The Great North

IMG_1721

Ahhhhh… Up North.

For those outside of Michigan, it may be a strange circumstance, but going “up north” is something that happens all summer long, and often into the fall.

People from downstate buy or rent cabins on lakes, in the woods, and travel there for a weekend getaway.

I’m not sure how common this is in other states, but in Michigan, nearly everyone goes “up north” for the weekend. Or know somebody who does.

Well, I am currently up north. The first location of my traveling PT job is in the northern part of the lower peninsula in Michigan. Tons of snow, lots of deadly icicles, pictured above at the cabin I’m staying at, and a veritable wonderland of outdoor activities.

Since starting this new job a couple weeks ago, I’ve written more in my gargantuan re-write than I have in the past five months. I knew that would happen. Surrounded by nature and natural beauty never ceases to inspire me.

It also helps that I don’t have internet in the cabin I’m staying in. (My choice).

Although the internet has many uses, it is mighty distracting for someone who procrastinates with her writing because she’s often overwhelmed by the enormity of it.

I apologize if I don’t answer people as quickly as I used to, or am noticeable absent from the blogosphere for days at a time. I can’t get on with my work laptop, so the only time I can use the inter webs is when I haul myself to a coffee shop or the library.

And, God bless ’em, but the libraries in small towns close at 5 or 6 o’clock most days. Well, for us working stiffs, that doesn’t do much.

How has everyone else been? Have you made any headway on your writing lately?

Something I’ve learned in the past few weeks… turn off Mr. Negative!

Writing is such a personal process, like all the other arts, and it is all too easy to have your own personal storm of negativity constantly brewing storm clouds over your head.

I know it’s hard, I struggle with this on a daily basis. But push that storm away from your atmosphere and close your eyes. Write whatever comes to mind.

Ignore the “that stinks” or “are you sure?” or “nobody will like this” comments that filter through your mind.

Open yourselves up to the immense creativity we’re all capable of. Don’t go with the common route that’s been established by so many other authors.

Search for new avenues and let your mind wander into places you wouldn’t expect.

And have fun!

Happy writing, friends!

“The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of others; it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“Try giving up all the thoughts that make you feel bad, or even just some of them, and see how doing that changes your life. You don’t need negative thoughts. All they have ever given you was a false self that suffers. They are all lies.”
― Gina LakeWhat about Now?: Reminders for Being in the Moment

Bay Cliff – Where Dreams Unfold

Bay Cliff Morning

This lil ol’ picture is not from the interwebs, people. This was taken on an old, crappy digital camera in 2007. The result was stunning, though. 

This is a picture of Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay, Michigan. It’s in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula right on Lake Superior. This was taken at about six in the morning as I was saddened by the fact that I had to leave later that day and wanted to take this slice of beauty with me.

Bay Cliff was, and probably always will be, the best experience of my life. It’s a camp for children with special needs, and they’re there for physical, occupational, speech, and hearing therapy. They’re also there to have fun! Many of the children that attend this camp for seven weeks during the summer are the outcasts in their community and treated differently because they walk, talk, or wheel around unlike other “normal” kids. At Bay Cliff, they make friends, go swimming, camping, have cookouts, and experience things they wouldn’t have a chance to during the rest of the year. While at Bay Cliff, these kids can realize dreams they never thought possible, and Bay Cliff does everything in its power to make those dreams come true. Children have learned to walk over the course of one summer session, after having spent years in a wheelchair or walker or using crutches. It’s amazing what the dedicated staff and environment of Bay Cliff can achieve.

I worked there the summers of 2005-2007, and I’ll never be the same because of it. I was a camp counselor working with 3-5 year olds in wheelchairs, walking with crutches, who were hearing impaired, or had speech deficits. I was basically their mother for the duration of the camp season. And although it was the hardest thing in the world to do, it was also the best.

I’d post pictures of the kids I worked with, but I’m not allowed to per camp regulations. But I can post pictures of the other counselors and I being silly. 

Bay Cliff Arnold Impression

This was in 2006. I’m the one in the padded plaid shirt doing my best cowboy Arnold impression. It’s probably a “you had to be there kind of humor,” but the whole room was busting up laughing at our antics.

Bay Cliff Fun in the Wagon

I’m behind the camera on this one. We never got to ride in the wagons because we used them for the kids, so we thought we’d give it a go! This was taken after the kids had left and we were cleaning up the cabin. Just a small sample of our silliness. 

Bay Cliff Silly Pic

More silliness. These were the wonderful girls I worked with in 2007. Simply amazing women, each one of them. We were being meese in this picture. Moose? Mooses? Meese? Whatever. It’s based on a silly camp song about a moose. 🙂 I love camp songs. If given the opportunity, I’d belt out every single one I know.

And here’s another reason to love Bay Cliff:

Bay Cliff Ives Lake

This is Ives Lake, near Bay Cliff, where the staff go after the kids leave camp. Its beauty is barely glimpsed in this picture. Don’t you love it?

You can visit Bay Cliff’s website here, or like them on FB here and see the amazing kids that come to Bay Cliff and can’t help but put a smile on your face, but I’m not here just to plug this fantastic place. 

My primary objective is to describe how much experiences can impact our writing. Indeed, I think they are what impacts us most of all.

Bay Cliff is the basis of a good portion of my MG fantasy series. The MC, Ava, goes to boot camp, and a majority of the scheduling and organization of the camp is based on the experiences I had at Bay Cliff. Although Bay Cliff is far from a boot camp, it does have a rhythm that helps it flow effortlessly.

Bay Cliff is the most inspirational place I have ever experienced. I’ve been to Paris, which was awesome, but it didn’t compare with the beauty and uniqueness of what Bay Cliff offers. Which is what I hope to explore and share with others through my books. If and when I ever make a decent amount of money from my writing, I’ll donate a good portion of it to Bay Cliff. It’s a plan I’ve had in mind for many years, and I sincerely hope it comes to fruition.

What about you? What life experiences have most impacted your writing or is your inspiration for your writing? Have you ever spent time at a summer camp? Did you love it or hate it?

Happy writing! Bay Cliff in my heart forever!

 

“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” 
― Fred RogersThe World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

“It has been said that life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me…” 
― Helen KellerThe Open Door

 

Norwegian Rhapsody

Have you ever seen the wild beauty of Norway? I haven’t – at least, not in person. And that’s a crying shame.

Norway is one of the settings in my middle grade book series, and I’ve been researching it for a long time. It’s beauty is captivating.

Have a look…

Image

Gorgeous, right? And what about this…

Image

I love this one! So much fodder for the imagination. Who does the boat belong to? What is the fog hiding? How would it be to hike up those mountains? What kind of magical creature could come from such a place?

Are there any countries/states/counties, etc. that speak to you? Whenever I look at pictures of Norway, I am filled with an intense longing to see it up close. I never cease to be inspired to produce a bounty of writing whenever I gaze at pictures like this.

Nature is such a part of who I am. Although I dislike bugs (yuck!), I feel much more comfortable surrounded by the wildness and untamed beauty of nature than the car-filled, smog-ridden streets of a big city. I will probably refrain from writing too many books centered in a big city. Moderate-sized cities only on the horizon. But I never say never.

Whenever I’m in a pot of writer’s block, I pull up all the images I’ve saved on my computer that reflect the settings I want to portray in my books, and off I go! Even if all that comes of it is a few sentences, it’s a step in the right direction. As Jack London so eloquently put it, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

I agree 100% with that statement. True writers write when they have nothing coming to mind. They write when they’re inspired, and they write when they’re not. They write in times of keen loss, and in times of overwhelming joy. They write because they have something to say, and they write when they have nothing to say (which sometimes produces the best results).

So what do you do to inspire yourself? How do you chase inspiration with a club? Are there any cities/countries/counties/states, etc. that leave you breathless with desire and passion for your work? Please, comment and share!

“The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy.”

– Chris Baty