November 3, 2015 – 2:50P
Waiting at my gate at the Akron/Canton Airport for Delta Airlines Flight 2211 to Atlanta where I will meet with long time friend Aryn Wilson, her mom Judy and sister Katherine for out trip through OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) to Africa! Departing at 3:21P and arriving at 5:10P. The flight to Johannesburg, South Africa departs at 7:10P with a flight time of 15 hours (sigh). Planning on taking some melatonin paired with plenty of red wine to help me sleep. Lunch was a delicious Oktoberfest beer and some mediocre spring rolls at the Great Lakes Brewing Co spot in the airport.
I’m excited and a bit nervous. I have no idea what to expect and so my mind is racing. I’m hoping to see some giraffes! I emailed our trip leader Vitalis and he said that three of the four parks we are visiting have giraffes! Already missing Aaron (and Louie, the pug).
Hopefully this trip allows my mind to destress from my hectic work life and free my mind to spark some creative juices flowing for my next books “Sheldon’s Falls” and “The Integrity Pie.” Got my headphones and some music on my iPhone. Gonna listen to some Pearl Jam.
P.S. Praying for safe travels and Aaron to be safe at home.
With most of my creative attention devoted to either music (songwriting) or marketing my first full-length novel (Extra Innings: The Diamond Thieves), I’ve been getting the itch to write again. Originally, my next project after the Extra Innings Trilogy was going to be a non-fiction story called “Sheldon’s Falls.” The main character in this novel is named Sheldon Andrus who is a young, retired medevac pilot return from the Vietnam War to his home in Massachusetts and a alcoholic, pill-popping, complicated bi$%@h of a mother. This unforgettable story that takes a surprising and dark turn gave me a great deal of excitement, however, I’ve decided to put it on hold to pursue a different writing direction in the meantime.
This new direction is to author a book based on my research in strengths based leadership. The topic is Integrity and I’m excited to dive into what I believe this means in the professional world. Notes for this book began last weekend and I’m excited to do some deep thinking while I’m traveling across the mountainous and grassland terrains of southern Africa. I’m hoping that some time away in another land will give me some headroom & inspiration to discover a deeper understanding of integrity in terms of interpersonal relationships and exchanges. The intent of this book is for my own observation and understanding of how I experience and conduct myself in the world (both professionally and personally). I’m excited to see my own personal growth through the production of this book. Writing has not yet begun, however, the book does have a title: “The Integrity Pie.”
The diligent work for a compelling query letter continues. I have created multiple drafts submitted to published friends for their feedback and I think I FINALLY have a strong contender. I’m happy with it. I just sent out my first query letter email to a literary agent who was referred to me by one of my friend who works for a PR company. Fingers crossed everyone who’s rooting for me. The Extra Innings Trilogy is about to make its mark not he world. Thank you for all those who’ve sent me emails of how they enjoyed book 1 (The Diamond Thieves). Hopefully I can find the right agent who believes in this trilogy and its characters as much as I do.
I would be remiss if I didn’t catch you all up on some of the conversations I’ve been having with fellow writers and poets. The predominant topic of conversation has constellated around expressionism and the subjective aberration of emotions in order to spark moods and/or ideas. I believe documenting these sparks in a journal is the key to engaging your mind with the creative writing process. To render a subsequent cache of the current mind’s fleeting stream of thoughts, phrases and original ideas is worth its weight in gold. There are certain excerpts from my Extra Innings books that were scribbled down in my journal long before they ever appeared on the pages of The Diamond Thieves, Race of the Gemini or A Hero Among Thieves. Likewise, I’ll do the same with my next novel: Sheldon’s Falls.
Where I have found the most value in this practice of documenting original ideas is in my songwriting and poetry. Thoughts, phrases and ideas may spark from conversations with friends, images seen throughout some of my travels, or perhaps while I’m on a casual walk, etc. In fact, I get most of my ideas while sitting on a plane or at an airport waiting for a plane – but that’s just me.
The concept of the “engagement diary” exists when you find a particular idea or emotion that truly captures your attention above the rest. This is typically one involving a broader scope and, therefore, begs for more development. Once documented in their journal, the writer and/or poet should then leave additional space so when they have time to revisit this particular idea they can continue writing more. This is exactly the practice that fostered my initial developments of The Extra Innings Trilogy. I began with concept of identical twins; including what they looked like, personality traits, hobbies, emotional struggles (considering they were facing puberty), etc and developed the story’s plot(s) from there. In order to do so, I really needed to get engaged with concept of these characters, revisiting them day after day and, in the end, these journal notes made formulating the story much less governed and restricted by in the moment calculations and head-scratching writer’s block as many writers I’ve spoken with find to be their primary struggle.
As oxymoronic as this may sound, writing should feel like an engaged freedom. The writer should feel comprehensively involved in the telling of the story while, at the same time, experiencing a sense of liberty with their prose. Having this journaled inventory of thoughts, phrases and ideas has certainly helped to furnish this sense of liberty and engagement in my writing, for whenever I get stuck in a writer’s rut and don’t how how to proceed, I have a backlog of original ideas to revisit to help get things moving again. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.
Over the past few years I’ve studied a handful of experienced writers: Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Washington Irving, Zora Neale Hurston and Laura Ingalls Wilder. My area of focus was pros particularly their exceptionally creative prose. To me, prose demonstrates the strength of the author to effectively bring forth their imagination into narrative. One of my favorites is Washington Irving’s way of describing the coming of autumn in New York State with the following from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: “The small birds were taking their farewell banquets.” This is beautifully and creatively written and you can actually picture it in your head. Here’s a great line from Wilder’s “The Long Winter” that really depicts what the families in that community endured during that historically severe winter of 1880-1881 in South Dakota: “The cold and the dark had come again. The nails in the roof were white with frost, the windowpanes were gray. Scraping a peephole only showed the blank, whirling whiteness against the other side of the glass. The stout house quivered and shook; the wind roared and howled.” Nicholas Sparks produced a great imagery in this particular line from The Lucky One: “A few magnolias were scattered here and there and made the sidewalks swell beneath their building roots.” I can totally picture this sidewalk which helps me relate to better to the story being told via Sparks’s effective imagery. And last, my favorite first line of all: “Marley was dead, to begin with.” – Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol. What a striking way to begin a story! I love it! These great authors have all inspired me to do one thing: Discover my Creative Self. I’ll be blogging more about ways to find inspiration in your every day encounters and events and how to bring those inspirations to life in the form of prose.