Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Distractions? Who has distractions? Writers are notorious for finding any excuse for not getting their pages done. It’s not that we don’t love our work; we just need a few warm-up exercises to get us cranked up and in the mood to create stories. For me, distractions come in many shapes and forms. One of the main ones is the mail. Our mailman is sort of like the one in that Chevy Chase movie--Funny Farm--I think was the name. That mailman would fly down the road and toss the mail out without stopping. Ours is almost as bad. He used to come late in the day--which was great since I usually knock off work around three or four. Now he comes at 9:30 AM, just about the time I’m getting into my next chapter. Of course, I have to stop and read the mail, which usually contains a pile of lovely, tempting catalogues. I am a shopper, no doubt about that. So I naturally will drop everything to look at my catalogues. Not a good idea. I look up an hour later and my poor characters are stranded in mid-sentence, waiting for me to get back into our story.

Inspirations are a lot easier to handle. I get inspirations from reading, from music, and from walking around the neighborhood. A good long walk will usually help me figure out a plot problem. A song can help me set the mood for a scene. I haven’t combined the two yet--no
I-pod for me--I like to hear the birds chirping and the traffic whizzing by. But when I do listen to music I love everything from Jimmy Buffet to the Beatles to Bach and Beethoven. I love hymns that move my soul and I love good old fashioned rock and roll. Music brings out the emotions in me, while I try to bring out the emotions of my characters. So when I’m stuck, music will sometimes give me the push I need to take a scene to the next level. Of course, music can also distract me by pulling me so into the song that I'm sitting there, bouncing around in my chair and singing at the top of my lungs instead of being a studious, serious writer. But music helps to soothe me, too. And it certainly can inspire more complex, conflict-centered writing. Just think of a Johnny Cash song all about angst and pain and you'll understand. That's why I do love music of all kinds and I'm so glad that I'm able to enjoy such diverse choices when listening to good music. Some of my favorites are "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "The Long and Winding Road" and "How Great Thou Art." Oh, and Jimmy Buffet's duet with Martina McBride, "Trip Around The World."

There are many distractions and inspirations in a writer’s life. I guess the mixture of the two is what makes our job so unique. Even distractions can lead to story ideas, and so can good music. I’ve gotten lots of ideas for books while singing in church. I’m distracted by my ideas, but the paradox of that is that the very idea came to me while singing and being distracted in the first place. It’s quirky, but it works. So the best advice is to take anything in life--a distraction, a challenge, a crisis, or a joy, and allow that to become part of a good story. And music offers us all of these elements. We need the music of life to make our characters real. After all, our characters are only human. They get distracted and they get inspired, just as we do. And I love being able to help them along with my own experiences. That is, when I’m not busy looking at pretty things in my catalogues or dancing around my office to the tune of "Cheeseburger in Paradise"!

Lenora Worth :)

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