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.
Summer can be a busy time for many people. Between graduation parties, vacations, cookouts, and other outdoor adventures, time spent indoors and at home decreases as the weather warms. This may mean that time for creative pursuits gets usurped by social activities, but for me, I find myself with more opportunities to work on projects.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent several days with my DSLR camera, enjoying the spring weather and searching out wildflowers and migrating birds. I've captured some beautiful shots, found birds I don't often get a chance to photograph, and come across some things I had not thought to see at all. Some of my camera walks I've done as part of my job and so had been allowed to spend office hours reviewing and editing those photos. And during that time, I realized why I have a bad habit of putting off photo editing. Even if a day's set is well-composed and requires little time per photo during editing, it is still a very time-consuming process for me. And that can be quite frustrating.
Writers, when they are researching or building up character and plot details, can fall victim to too much information. Details can be key to creating a compelling and believable story, but at the same time, it's possible to have too much or too many.
March can be a frustrating time in western Pennsylvania. Spring weather intersperses with winter temperatures, teasing residents with the promise of warmth and sun one day only to have the next day requiring winter coats once again. Buds on the trees start to swell, and if the warmer temps stick around for too many days in a row, they may even start to grow leaves before the final snow of winter falls. Other signs of spring include the return of migratory birds, such as turkey vultures, killdeer, and red-winged blackbirds. And the spring peepers, a tiny native tree frog, have been singing for several days in the wetlands now.
Over the weekend I finally found a particular movie soundtrack selling at a reasonable price which I have been looking for over the course of several years (The Ghost and the Darkness, soundtrack by Jerry Goldman). I have mentioned before how I sometimes use music to help me find the mood for various scenes in my writing, and this soundtrack fits my inspirational needs for scenes in multiple projects. So I'm quite excited by the fact that I've finally been able to purchase it in a physical format.
One of the things that I've found helps me in my editing (particularly dialogue) is when I assign a specific voice to my characters. This may be a celebrity or a person I know from life, but no matter where the voice comes from, it's always distinctive to me. Someone I've heard talk a lot. Someone who I've seen and heard express a wide range of emotions.
I haven't talked much about the progress I've made on my writing during the past month because it's been a struggle. I love my current project's characters; I can hear their voices and I know their personalities. But what I can't seem to see is their actual story. Yes, I know the general plot points, the details of the setting, the characters' goals and motivations, and the solutions and final ending, but how all of these things interlace continues to escape me.
I feel like I got absolutely nothing done this past weekend. I spent most of my time reading, playing games, and reconnecting with music that I haven't listened to in years. But overall, I made no progress on any of my creative projects. Does this mean my weekend was wasted? That depends on who you ask...
For those of us engaged in creative pursuits (writing, music, photography, visual arts, etc.), free time is not often free. For us, free time is a valuable commodity that we rarely have enough of to satisfy our minds and desires. While some of us are known to procrastinate more frequently than we'd like to admit, when we are in a creative burst, there is no safe way to get between us and our passions. However, life sometimes demands that we take a break.