Sunday, May 31, 2015

Brain Boosts and Insights: 5 Links

image courtesy

"I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells." --Dr. Seuss

June: we're fast approaching the half-way mark of the year. Can you believe it? How are we doing on the writing goals we set in January? Do we need a boost--maybe a brain boost, insights on how the brain works, or just simple inspiration? Sharing some links on the subject...enjoy!

1. Can You Boost Your Brain Power--and Your Health--by Writing Every Day? (Yes!), by Mary Carroll Moore

2. Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling, by Paul J. Zak

3. The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains, by Leo Widrich

4. Your Brain on Fiction, by Annie Murphy Paul

5. How Does Writing Affect Your Brain?, an infographic by Micaela Lacy

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sailors in the Vineyard, and a Wedding

by Silas Weir Mitchell

Up anchor! Up anchor!
Set sail and away!
The ventures of dreamland:
Are thine for a day.
Yo, heave ho!
Aloft and alow
Elf sailors are singing,
Yo, heave ho!
The breeze that is blowing 
So sturdily strong
Shall fill up thy sail
With the breath of a song...

We had a wedding over Memorial Day weekend and the launching site was beautiful.

The ventures of dreamland...
The celebration was held in a vineyard.

...are thine for a day
Guests witnessed the couple's vows.

Elf sailors are singing, yo, heave ho!
A host of attendants accompanied them--including great-grandchildren of the bride 
and great-nieces and nephews of the groom. Each one wore a sailor outfit. 
(The ones in the front are four of our five grandkids.)

The breeze that is blowing so sturdily strong...
Photo ops and toasts, sunshine and breezy blessings abounded.

...shall fill up thy sail with the breath of a song.
And many opportunities to savor the moment. What a memorable day!

And the poem Dreamland? It was written by one Silas Weir Mitchell in 1890. Mitchell (1829-1914) was a physician during the Civil War specializing in neurological diseases. He later embarked on a serious literary career at age 50, writing poetry and novels. Quite the varied careers, I'd say! And, interestingly enough, his namesake and descendent all these years later, Silas Weir Mitchell, is an actor, best known for his role in the television series Grimm (which, I confess, I've never watched). Wow, the history that flows through one simple poem.

Dreamland continues for several more stanzas and can be found here. But the concluding lines are:

Then up with the anchor!
Set sail and away!
The ventures of loveland
Are thine for a day.

Quite appropriate for the newlyweds, not only on the day of their wedding, but for the fact that they live in...Loveland, Ohio!

Oh, the coincidences.

The excitement is behind us now and word counts beckon. I'm setting my sails back in that direction. In what direction will you aim your sails in the days ahead?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ferries, History, and Imagining

Ohio River, early May 2015
"We should always be aware that what now lies in the past once lay in the future." --F. W. Maitland

It was a picture-perfect day and a perfect vantage point.

We didn't know where we were actually going when we headed across the river to a memorial service since we were traveling in an unfamiliar area. But once there, and after parking the car, this is the view we came upon. Whoa. We weren't expecting that.

The scene is the Ohio River, standing on the Kentucky side looking west; southern Ohio is to the right. And suddenly I was transported back 200 years. I was imagining the characters of my historical story in vivid color since the setting is the Ohio valley.

Anderson Ferry, Wikipedia Commons
Past and present mingled together--my story, the river, and a ferry in the 21st century that crosses at the same spot every day, and several times a day, as did the original one in the 19th century. Yes, we have a ferry that's been in operation since 1817, the Anderson Ferry. Its path cuts right across the middle of the above photo. (Sadly, I missed my chance to snap a picture in transit, but others have recorded spectacular ones, especially here.)

The Anderson Ferry is a Cincinnati icon and historical treasure. Today's ferry transports cars, motorcycles, and bicycles across the quarter-mile distance. 200 years ago we might have been talking about horses and pigs, wagons and carts, women in long dresses and bonnets. The trip takes about 15 minutes.  Of course we have bridges upriver and down but the drive to cross the river at those points is significantly longer. But this? This is convenient for people on the Ohio side to get to the Greater Cincinnati Airport, actually located in Kentucky, and people in Kentucky to get to the city of Cincinnati. It's also a quaint experience just to say you took the ferry. And it's so historical--adding layers to a writer's experience.

What lies in the past once lay in the future, as the quote says. The people of 1817 couldn't foresee 200 years ahead, but, wow, we can dip 200 years in the past. Jeannette Winterson says, "History is a string full of knots, the best you can do is admire it, and maybe tie it up a bit more. History is a hammock for swinging and a game for playing."

History is also a ferry, transporting us back and forth, past to present. I love it!