Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricanes and Writing in the Dark



                So Irene blew through the Northeast this past weekend leaving destruction in varying degrees in her wake.  We were fortunate and suffered very little property damage.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those less fortunate.  We did lose power for approximately thirty-six hours but we were prepared with a generator to hook up the refrigerator, one television to entertain others and an oxygen concentrator for my father.  My father normally lives on his own in a 55-and-up community about two miles from our house.  He has emphysema (50 years of smoking will do that to you) and requires oxygen supplementation. Prior to Irene’s arrival, we picked him up and brought him to our house in anticipation of the power outage. His development is still without power.

                On top of that, my daughter is preparing to move to the New York apartment that was the result of the hunt covered in a previous blog. There are boxes, furniture and goddess only knows what piled everywhere.

                Did I mention my father is hard of hearing and likes to turn up the volume so that the neighbors can listen along?

                Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and am grateful for the minimal impact Irene has had on us. But hurricanes, fathers and moving daughters can throw a routine into chaos.

                On the full night of the black-out, I sought out the solitude of my writing cave in the spare room we have on the second floor.  It was dark and there was no electricity so I lit three candles and surrounded my paper with them. For someone who writes about vampires and ancient Druids, it was the perfect ambience for working on the sequel to Dark Dealings.  The soft flicker of the candle flame was soothing and chased the stress into the shadows.

                The pieces are starting to fall into place for Book 2 (as yet untitled) and I have Christopher Vogler’s: The Writer’s Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers to thank. It is one of my touchstone works when I feel like my story arc is floundering. In his work, Vogler takes the Hero’s Journey, as well-described and analyzed by Joseph Campbell, and applies it to modern storytelling first in movies and then in the written word. It is not a formula approach to novel writing but a study of the common elements found in great and memorable stories since we first sat around the cave fire. It helps me focus on why my plot may feel dull and listless.
               
                Like my ancestors the bards of Ireland, I spent the night in a darkness broken only by the flickering tongues of flame. I thought about how to make my story better. I want a novel that will transport someone from their normal world, to take them on an adventure and give them a gift to bring back with them. And so I struggle and study and learn from other storytellers, from readers and from the flame.

                Come back this weekend to meet one of those storytellers, Steve Umstead, a fellow PubWriteGroup member. We learn from each other every day on our journey to be the best writers we can be.
                So the storm moves on and so do I until the next hurricane, earthquake or, dare I hope, flash of inspiration.  It is only the beginning of the season you know.