Thursday, September 29, 2016

Inclination and Connecting the Dots

courtesy google images
"No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination." --James Joyce

The fourth quarter of the year is upon us (fourth? what happened to the other three??) and I'm determined to read this quote every day for the next three months. Simple words but very motivating. For the inclination (n: disposition or bent; something to which one is inclined) to write truly starts with something as basic as a pen. Add to that then a place, time, quiet...

And the dots begin to be connected, the story picture we have in our heads begins to be drawn. Inclination is fostered, not squelched.

Nothing new here, but reminders are always good!

What dots do you connect to actually get down to writing?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

On Unicorns, Expecting the Unexpected, and the BMV

image courtesy pixabay
"Writing is a journey of discovery because until you start, you never know what will 
happen, and you can be surprised by what you do. Expect the unexpected. " --Mini Grey

Funny where you meet the unexpected. This time for me, it was at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles where I went to renew our car tags. It's a place where you wait in line and hope this won't take too long since you have a bunch of other errands to run. You might pause long enough to notice some of the characters...I mean, people...around you and ponder if maybe they'd someday show up in one form or another in your stories. But really, you're just enduring it all until you're out of there.

But this time there was a new element introduced to help pass the time: an electronic slide-show on the screen behind the desk. Not much of note until this line came up: "The national animal of Scotland is the unicorn."

I'm not sure what I expected when I walked into the BMV, but I know I didn't expect that!

And as so happens when we start at one unexpected place, we end up at another...

For example, I never gave much thought to unicorns before other than they were some sort of mythical creature and part of my daughter's My Little Pony collection when she was small. But I found myself wondering why Scotland would name the unicorn its national animal. Research (including here), showed how much of the the unicorn's story is woven through centuries of history, mythology, religion, and heraldry. And so, Scotland's unicorn first shows up in the country's coat of arms as far back as the 12th century. And before that--who really knows where the unicorn came from? The figment of someone's imagination?  The misinterpretations of carvings early on, as some say, that depicted bulls and goats from a side-view showing only one horn? Marco Polo's confusion over the rhinoceros?  Certainly the unicorn's story is woven into symbolism and fantasy. Oh, as Dr. Seuss says, the places we'll go!

And then there's the subject of national animals themselves. Did you know that most countries have one? Ours here in the United States is the American bison. Interestingly, the national animal of Belarus is the European bison. Other countries' designated animals include Australia's kangaroo, Peru's vicuna, Greece's phoenix, Mauritius' dodo bird, to name a few (more here). Each one carries its own interesting story.

All of this also took me on a hunt for a quote and thus the above selection by Mini Grey. Maybe you're familiar with Ms. Grey's work, but this search introduced me to her--and I'm so glad for the discovery. For she is an award-winning children's book author and illustrator, noted particularly for The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon, The Pea and the Princess, and the Traction Man series. She is from Wales (neighbor to Scotland!) whose country's national animal is the Welsh dragon--fiery red--dating back to 1485. And beyond learning all of this (unexpectedly) about her, I had to chuckle at the source of her name. She goes by the nickname 'Mini' because, as she says on her website, she was born in the front-seat of a mini-car. Talk about the unexpected!

Stories, stories everywhere. Waiting to be plucked out of the air, or at the BMV as the case may be. What unexpecteds have come your way recently?