Never a Dull Moment
Last week, Mother Nature was whispering spring secrets, sending delicate blossoms up through the last fall’s detritus, injecting flashes of color into the otherwise drab landscape. This morning, she has covered us in a blanket of wet snow, and the meteorologists are advising everyone to batten down the hatches in anticipation of some wild winds due later this afternoon. There’s nothing so mercurial as spring weather in New England.
Like our weather, the writing life is full of unexpected twists and turns. We must be flexible in our expectations and agile in our execution. We must be prepared for anything and willing to keep on writing in any circumstance or condition. In snow, sleet, and hail – in good times and bad – we must keep putting the words down – one after another. As I wrote yesterday, we can’t let anything hold us back.
No matter how bizarre the weather or how challenging our writing tasks, we can take comfort in the knowledge that Mother Nature and The Muse both work in cycles. Neither of them stays the same for long. As they say here in New England, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” And so it is with our creative energies and inspirations. If you’re not feeling the spark, just wait five minutes. Keep putting down the words and things will shift. They always do.
Reading Watching (Don’t Worry – No Spoilers):
Though I grew up with the first trilogy of Star Wars movies, I was never a rabid fan. I didn’t have a single Star Wars action figure or ever dress as Princess Leia (slave or otherwise) for Halloween. I liked the story and was fascinated by the special effects, but the galaxy far, far away did not capture my imagination nearly as much as the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Anne McCaffrey. But last night, my beau talked me into watching the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, and I was blown away.
In case you haven’t seen it, I won’t give anything away, but the movie does a near seamless job of connecting the characters and storyline from the original films to this new cast and narrative, set thirty years after the fall of the Galactic Empire. As someone who was a kid when those first films hit the theaters, I was delighted with the many nods and homages included in this seventh installment of George Lucas’ opus. It never felt like schtick or sentimental crap. It was warm and funny and respectful. It was heartfelt. I was drawn in and on the edge of my seat from start to finish.
As soon as the movie was over, we watched the two-hour documentary on the making of the film. The scope and scale of the undertaking is amazing to see – all the designers, artists, and craftspeople, all the sets, special effects, and costumes. It’s an astounding feat of creativity, skill, collaboration, and organization. But, what impressed me most (and what ultimately made the movie work) was the entire team’s focus on the authenticity of the story.
Although writer/director J.J. Abrams used all kinds of cutting-edge technology, many of the production methods were actually very old school. They filmed on celluloid, not digital. They used puppetry and meticulous motion-capture techniques instead of straight CGI for key characters. They built things with real-world materials instead of pixels. They brought the Star Wars galaxy to life in as authentic a way as possible because they knew how important it was for the world to “feel” real. They realized the huge responsibility they had to this story. As many of the people involved said, they felt that Star Wars had to feel like something that had really happened in history, because – in a way – it had. It was a shared experience that has become part of our culture, part of who we are.
Great stories are like that. Whether they live on the pages of a book, up on the silver screen, or (in many cases) both, great stories are bigger than any one person. Great stories help us tap into a kind of universal yearning – a sort of infallible truth. They put us in touch with something that makes us feel more connected to everyone and everything else.
My favorite scene in the documentary was one that captured a few minutes of the first full read-through of the script. The writers, actors, and production crew sit on chairs and couches in the middle of an enormous sound stage. There are no sets or costumes, just the people and the story. And as Mark Hamill begins to read the narration, you could almost feel the magic coming off the page. I love that something as big and spectacular as a movie like The Force Awakens starts with something as comparatively modest and simple as a great story. The story is the heart of the whole thing, and the power of story can move mountains and touch the lives of millions of people around the world. Pretty damn amazing.
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My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:
- 5 Steps to Take Before You Start Your Next Story by Emily Wenstrom
- Want to Improve Your Writing Skills? 5 Fun Storytelling Exercises to Try by @MarianSchembari
- Writing Wednesdays: Analyze Your Novel Like a Dream by @SPressfield
- To TK or Not to TK? by @THahnBurkett
PUBLISHING & MARKETING
- Blog Writing Process: How To Write More Authoritative Posts by @bensailer
- Radius Book Group: Self-Publishing for Those Who Would Rather Not by @Porter_Anderson
- 15 Goals, Tips, Examples, & Lessons for E-Newsletter Perfection by @joderama
- Turning the Pages: A Look at the Sketchbooks of Artists
- 5 Motivational TED Talks That Can Make 2016 Your Best Year Ever by @MindaZetlin
- Discover your next step so you can start walking towards your goal. by @jccabel
THE WRITING LIFE
- Stressed? Try This. by @gretchenrubin
- An Effective Way to Develop Elite Copywriting Skills: Mini Habits by Stephen Guise
- How to Declutter Your Writing Ideas & Finish More Projects by @danasitar
- Why we create by @DanBlank
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Sundry Links and Articles:
Four years ago, inspired by a hysterical (and not at all appropriate for work) viral video, I wrote a post called Blog Like a Honey Badger. Earlier this week, I came across another video, this one produced by the BBC, about an astonishingly clever and persistent honey badger who simply refuses to stay in his enclosure at a wildlife facility. As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about overcoming the obstacles that hold you back from your writing, I thought this latest video might offer a little additional inspiration and – if not that – at least make you smile. Honey badgers just don’t take no for an anwer!
Finally, a quote for the week:
I hope you weather whatever storms may be in your life at the moment and never, ever stop writing. Have a great rest of the weekend, and I’ll see you next week!
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.