A THOUSAND WORDS


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

A Thousand Words

In the back of one of my closets is a green plastic tub full of the images of memories. There are pictures of my wedding, the births of my children and grandchildren. There are family photos, Christmas photos and birthday photos. I look in the tub and see reminders of children sleeping, playing, fighting, performing and posing. I also find reminders of places where we took those children, and when they left my house. And sometimes I find a face I don’t remember in my green tub.

One really fascinating place to find inspiration for writing is pictures, paintings, photos and mementos. Each little scrap of paper, ticket stub, greeting card or lock of hair brings up the memory of an incident.

Have you ever seen an old photo that brings memories and feelings to your mind and the story behind them begs to be told?  Did you ever come across a scrap of paper with what appears to be a coded message that you know you wrote but will never remember why or what it means? And who is the nameless person smiling at you in the photo begging for your attention?

Congratulations! You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

Let Me Show You Something


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Let Me Show You Something

I have something to show you. Come closer, a little closer. Good Now get comfortable. It may sound strange, but you have to close your eyes to see this. Ready? All right, let’s begin.

In order for you to see the things I want you to see and hear the sounds I want you to hear, I am going to draw and paint with my words. Here goes. I’ll use lots of colors and sounds. Do you feel the wind on your face? Can you smell the new air yet? Yes, that’s it. Do you hear the sounds I hear? Yes, yes, that’s it. Okay, open your eyes.

You are now in this world I have created. I meant for this particular world to be beautiful and full of color and scents and sounds. I believe there are some birds in that tree—bright reds and blues in the branches that vibrate with green. And the color of the dirt, have you ever seen it so black? It could almost be velvet. And look at the sun—you see, in my world you can look directly at the sun and never suffer—and how beautiful it is.

And the smells! Did you know the green could smell so green? And up there are some wild flowers growing all over the hillside with the sweetest perfume in this world.

Can you hear the birds sing while the children play in the park? What? You overlooked the park? Well come with me and I’ll show you. It’s up the hill, just a ways. The children are playing on the swings and the slide and the merry-go-round. They’re smiling and laughing; oh, they have such musical laughter! They all get along and run and play together. The jungle-gym over in that corner is covered with kids climbing, hanging by their knees, and just sitting soaking up the sun.

Did you notice their parents and nannies? I think we’ll call them the “watchers.” The mothers and some dads, some nannies, some teenagers doing their homework are all over to the side of the park next to the sandbox. They visit and talk, each one lovingly mentioning the name of their child over and over again.

Do you like the world I have made here? This is why I write.

Nandy Ekle

Injecting Life


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 Injecting Life

The twisted little body lies on the slab. So far that’s all it is, just a lifeless rag. I’ve put a suture here and there to string pieces together in an effort to make the body whole. There are a few loose ends, but those will heal once the life begins.

I have a whole ward of these lifeless little things. Some of them could be beautiful; some of them could be powerful. All of them are mine. The only thing missing from each one is a beginning sentence.

These special little wads of bodies are ideas that I’ve had for stories. They pop in my head at random times, sometimes uncanny in their ability to find the most inappropriate moments to show up. I can be in the middle of a sentence during a conversation with a complete stranger when one of these ideas knocks on the door and says, “Guess what!” Or I can be deeply immersed in reading an amazing book, except for the split second when I hear, “Sort of like what happened to me.” Music brings them, pictures bring them, people walking down the street bring them. One time an idea spoke so loud I woke up from sleep in the middle of the night to listen.

I take the idea and lay it on a slab, gluing it down with my ink and a promise saying, “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back,” and usually I do come back and fiddle with it a little more. Occasionally, though, they get tired of waiting on me and go on to find someone else with more time—but for the most part, they wait patiently.

So I look at this one particular idea and see the marks of where I have tried to find the right sequence of words to inject into its veins that will open its eyes. I see a lot of needle marks, but still the eyes have not opened. There was a flutter one time, for a split second. This poor little waif is in two parts, and the second part is set. The first sentence of that scene caused the eyeballs underneath the lids to roll in a curious REM fashion, but they did not open. The first part is not there yet.

From all the words that exist in language today, there has got to be a combination that will work to open these eyes. And so I will continue to look for the perfect fit, that special key that will give life to this story. Then I can move on to the next.

Nandy Ekle

Message From Mundania


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Message From Mundania

Life, moving slowly, as if the same day repeats over and over and brings to mind a phrase from the days of Flower Children: What a drag.

You get up in the morning, rub your eyes, wash your hair and drink your coffee. You go to your jobs or classes, work a while, eat your lunch, work a while, go back home. You eat supper or dinner—whatever you like to call it—turn on the TV and settle for the night. And it all starts over the next day.

But what we forget are the little adventures we have every day, you know, the little things that are different about a day. The postage machine hijacks the fax machine, the client forgot to send in the payment, or a black plastic bag scoots across the highway and reminds you of an alligator coming after your car. Once, just breaking the promise to myself that I would not eat my favorite snack that day brought a very nice story.

When something happens just the teeniest bit out of the ordinary, whether it’s frustrating or hilarious, you can write an entire story centered on this event. Let your imagination ponder and study it. Then add in some exaggeration to what you already know about the event. You’ll soon find that your ho-hum life is full of story-worthy adventures and “boring” will be for people like detectives and spies.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

In a rut? For heavens sake, don’t stop writing!


In a rut?  For heavens sake, don’t stop writing!

By Natalie Bright

Here’s a few exercises to keep flexing that writing muscle while your brain stews on the work in progress:

Rewrite your favorite fairy tale, and add a twist.

Change the female protag to a male, alter the time period by rewriting the entire story in present day, or create an entirely new ending.

Journaling

Do you have an idea journal? Write down every idea that comes to you, no matter how silly it may seem at the time.

Start a travel log. A hiking log, with descriptive phrases of the sights and sounds and smells during your outing. Glue things you might have picked up along the way; ticket stubs, gum wrapper, leaves, twigs; you get the idea.

Dig Deeper

Scream to your journal, say your deepest hurts, sorrows, and admit your darkest fears. Those emotions are what you’ll draw on and translate to your characters.

A Word Book

I refer to my word journal often. It’s filled with phrases and sometimes entire chapters by some of my favorite authors, that I’ve copied. As I read their amazing words, I feel rejuvenated and inspired.

Keep exercising that writing muscle, and stay out of those ruts. Happy writing!

Natalie Bright

People Shopping


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

People Shopping

You sit at the table in the Food Court at the mall. After a morning spent shopping in the carnival-like atmosphere, you just need to sit for a minute.

Look at the people around you. You see store clerks on break taking off their professionally styled pumps to allow their feet to breathe. You see young mothers pushing strollers and leading pre-school children behind them. You see teenagers not in classes. You see couples walking close together, or herding small children. Or maybe you see people walking at a fast pace against the wall all around the mall to get their exercise.

What you should see in all this activity is a goldmine of characters. Allow yourself to wonder about their names, their careers, pasts, presents, futures. Let their faces become part of your character files. Imagine inviting someone to sit next to you and gently interview them. You can go back later and decide where they fit in your story and the details about them that did not come out right away.

And always ask yourself, “Are they really what they seem?”

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

Message From Mundania


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Message From Mundania

Life, moving slowly, as if the same day repeats over and over and brings to mind a phrase from the days of Flower Children: What a drag.

You get up in the morning, rub your eyes, wash your hair and drink your coffee. You go to your jobs or classes, work a while, eat your lunch, work a while, go back home. You eat supper or dinner—whatever you like to call it—turn on the TV and settle for the night. And it all starts over the next day.

But what we forget are the little adventures we have every day, you know, the little things that are different about a day. The postage machine hijacks the fax machine, the client forgot to send in the payment, or a black plastic bag scoots across the highway and reminds you of an alligator coming after your car. Once, just breaking the promise to myself that I would not eat my favorite snack that day brought a very nice story.

When something happens just the teeniest bit out of the ordinary, whether it’s frustrating or hilarious, you can write an entire story centered on this event. Let your imagination ponder and study it. Then add in some exaggeration to what you already know about the event. You’ll soon find that your ho-hum life is full of story-worthy adventures and “boring” will be for people like detectives and spies.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

FACING YOUR FEARS


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Facing Your Fears

As the giant spider crawled across the floor, my legs involuntarily drew up under me on the bed while my arms crossed themselves to protect my vital organs from the monster. As much as I hated looking at the hairy thing, I couldn’t take my eyes away. My lungs pulled in a gulp of air and pushed out a piercing scream.

Is that fear? How about this . . .

I watched him open the door of the car and toss his bags into the backseat. His last words stung my face as if they had needles and stuck in the air. I couldn’t believe he would leave me like this, that the years we spent together were over and he now hated me. I had no idea what I would do without him. My tears ran openly as I screamed for him to come back.

Fear is a huge part of every plot, whether it’s very obvious, as in the case of a character running for their life from a monster, or whether it’s disguised with another emotion, such as anger. Even a romance story has an element of fear: fear of commitment, fear of intimacy, fear of losing someone.

If you take the fear and amplify it to a phobia, you have a nice big glowering obstacle for your character to overcome. There are hundreds of well-known phobias; it’s the unusual phobias that make a story interesting.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

A THOUSAND WORDS


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

A Thousand Words

In the back of one of my closets is a green plastic tub full of the images of memories. There are pictures of my wedding, the births of my children and grandchildren. There are family photos, Christmas photos and birthday photos. I look in the tub and see reminders of children sleeping, playing, fighting, performing and posing. I also find reminders of places where we took those children, and when they left my house. And sometimes I find a face I don’t remember in my green tub.

One really fascinating place to find inspiration for writing is pictures, paintings, photos and mementos. Each little scrap of paper, ticket stub, greeting card or lock of hair brings up the memory of an incident.

Have you ever seen an old photo that brings memories and feelings to your mind and the story behind them begs to be told?  Did you ever come across a scrap of paper with what appears to be a coded message that you know you wrote but will never remember why or what it means? And who is the nameless person smiling at you in the photo begging for your attention?

Congratulations! You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

GARAGE SALING


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Garage Saling

Second hand stores, pawn shops, garage sales. These are great places to find a good bargain, if you’re willing to hunt and haggle. If you know what you’re looking for and how much money you want to spend, these kinds of places can pull you in and keep you busy searching for treasures all day.

But saving money is not the only treasure at a “Used” store. When you walk in the door, what’s the first thing you notice? If it’s a store front shop, you probably see racks and racks of clothing, shelves of old dishes, boxes and bins of toys and books, maybe furniture, bedding, and even electronics. If it’s a garage sale, there are card tables and home-made racks and shelves lining a driveway or yard.

But look closer. Gently handle the set of china plates and what do you see? Maybe you see the chip or crack on the edge. Or maybe it’s the fact that the set is not complete. But do you see the age? Can you sense the previous owner, the housewife who was widowed after sixty years of marriage?

How about those child size jeans? They look a little frayed in the knee and feel thin in the seat. Do they remind you of a little boy who learned to ride his bicycle while wearing them?

And the stuffed animal loved ragged by the little girl who took it to the hospital when she had her tonsils removed?

Congratulations.  You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle