One Entrance to Creativity

Bored

Bored

I’m bored.

I have to spend another hour before I can actually go somewhere and do something else. And I have nothing to do.

There is an emptiness in my life that screams at me to do something, anything.

Anything is better than being bored.

Is it?

Because boredom is one entrance to creativity.

Nature ahorrs a vaccuum. Aristotle said that, thousands of years ago.

I believe that the mind is similar. It can’t stand doing nothing. That’s why meditation is so hard.

And if I allow boredom, if I allow that drone of nothing to enter my mind long enough…

… my mind fills the vaccum.

Usually with stories. With „what if?“

So now I’ll lean back, close my eyes and allow boredom.

Allowing stories to grow.

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Thoughts on Violence

Violence

Violence

Violence is a part of nature. Animals kill animals to eat them. They fight, too, for dominance or the right to mate.

Chimpanzees even go to war. It’s been documented that the young males sometimes hunt all members of another group and kill them without mercy. Males, females, youngsters, babies.

They are our close relatives. We are part of nature, and so violence is part of our nature.

Just look at the many, many wars in history. They started early, probably in the Late Stone Age. That’s when we get the first houses – and the first fortifications. Swords are prominent Bronze Age finds. And swords are not hunting weapons.

It was a celebrated aspect of civilization that violence was starting to be regulated.

Rules for wars were established (although they aren’t always followed even now in the  21st century).

Duells became illegal. Public fights were turned into sports events. Boxing, Wrestling, Multiple Martial Arts, even Football are all ways of channeling violence away from the streets and into arenas. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I read a headline about German men no longer knowing how to brawl. (Not true, btw.)

And yet, in popular culture, violence is still the solution to most problems.

When I watched „Avatar“, I was fascinated by the world and by the amazing ideas that went into creating it. The whole concept of „we are one“, of a meeting of consciousnesses was exciting. But in the end, the movie turned to a well-established trope to solve the conflict between the two major parties: a big, violent showdown involving multiple casualties, including the big bad guy. It felt inexplicably American: Violence as the solution to conflict.

I was deeply disappointed because that was in major dissonance with the peaceful and inclusive nature of Pandora. In fact, an intelligent guerilla tactic involving all of nature would have been much more exciting – to me. I suppose the majority of moviegoers never wasted a thought on that.

Now, in American cultural history, we can see a lot of stories involving the man who takes what he wants – land, gold, fur, often by overcoming obstacles and by using violence. Good and bad men. Men who defends their own with violence. And usually that violence means guns. The trope of the gun-slinging conqueror of the wild has shaped American culture like little else. We can still see it in the fact that most trophy-hunters in this world are American.

And this trope takes a huge toll on the American society in this modern century.

I just need to take a detour for a moment.

You see, Europe regulated violence early on and quite clearly, including guns.

In fact, there is a passage in the German constitution about the state being the only institution allowed any violence (a „monopoly of force“, it is called), in the shape of the police, jurisdiction and military. This might be shocking to read, and of course, it doesn’t prevent brawling, knife fights and the occasional victim of gun shots. However, it sets very clear boundaries.

Guns are regulated here. People who want to own one need a reason (hunter, sportsman), have to apply for a license and are registered, same as the guns. There are clear requirements for gun storage and transport which are enforced. This is part of ensuring that violent force against humans is only used by the state, and that only in emergencies and prescribed circumstances. (There is no death penalty in Europe, either.)

The US have no similar concept of regulating violence, in fact, I would assume many of my American friends would be horrified by that German passage, as well as our gun laws. But I want to remind you that a fairly peaceful movement toppled one German state a few decades ago, after all. Germans didn’t need guns to do so. We can do it again, if needed.

But in the US we can see what happens when guns as a way of expressing violence are not regulated. When they serve as the main means for „protection“ and „self-defense“. When they are everywhere, so that even kids can get to them. When they can be carried openly or concealed. When people can take the right to violence into their own hands. Vigilante justice is still very much an accepted concept, and even more so in popular culture.

There is a simple problem with that: People feel entitled to kill other people.

People feel entitled to kill an intruder. A burglar. Or someone just walking on their grounds. Or someone they think is a robber. Or – and this is where it gets really dangerous – someone who hurt them.

Interviews with criminals often reveal that they felt they were forced to their actions, and that they were justified in what they did. Because someone hurt them first.

An eye for an eye. You hurt me, I hurt you.

Or kill you.

And it’s so easy, because with a gun, all you have to do is pull the trigger. A tiny weight, shifted with a twitch of a finger. I know how it feels. I used to shoot for sports.

But if you’re consumed with rightious anger, the need for revenge, hate or even some kinds of mental illness, and are convinced it is okay to violently invoke justice on your own – it’s easy to shoot people. Because they have become the enemy and thus no longer human.

It’s so easy to go for the epic showdown celebrated in so many movies and stories.

It’s so easy to feel like the hero in a movie.

And it leaves people dead.

Maybe it is time to rethink our take on violence.

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The Fabric on our Skins

Jute

Jute

I don’t know about you, but my skin is quite sensitive. It matters what I wear. In fact, my clothes have to be soft. I can’t stand anything itchy or scratchy.

Nope, I cannot wear wool.

I would have been so lost in the Middle Ages.

It’s funny how clothes either get no description in Fantasy, or they get overdescribed. I’m sure you’ve read those pages and pages about the amazing dresses the queens wear. (I tend to skip those, though.)

I sometimes wonder if authors actually know how those fabrics were made and where they come from.

Wool, no problem. Everyone knows that. It comes from sheep, maybe goats, maybe rabbits. Easy peasy. But to turn wool into a shirt? Not so easy. And that stuff is practically always scratchy. Ugh.

Silk? Well, you need to know about silkworms and the mulberry tree, their only food source. And how to unravel those silk cocoons. That’s why it was so expensive.

Cotton? Not available in the European Middle Ages. (Cotton only grew in the Americas.)

Linnen? That’s flax, and it’s quite a chore to prepare it. It also often contains little wooden pieces of the flax stem – quite itchy, actually.

Jute – ever heard of that? It grows in warm and wet climates, and was used to make burlap sacks. Very rough… although treated well, it can be nice.

And then you need to spin and weave those materials to turn them into fabric.  Then you have to cut the fabric and sew it into clothes. Or knit or crotchet what you want to wear.

And we’re not even talking about color yet.

There is a reason clothes were really expensive in the Middle Ages. And why people generally only had two or three shirts max. New clothes were an absolute luxury.

How’s that for adding some real-life touches to your stories?

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When Stories won’t Die

There’s a story in my head that I have been carrying around for years. In my head.

The other day, I actually talked about it with a friend.

And suddenly, that story turned from a dry hulk into a doable tale with some flesh and blood.

It’s scary.

I have too many other things to write and finish.

But that story is now relentless.

I’ll write it soon…

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Grumpy Old Woman

Grumpy Woman

Grumpy Woman

There are days when I’m simply grumpy.

And I really don’t want to give up the grumpiness.

It’s nice to be a grumpy old woman.

I’m allowed to hate things as grumpy old woman.

I can hate the noisy kids. I can hate the party next door. I can hate the guy with the motorcycle and the other guy who guns his car in the garage. I can hate the girls who laugh too loud late at night.

I can even hate the wind, the flies on my balcony and the screaming seagulls.

Because I’m a grumpy old woman today.

Tomorrow, I can go back to loving people. But today, I’m grumpy.

I love it.

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The Aware Author – Weather

I believe we have an innate sense for weather. That’s because we  humans used to spend most of our lives outside, even though the first houses were constructed in the neolithic, thousands of years ago.

However, we tend not to use that sense much any more, and what we don’t use, atrophies.

I like to keep an eye on the weather, especially if it gets dramatic. Or if I have the sense it could be dramatic – it’s something like an inner disquiet, a little warning that tells me to keep checking the sky.

That’s how I saw at least two funnel clouds in my life, one almost directly above me. Here is a pic:

Funnel Cloud

Funnel Cloud

And I only noticed because I glanced at the sky on my way home and saw a line that didn’t seem right. It wasn’t tornado weather, after all. But there it was: a funnel reaching down towards me.

And I wasn’t scared at all, just amazed and impressed. The silence was eery, too.

Nobody else even checked to look at what I was staring at.

How does that sound for a character trait? Someone who is fascinated by the weather and gets it right almost every time? I think I need to create someone like that.

Weather witch, anyone?

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Excitement and Danger

Lightning

Lightning

I’m thinking about feeling disappointed. And feeling grateful at the same time.

You see, in the last three days, Germany has been hit by many, many thunderstorms. Continuously.

Except where I live.

And I would have liked some celestial fireworks. Because thunderstorms are exciting.

So I have been watching the radar online, I had a page with weatherwarnings open, and they all told me on thing: You are not getting anything. Not you. Nope.

Boooo.

And yet, I’m grateful.

Because excitement is one thing, damage is something entirely different.

Because four people died on Sunday alone, during those storms. Towns were devastated.

And it feels very weird to want excitement, and yet see how it can go badly wrong.

This time, it was „just“ the weather. And my pleasure in thunderstorms is harmless and doesn’t cause any trouble, since I cannot conjure any. I can just sit and wait until one happens. (I suppose I could move to a place where they happen more often.)

Some people, however, seek excitement in dangerous ways. And risk not just their own death but that of others. Racing in streets. Balancing on railway waggons. Drifting into crime…

And that’s when excitement becomes truly dangerous.

Let’s keep that for the books, okay?

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I Can Fly

I can fly

I can fly! (Pixabay)

I spread my wings and jump. The world drops away underneath me, as I catch the breeze and soar. I wheel, wings wide, marvelling at the landscape spread out below, stretching into endless distance.

Birds cry, flying with me, white specks at the corner of my eye. They are the fellows of the air, sharing this effortless moment where all weight disappears. The breeze caresses my face like the gentle fingers of my love.

And I can actually feel this, see it in my mind.

With just a simple, mental flip, I’m something else.

Something tiny. Tasting the world around it, just able to distinguish between light and dark. Sensing salty, sweet, icky and yummy. I turn towards yummy, extending a part of myself, engulfing it. The yummy becomes mine, and my body feels good.

Another flip, and I’m under water, coasting along with gentle sweeps of my flippers. I rise, break through the waves and breathe – first out, then in. I let myself sink back, into the blue, where the sun paints the world in its rays.

And I can sense all this, in my mind.

There are people who cannot.

I found out yesterday that a few percent of humans have a different brain structure that prevents them from holding images in their minds. Any images. It shocked me.

The one thing I have a very hard time imagining is not being able to imagine. I live so much of my life in my mind, after all, creating people, dragons, even whole worlds.

I do this with my mind. I can fly in my mind.

But there are people who cannot. Never could.

There’s a name for it: Aphantasia.

And I don’t know how to feel about that. My mind enters a dead end when I try to. This is unimaginable.

So help me. Comment, if you have any thoughts about this.

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The Aware Author – Kindness

Red van

Red van – pixabay

It was just a little thing, really.

You see, this morning, I walked to work, as usual. It was just a normal day, no rain, no wind, overcast gray sky, and with normal temperatures. A day so normal that it was almost painful.

I cross quite a few streets on my walk, too. Some are big, with traffic lights, some are small. And there is a small one where the sidewalk just continues across that street, making it so that pedestrians tend to simply walk on and that drivers almost automatically give them the right of way.

While I got closer to that point in my walk, a man in a large van pulled out of that street and stopped right in the middle of the sidewalk, for a left turn across a four lane street. Of course, he had to wait for the cars to pass, and then for a bunch of bikers.

All that time, I was getting closer. And behind me, someone with a longboard was catching up to me. I started to wonder how this would play out. (And honestly, I hate it when I have to wait for a car to get out of my way on a sidewalk.)

The guy in the van threw in the reverse and pulled back, to let us pass. And I gave him a grateful nod and a smile, and he nodded and smiled back.

That’s all.

But it made me feel happy. It created a momentary connection between me and that driver – a good one. The next time I see that particular van, which is likely, since it’s a delivery guy for an old peoples‘ home in that street, I’ll probably smile again.

And this is exactly the kind of random encounter that makes stories believable. That can lead to much more, and even serve as introduction of a new character.

A little moment of kindness on a normal morning.

And so much more.

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Musings – Meeting People

We writers are a solitary bunch.

And that’s normal. I even suspect that most writers are HSPs, and that means we need rest and silence and quiet time on our own. What better way to spend that time than writing stories?

But even we need social contact. We need to go out and talk with people. And feel the wind, listen to the birds and soak up the sun. But yeah, we need people, too.

Even though we often don’t want to admit it.

So I met another author yesterday, and it was very cool to find out we share a lot of opinions, and even similar experiences. But we had to cut our meeting short because the location filled up and got really, really noisy.

Which simply means we protected our nature. And we’ll continue our talk another time.

This is actually an awesome compromise between our need for quiet, and our need for companionship: Find a place that works well for meeting one or two people. And you’ll enjoy it more than you expect.

Who are you going to meet this week?

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