“We don’t say I can’t here; only I don’t want to.”
It’s really not that high…. And the trapeze isn’t as far away as it looks, but when you are standing on the top of a 5 inch round log, with nothing to hold onto and only air surrounding you it seems like the most impossible obstacle in the world.
Obstacles are funny that way; I suppose if they didn’t seem impossible they would just be called play-structures. The ropes course at Squaw Valley challenges you to face the thoughts that tell you something is impossible (although it doesn’t really do anything about the inner voice shouting‘this is crazy’).
Writers face plenty of these obstacles as they go through their journey. Some of them are entirely internal (you’ll never be able to finish it), and others are voiced openly and with such confidence you assume they must be true (do you know how impossible it is to get an agent).
And the funny thing is, I have found it doesn’t really help when eventually you do get published (because, believe me, if you stick to it, you will). Then the inner voice says something like, (no one will like your work) and the external ones talk all about the impossibility of making a living at writing.
Listening to these voices it is easy to forget that the reason I started writing was because I loved it. Rather than the sheer joy of writing, the obstacles begin to look like the purpose for my work.
At the top of a 100 foot tall pine tree I was so intent on ringing the bell that proved I had reached the top that I completely forgot to look at the beautiful scenery surrounding me. And ultimately that is the biggest problem with using the word can’t; I become so focused on overcoming the obstacle that I forget I am actually there because I want to be.
“I wish they would still let us light a fire in the fireplace…. Early summer nights can get cold here.”
We’d just finished our tour of Vikingsholm and were talking with the wonderful park ranger who had provided such great information on the beautiful old house.
As a child I’d spent my summers at Lake Tahoe, and it was a family tradition to hike down to Vikingsholm and have a picnic there. So I remember the spot fondly and was so glad to finally be able to share it with my own family. But even more, I loved taking our hike because it was the first time I had gone back since using it as the setting for one of the scenes in Betting Jessica.
I recently wrote a guest blog post for Romancing the Genres where I describe why I love to write contemporary fiction. I enjoy being able to use things I observe or overhear or past experiences. The scene from Betting Jessica is a perfect example of this.
On one of our trips when I was young a terrible storm came up and began raining and then hailing on us as we were half way down the mountain. My mom had us hold towels over our heads to keep the stone sized hail from hurting
and we ran down the mountain until we reached the castle. When we arrived there we found all of the visitors huddled inside and they quickly made room for us.
As I took the tour my memories of that experience overlapped with the story I had created. I asked the park ranger if the fireplace was ever used, and this led to us talking about that childhood experience so long ago. I explained that I remembered a fire being lit in the fireplace and at some point the ranger pulling out his guitar and leading the storm hostages in song. She told me that although the fireplace was no longer used, she had heard stories about the previous ranger playing his guitar and sometimes having a fire there.
Fortunately, Betting Jessica is fictionalized because when they arrive at the castle after encountering a similar hailstorm they are able to have an intimate moment sitting on the hearth in front of the fire… something that couldn’t actually happen at Vikingsholm today.
Still… as I stood there, getting ready to shoot a YouTube video for my fans, Erik and Jessica were as real to me as the ghost of my past self.
Main room at Vikingsholm
with fireplace in the background.
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Link here to Betting Jessica on Amazon.com