Much of this weekend threatened rain, keeping me inside where I spent most of my time editing my novel manuscript. I'm hoping to pitch or query it this winter, but putting the final polish on it is difficult for me, perfectionist that I am. I realize some other writers have the same problem, but such knowledge is not enough to silence my inner critic.
Over the weekend I attended a local book festival that is said to be one of the biggest in the tri-state region. I find that label a bit disappointing, but only because I feel it could have been better organized. The hosting organization had set up two tents in a community park, one for YA and adult literature and the other for children's books, and there were several vendors in between these tents. For as large as the park happens to be, I feel a third tent could have been added rather than packing the authors inside the two tents like feathers on a goose.
Over the weekend, I joined my parents in attending a gun show. Normally I find these events to be a waste of my time. Most of the vendors display modern weapons with composite stocks, overly-priced shotguns, antiques from WWI and WWII, or handguns with slides and clips. But none of these guns interest me. I'm not into shooting sports (although I was an archery instructor for a summer camp), and hunting in my little neck of the woods is not good enough to justify spending more than $300-$450 on a shotgun.
Today I decided to take a pause in listening to lecture series on my way to and from work to listen to some music instead. Over the weekend I got a song stuck in my head from one of the first CDs I bought as a teenager. It's from The Chieftains' "Tears of Stone" album, and once upon a time, I used some of the music on this CD to help inspire some character and world development in my writing. By listening to this music, I'm hoping to spur my desire to write and edit into action. Again I'm finding that long days at the office are killing my energy to do much of anything once I get some free time, and I want to put an end to this lethargic procrastination.
I started listening to another lecture series last week, this one on essay writing. And within the first two lectures, the professor had already rubbed me the wrong way. She spoke about a trip she took where she deliberately did not take a camera with her, because she wished to experience her destination using all of her senses rather than focusing it through the framework of a lens. While this is a position I can respect, the way she referred to photography as the editing of the world to show only what the photographer wants the audience to see is not how I personally go about my photo trips. And it set me off for a while. I really wanted to stop listening to the lecture series after that second lesson, but I have decided to continue on to see what else the professor has to offer that may prove useful to me. I will listen, although I disagree.
For the past week and a half, I have been listening to a lecture course on the history surrounding the theory of evolution, and it has left me contemplating how ideas, particularly ways of understanding, spread and change with the amount of information we have. Today, the concept of natural selection acting to produce changes in species over the course of generations strikes most people as logical and obvious, but Darwin spent many years working out that very logic after his famous visit to the Galapagos Islands. We, of course, have knowledge of genetics which had not yet been discovered at that time although experiments on inheritance of various traits were being conducted during Darwin's lifetime.
Over the weekend, I had planned to go on a day trip to one of my favorite natural areas with my camera and the dog. Unfortunately, those plans were derailed but forces beyond my control, and so I spent my time catching up on some TV series that had been recommended to me. While watching pilot episodes through streaming websites, I became quite aware of differences in writing and presentation and the nuances of what I find to be enjoyable storytelling. A great deal of credit goes to actors and directors when it comes to film-based production, but I find that when it comes to my own preferences, it's the writers' work that either makes or breaks a show or movie.
Fantasy and science fiction are my two favorite genres of storytelling whether those stories are told through the written word or through film. Part of my favoritism is due to my use of books, TV series, and movies as a means to escape from my everyday world with all its stresses and mundanity. But another part of my favoritism is due to the fact that within fiction, most real-world stories that I am interested in reading fail to create characters, settings, and communities that I find believable. They are an outsider's impressions looking in and creating stereotypes and over-simplified cause and effect. This is why one common piece of advice for writers is to write what you know.
Over the weekend, we had quite a heatwave. Here in western Pennsylvania, that means humidity on top of the high temperatures, and while many of the communities around my area received afternoon rains to ease that humidity, mine did not. When I woke up this morning, however, it was to the sound of rain and temperatures more than twenty degrees (F) below what we had Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Perfect weather to sit down with a large mug of tea and my laptop for an extensive writing session.
Many of us who engage in creative pursuits on top of having a day job and various social/family obligations can often find it frustrating trying to eek out enough free time to devote to our projects. When we do get free time, sometimes we struggle to utilize it. Creative blocks often come when we just don't have the energy to focus on our creative goals. But when the stars do manage to align and we have both the free time and the energy to create, we can fall into another problem. Sometimes we can become so immersed in our projects that we forget to take time for ourselves.