POWER – Imagined or Real

The solar eclipse happened yesterday afternoon here in Michigan. We were not in the total eclipse path, but we knew the sun would be partially covered. Knowing that it’s a bad thing to look directly at the sun at any time, when it started getting dark outside (not quite dusk-like; about fifteen minutes before the darkest it would get here), I decided to sit on our front porch to horizontally watch our neighborhood darken.

Earlier this summer, bees decided to build their hive under our porch. I’d often sat out on the bench, watching their busy goings to and fro. They’d never bothered me. But right at the height of the eclipse for our area, three of the little guys stung me.

This got me thinking about power. Actual or not, I figured the hive thought I was the one causing the disruption in their daylight. In other words, they assumed I, who was not normally that close to them for an extended period, had the power to block out the sun. It was imagined, an assumption. A misassumption, but one they acted upon. Then I felt their response in actual power, in their stings.

A gossip has the power to cause much damage with lies and assumptions. A result can be with actual power when people react to those lies and assumptions.

Think about your characters. What are their powers? Are they real or imagined? Is there a motivating stimulus and a character reaction? A villain and a hero? Bees and an innocent by-sitter? And where is the real power?

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Plot Twists from Animal Encounters, Part 7, NY Erie Canal

Plot twists don’t have to be concerned just about circumstances, like the surprise at coming upon a wild animal. It can involve other senses, like smell. (So don’t forget to include your sensory awareness in your writings.)

When we lived in New York, and our boys were old enough to be in school, and I had a day off at the same time as Jeff, we would play!

One school day we went canoeing just the two of us along the Erie Canal. We took a side creek and paddled up that for a while through some farmland. I was in the bow with Jeff in the stern as usual. The creek became shallower and shallower, about shin deep, as well as narrower and narrower so we knew we wouldn’t be able to turn around.  We ducked under bushes and branches to proceed through. On either side was a slight hill only as tall as our eye level. Beyond the brushy creek area was farmland – a large pasture with barns in the distance seen over the dip to the creek. It was quite an adventure… until…

I suddenly smelled something “funny.”

We were already paddling very slowly and cautiously around and over the branches that a butterfly could easily have circled us. Being a whole seventeen feet behind me, Jeff couldn’t smell anything unusual. As the smell developed, I told him to slow down even more. Then I threw my hand over my mouth and nose, hardly able to breathe. And then I saw it, half in the water and half out…

The decaying carcass of a very large dead hog.

It seemed about half the size of our canoe and the tip of our canoe bow was coasting to nearly touching it.

“Backpaddle!” I screamed, gagging on the breath required in order to yell out that one word.

Jeff was confused, but only for a moment as the stern of the canoe came into the aroma cloud of decomposition and death.

We moved surprisingly quickly, considering there was no space to turn around and all the branches necessary to recross. We were very soon out of the range of the smell which was bad enough that my eyeballs would have melted were we to have remained that near it any longer.

Side adventure over. When the creek allowed, we turned around and stuck to the familiar urban waterway of the Erie Canal.

Being A Writer Plus

Before I was published I was much more of an idealist. I actually thought being a writer had to do with writing. I quickly learned that writing was so much more. There was revising, rewriting, rearranging or deleting scenes or chapters or even characters, and giving up a thousand times. There was a constant improving of the craft of writing, including critique groups and conferences, both of which provided networking and encouragement. There are thousands of contests, most which require fees to enter.

Then came the submission process: how to write a query letter and how to research to whom to send it, and whether to find an agent or go directly to an editor (or rather, the assistant editor). In the postal days, you could easily wait six months or more for a form rejection with the publishing house asking for exclusive submission. All the while you are picking up the ever-changing vocabulary and shape of the business of writing.

As a writer plus, you must also keep your finger on the pulse of what is popular with readers, or what books are already published which are similar to your own, as well as to the national situations (e.g., eBook v.s. print, or a recession, or the government changing books from literary to product causing taxation on warehouse-stored products, etc.).

After publication comes an entirely new writing-connected world. Whether self-published or traditionally published, the writer now turns to marketing and promoting. There’s advertizing, book launches, signings, and speaking engagements. A published author is often asked to do free presentations, all the while having to spend lots of her own money. She must research, design and invest in cards, brochures, stamps, and a designated P.O. box on the hard-copy side. On the electronic side of the business, there is website designing, domain name access, picking your social media means (blogging, blog tours, book reviews, online listservs and writing groups, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and dozens more).

Getting book reviews and awards are yet another aspect to being a writer plus.

As side-arm to post publication is the entertainment factor. Should you use Power Point or props? Wear a costume or do your speaking engagement in business casual? Will you get your vender fee back in book sells? Are you satisfied getting paid enough for gas money to speak at an event, or willing to do what you can to have your book(s) and face out in public to be recognized? Do you focus on one niche and age group, or morph into many types of presentation to meet the needs of the many?

Typing all this out makes me want to go back to pure raw writing, splattereing my words over a page or screen and letting the ideas flow, and not worrying at all about selling or promoting or entertaining. Good news on that front: NaNoWriMo is less than two weeks away. If you are participating, I am, too. My user name there is  sandycarl. Let’s be NaNoWriMo writing buddies and encourage each other to write-write-write.

Never give up.