Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday's Children - Drum Circles

Last weekend, I was able to participate in the March Against Monsanto with my mom and my oldest son. After the march there was a drum circle, and I love me some drum circles. My son, who drums incessantly to any rhythm playing, decided that he'd like to come along too. We had a blast.

If anyone is unfamiliar with the idea of a drum circle, it's basically a bunch of people coming together to hang out for an hour or two and play hand drums and other percussion instruments. 

It's also much more than that.

Other than my son, I only knew one other person in the group, but we plopped ourselves on the grass with about ten or twelve strangers and formed a circle. The woman facilitating the gathering suggested we all start together with a two tap heartbeat pattern. We all played together for a few minutes and then things started to change.

Here and there, people started to change things up. New rhythms evolved. Everyone was doing something a little different, but it all worked perfectly to complement the whole sound. There were five or six little kids running in and out of the group - occasionally picking up an instrument and playing with it or more often, just dancing around. It might sound a little chaotic, and really, it kind of was. But it was also really cool watching and listening to everything evolving organically to create this wonderful whole that couldn't possibly be duplicated.

In a way, it's like communicating through sound. Each person's rhythm changes to answer another person's. Sometimes, it's complementary. Sometimes it contrasts sharply. Just like actualy conversations.

As I sat there drumming, I realized something important - drumming in a circle of people - especially mostly strangers - is a lot like writing. Or, at least, it's a lot like my writing process. I typically start out a story with one, really solid idea or beat. And as I write and new characters and plot threads revel themselves. Sometimes they're complementary and sometimes not so much. But as I write, the rhythm of the story changes, growing fuller and more complex until I've got this organic whole that I created by listening to the beat of the story and characters.

In case anyone is wondering what a drum circle looks like, here are a few pictures and one of the drum I made.

Here's the linky code if you'd like to participate in the Thursday's Children Blog Hop - Tell us what inspires you!

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday's Children - The Chalice Well

I've been fascinated with Arthurian lore since I was a kid - probably because in addition to Winnie the Pooh and fairy tales, my mom would also tell us stories about King Arthur.

When I was in college, I stumbled across The Chalice Well. Well, not literally. But in some research I was doing for a paper for a Medieval Lit class. I was instantly fascinated - from the wood and wrought iron well cover to the history - actual and literary. 

As near as archeologists can figure, it's been in constant use for over 2000 years. The spring produces 25,000 gallons of water a day and it's believed to possess healing qualities. The well has long been associated with goddess worship and there are also connections to Christianity. Supposedly the well is the final resting place of the Holy Grail. And in Arthurian tradition, Excalibur (and according to some) Arthur and Guinevere are buried nearby.
The well is also considered a gateway to the spirit world as symbolized by the overlapping circles of the Vesica Piscis on the cover.  It represents the connection of the spiritual and the physical, the magic and the mundane and to me it symbolizes the interconnectedness of everything.

I can't write in the vacuum of only my own head. I need the interconnectedness of life and imagination, and this symbol always reminds me that everything affects everything else.

Don't forget to check out the Blog Hop, and join in, too!

Here's the code for the Linky to put on your own post.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday's Children - Jim Henson

Okay, I know this might seem like a stretch for inspiration, but bear with me.

When I was a kid, I loved Grover on Sesame Street.

Loved. Him.

He wasn't afraid to be silly or scared or even wrong. At one point in my childhood, I was pretty sure I was going to marry him. Yeah, I know.  I didn't quite get that he was a puppet. To me, he was just as real as my friends at school or my brother. I also adored Kermit and Cookie Monster and Oscar, but Grover was always my favorite.

When I was a little older, Jim Henson, one of Sesame Street's puppeteers, brought The Muppets to night time TV and my mom and brother and I fell in love with puppets all over again. It was on the one night she didn't have to work, so we'd watch it together and laugh.

I used to hate that she had to work second shift, so Muppet night was not only full of silliness and fun on the telly, but it was also full of togetherness and cuddles and stories and crafts at home. Not only did I love the Muppets, but I loved what I associated them with.

My love for Henson's puppets and his creative spirit only increased with the releases of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal which remain two of my favorite movies to this day.

My much younger siblings were born when I was a teenager. I was only too happy to share the Muppets in all their incarnations with them. My brother, Andrew, was particularly enamored with them. We'd make our own puppets and put on shows. He also drew elaborate pictures and comic strips. Some of the characters were Henson's, but more were Andrew's. He was inspired to create his own stories, characters and artwork. It was wonderful to watch his creativity at work.

I remember listening to the news when it was broadcast that Jim Henson had died. I will never forget the expression on Andrew's face. He was young, and this was his first experience with anyone he "knew" dying. And no, he didn't know Jim Henson, but he'd been profoundly affected by the man's work.

I remember he asked us who would take care of Kermit and Gonzo since their dad had died. And he cried. He cried so hard, and so did I. I hated that his little heart was breaking. And I hated that a creative light had left the world.

The broadcaster closed with a quote by Jim Henson. When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in the world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.

Andrew climbed on my lap and said, "He did make it better."

And that's one of the things that I think inspires all creative people - the desire, whether verbalized or not, to leave the world a little better place. 

A weekly blog hop where writers
share their inspirations.
Want to join? Here's the Linky:

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thursday's Children - Saying Screw It

Last week, I wasn't able to participate in the Thursday's Children blog hop because I was chin deep at the RT (Romantic Times) conference in Kansas City, MO.

It's a huge readers/writers conference that I attend every few years to visit friends, attend workshops, meet some of my favorite authors and of course, there are always chances to pitch books. They also have an amazing YA Track.

I'm also super excited because I got a chance to meet Tessa Gratton. I *love* her work. And bonus, she was absolutely gracious and wonderful.

Okay, thanks for sticking with me this far. I'm finally getting to the title portion of this post.

I figured since I was there, I'd pitch my YA to the attending editors. Only, when I read through the program, no one that I was interested in pitching to was looking for Paranormal YA. I was totally bummed. In fact, I shoved the program in my purse and headed to the restaurant for lunch.

But something happened while I was in the elevator. I realized I was being stupid. I had a chance to pitch to editors who work at houses I'd love to be a part of. I would be stupid not to take opportunity. while I had it So I said, screw it...or you know...something like that. Instead of getting off at the mezzanine level, I got off at the lobby and got in line for the huge pitch session.

I pitched to five editors and got three requests for the complete manuscript! I sent them all off Monday night, and now I'm trying not to obsess. Sometimes, saying screw it really pays off! So now, I'm inspired to take more chances. The worst anyone can say is no.

If you'd like to join the blog hop, here's the linkity info!

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