Friday 1 January 2016

Hold on to the good

 We headed to my hometown for the holidays.  It's been a week filled with games, food and excited children.  I've totally enjoyed it and have been spoiled with my mom's cooking and the time and energy to visit and do whatever we feel like each day.

I came across this Christmas Basket from my childhood, tucked away in a closet collecting dust.  I brought it out as a joke, but it actually gave me a lot of joy.

Even though writers aren't supposed to admit it, I had a wonderful childhood.  I've frequently had conversations with other writers about whether or not you can write well if you've had a healthy upbringing.  I'm clearly in favour of answering yes to this question.  Fictional writing, at least, is about more than experiences -- imagination is absolutely necessary. You can have that no matter how you were raised.

So, in the midst of the trend of decluttering, minimalism, and chucking it all to live in a tiny house, I'd like to suggest you hold onto something (or maybe a few things) you never use purely to bring a smile to your face.

I recently took part in a writing exercise at the Surrey International Writers' Conference with Danika Dinsmore where she had us imagine a room from any time in our past and then to write about specific objects in the room.  We were to say "Hello stapler", for example, and then keep writing.  It sounded a bit crazy at first, but as I went along, I was surprised by how much detail I remembered.  The point of the exercise was to pay attention to the emotions each object brought us.  After saying hello for 10 minutes, or so, we wrote about these emotions to show us that our characters feel something for the objects around them.  Here is a similar exercise by Danika, if you'd like to try it: Images from Memory Exercise.

Happy New Year to all and may you enjoy the objects around you and may you do something you love as much as I loved cross-country skiing with my family.


  1. That sounds like a really fun exercise actually. I may steal that one to do in Writer's Group! I agree about a happy life and writing fiction. I think if you have both imagination and empathy, and especially if you listen to other people and read widely, you have plenty of a basis to write from :)

    1. Steal away! Hope it goes well. Yes, empathy and reading widely are absolutely necessary as well.