... partly because, but not only because, it has RAINED (even SNOWED) in the past ten days! And not just measly little showers. The weather gods have poured and dumped on us. A lot!!! For our American neighbours who are celebrating the long Memorial Day weekend, let me tell you that last weekend, the Canadian Victoria Day long weekend, was cold and miserable. I hope yours is better.
The subheading below our Prairie Chicks banner warns all comers that they might read about thoughts, ideas, jubilations -- all those good and thoughtful avenues that we hope will lead to the fulfilment of our dreams. Notice that the word frustrations is also there. I'm sure everyone has a hefty tale of frustration to tell. I'm not about to launch a contest for the most frustrating circumstance, but perhaps a little venting won't do us any harm. Some of those threads of frustration might lead us into more positive scenarios that will be less nightmarish.
First to get the weather issue done with -- it is the everlasting Canadian theme, after all. Never mind if the campers were sent home early last weekend. So what if our moods take a dive when it's cloudy, day in and day out, and the temperature has plunged so that it is too cold to put the new, fragile plants into their summer beds. The grass in the yard is waving at me, daring me to try to mow between rain and gusts of wind. Surely this slow-moving low pressure system will soon move on.
One would think it would be an ideal time to hunker down and write, write, write. Ah, but therein lies part of the problem. The weather isn't what the calendar tells us it should be, so everything is out of kilter. Including the writing regime. Look at me. I sit, eyes glazed over, watching television that nobody would want to watch. The season and series finales have come and gone. Reruns, only reruns in our 600-channel universe. And playoffs! Well, that would be a bright spot, if only I had more players left in my pool.
Not nice to be outside, nothing I can set my mind to indoors. What's a person to do? Well, I do have a blogpost to write. Another frustrating wall just reared up in front of me. Blank screen, cursor blinking. I do have several works-in-progress I could use as springboards for "thoughts" or "ideas." In fact, because both my novels (as well as a short story that's begging to be finished) are very dependent on place and time, I was about to write about setting. However, there was no way I could improve on the excellent posts that Connie and Janet have done in the past. Click on the label Setting on the left for three previous posts.
I almost got beyond frustration as I re-read their thoughts on the importance of setting, checked out the links, and delved into the book I borrowed from Connie. I think I'm on the right track, because I have already taken a hard look at the novel I'm working on. Setting is so important that part of the revision I have already started involves lifting my story out of its current time period and moving it back several decades. Conflict and misunderstandings have arisen from communication issues that are important to the plot, but would not be credible in the era of cell phones and email. However, they fit perfectly into the fifties when people used telephones for emergencies, but for little else!
You see where I'm going with this frustration thing. By the time I have finished whining, I may have a post almost written. If I'm successful or have a bit of luck, the sun may be shining the next time I raise my head from my pillow.
Frustrating moments are not totally depressing. I don't think that's an oxymoron. Sometimes they motivate me to go looking for something else that beckons from the future; perhaps an event will present itself in that quest for a better day. Aha, summer is the time for festivals. And programs for conferences in the fall are being announced at this very moment.
I love writers' festivals where I can listen to and talk with writers I have read and admired, or others whom I've never met before but I know I'll be a fan forever after the event. I will be attending two this summer. One is The Festival of Words right here on the Prairie, which I attend every year. In August I am also heading out to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia for what will be a fabulous treat, both in terms of the writers who will be there and the setting. (That magical word again. It holds a lot of power in real life, too.) Even if I am in a writing slump during this spell of miserable weather, looking forward to surrounding myself with some of my favourite authors helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The other major event I'm looking forward to is way down the road, but registration opens this week for the Surrey International Writers' Conference. Some of the Chicks and other writer friends from the SRW went last year in October. A few repeats are holding up their hands, and some who couldn't make it last year are about to take the plunge. I am on the verge of deciding to go again. It was an amazing experience. Now if that doesn't get me motivated to have at least one manuscript ready to pitch to an editor or agent, I don't know what will. And the prospect of rubbing shoulders with prominent authors and sitting at their feet (at least in the same room), while they generously talk about the art of writing, offer advice on markets, and generally make all of us feel that anything is possible, whether we are already published or are still seeking that first golden moment ... well, it's inspiring and breathtaking!
Come to think of it, I am grateful that I could spend some time on the websites of all the various festivals and conferences that take place annually across the country. If I had been out pushing a lawnmower or planting my garden, maybe I would have been too tired!
Perhaps frustration has been underrated as a motivator. If I grind to a halt with one endeavour, good old Freddie Frustration shoves me in another direction. Change up the settings, don't always rely on the default. There are many paths on the way to achieving dreams. I must remember not to get discouraged over the bumps in the road, but look for detours that will take me somewhere exciting and different. Even the research leaves me eager to get on with the revisions and the new writing. Now ... to plan what to do when I spend a weekend writing retreat in June. That always recharges my batteries, too.
Without dwelling too much on the frustrating side of things, how do you pull yourself out of the doldrums? Do you have some exciting summer (writerly) plans? Any conferences or festivals that are in your regular routine or that will be a new adventure on the horizon for you this year? Please share. That's what our blog is all about.