Friday, March 27, 2015

Celebrating New Experiences

It's never too late to learn something new, something fun, something different.  This week I got a lesson in how silk is made.  I attended the exhibit, The Silk Road,  which is currently showing at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was a fascinating exhibit for a number of reasons.

First, the history lesson was an important reminder about learning and re-learning our world's history. Like so many people I learned my general world history way back in high school though I studied a few more specific areas during college. But every time I visit one of these types of exhibits (such as Genghis Khan, or about Pompeii or the Mayan empire) it's like going back to school again, and I love learning new things or re-learning old things. That's why I enjoy these exhibits so much.

This one reminded me about the various trade routes from the Far East, through the Middle East and then to Europe.  I also spent a few minutes learning about how the various wares were traded all along the route, bringing things like silk, tea and gun powder, or trading for goods like seeds, emeralds and paper as the merchants travelled.

But for me the fun was learning about how silk was discovered and made.  Imagine being the woman who dropped a silkworm cocoon into a steaming cup of tea and pulling it out as one thin, long strand of strong fiber that shimmers.  Beautiful.  I also got a lesson in how to wind the dry the fiber and then how it was woven into beautiful robes that were traded to merchants.

The whole process and the idea of trade along the entire Silk Road was fascinating.  It made me want to learn more about the various items that were traded (like emeralds ). The experience also had me re-thinking a character in a book and making her come from the Far East. Or making another character a professor of Middle Eastern languages.

So here's a toast to continuing education... and learning more about the Silk Road.  I wasn't able to make it to China, but I did make it to PF Changs for one of my favorite dinners with a good friend and a glass of bubbly.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Celebrating Choices

We find ourselves facing choices every day from the time you get up and decide what you're having for breakfast. Ham and eggs, muffins and fruit, oatmeal? I've been known to choose leftover pizza or Chinese food. If either one of those are in my refrigerator, they're usually my first choice.

But when it comes to writing, I find my choices have sometimes become overwhelming. Do I write something new or work on editing the old stuff? Keep the old material or throw it out and start over?
Writing something fresh is always exhilarating, but then why keep starting new stories over if I'm not going to finish something? Ah, so many choices.

What to do?

One of the best choices is when I can see a story going in a new direction. Then I usually decide to follow that lead and that is usually a much better choice than continuing to stick with the old plan.

For instance, several years ago I submitted a short story that turned out not to be long enough for the market so I decided to re-write it, but I just couldn't get that longer version to work. Then several months ago our Heart of Denver Romance Writers decided to offer an anthology and several of us decided to participate.

As we discussed story ideas I remembered my old story that I had started and that hadn't worked. Suddenly I realized I wanted to bring that back, but as we brainstormed I got a whole new idea for the old story. I decided to give my heroine a new choice. The original premise was that she wanted one more romance in her life. She was in her 50s and wanted something new. But I had no reason she wanted it -- she just did. Then I gave her a real reason, and now I am off and running. I'll finish the story today in time to make the anthology deadline.

I made a choice, my heroine made a choice, and just making that choice made the story work again. It was like unplugging a drain. Make a choice and let the creativity flow.

Today I am celebrating those choices we all make every day. Sometimes we decide without really thinking about them, and often those turn out to be the best, including what to have for breakfast. Hmmm, I think I deserve a mimosa, just for making that choice.