Just Listen

IMG_2289The last eight weeks, I’ve been engaged as a volunteer in a wonderful sleep clinic–testing out various videos, audio tracks, and techniques. Over the years, I’d created a hostile relationship with Sleep. We were enemies, engaged in a battle that I was losing. There were nights I feared that I might never sleep again. And other nights, I felt that I was wasting half my life sleeping. I fought Sleep. I resented Sleep. I craved Sleep.

And I justified my inability to sleep in several ways:

  • I’m a crazy Vata. “Deepak Chopra says so: “Most Vata people are prone to worry and at times suffer from insomnia, the result of restless thinking. Normal Vata sleep is the shortest of any time–six hours or less is characteristic, growing shorter as one ages.” Deepak–as much as I believe in Ayurvedic healing–legitimized the problem for me. I’m not blaming Deepak, but as soon as I identified with this Vata hell, it became my reality. Or
  • I’m an HSP (highly sensitive person). Any kind of stimulation in the evening will keep me awake all night. I need to curl up in a cave on the bottom of the ocean to get anywhere close to unconscious. Or
  • I need the nighttime to process everything I can’t process during the day.

The list goes on.

One thing I realized over the last few weeks is that this “night” time does not have to be for sleep alone. I don’t have to fight with It. Night can be a time to meet my muses, and to descend into varying levels of consciousness. While I am asleep, I can go “on a date” with my characters, play out scenes, visit exotic locales and friends not accessible on this plane. Dreamtime is where and when I write. It’s a place of beauty and promise and magic. Sleep is my friend, not my enemy, and if I unleash a question, I can awaken with an answer.

Here’s an example. Now that books one and two are singing on the shelves, I’m back to writing book three. I actually started writing book three in 2014, then left it to edit and revise the other two. But now, I’m back on Creation Island with freedom splashing like a sea around me.  It’s the place of shadows and surprises, of unexpected gifts and connections.

When I started drafting in 2014, I created a character named Leopold. I had photos and written descriptions. I knew his background story, his motivation; knew I had connected with him. Leopold is a key player in book three. But, when I searched for my notes a few weeks ago, they were gone–lost in the mire of new computers and lost USB drives. At last, I gave up and decided to begin again. I remembered the crucial bits of Leopold, and that would have to suffice. Still, I wanted it all. Leopold was my Sangria Niño, my Blood Child.

This afternoon, when I sat down to draft, I had an overpowering urge to sleep. I don’t usually nap, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Literally. You know that image of holding your eyelids apart with toothpicks? It was like that. So, I succumbed and went to bed imagining Leopold.

When I awoke, I knew where he was. I went to the computer, typed in his name and voila! The whole file emerged on my desktop, images and all. Now, when I searched several weeks ago, nothing came up. Perhaps, my fingers had not whispered his name. Perhaps, there were so many other voices in my head, I couldn’t hear his.

So, what I’ve really learned out of this sleep clinic–and I will post the results in a few weeks when they are released–is this. I must listen to my body and my spirit. I must venture into the silence and wander and listen and be still. I must appreciate this solitary landscape as a place of spirit and imagination. And embrace it.

When I finished embracing Leopold, I rummaged through my box of journals from 2014, and found this beautiful card: a gift from an old friend who saw me in the image.

In this moment of stillness, I need to do just one thing. Listen.

Hear Tolkien Read from The Lord of the Rings

This is wonderful. Thanks Kristen! Also, check out Maria Popova’s site: she includes links to Tolkien art and memorabilia.

Kristen Twardowski

Since Oxford Libraries recently announced a new book and exhibit about J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, now is the perfect opportunity to listen to some archival audio from him.

The clips here were first shared by Eugene F. Douglass Jr. along with Maria Popova from Brainpickings. According to lore, Tolkien initially recorded himself reading The Hobbit in 1952. He was on a vacation to Worcestershire, and he stayed with friend and colleague George Sayer. Commercially available tape recorders were still fairly new, and Sayer had recently acquired one. With nothing better to do, the pair spent some time playing with device. Tolkien was fascinated by it, and his interest led him to make several audio recordings over the years.

The recordings here are just a few of the ones that survive. The one at the top of the page…

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How to Throw the Ultimate Harry Potter Party: Food, Decorations, Games, and More!

I have to share this because I’ve never seen anyone do anything like this! Just fantastic, Vivian!

Writing With Style

Hello everybody! Sorry for my mini Haitus, I was busy planning a huge party…My little sister just turned twelve, and so of course, a Harry Potter Party was in order. After creating a large Pinterest board, DIYing and buying decorations, creating a lot of food, and organizing some activities, I am positive we threw the Ultimate Harry Potter Party.

IMG_20170305_122718731 Here I am, Luna-Lovegooding it as Ravenclaw’s head of house!

We split the party-goers into the four houses, each adult was a head of house, and held a house-cup. All the different activities we did gave the houses a certain amount of points, and the house cup went to the house with the most points. Even kids who weren’t Harry Potter Fans became competitive and determined to win!

featuring (1)

Harry’s Bedroom

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The party starts at the beginning of the book: We visit Harry’s bedroom.

If you have a ‘cupboard under the…

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Spring at Buntzen Lake

This morning I wandered at Buntzen Lake. I had not been there all winter as it’s a higher elevation and gets more snow. Actually, while I was wandering, the sun peaked out, and later hail came down in small white chunks. The main trail around the lake beside the dog beach is closed for repairs, but other trails are open. Not much of spring is showing yet; a few leaf buds on bushes, but things are slow this year and it’s been a long cold winter here on the coast. When we first moved here from Ontario, we camped beside this lake. It’s a treasure. It’s where Hollystone Coven perform their ceremonies. Here’s an excerpt from To Charm a Killer where Estrada and Sensara arrive for their Mabon ceremony:

Mesmerized by the forest, for a while he walked in silence. There was no death in this Pacific woodland; only transformation as the dying nourished the living. Miniature ferns sprouted from crooks and hollows of disjointed upper limbs. Mushroom colonies hovered in crevasses; thin stalks twisting like snakes as they competed for space, their rusty caps perfect circles.

Cocking his head like a raven, he flung back the long dark locks that tumbled across his eyes. “I love these shaggy tree folks.” He touched the soft hairy mosses that draped in fractured folds from the decaying tree limbs. Hearing no objection, he rambled on. “This forest could be Fanghorn. Maybe we could conjure up our own Treebeard. Befriend an Ent. Can you imagine all these trees ripping up their roots and marching off like Birnam Wood to Dunsinane, only true Canadian pines, rustling and dragging their—”

Sensara gasped and hugged her chest.

“What?” he whispered.

“Another—”

“Shiver? That’s three. What is it?”

“I don’t know, but I feel sick. Something’s wrong.”

Grounding himself, he shot imaginary roots from the soles of his feet deep into the earth’s crust. If there was one thing he trusted, it was Sensara’s radar. “We’re almost there. Come on. We’ll cast the circle.”

At the signal tree, they veered off a grass-flecked game trail between massive ferns. Buntzen Lake simmered below, a smoky emerald in the growing dusk. Ancient granite mountains encircled the water; their snow-tipped spires still harbouring scattered traces of last winter’s storms. Pine spikes jutted like slivers from the distant peaks, split only by immense mottled rock that gaped through the trees—faces of mountain spirits and Old World giants.

When she shivered again, the energy shot through the air and up his arm like a jolt of lightning. “Jesus. I felt that.”

“Something’s coming, Estrada. I don’t know what it is or how to stop it—but unless we do, people will die.”

 

Liebster Award!

Thank you Nicole @Live Life Reading for nominating me for the Liebster Award. I don’t usually partake in things like this, but because its WordPress, and I like this community, I’m in.

The Rules.

Say thank you to the person who has nominated you for the Award.
Answer the 11 questions the person has asked you
Nominate 11 people (comment on their blog to let them know)
Ask the people who you have nominated 11 questions

What is your favourite book, or if that’s too hard, your favourite author?

Wow. This is a tough question. I don’t have one favourite book or author. There are books I love to read time and again: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Chronicles of Faerie series by OR Melling.

Is there a  country you have always wanted to visit, if so what is it?

Not one. India. Greek islands, Yorkshire, England where my father’s people farmed, sacred temples in Asia, and lately, I’ve been curious about New Zealand. I always want to visit Ireland and Scotland.

What’s your favourite thing to do?

Wander by water.

When did you start your blog, and are you ever going to abandon it?

This particular blog, I started last summer 2016, I think. I may abandon it someday, but for now, I enjoy the camaraderie between bloggers. I’m always learning something new, meeting new people, and creating. It gives me a focus.

Do you play an instrument?

Yes, I’ve played piano since I was about nine years old. I love to play and sing. I also play guitar. One of the experiences I enjoyed the most was an Irish traditional music workshop in Co. Clare at Boghill Centre! Every evening, we–a group of twelve or thirteen musicians from all over the world–got in the bus with our instruments, set up, and played in local bars all evening. I met such amazing people.

What’s your favourite Social Media site?

Again, I don’t have a favourite. They’re all different, and they all have their purposes. I don’t read the newspaper so usually get my news from Twitter (it’s quite political). I have a Facebook page, and this blog. That’s enough to manage:)

What’s your favourite animal, and do you have a pet?

Horses, dogs, dolphins and whales, wild birds… No pet at the moment. I lost my beautiful dream dog a few years ago and I’m still grieving(:

Can you speak multiple languages, if you can what languages are they?

No. Being a Canadian, I learned some French. I’d love to learn Spanish and Gaelic.

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

Focussing on a thought and then putting the whole thing together with photos. It’s a quick creative moment, as opposed to writing a novel. I also love the interactions between WordPress bloggers. It’s a supportive interactive community!

Which is your favourite season?

Easy. Spring. Now.

Have you ever written a book/story, and what’s called?

Yes. I’ve written a few novels over the years that are sitting in my closet! I am currently writing and publishing the Hollystone Mysteries. To Charm a Killer and To Sleep with Stones are available at all retailers.

Source: Liebster Award!

Nominations:

https://kristentwardowski.wordpress.com

https://jennisfora.com (The Infamous Jennisfora…)

https://karendowdall.com

https://abooknation.wordpress.com

https://vivianparkinderosa.wordpress.com (Writing with Style)

https://thesenovelthoughts.com

https://cristinatrapaniscottreal.com

https://wendyunsworth.wordpress.com

https://writet.wordpress.com (Write Thoughts)

https://critiquingchemist.com

https://rltsite.wordpress.com (Rachel’s Reads)

My Questions:

  1. If you could live in any culture, in any time, in any place, where would it be?
  2. What genre(s) do you read?
  3. Who inspires you?
  4. Where is your favourite place to write?
  5. Do you prefer paper or electronics for writing/reading?
  6. If you could invite four historical characters to a dinner party, who would they be?
  7. What do you enjoy about blogging?
  8. Have you ever written a book or a story? What is it called?
  9. What cuisine do you crave for comfort?
  10. Do you speak a language or languages other than English?
  11. What is it about blogging that brings you here?

Learn from the Screenwriters

This is a great article on how watching shows on Netflix can make you a better novelist. I totally agree with Andrew Lowe, not just for everything mentioned here, but for genre, history, and hooks. When you can’t turn it off because you just have to know what happens next, you know you’re hooked.

I’m currently watching “The Last Kingdom” (Wessex during the Viking raids) to explore history and how writers approach the cultural differences between tribes. Fascinating.

via 8 TV Shows That Will Make You a Better Novelist • Reedsy