Unlock the Muse – October 17, 2018

There is this magical moment that happens every fall. Time is moving inexorably forward, so steadily that sometimes it’s easy to not notice its passage. But every fall, the leaves on the trees turn color. They change from green to golden to fiery red and orange. Then, they begin to fall. They fall and fall and fall. Yet still, the trees appear as fully covered in leaves as the lawn.

Then one day I drive by a familiar stand of trees and realize they are all bare. When did this happen? Weren’t they full of leaves just yesterday? This is the mystery of time. It passes whether or not we stop to notice.

This same magical moment is true of a novel. Diligently put in the work day after day, and then there will come a moment when you will look up and realize, it is done.

Speaking of stopping to notice, here is this week’s writing prompt:

Go to the mall and people watch. Home in on one person. What do you think this person does for a living?

There isn’t much of a mall in my neighborhood anymore. If you don’t have one, don’t worry about it. Choose a busy coffee shop, a community park or sit outside the city hall. Just be careful not to get yourself arrested for loitering, lurking or just looking creepy.

I haven’t picked up a new writing craft book lately, though I have several I could start reading. However, since I haven’t started something new, and rather than returning to the same book yet again, I went looking for something different.

For a writer, being good at observation is critical. But in the day to day busyness of life, it can be all too easy to get caught up in oneself and forget to pay attention. I know I’m not always the best observer. This article from lifehacker.com offers some fun ideas to help improve your observation skills, such as watching people in crowded places, assigning yourself a scavenger hunt or taking a “sound walk.”

Observing is useful, but the critical thinking that follows is what can help you come up with new ideas and learn more about the world around you.

So, go explore your world with your eyes wide open. This will enhance your creativity and spark new ideas to fuel your writing.

This past week my eldest son asked me why we say “you’re welcome” in response to “thank you.” I didn’t have a ready answer for him, so I thought it would make an excellent discussion for this week’s vocabulary session.

It does seem strange if you stop and think about the words, that “you’re welcome” should be the proper response to gratitude. You are welcome. Welcome to what? Other languages, such as Spanish and French, use different phrases that translate into some form of “it is nothing” or “my pleasure.” These phrases certainly make more sense. According to this article, the usage of this phrase in the English language may date back to Shakespeare’s day.

Happy writing!

Please consider sharing a link to your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask!