When I write, it is helpful to do a bit of research, google image style, to help me see what specific details look like.
Of all the uses for pinterest I enjoy, my favorite is as a tool to help me collect and organize these details. Rarely, if ever, do I find an image that is exactly what I need, often I find several to create a composite. It’s also fabulous in helping me remember the details, because sometimes 50 pages later you don’t remember if someone has blue or green eyes?
You can check out a sneak peek of the characters, locations, and costumes here,
1st – There was the moment the idea to write the book came to me – wow 🙂
2nd – I began doing research and was amazed at how much information there is. I found myself getting lost in the history and culture of Babylon circa 550ish BC. Plus it was a great ‘excuse’ to go to NY to explore The Metropolitan Museum of Art and see everything in living color with my little sister 🙂
3rd – Then I began writing. There is nothing else like it – hours would go by in a blink. I’ve never had my own personal movie play in my head before like this. That’s how the writing has been, I ‘see’ it in my head and just write when I see and hear. LOVE
4th – Editing begins and I realize it’s like making a house a home. That unique experience of balancing form, function, and style – of creating an entire world within a world. I adore editing!
5th – Then there was pinterest! Just imagine how awesome it is when creating a book? Now everyone else can get a sneak peek into what I’m ‘seeing’ in my head! For example this is part of what Chaka, Daniel’s horse, looks like. Oh how I love pinterest for the book – follow it HERE!
I’d been in 21 days of fasting and prayer, with my church, and we were nearing the end, which meant the big and rather intimidating (for me) 3 days of no food at all, Thursday – Saturday. Thursday I was praying and strongly sensed I needed to thank God that the book was finished, but it wasn’t? Then, I remembered how God says a thing before he does it. Oh, I see what is happening here, nice! So, I thanked Him all day long. Later that same day, the feathers that I had put in my hair last May, to ‘get into character’ finally came out? I sorta ‘knew’ when I put them in that the feathers were going to stay until I finished the book, so I took it as a big fat confirmation!
Friday night, I was at church praying with everyone, and I strongly sensed that I was to clear my schedule, drop everything, and write until I finished the book. I even told the woman next to me what I was going to do. She encouraged me, because of course, she had already written and published a book herself! And with 500 some chairs she could have sat in, she sat next to me!?
Saturday morning, I wasn’t even awake 30 minutes before I began writing. At 4 o’clock, 8 some hours later, I was still going! I finally took a break to take my dog to the river for a walk. Amazing, by the way, what you can accomplish when you don’t eat? Nothing to buy, prepare, consume, or clean up – if only we didn’t need food to live, cie la vie :). When we returned, I immediately started writing again and continued another 5 hours or so. 13 hours in all and a truly supernatural 14,000 words in one day??!! For some perspective here, I usually write 2 hours a day and get around 1000 words. So, 14,000 words in 13 hours is nothing but GOD!
The best part however, is that the ending is so much cooler, beautiful and awesome than I ever could have thought, imagined, or dreamed up myself. God is truly the ultimate creator!! Even creativity and imagination were created by Him! I laughed, I cried, and I just let it keep pouring out!
So, Monday I began the fascinating work of editing a 159,000 word manuscript, and I love it! It feels like making a house a home, or finishing a painting, decorating a cake,.. anything where you add in the flourishes, and rearrange here and there, so everything fits just so.
I’m lining up some great ‘field trips’ as well, which I’ll be sharing more on soon! Truffle hunting and more falconry are in my near future 🙂
Another example of how this writing thing works happened last night. As I began writing this morning I was reminded of how cool it was.
Yesterday I was writing a scene involving a rock and a head, and I was right in the middle of the action when I had to switch gears and leave it. All day long I pondered the scene and how it would happen, not having a great deal of experience with rocks colliding with heads, I wasn’t sure if the way I was ‘seeing’ it in my head was realistic?
Many hours later I showed up at church and Pastor ended up sharing a story that is well-known by many, which also happens to involve a rock and a head, David and Goliath, how ‘convenient.’ 😉 During the telling he ended up talking about the exact precise dilemma I was having!? What do rocks do when they hit heads? Apparently, normally they bounce off and the make a big knot in the head. But, that isn’t what happened with David and Goliath and it’s not exactly how I was seeing it in the story. But then, I was forgetting that there are two kinds of realistic. There is realistic in the natural and realistic in the supernatural. And the supernatural was clearly at work with David and Goliath, just as it is clearly at work in much of this story… it amazes me how quickly I forget that?
So, God ‘showed’ me how it’s supposed to go last night at church, through the ‘random’ telling of that particular story on that particular day. And that’s how it’s been all the way through the writing of this book. Any need or question I have, any information I seek, …. I just open my eyes, ears, and mind and before long, … there it is.
I’ve noticed a common thread over the past year, when the majority of people learn that I am writing a book, I hear the same thing, “You know, I’ve got this idea for a …book/TV show/business/app/” and they go on to explain a totally awesome, needs to happen, idea. To which I reply, “do it – make it happen!” Then 9 times out of 10 comes the obligatory excuse sentence/paragraph with any number of the same (basic) excuses. For the sake of brevity I’ll cut to the chase and say they end up in 3 categories; time, money, and ability. And that the overall impression is that I, don’t also struggle with these same obstacles. That I am ‘lucky’ that I am ‘able’ to do this, as if there is something different about me. So I’d like to share a word, or so, in the HOPE of encouraging all of you amidst these obstacles. And to share the reality of what writing this book is like for me. It sure isn’t luck, well then again, I don’t believe in luck. (This also, of course, applies to all dreams, businesses, TV shows, iphone apps, etc,,. 🙂
1. Obstacle – Time: While there is some difference between people with money and ability, we all have 24 hours in a day, no more, no less. Granted we have different responsibilities and at different times we are more or less busy. But no one, I repeat NO ONE, has any more time than you. It is a matter of how you use your time.
SOLUTION – Sacrifice 🙂 I know that isn’t a common word in the culture we live in now, BUT if you want to have more time, all you need to do, is limit how much you waste and redeem what you have! That means different things for different people; turn off the TV, get off facecrack, I mean book ;), get off the phone, stop day dreaming, quit playing video games, stop yelling at your kids all day and plan some activities they can work on quietly that will enrich their lives and give you some relative peace for 30 min, pick up your house daily so you don’t have 8 hours of cleaning every weekend etc,.. you get the drift. On the positive side START to redeem the time you have: if you sit in traffic for an hour every day, get a $10 hand-held voice recorder and dictate your book into it (and there is transcribe software you can download for free that will transcribe it for you), prepare food in bulk so you have more time during the week, see if you can coordinate any carpools with other parents of the kids that are also in the 14,000 activities your kids are in, so every parent doesn’t drive every kid, every time,.. you get the idea. Basically – get creative. You CAN do it, IF you want it bad enough. Lastly, remember that we are all tempted to think the grass is greener on the other side, it isn’t! If you are a single parent, a single, or have 3 kids, 4 pets, and a spouse we all have lots to do! Make the best of the life you have right now and work with what you’ve got. Even 15 minutes a day is worth it, it adds up over time and will pay off for you.
2. Obstacle – Money: Some people do you have more money than others. But even if you don’t have much or any extra you can still do it!
SOLUTION – Sacrifice 🙂 Don’t have money, no problem! Get out of debt! You will have lots of money! Sarcasm aside, it’s true. When I ‘started’ this book 4 years ago, I was all kinds of paycheck to paycheck livin’ and didn’t see how it was possible to do this, because of the money factor. So I started preparing to write this book by doing research at the library for FREE, and busting my but to make money and get out of debt. That also means my TV still has a tube in it, I don’t have a fancy phone, my vacations are in tents, I shop at outlets and Thrift stores (yet I am somehow always complimented on my clothes?), and I LOVE, and I mean LOVE the bottom shelf at the grocery store, I also can now make a mean pot of soup beans 🙂 So it took three years, but I got out of debt. Then I saved up another 9 months before my contract job ended. I’ve now been living off that money while I write. I share this NOT to say look at what I’ve done, but rather, to show that for me at least, it isn’t the glamorous life people think it is. Now will it be glamorous when I make millions of dollars? Yes! 🙂 But will it happen overnight without lots of sacrifice, NO! I also realize that sometimes because of kids/spouse we are NOT able to sacrifice things we would if it was just us. Do what you can, paying off even one debt will free up some money, etc,.. heck, NOT incurring any more debt will be huge. Even if you can’t pay off what you have, at least say NO to more! Do the best you can with what you’ve got.
3. Obstacle – Ability: Again different people have different levels of skill. But as we all know from everything else in the world; music, sports, acting, etc,. you don’t even necessarily need talent to be ‘successful’. And if you aren’t talented in writing for example, no problem, guess what you do?
SOLUTION – Sacrifice 😉 Take some classes, on-line or at a local college, check out Meetup.com, and see if there is writing group in your area. Read about how to write, read period, you learn quite a bit just soaking it up from reading. If you have kids in school, ask them how to format quotations in a conversation. If spelling, punctuation, and grammar aren’t your forte (like me:) than find someone who IS good at those things, and ask them to edit your book. Then, bake them a cake, or something you are good to show them you appreciate them. Know what your strengths are and use them, know what your weaknesses are, and find ways to work around them.
Bottom line – you CAN do it. you CAN make it happen. IF you really want it. You wouldn’t want to be one of those people who has regrets about their life would you?! 🙂 We are only here once, so make the most of it.
I pray this is an encouragement to every one of you and that it inspires you to MAKE IT HAPPEN! I look forward to your masterpieces and I also want to thank all of those in my life for encouraging me to make it happen. We need the encouragement of others, I do, at least! 😉
Feel free to share your awesome ideas for redeeming time and money – since many of the ones I’ve shared I’ve learned from y’all!
Last week, while writing I realized that a new character had emerged, a falcon. Daniel’s friend, and hunting companion. And then I quickly realized I know close to nothing about falcons,… So, I begin researching to find out what it’s called when you use falcons’ to hunt, so I can find out how it works. I remember seeing it in that cool horse movie set in the desert with the dude from LOTR, Hidalgo I think it’s called?
Anyway, I quickly find out that hunting with falcons or other predatory birds is called falconry. Which leads me to several cool you tube videos about it, and links with lots of info. Oh, and it was all the rage back in the day in Babylon, so yet again, a perfectly historically accurate piece. But, … I still have questions. So, just like every other time when I need to research something new, I simply start talking about it, anytime it naturally comes up, or I’m randomly led to bring it up, and the information comes rolling in. Through a series of connections, I end up getting ahold of a guy that does falconry shows for a living, and he’s local! Plus, he’s kind enough to call me back and answer lots of questions. But, as we all know, nothing beats experiencing it yourself, so he is also COOL enough to invite me to go on a hunt with him – whoo hoo :). I’m going to get the opportunity to go out and not only see his falcon in action but will get to ‘do it’ (I’m still not sure what that entails?) myself!
So back to google and I quickly found the very species of falcons that live in Babylon, and still do.
FalcoPeregrinusBabalonicus is the ‘proper name’, isn’t he handsome?
Then I found a good Hebrew name for him, (because Daniel likes to name his animals in his native language), Bo, which means swift and strong. Turns out Bo and King have quite a bizarre relationship, but then I guess King has rather bizarre relationships with everyone,…
Have I mentioned lately how much I love writing this book? 🙂
You do research to learn who people were, which is good, you need some foundation to make sure it’s historically accurate, but it can only take you so far. Take King Nebuchadnezzar, for example, who has been described as a cold-hearted, brutally cruel man who was full of himself. An exceptional builder and strategist both militarily (is that a word?) and in engineering, creating an empire to rival all others at the time. His kingdom, Babylon, is widely recognized as the most powerful city and empire in the entire world. Pretty intense dude, right? And as if that weren’t enough, he turns into a wild animal? We’ve all seen National Geographic, it’s not pretty, hunting, eating raw meat, living outside… I mean if his nails grew like talons, can you imagine how dirty they would be? I thought when I began writing this book that he would be a monster. I thought he’d be the ‘bad guy’, the antagonist of the story. But what I’m finding is that he is much more complex than I first thought, and he’s not all bad after all.
I am becoming increasingly interested in him and intrigued to discover what he will do next. He surprises me frequently? I am also finding that my compassion for him is growing. Take for example, the Hanging Gardens he built, the second wonder of the world. (I am aware that there is no clear consensus that the Gardens even existed, but if they are asking 10-year-old kids to list it as one of the 7 wonders, I’m going with it!) As the story goes he built them for his wife Amythis, who was from Media, in the mountains. She not only missed green but the hills as well. Now there is also no reason to think anything other than their marriage was arranged purely for the political alliance that it formed, and yet for King to extend the energy, man power, great expense, and creativity to create one of the 7 wonders of the world for her? Can only mean one thing to me, he loved her and wanted to please her. But as King, he didn’t ‘need’ to please her. He could have just as easily told her to deal with her homesickness, or ignored it all together, she was there to serve him and as be the bridge between two nations that could just as easily go to war as be ‘family’. But he choose to go soooo far out of his way to please her, that he created an 80 foot high terraced ‘mountain’ complete with every plant, flower, fruit, and tree he could get his hands on, and create a ‘yet to be determined’ ingenuitive form of irrigation somehow pulling water from the Euphrates River up to water it all?
I can only come to one conclusion about that,… what a sweet guy! 🙂 He must have loved his wife deeply to go to such great lengths to please her. So he clearly isn’t a completely cruel, evil, tyrant… at least not as far as it relates to her.
I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite stories, Beauty and the Beast as I delve deeper into the story sharing the way he sees the world, from his perspective. Sure, there are some horrible things he does, but he’s clearly not all ‘bad’. I love how God makes all of us so simple and yet so complex at the same time. None on us fit into simple boxes, and none of us are all ‘anything’. There are elements to all of us that can continue to amaze and astound those around us, especially when we look at each other with open eyes, and don’t try to cram each other into boxes. I love the freedom I have to love him for who he is, the good, bad, and down right crazy. And I find that I am really starting to root for him. Root for the bad guy, what? Yea, I am? 🙂
I never knew writing was like french braiding hair!
I write as I’m inspired, not “in order”, since I don’t even know the order! 🙂
So, I write about a part of the story, and sometimes I finish with some ideas about how to finish that section, when I come back to it. Apparently, I also sometimes leave notes about how to tie it in with the rest of the story, as I just found this morning. This spring I wrote about the very moment when, “That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men,…” Daniel 4:33. That’s all we have, he was driven from men. How? By who? What was it like? Who saw it? See there is much left unsaid in this story. That’s where the inspiration comes in, where imagination comes in, I *see* it and then I write it down. But what I hadn’t remembered was the tie-in note I made to myself. I wish I could share it, but it’ll give too much away, you’ll just have to read it when it’s finished 😉
For now though, it reminds me of the process of french braiding hair, you start at the beginning, not quite sure how it will all work out when it’s finished. You pick up three pieces of hair and braid them together, then grab a piece from one side and braid it in, then a piece from the other side and braid it in, and you continue on as you go down the head. When you get about 2/3 of the way down, you should have a thick braid, all entwined with itself, strong and beautiful. There is no going back now, you just have to trust that it will look seamless when it’s all done.
For now, I continue to write section after section, trusting that they will tie (braid) together seamlessly, creating a strong and beautiful story, not even remembering the helpful links I have left for myself, because it’s not ‘me’ leaving them anyway!
What fun this is!
God put me on a schedule a few weeks ago, a real bona-fide schedule, like I haven’t had since college? 8 – 11 weekdays, I write. And he is blessing it big time!
Never knew how much a schedule could help? I had already been doing the three hours, but now that I have the actual hours specified they actually happen, (for the most part ;)) whereas before they would often get lost in the million other demands placed on each of us every day. And I’d always intend to get back to it, but inevitably many days, it wouldn’t happen. Now the phone is on silent, notifications are turned off, and I write. I may stare off at clouds and have to reel my thoughts in a dozen times, but so far it’s still pouring out, and I love it!
I love it so much that come Monday morning I am missing Daniel and King, among other characters, yet to be introduced 🙂 I couldn’t wait to write this morning, it changes everything when you get so deep into the story that you miss your beloved characters after a couple days off.
Who wudda thought a schedule would be so fruitful?
I am always on the hunt for anything to help me get in the ‘zone’ while writing and music is one of the most special to me. Anything I can do to experience the sights, scents, and sounds only helps me submerge deeper into the story which hopefully leads to a more authentic experience for the reader.
- I can easily imagine the King and Daniel listening to this. I’d love to know what you think?
Special thanks to Laith for getting me hip to ‘duduk’ and ‘ney’. (Yea, I didn’t know what they were either, they are Middle Eastern Instruments, BTW).
In case you want to check out another which highlights more instruments here is the aptly named ‘Caucasian Dance’ by the same group. I hear this as some feasting dance music for the King and his court,
Please let me know if you have more – I always need more music!