Taking a break from any kind of work – even writing – is an important part of renewal. This week another five authors share what they like to do in their down time and how it impacts or informs their writing.
Sylvia McNicoll: Lately I have been attending Improv classes with my 14 year-old grandson, Hunter. My acting may not be improving, but I’m collecting some very interesting characters for future reference.Sylvia McNicoll is the author of Best Friends Through Eternity (Tundra) www.sylviamcnicoll.com
Alice Valdal: In answer to your question, I would say gardening. I’m a farm girl at heart and working in the soil, planting and harvesting is about more than growing beans and potatoes for the table. The work takes me home, reminds me of my true self, restores my spiritual balance. I never set out to write about home, but throughout all my writing, that theme repeats . . . coming home, finding home, building home, longing for home . . . it sounds a foundational note in all my stories. So, I garden, and write stories in my head and smile as I remember endless summer days as a child when my only companion was my imagination and we had a great time together.Alice Valdal is the author of The Man for Her (Kensington & Amazon) www.alicevaldal.com
Janet Whyte: As Langara Library’s media technician, I buy all of the College’s DVDs and sometimes catalogue them, too. Through films, I travel around the world and meet people I’d likely never otherwise know. This week, I met a young woman from Guyana who, despite a disabling health condition, works as a bicycle mechanic. I listened to a minister from Toronto who’s been fighting for gay rights his whole life. And I encountered a homicidal stockbroker I’d rather not spend too much time around! The people I learn about through documentary, educational, and feature films diversify my thinking. Sometimes they reappear in my stories, and sometimes they don’t. But they all become part of my world. Janet M. Whyte is the author of Shot in the Dark (Lorimer) www.lorimer.ca/childrens/Books/2849/Shot-in-the-Dark.html
Lisa McManus Lange: This year I have taken up the sport of archery – something completely different for me. I’m a creative person, not sporty, and little did I know the historic sport would boost my writing. In trying something completely new – something totally different and outside my comfort zone – I have found a confidence and willingness to experiment in my writing I didn’t have before. Although I am a strong believer in the concept of creativity begets creativity, I have come to believe that doing something completely different, and perhaps NOT creative once in a while, enhances my writing output and idea flow.Lisa McManus Lange is multi-published and her next release will be in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible. www.lisamcmanuslange.blogspot.com
Lee Edward Fodi: I’ve always enjoyed traveling and exploring new places. I travel to many places for research and, as an author and specialized creative writing teacher, to some exotic places to deliver programs. Experiencing new cultures and settings definitely inspires my own work and provides me with a lot of fuel for the fantasy worlds I construct. Through the years, I’ve become better at becoming a “recorder”. With my camera and my sketchbook, I record everything that is of interest to me—regardless of whether I know exactly what that inspiration will be used for. The other thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that it has become harder to turn off my “inspiration radar.” Last year, I went to Hawaii for an outright vacation with no intention of doing any research or writing. Having said that, I did make sure to pack my notebook since it’s my rule to never get on a plane without it. And it’s a good thing! Once I reached Hawaii, I was so entranced by the variety and scope of the flora and fauna that I was furiously scribbling long passages in my notebook and making detailed sketches for new characters, creatures, and settings. So much for vacation.Lee Edward Fodi is the author of Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen(Simply Read Books) www.kendrakandlestar.com
Helaine Becker: Everything I know about writing I learned from running. I’m a terrible runner, mind you. Slow, and prone to griping. But I run anyway.Every run stinks. I can think of a million other things I’d rather be doing – like, hmmm, lying in bed with a book. But I run anyway.Running hurts. It hurts my tender feet. My wonky hip. My lazy lungs. But I run anyway.And even though I hate it hate it hate it most of the time, I run.Writing is the same as running. It hurts and I hate it and its always a slog uphill. But I keep at it. Because running has taught me success is more about heart than talent. It’s taught me to keep plugging away, and that if I stick with it, I will get where I need to be in the end. And it will feel so, so grand when I do.Everything I know about writing I learned from running. Helaine Becker is the author of Dirk Daring: Secret Agent (Orca Book Publishers) www.helainebecker.com