its magic for you? Is there anything you might be able to do to get it back? I’d love to hear about it. Oh, and please take a couple of minutes to read Holly’s article. I’m sure you’ll be inspired.

Message from Jane…

20160422_153348Hi Everyone, Tricia here with a message from Jane who sends her apologies as she is unable to post this month. She’ll be back in November, undoubtedly with one of her interesting and entertaining blogs. See you then, Jane!

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Leavenworth

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It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Leavenworth and this is the first time I’ve seen it so quiet. Usually it is bustling with people. But then we were there on Wednesday and Thursday. October Fest started Friday … Continue reading

It’s That Time Again! By Valerie J. Patterson

It happens every year.  There’s simply no escaping it.  You can’t run from it, hide from it, or even overlook it.  Every September–like clockwork–it happens.

What is it?  That time of year when summer ends and fall begins.

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy all of the seasons.  Each one brings about a creative resurgence that I absolutely love!  Winter, with its stark beauty, beckons me outdoors and into the crisp evening air to wonder at all the exquisiteness of a fresh falling snow.  Spring, with its rebirth of everything green and colorful, pulls me into the lushness of showers that result in bursts of vibrant flowers and carpets of green.  Summer, with its endless azure skies, romances me with ocean sprays and huge golden moons lighting up paths in the sand.  Autumn, with its brilliant grandeur, lures me into carefree times of yesterday when I played in the leaves, enjoyed hayrides, and carved pumpkins.

But there is something else that fall does–it comes with shorter days and less rays from the sun.  This is without a doubt the one thing about fall I dislike.  It’s dark when I rise and the darkness comes calling just a short time after I leave the office.  Sigh.  I love the cooler temperatures, but bemoan the fact there is less daylight to enjoy them.

There’s nothing I can do about it.  It happens every single year.  And I so very much look forward to those days when the daylight creeps into longer hours.  Ah yes, that too happens every single year!

Until next time, may a lilting fall breeze lift your hair, caress your face, and gently blow through your mind to inspire you.

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October Craziness

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I’m late today.  It’s been that kind of month for me, I’m losing track of time and dates.  I  kept thinking it was only October 3rd, does that tell you something? So how is everyone? Here in Western Washington I … Continue reading

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Late Again!

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Jillian here. I was supposed to blog yesterday but never thought about the date since it was Sunday. I’ve never really blogged on weekends so it slipped my mind that it was my day. Hope everyone is having a great … Continue reading

Historically Short-lived Plumes

pampas-grass

This is the awesome pampas grass we planted years ago in our backyard. I think I’ve mentioned that my sister was married in 1975 on the beach in front of an amazing growth of pampas grass, which is why I’ve always loved it.

For several years now, we’ve had a lot of plumes each September. They are so stately and beautiful. And they sway so nicely in the breeze.

The problem is that September breezes almost always give way to October winds. And storms. October seems to be one of the more volatile months here in the Pacific Northwest. Nothing like some parts of the country have, and there have certainly been some horrible weather issues these past couple years. For the sake of this blog, though, I’ll focus on here. Where I live, in the shadow of an awesome mountain.

So I’d say we lose half the plumes to windstorms by the end of October most years. The winds aren’t generally deadly, but we get an uptick in wind speed and in the amount of storms around here in October.

The most notable storm around here is the Columbus Day storm of 1962. (Yes, I was around for this. I hate dating myself that way, but there it is.) That storm began as Typhoon Freda in the South Pacific, weakened as it neared the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, then zipped straight to us, regenerating as it went. Gusts on the Oregon Coast registered close to 150 miles per hour. By the time it hit the Tacoma/Seattle area, it was reduced a bit. Wind speeds of 81 miles per hour. Unheard of around here.

The power was out everywhere. The only memory I have of that storm, other than clinging to my mother, along with my brothers and sisters, as we huddled together in our home and listened to that wind and felt the house shudder. Then Dad finally got home. The gash on his head validated his delay. He’d crashed the car trying to get to the house. I remember that moment as strongly as I remember my brothers scaring the heck out of me as we watched Jaws in the drive-in theater. But that’s another story entirely. (And great fodder for a future blog (growing up with siblings.)

A couple stories I researched about this storm:

Two lions owned by a man in Spanaway got loose and one attacked a seven-year-old child. He lived, thanks to his mother beating the lion off with…her shoe!

The Seattle World’s Fair was underway, including the brand spanking new Space Needle. As you know, it didn’t collapse. 🙂 But they evacuated everyone…except…the diners. They actually let them finish their meal before they asked them to leave!  Around the fair, loudspeakers announced that 80+ mile per hour winds were on their way. Some people left, some hunkered down in the largest building on the grounds to wait the storm out.

The biggest part of this storm lasted only a few hours, from late afternoon to late evening. But it left a lasting impression on me. And a lasting respect for wind. I live in a single-story house, not a two-story, for a reason. Lol.

This year, since El Nino has disappeared and La Nina didn’t quite show up, it’s considered a neutral year for us here in the PNW. That means it won’t trend in any specific direction. It could be calm (and is, most years). Neutral years are also our biggest storm years, like the Columbus Day storm. And flooding. Don’t get me started on that!

So here’s hoping October is calm and our plumes stick around through the winter. I hope you all have a peaceful entrance into Fall and a winter that is cold enough for cocoa, but not for checking out the survival gear. 🙂

 

I’m A Junkie

Yes, it’s true. I am a junkie – quiz junkie, that is. I love completing quizwords (not crosswords as they’re usually cryptic, which isn’t my thing), and watching serious “quiz” shows on TV such as Mastermind. I have one of those brains that retains useless facts and  knowledge, even if I can’t always remember what day of the week it is or what I did yesterday. This knowledge hasn’t done much for me other than being able to answer many questions on University Challenge, a favourite in our house, and one I’ve watched since it first began way back in 1962 when Bamber Gascoigne was question master. As long as it’s not on politics or sport or mathematics – not my best subjects – I often surprise Dave that I know the answers, especially to obscure questions such as nuclear physics or chemistry, but quite accepts I know a lot about literature and art; I can thank my brilliant school education for that. Physics was my favourite subject at school, which he finds hard to believe.

Years back, we both competed regularly in a weekly charity quiz for the Meningitis Trust. I also took part for a number of years in a local quiz league, at one point being league secretary for the South West Region for a couple of years, and also helped set questions for national quiz leagues through the University of Southampton.

15-to-1

Yes, I’m there, right in the middle wearing the white dress.

My all time favourite quiz programme was Fifteen-to-One, and back in the early 1990s I took the plunge and applied to take part in the third series and passed the audition. It was a fabulous day, complete with a make-over, and although I didn’t win (I never expected to, knowing nerves would get the better of me, which they always do, and did) being able to see how a quiz programme is put together and recorded, and being inside a TV studio was fascinating and excellent for research purposes.

So, if you’re ever short of numbers for a quiz or need a player for a game of Trivial Pursuit (does anyone even still play that board game?) I’m your man… well, okay, woman. As my sisters love to remind me: I have all the brains in the family whilst they have all the beauty.  Hmmm, not so sure I agree with that statement…