Inspiration and Play

I recently took a trip to Australia to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. (We had a fabulous time.) Here’s a shot of the HUGE family. We had to rent a hall to have this get-together.

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While there, I did my traditional jaunt around the vineyards and had a great lunch with my sisters at Briar Ridge.

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I’d gone dark, no email, no Twitter, no FB, and I’d promised myself I would not sit with family and discuss books. My mother does not have a computer, and I left my laptop behind. This would be a total vacation. A much needed rest. This year I’ve published my desert heat series, three books, and have one in production which should publish in early spring 2014, so yeah, I’ve been a tad tired.

While my family supports my creative endeavors, I felt I should forget about writing for this trip and just enjoy re-connecting. However, at the back of mind was the constant thrum of my work in progress. I swear it has been the most difficult story I’ve ever written. I’d struggled to finish the story before leaving but couldn’t do it, and I had sent an email to my critique partner, Gina, saying I’d have hours on the ‘plane to work on that story and planned to write longhand. Did I? Nope. I watched four movies, and because there was a spare seat between me and the only other traveler in our row, a young man from the Soloman Islands, I slept well. We both shared that seat and it made travel so much better. I figured I had the return journey to write down some story ideas.

On my final day of the trip, the day after the birthday bash, there was a family gathering to chow down on all of the wonderful leftovers from the Aussie spit roast.

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We sat outside near my sister’s pool, the sun washing gently over our backs, feet propped up. I’d forgotten all about my WIP until my sister-in-law Helen asked me what I was currently working on. I sketched the storyline and told her of my problem finding a suitable romantic suspense ending. I told her I was having difficulty coming up with an appropriate weapon for my hero (non-law enforcement hero, so not armed) to use on the villain who was armed. She reeled off ending after ending. My response to all was, nope, done that. I’ve used the gun, the knife, the tree branch, the champagne bottle to the head. Then she asked what is the setting again? I explained the city, the remote hilltop area, the ranch style home, and as I did that I visualized a woodpile and an ax that had not featured before. Ha ha. No, there will not be a beheading, it will be a blunt instrument ending, but gee, how perfect for my unarmed hero.

Inspiration comes from the strangest of places. As writers if we push too hard we’ll often prevent ideas from flowing. If we play, as adults, the creativity is often spontaneous. Forget all about the work, concentrate on something else, go out and change the pace, and there it is right in front of you: the answer that has eluded you.  Have you ever had this happen with your creativity, or problems?

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16 Responses to Inspiration and Play

  1. Hi Robena – Oh, I love that you actually got away from your computer for all those days. That’s what a true vacation is! Remember the days, when all of that was normal?

    My inspiration comes in the shower. I’ve heard others say this as well, I usually figure something out while my mind and body are free. Nothing to clutter it up. I’m glad you found inspiration while on your trip!!

  2. JL Hammer says:

    I’m happy you had such a wonderful time. It is hard to “go dark” and not write and sneak a peek at social media. But at times we must step away. At times I also have difficulty getting all the pieces of my stories to connect. Usually, I put on music and clean the house, or I might talk it out with my hubby (Depending on his mood. He can get burned out. I love to talk about writing 🙂

  3. Hi Robena! Yes! Sometimes the best way to come up with that perfect story element is to forget about your story!

    What a great trip. I think vacations should be a time to unplug and I’m happy to hear you had such a good time!

    • robena grant says:

      Hi Robin, I agree inspiration comes when we can forget our story. It’s hard to do that on a day to day basis, while were in the midst of writing it, or worse, under contract. From what little I know of the process, it sure does not show up when forced. ; )

  4. Sam Beck says:

    Welcome back Robena!

    I don’t think I’ve completely unplugged in years! People might think I do it all the time, (based on how long it take me to respond to an email, text, or Tweet), but I generally have some sort of electronic leash on me at all times. I’m willing to try “going Robena” on my next vacay. It sounds liberating!

    • robena grant says:

      Yes, definitely try it, Sam. It’s very refreshing. On the other hand, it does show up the insane addictions we can fall into with this social media stuff. I found I’d go to write a comment or tweet something after my return home, and then I’d think who cares? It has taken a solid week to feel like commenting and writing. Now I’m out there babbling away again. : )

  5. It’s been so long since I’ve written I can’t remember.
    Glad you had time to play and it juiced your work! Looking forward to the new book.

  6. robena grant says:

    Thanks so much, Judy. That’s one confirmed sale! ; )

    Hey, are you in California yet? If so, I think you brought the cold weather with you.

  7. Hi Robena!
    I totally loved the pictures you posted on FB upon your arrival home. It felt very strange to know you were “un-connected” from cyberspace, but I knew you deserved your break. I love going no mail on loops, but find it really hard to do it with personal e-mail. I did, however, go dark for two weeks in the beginning of October for a busy trip and loved it!

    I let my subconscious do the fixing, and as you said, not pressuring myself helps. I currently have revisions simmering, I know what needs to be done but too much is on my plate in the holiday and baby shower departments to justify time to sit down and actually do them. I’m praying all of my great ideas for “going deeper” emotionally with my characters will come back when I finally make time and get back to work. Wish me luck!

  8. robena grant says:

    LUCK, Lynne! You’ll do it.
    Besides deep emotion is one of your talents, so I know you will do well digging deep once the stress of events passes. You’ll have a grand time with the baby shower, grandma-to-be.

  9. Julie says:

    What a wonderful (and healing) break you took. And you needed that rest!

    Glad you’re back safely and with such fun inspirations.

    • robena grant says:

      Thanks, Julie. The rest was great but for some reason I had the worst jetlag ever on my return. I’m now only beginning to sleep through the night. I think I regressed to baby days. Ha ha.