Bragging Rights

I’m going to do a little bragging here.

In a previous blog I wrote about changing things up now and then. Try something new. I did just that with good results.

When I work on my current novel, I sometimes get stuck. And I mean stuck! It’s like I hit a wall. When that happened earlier this year, I put it away and decided to try something different.

In the back of my mind, for many months actually, was an idea for a poem, or a song, or an essay. I decided on a poem. I then entered it in a local competition sponsored by the extension office of our state university. I then forgot about it. It was, for me, simply a writing exercise.

So, imagine my surprise when I got a phone call telling me I had won first place in the state for my entry. First place! Wow!

Okay, so this is not going to make me the state’s poet laureate, and there’s not even a cash prize; just a plaque and the opportunity to read it for an audience at a banquet, but I’m quite proud of it.

Because I’m proud of it, and I feel as though I have earned some bragging rights (in lieu of money, national recognition, etc., etc.), I’m sharing it here.

Miracles in the Sky

Look up and see
The sun that rises in the morn,
The moon that takes its place each night
Among the many stars.

Galaxies of light
Amid the darkness of the sky,
Shed tracings of a shooting star
Flashing through the blackness.

Then comes the rain
With clouds that glide and drift along,
Lightening splits the sky and leaves
The magic of a rainbow.

Birds in brilliant feather
Fill the summer morn with color,
And fireflies flit among the trees
On a clear, warm summer’s eve.

The snow that falls
Spreads its beauty on the earth,
Dressing the trees like nature’s brides,
Waiting for the spring.

Look up and see
The gifts and beauty from above,
And marvel at the bounty of
Miracles in the sky.

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Observation brings inspiration

How well do you observe the world? Do you really look at the people, places and events around you? Or is it all a blur in your memory when those things are no longer directly in front of you?

We are all so busy with our individual careers, families, worries … life in general… that we move automatically through 0ur daily routines without taking in the details. But as a writer it’s those details that matter and can make the difference between a good story and an exceptional story.

Some of the nicest comments I’ve received is that the readers felt as if they were in the places about which I’d written. I think that comes from having been a travel writer, as it was my job to take in the details and describe locations in a way that would make others want to go there. My articles had to lead the reader into a locale by making it real for them.

I would say that is one of my strong points. On the other hand, I’ve not always been so good at detailing the people in my articles or the characters in a story. That is where I work the hardest. So, over the years, I’ve learned to study people: their general appearance, habits, facial qualities or lack thereof; their way of walking and talking, and the way they interact with others. Sooner or later, some of those bits and pieces will find their way into a character in my fiction.

Even if you write fantasy and specialize in characters from other worlds, you must include the details if they are to be believable.

Observations bring our written pieces to life. If you aren’t already being overly observant, start practicing right now. Look out your window and take in all the details of the scene. Really look at it and study it. What’s in the scene? What stands out? Look at the colors; describe them. Are there hidden places there that you might want to investigate? Does the view give you a feeling of any kind; make you smile, make you sad?

The next time you are talking to someone, be it relative, friend or colleague, take a moment to study their face and the way they talk. Do they have any habits that are obvious, or quirks of personality? What does their skin look like; or their eyes, ears, hair, hands, clothing, posture? All of these things make up the total person and we know that when it comes to each individual, we can use the word “unique” correctly.

Sometimes it’s fun to sit in a crowded place and focus on someone to study. I find this is particularly easy and entertaining in airports, with its many kinds of interesting subjects rushing about or sitting across from me in the waiting areas. The same could be said for a busy restaurant, or a shopping mall, gatherings of every kind.

Inspiration through observation is everywhere. Take the time to look around you, and be inspired.

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Now available as an ebook on Amazon.com:

“A Spirit in the Heart” by Ell Wheeler is a light romance that takes readers into the north woods of Minnesota and the beauty of the lake country. When a man and a woman from two different cultures meet and try to understand each other, anything can happen; and does.