Our outdoor air sucks. Need more?
Smoke from wildfires is filling our air. The Air Quality Index leaped to one hundred fifteen last night. DANGEROUS. It hasn’t been hot, only into the nineties. We open the house at night to cool it off, and then close the blinds and windows during the day. Opening the windows last night sent us into coughing fits as wet smoke smells wafted in. Eventually, we donned masks.
Today isn’t as bad. The A.Q.I. is in the fifties, and officially, moderate. Visibility remains down. It’s like a white-out beyond a a few hundred feet.
All this wildfire smoke has reduced my Fitbit activities. Walking is way down, to five miles a day average. It’s not as critical as many other issues resulting from wildfires. None of the fires are directly affecting our community. We feel for all those being evacuated in those areas, and appreciate the firefighters’ efforts. If this stuff is terrible for me, a guy in his early sixties who considers himself in good health, those with emphysema and other respiratory issues must be deeply suffering.
I took to the Orson Scott Card method for visualizing and organizing the novel in progress. O.S.C. talked about just drawing places, like a city, and then adding details. With each detail and area added or defined, entertain questions about why those areas and details exist. I’ve done this exercise before, with excellent results. I wasn’t disappointed this time.
I had been editing the novel’s first draft. Halfway through that process, I perceived a problem. A new ‘greater arc’ was required as the solution. I could be wrong, but this is how I decided to address the issue. It’s essentially an epic. I like epics. Bigger is better.
This was decided over a four day period. Then, after deciding it was necessary, I went on a reading sprint. I finished reading two novels, and read two others, in five days. I also read fiction stories and news articles online. This reading stimulated my writing juices and invigorated my writing dreams. I found myself re-committed to who I was, and what I was doing. It’s a matter of taking a deep breath, turning on the computer, and putting the ass in chair, and the fingers on a keyboard.
This new arc takes place on a planet where technology fails. An outpost is established using outdated technology. Suddenly, it’s like living in a frontier castle. I loved that difference in direction from my usual challenges of visualizing the far future and other intelligent races.
I drew the outpost on my computer, and brainstormed about how the lack of technology affects them, and solutions and work-arounds. The team living in the outpost are hunting for people, but can’t use their suits or vehicles. They fall back to horses. Having horses adds more problems and dimensions.
So do the powerful windstorms endured on the planet. That’s why the outpost becomes a castle; something stout enough to survive the windstorms are necessary. That’s the iceberg view of all the scenes, problems, and challenges realized. I don’t want to give away more. Drawing and brainstorming in this manner was a catalyst to my imagination. I scrambled to capture ideas an create an event timeline. It resulted in *shudder* an outline.
As an organic writer, the outline overwhelmed me. Suddenly, there it all was, this part of the novel mapped out in all its complications and key events. I could imagine, see, and hear them. Writing them was required. It’s daunting for an organic pantser. I decided I would scramble to write key scenes and moments, and patch them together with bridge and pivot scenes, and build the story in layers, much like I used to do when oil painting, or writing a business case, or analyzing data.
I think that whatever opened my creative floodgates also turned the dream valves to full open. I had six remembered dreams last night. Friends from my past were featured. My wife also made an appearance. Of course, maybe it was the eclipse opening the dream and creativity gates. Who can say?
Trying to capture details this morning diverted personal resources already earmarked for other activities. I resorted to dream summaries. The dreams were wild. Once again, my muses were prominently featured. They were attempting to guide and assist me in different manners. Sorting the chaos was a fascinating exercise.
Having your muses show up in my dreams injects high confidence levels. I felt empowered and emboldened when I awaken. Yet, being me, the confidence evaporates to more normal levels by midday. Having your muses and some higher beings populate your dreams and offer encouragement has a good thing. I’m certainly not going to kick them out.
Time to write like crazy, at least one more time. How about you, writers? Have you seen increased creativity? Maybe it is the eclipse.
Or maybe it’s the coffee.