Sunday, November 5, 2023

Things I Brought Home With Me - Gifts from the sea, Words and Images . . .


Gifts from the sea

Words and images from the heart and soul of The Low Country

Time for a bit of a recap of my week in South Carolina.

Allow me some moments of meandering through my thoughts.  Otherwise known as "rambling." Or stream of consciousness.  In my case, "rambling" is more to the point.

We all know the prevalent theory about writers being either a "pantser" or a "plotter."

I am in agreement with The Magic Violinist that there is a third category; the "plantser."

Read her article here; it's interesting.

Whatever category you happen to fall into as a writer, you probably have your own personal subset of writing tools.

Mine is photography.

Every photograph taken has a story.  A story that has been captured like a fly in amber.  

The photographer will, at least in my own experience, be able to remember the story with just a glance at the photo.  And possibly expound upon that story with a little time and scrutiny.

My photographs often act as my writing prompts.

There's a theory that taking pictures is a way of capturing an image but conditions the photographer to be somewhat lacking in the utilization of their full attention and thereby losing the full effect, and possibly, the complete memory, of the moment.

I disagree.

While that may be true for some, it is not true for all.

When I'm taking a picture I feel a connection.  That connection continues after the shot.  I have absorbed not only the photo itself, but feelings.  Sense of place.  And, on occasion, even scent.

For instance,


What on earth is Cinderella's carriage doing on a lonely road on Saint Helena Island, South Carolina?


That was, absolutely, a question that popped into my mind.

Along with surprise, joy, astonishment, bewilderment, delight and laughter.

And the beginnings of a story.

"Where is she hiding?  Does she have both her shoes?"

And so, the images that came home with me are all the viable genesis for a story.

A possible emergence of a new WHIMSEY.

OR, the feasible conception of several brand new stories.

Time will tell.

This I can say with certainty.

My time in The Low Country as the recipient of the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s Fall 2023 Writer’s Residency was not wasted time.

Besides being magical, it was, in fact, creatively stimulating.

Almost nightly while snugged up in MarshSong I transferred images into words.

My notebooks I kept while writing WHIMSEY went on this trip with me.

Including the "Whimsey Bible," which is a complete collection of the Whimsey characters and their physical characteristics, personalities, family trees, birth/death dates, wedding dates, etc.

The Bible was kept so that I would be able to fairly easily reference the characters along with past events in order to write more Whimsey stories.

The notebooks, along with the (many) drafts, of the work in progress long referred to as "Whimsey Two" were read, again, and studied while I was at MarshSong.  

As were new notes penned during my stay.

For a wee bit of background, here's the short version of what has happened to "Whimsey Two."

If you've read WHIMSEY: A Novel, you know it was told, basically, through Emmaline's experiences.

My next Whimsey was going to be Olivia's story, and continuing with each of the women comprising the lifelong friendships of Emma's, and their families.

For me, it became obvious after a lot of time and effort, that it wasn't working.

It was just WHIMSEY on repeat with no new meat.  A series already old with the second addition.  

And so -

It has languished (a nice word for <perished, expired, withered>, you get the idea - choose one).

Will The Low Country, as one of its gifts, help WHIMSEY recover and flourish?

If not in novel form, but perhaps interconnecting short stories . . .

Time will tell and we shall see.  

I am working on it.

Right now, I am, thanks to the Pat Conroy Literary Center and all the really delightful people I have been lucky enough to meet through this experience, hopeful.

Hopeful is the best I can give right now.

But, you know what?

Hopeful, like life, is good.

In the meantime, I"d like to encourage you writers out there to consider submitting an application for The Conroy Center Writer's Residency - Spring, 2024.  
Info and application can be found here

Life is Good

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