Saturday, April 16, 2011

Inspire Me

View of Mount Abraham from the Peeper Pond

“Nose to the grind stone” – how many times have you heard that phrase lately? I’d heard it last Wednesday – just after writing down directions from the B&B owner – the same ones I failed to follow to avoid the mud crisis I encountered while driving up here.

This phrase rang in my head while I was packing, while I was driving and while I was trying to talk myself out of working on one more chapter before taking a break yesterday. I can’t believe how much work I got done – keeping my nose to the grindstone.

After spending way too long trying to figure out how to upload my cell phone images to my lap top – then discovering the fabulous new world of USB Mass Storage transfer – I finally faced the 8 chapters I’d promised myself I’d edit before lunch. Did I say lunch? Bah! Try dinner!

It was easy, at first, perhaps because I’d already dropped into my novel by editing 2 chapters on Thursday night. The characters were up front and center in my mind, my belly full of fresh berries, Greek yoghurt and organic raisin bran, my little cabin quiet…too quiet.

I checked my email on the elusive wi-fi that dropped out every few seconds…that took a while…but it felt good to be contact with my “real life”, even if it was just through words on the screen. Back to editing…

Instead of taking the chapters in order, like I usually do, I decided to approach my 8 chapter goal from a new angle. As my story is told from two alternating points of view, I chose one POV and followed it through to the end of where my first draft abruptly dissolved into synopsis. This gave me the luxury of checking for timeline errors, continuity of the character’s moods and location verification. It also steeped me in the world of human trafficking, parched desert and the all-important ticking clock.

To say that my nerves were beginning to feel frayed is an understatement. I shifted my eyes from the words on the screen to my uninterrupted view of Mount Abraham. In addition to giving my eyes a break, this let me imagine that like my character, I too was gazing at the Mogollon Rim, which divides Arizona in two, and not the snow splattered peaks of the Green Mountains.  When I shuffled my lap top from the shrinking walls of the cabin, to the deck off the main house, I couldn’t help but notice the large cacti guarding the sliding door to the living room. Hmmm…

This editorial marathon was, I’m happy to say, punctuated with a long walk around the neighborhood.

I started out by circling the small pond in front of the main house, snapping shots of frog spawn floating among the tall yellow reeds that rustled against a perfectly blue sky. I wasn't the only one checking out the view - a family of Peepers called to each other to protest my intrusions.

My wellies squished and squelched in the mud, being two sizes too big for me (no idea how they ended up in my basement), I found it hard to walk at a decent pace.

So I settled into a slow rhythm of brain-break over cardio workout, feasting my eyes on the details of the emerging Spring.

I found a horse paddock a few houses down the dirt road, complete with ramshackle stables, multiple trucks in the unmarked driveway, and horses grazing in a mud bath deeper than their fetlocks. I won’t expand on another homestead except to say that everything including the kitchen sink was bursting out of windows, doors and toppling over the sides of a farmer’s porch. I wanted to take a photo but was afraid I’d get busted and have to explain myself to the owner…

Not quite the wild Mustangs of the West - but close enough
I get to spend all day with horses, or rather wild mustangs, now that I’m working on the second character’s storyline. If I need inspiration, I can simply stick my head out of the cabin door and inhale the manure wafting from the stables behind me.

The wind’s picking up and we are expecting the remnants of that storm that sent tornadoes tearing through Georgia yesterday. Oh goodie! Let’s hope these wooden walls don’t rattle too much, or I might find myself working on a whole new novel…


  1. Manure can be inspiring ;-)
    Keep going!

  2. Happy Easter, Nic!

    I'm stopping by to let you know I've awarded you a Stylish Blogger Award - stop by my blog to pick it up and don't forget to follow the rules ;-)