Those same four crazy kids certainly help my imagination. My eldest struggles with reading and writing so we have focused on that this week. Emma has such a vivid imagination and we worked on characters, a setting, and a plot for her story about a pink otter, a mermaid, and a princess who floats on a large leaf boat, traveling the high seas. Although, I discovered she would rather be a director and act and leave the script writing to the professionals.
On Wednesday, my kids and I visited our Museum of World Treasures. Growing up in DC, I’m a wee bit spoiled on the whole museum thing, but my kids loved it and being that my story takes place during WW2, that section of the museum is my personal favorite. However, my American and English characters cringed when my four year old daughter informed me the German naval officer’s uniform was her favorite. A German? And a sailor at that. My RAF flyboy, Connor stomped off to pout. There is also a display of a dispersal hut with two airmen mannequins. One of them wears the Army Air Corps patch on his shoulder. My son has the same patch on his leather jacket, a gift from my father, who is as big of a WW2 nut as I am. Duncan must have forgotten or didn’t realize his patch used to belong to a pilot. His blue eyes lit up and I was like, ‘That’s it!’ That is the look I want to give to my flyboys in my story, because they love flying so much.
I have said it before on this blog that drawing affects my writing. My sketches inspire my creativity, but they can also be a distraction. When I should be writing or critiquing a fellow writer’s work, I’m sketching. My latest deviations have been nose art for my pilots. I got a new set of illustration markers and coloring with my kids makes for a great activity. Did I mention it has been raining all week?
Anyway, researching nose art has been uber fun. Those flyboys were so creative and naughty and the artists really were considered the most essential members of a squadron. Did you know that Walt Disney himself created the Flying Tigers emblem? The Royal Air Force didn't showcase nose art as much as the Yanks did, but as Connor would say, “If that ruddy Jerry can have Mickey Mouse on his plane, I can have a raven.” He is referring to Adolf Galland, one of Germany’s top aces. I’m sure the two have dogfighted on occasion.
Drawing the nose art has been a creative experience for me since it was considered an expression of the pilot’s personality. I tried to reflect the cartoonish style of the 40's. So here is my latest deviation from writing. I have several sketched out, but these are the ones colored.
“Bacon” – 1st Lieutenant Jackson Spencer, P-40. Bacon is Jack’s beagle. It’s my favorite of the lot. Snoopy wearing his pilot helmet and goggles was a popular nose art figure, but I wanted to be original with Jack’s.
“Raven: Harbinger of Destruction” – Flight Lieutenant Connor Buchanan, Spitfire. A fellow writer friend came up with the raven for Connor since he hails from Maryland (half English), but also because of all the war mythology and the Tower of London attached to the raven. The ‘harbinger of destruction’ is funny to me because not only does Connor destroy German planes, but he’s very rough on his own.
“Spyder” – Pilot Officer Johann “Spyder” Snyder, Hurricane. There are conflicting reports as to how Spyder earned his nickname. Did his squadron leader not want to use Spyder’s German name or it is because Spyder is so handsy with the ladies, it’s like he has more than two hands???
“Rosie” – Flying Officer George Rosegate, Spitfire. The fox was Connor’s idea. George is too modest and shy to put a fox on his plane, but Connor knows how sly George is on the inside. The rose in the fox's mouth represents his hidden romantic side.
Those statistics are nothing to ignore or deride. Romance novels, whether contemporary, historical, suspense, inspirational, paranormal, or any of many sub-genres, outsell every other fiction genre. Be proud, whether you write or read (or both!) romance.
- Romance fiction generated $1.358 billion in sales in 2010.
- 8,240 new romance titles were released in 2010.
- Romance fiction sales are estimated at $1.368 billion for 2011.
- 74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008. (source: RWA Reader Survey)
There is in every true woman's heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. - WASHINGTON IRVING, The Sketch Book
Whether I write on any given day is determined by one main factor--Mindset. Perseverance and determination are a large part of that mindset. The will to do something, after all, is what drives most of us. If I decide, really make your mind up to something, I almost always succeed. Combine the will to write with waking up with a brilliant idea for your work-in-progress (WIP) and the words can hardly wait for your fingers to hit the keyboard. But how often does the brilliant idea strike? Rarely.
What else do I do to increase the chance of getting words down on the page? Setting a schedule or making goals, whichever way you want to phrase it. Like this blog. I had decided I MUST get it written earlier than the day before so I wrote it down on a schedule. I don’t feel like writing this right now but I am. Mindset.
Another thing that affects my writing in the positive column is Encouragement. This can be a good review, a compliment on my writing, someone asking a question about writing and valuing my answer, or words of understanding when it comes to writing and its inherent difficulties. Oddly enough a bad review or criticism can also nudge me to write in the “I’ll prove them wrong” mode.
Let’s say I’ve got the right mindset—determination, a schedule/goal, and encouragement. Then I awake to an allergy attack, or a bad cold, or the flu, or a sick child, significant other, or parent for whom I am responsible--these can ring a death knell on writing for the day. The best way to handle these type of situations is to just deal with them. Take my meds, drink my fluids, and provide such for the others depending on me and surrender the day to write again another. Stuff happens as they say. But if the situation is long term as in caring for another, I have had to learn to adapt. Stealing moments to write is part of “taking care of myself” in this situation. And taking care of self is of utmost importance to writing. There are times when the strongest mindset on earth won’t enable me to get some writing done. I’ve learned that beating myself up when this happens is only detrimental to moving forward and writing another day.
Also vital to my writing is saying “no” to other’s. When are you going to write if you have to bake cookies for school, take mom to the doctor, help sis with her uphostlry project and have dinner for twelve all on the same day! I used to be one of the worst at “no” saying. It did get easier with practice and with admitting I’m not superwoman. (Why did it take me sooo long to stop believing I could be her?) Believe me, even if you fit into the costume you aren’t. There’s only so many hours and so much energy. Reserve some for writing, is an important lesson I had to learn.
Plodding, slogging, trudging are some of the adjectives that come to mind when I contemplate how I decide whether to write or not. One of htese is what I usually do. Luckily, every so often comes that time when words fly onto the page—pure magic. The wonder of that convinces me to keep slogging.
It is the month of St. Pat forgive my paraphrasing— “May the plot rise up to meet you. May your computer never crash. May your characters warm your heart; may their story land on best seller lists, and until we meet again, may God give you many magic word-flying days!”
Bits & Bytes: Romance...The Writer's Way All Rights Reserved