Friday, September 25, 2009

"Largest ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found in Staffordshire
First pieces of gold were found in a farm field by an amateur metal detector who lives alone on disability benefit" -- Headline in Guardian newspaper Sept. 24, 2009 (Photo from Guardian)

If that doesn't give writers hope, then you're beyond hope. Just when I thought there was nothing new under the sun. Nothing more to be unearthed, discovered, revealed, this impoverished man living in public housing supported by government disability funds trips over not only the most lucrative treasure find in decades. But it is also another piece of history, from a dark era from which little has been salvaged.
Shades of King Arthur send me into paroxysms of fantasy and 'what if.' Just one find like this reminds me that there are still treasures hidden in our world. They have not all been found. Sadly it seems that treasure hunting and exploration and discovery doesn't get much attention. Headlines are reserved for some politician cheating on his wife and running off to Argentina or whether the government is legislating death squads. Or whether politicians are good dancers.... But legitimate archaeology, exploration or research never get past page 20. Unless, like this situation the least likely person makes the most extravagant find. Truly this is the fodder for fiction. And any fiction writer worth his salt has already begun at least one short story or novel or scene based upon this event.

Once in a decade a writer comes along who finds the mother lode in writing just as Terry Herbert found it in metal detecting. Of course J.K. Rowling comes to mind. These events prove that there is much out there yet to be mined. And, it doesn't take high tech or geniuses to make them happen. Everyday people. A teacher, a man down on his luck. Why not you? Why not me?

The one ingredient we need to add to our writing tools -- HOPE! Renew it each day. Focus on feeding it. For, when hope is gone creativity dries up.

How to grow hope?

1. I hate to channel Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, but he's right -- hope grows in a positive environment. THINK POSITIVELY -- it has power.

2. Write. Write for yourself. If your work isn't selling, so what. Just write. Write something that makes you happy and pushes you into a realm where you feel your creativity growing.

3. Challenge yourself to delve into strange and wacky combinations. Lewis Carroll gave a rabbit a pocket watch. A whole story was written around a princess who had a pea in her mattress. And another woman asked what if there was a wizarding school....

4. Read children's books. I keep repeating that Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin makes me laugh and jump starts my imagination. With a little juxtaposition, perhaps the pieces of your next great piece of writing will fall into place. And when my imagination is charged, hope grows exponentially.
5. Keep your mind and eyes open. Read and listen and learn whatever you can. Study things new to you. Grow your mind and your hope with it.
6. Look around you at the things you take for granted. There's a story there. Jane Austen recognized the value of everyday life.

There are still new ideas. There are still stories left untold. There are still treasures -- whether in gold or in words -- to be discovered. Why not you? Why not me?
Exercise: Pick a family photo. Maybe of your mother and her siblings. Look at the way they stand. The distance between them. The body language. Arms folded? Arms around each other? Look at their clothes, their hair, their faces. They setting. Lesson One: What do you learn from this photo about the people in it. Tell us their story. Lesson Two: Practice your descripition technique. Describe this group and give them personalities and depth just from the description.

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