friday fictioneers: “lions and tigers and bears…oh my!”

Copyright -Sandra Crook

Busing from the airport in Calgary to Banff in the Canadian Rockies, I kept watching for wild animals…like a moose or a grizzly. 

After riding for miles, I spotted something. It was some distance away so I couldn’t quite make it out. It moved, or so I thought. Squinting my eyes as though they were a pair of binoculars, I was sure the animal had lowered its head. 

My imagination was running away with me,while my common sense struggled to get a foothold.

“It’s a lion!” 

As a truck with bales of hay drove by, the light bulb went “click.”

(Note: I rewrote the last two lines to stay within the 100 words AND to lessen the confusion of readers who thought I was drifting outside the parameters of the photo.)  

why do writers…write?

 I’ve come across two quotes that seem to go hand-in-glove in describing writers.

The first is that of Anton Chekov, renowned Russian author. It was shared by http://www.livesimpletheblog.wordpress.com

…people who lead a lonely existence always have something on their minds that they are eager to talk about…

The second is a line spoken by Walt Disney to author P.L. Travers in the film Saving Mr. Banks.

Our stories are redemptive. That’s what we story tellers do. We restore order with imagination.  We instill hope again and again and again.

According to psychotherapist Linda Hoff-Hagensick at http://www.marriagetherapy101.blogspot.com,

Both P.L.Travers and Walt Disney found redemption and healing for their childhood pain through telling their stories through the magical lenses of their characters.

I think it’s fair to say that writers can lead a lonely existence given their need for isolation while getting in touch with their creative genius. I wonder how long C.K. Rowlings kept her own company while knocking off volume after volume of the iconic Harry Potter? 

Judging from my own experience, words can haunt a writer’s every thought. Not until allowed to escape the confines of the mind, will the words give a writer some peace, if only for a few moments.

So for me, it’s not that I seek solitude, it’s that my constant companions, my thoughts,  long to escape into print. They do not relish captivity; rather, they long for escape. Escape into the light of day. It’s my task to arrange them into some coherent story that others might want to read. And that, as every writer knows, takes time and…solitude. 

In recent months I’ve taken to having my laptop on the kitchen island so that I can write in between my other duties as a housewife. Of this relocation from the dining room table to my current station, my daughter lovingly commented “You really are a writer!”

I often wish I could ignore other duties and interests, and simply write the book that’s still on hold in my brain. Actually, there are a handful waiting to be written. For me however, life is too precious to let slip away for hours, days, weeks, even months at a time.

One day soon, I’ll see my way clear to balancing both. Until then, blogging remains an excellent outlet.

Storytellers come in all shapes and sizes. What they have in common is the desire to express their thoughts and feelings in a comprehensive manner. The icing on the cake is to capture the attention of an audience of readers or listeners. To bring them along on a  journey, whether it’s into familiar territory or uncharted terrain.

Writers are usually inspired by strong feelings about the environment in which they live. Whether it’s physical or psychological. Whether it exists in the past,the present, or the future. Whether it’s just a fantastical concoction of their imaginations. Or whether it’s a little bit of everything.

Like Disney I prefer writing redemptive stories, where chaos is banished, order restored, and hope is renewed. 

I’ve always been a huge fan of Tinker Bell and her magical fairy dust. I like to think it represents…

…never ending hope…

………hugmamma…and tinker bell.

...sprinkling fairy dust for hugmamma...

…sprinkling fairy dust for hugmamma…

 

 

daydreaming…a lost art

daydream

daydream (Photo credit: island home)

It’s been awhile since I’ve even heard the term…daydreaming. As a child in the 1950’s I daydreamed…a lot.  It was an option as I flew out the front door, my mom’s favorite refrain ringing in my ears. “Go outside and play!”  Free of schedules, free of chores, free of homework. My brain and I were in control of my body, willing it to do…whatever…or…nothing at all.

I could daydream…imagining make-believe worlds so different from the one in which I lived. Or I could let my mind float…somewhere…out there. Hovering with the butterflies, soaring with the birds, crawling with the insects.

Technicolor and high-definition were creations of my own intellect. Heightening the vibrancy or tweaking the images were mine to control…without buttons and knobs. I had time…to daydream. Pity today’s children. They’ve no time to daydream.

Cover of

Cover of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

In Praise of the Summer Daydream
by Danny Heitman
   As another summer arrives at our doorstep, I’ve been thinking of what my 11-year-old son told me not long ago on a long drive back from a weekend of camping. “If it’s OK with you,” Will said from the back seat, “I’m just going to sit here and daydream for a while.”
   I was heartened that Will had decided to claim a few moments for mental wandering after two days devoted to the outdoor regimens of his Boy Scout troop. But as I gazed through the rearview at the woods receding from view, I had to wonder if Will’s plans would produce the desired result.
   Daydreaming, after all, is something that tends to defy planning. The best daydreams just happen, serendipitously, as we’re doing something else–the brain slipping its leash for a random walk away from work, or class, or the Sunday sermon gone on too long.
   But my son’s sense of daydreaming as a pastime requiring a certain amount of room in the day–a slow half-hour or so when thoughts can float like balloons into the waiting sky–seemed a wise recognition of the freedom needed to let a mind go. Summer, in our ideal vision of the season, seems a natural incubator for daydreaming, as office schedules slacken, and beach vacations beckon, and the close of school liberates children from campus.
   But in squaring off his daydreaming time the way that a grown-up might pencil in an appointment with the dentist or CPA, Will reminded me of the degree to which kids these days tend to think in schedules, even in summer.
   Summer camps nudge America’s children from one enrichment activity to another, and little-league sports perpetually point their little eyes toward the urgency of a ball in play. Do youngsters have any real chance for daydreaming during the vacation months–or in any other time of the year?
   A daydream is a stolen pleasure–a moment or two pleasantly robbed from some more obviously useful task as the brain leaps a fence, goes adventuring and, with any luck, returns to active duty before anyone knows it’s been AWOL.
   But as texts and tweets and ringing cellphones keep a constant claim on attention, such mental escapes can seem all but impossible for youngsters and grown-ups alike.
   If an awareness-raising campaign for daydreaming seems in order, then there’s no better role model for the cause than the title character of James Thurber‘s 1939 short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” A genius at mental digression, the unassuming Mitty evades the tedium of errands with his wife by casting himself as the star of several fantasies, alternately trying on the roles of rakish military commander, ingenious surgeon, crafty murder suspect, and tragic hero facing the firing squad.
   Thurber’s story took on a life of its own, proving wildly popular among careworn Americans fighting World War II. Readers seemed to know that even in the midst of a global conflict–or perhaps because of it–a little mental doodling like Mitty’s could do them a lot of good.
   But Thurber was amused, some years after his free-associating hero first appeared in print, to discover that a British medical journal had coined the term “Walter Mitty syndrome” to describe “pathological daydreaming.”
   Maybe it was inevitable that Mitty would be appropriated to equate daydreaming with illness. Today, as concern about attention deficit disorder informs the popular culture, a practiced daydreamer might find himself classified not as an artist of improvisation, but a case to be cured.
   Long before Walter Mitty’s wife tried in vain to return him permanently to reality, the world had its daydreamers–and diligent guardians bent on reforming them.
   When asked how he happened to create his famous daydreamer, Thurber suggested that he didn’t so much invent Mitty as simply extend a lengthy tradition.
   “There were Walter Mittys, under other names, in the writings of dozens of men ahead of my time, including Shakespeare,” he told a reader.
   So maybe, given its genius for subversion, daydreaming might survive–and even thrive–in a summer that’s probably going to be much busier than it needs to be.

(Mr. Heitman, a columnist for the Baton Rouge Advocate, is the author of “A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House” (LSU Press, 2008)).

I read Thurber’s Walter Mitty in high school. I don’t think it was such a big deal at the time because I indulged in daydreams. 

daydream

daydream (Photo credit: island home)

It’s been awhile since my mind floated skyward…in search of…nothing in particular. I’m not sure adults are able to daydream without reality undermining our efforts at every turn. Too many concerns, worries, stresses. No time to waste; too many tasks at hand. 

Do we outgrow daydreaming as we age? Or have we been brainwashed into accepting, that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop?” I heard that a few times from the nuns who were charged with educating me for 13 years, including kindergarten. 

Within the last couple of decades the good sisters have been replaced with enormous school workloads and extracurricular activities, not to mention texting and Facebooking. Every moment is earmarked and spoken for…before it’s even materialized. The devil’s had to find lazy-bones elsewhere…not that he’s had any trouble on that front.

Kids need time…to grow their own “brand.” Daydreaming provides fertile ground for imagining…and creating.

…isn’t that how great minds like da vinci…edison…madame curie…chihuly…and others like them…invent, discover, and create,?…

………hugmamma. 

maui, hookipa beach park

Had brunch with my daughter at Amerigo’s on Sunday. Our waitress was a pretty blonde with a broad smile. We made small talk when she checked to see if everything was to our liking. We were both surprised to learn that we had a Maui connection. She’d just returned from visiting her brother who lives on the island, and I explained that I’d been born there. As usually happens when I mention that fact, her face brightened and her body relaxed as if we were in the islands. The server, in her late 20’s or early 30’s, said her brother is a wind surfer and has been a Maui “kamaaina”  (stranger turned local), for 17 years. He loves the lifestyle, and she wished she were back with him, enjoying the surf and tropical sun.

I was sincerely happy to learn that someone loved my island birthplace, enough to make it his home for more than a decade. Chatting with the waitress brought back fond memories of picnicking at Hookipa Beach Park, now a wind surfing mecca. I shared them with my daughter who has only visited Maui once in her 24 years. Perhaps we’re due for another trip home.

Growing up in a household with no disposable income, weekend picnics at the beach were very special. Sundays were  when we packed the trunk with brown paper sacks full of lunch fixings, like fried chicken, white rice, potato salad, chips and strawberry and orange soda pops. Piling into the car, my mom, brother, sister, and me, would drive to beaches an hour or so from our home in Wailuku.

Although not my favorite, Hookipa Beach Park managed to stir my imagination. Hiking a long, steep, hilly path down the rocky cliff-side, carrying bags while bracing against high winds, was not fun. And the blue, green ocean always seemed colder than elsewhere. Fighting to keep a toe hold in the sand while being pulled by an occasional rip tide, struggling to stand as huge waves crashed on top of me, and tripping over rocks along the sea floor, did not compare to wading in the calm, sandy, warm waters of Kalama Beach Park in Kihei.

We would often seek shelter from the whipping winds in a water cave, carved into the base of a cliff. At low-tide, the sandy cove was a child’s dream. Lying face up on the clean, washed sand, I imagined myself a Hawaiian princess of old. Pretending that our family was fleeing from those who’d overtaken our royal palace, we sought shelter in caves along Maui’s coastline. There we’d remain until the tides returned, swelling our hideout with sea water once more. Somewhere on the horizon of my pre-adolescent mind was a handsome, “hapa-hauole” (part-Hawaiian, part-Caucasian) prince, my knight-in-shining armor…

Awakened rudely by the hollers of my siblings because the water was edging its way up the sand, I knew it meant we were leaving. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! It was always worse climbing back up the craggy cliffs, bellies full, bodies lazy, wet sand covering legs and arms. But worst of all, the end of another Sunday, meant a return to school, homework, and endless chores. It seemed forever until the following weekend and the next picnic. 

why can’t sunday, follow sunday?…hugmamma.

the internet, friend or foe?

Among other books of lighter fare, I’m beginning to read “What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains – The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr. On the inside jacket Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe, challenges, “Nicholas Carr has written an important and timely book. See if you can stay off the Web long enough to read it!” I have to admit now that blogging has become a “part-time job,” I may find it difficult to finish the 276 pages of technical information. I’m hoping it reads like a bio, the central character being the internet user, me and you. As with other revolutionary inventions of the industrial age, like TV, I will probably rationalize using the “beast” that threatens to take control of my life.

 But if it’s already been unleashed, like Pandora’s Box, can the internet be returned from whence it came? Probably not. But can this Frankenstein be controlled? Or is the monster free to do evil, along with the good it was intended for? Do inventors ever look past the perceived  immediate need, to what injurious consequences might be wrought upon humankind?

Again on the inside jacket of Carr’s book the question is posed “Is Google making us stupid?”  It’s followed by this paragraph “When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?”

I have taken to blogging because of my passion for writing. I’ve tried, albeit half-heartedly, to get published in non-mainstream print media, as well as online, to no avail. Rightly or wrongly, my desire to have my voice “heard” motivated me to blog. Judging from my oft lengthy “dissertations,” you can see that my attention to detail involves more than superficial thinking. And so it begins, … my attempt to rationalize using the internet.

You, dear reader, have been with me since the start of my internet journey so, in a way, you are complicit in my “crime,” i.e. my use of the “beast.” What say you in our defense? It’s use for all the small things that give quality to our lives must count for something?! I’m certain you’ll agree that searching for medical answers, support comfort when a child dies, discounted products in the current economy, are viable reasons to keep the internet going. Or am I again trying to rationalize too much? But what else can we do?

Your opinions on the subject are appreciated. The internet has impacted our lives beyond imagination. But did we sacrifice too much in our rush to deify it? Your thoughts?

are we beyond deep thinking?…hugmamma.