Saturday, April 27, 2019

Seasons in Stories

The season of a story's setting can affect the story not only emotionally but also metaphorically. Characters drenched by a rainstorm or trapped somewhere during a snowstorm can create dramatic situations both emotionally and physically.

While most of my scifi stories do not have seasons, I have a couple of shorts that do, and I know seasons can play powerful elements in the setting and in the plot. Of course, it all depends on where the setting takes place and the type of season portrayed.

Another aspect of seasons is the metaphorical or symbolic meanings tied to seasons. People often take the seasons as symbols of living: spring is the child and summer morphs into the young, adventurous adult. Fall becomes the measure of one’s success in life, while winter represents old age and facing life's end.

Spring, of course, is the season when the daylight lengthens and seems to brighten. It is a season of renewal, a time when many wild animals give birth and when trees and plants emerge from hibernation to sprout leaves and flowers. So, it can represent childhood, growth, regeneration, or being given a new start. It is a time when many darkened souls find hope.

Summer is when things warm up and turn hot and wild. People love to vacation and have outdoor parties and events during summer. It makes summer represents freedom.

Autumn is the seasons of reflection, the ripening of life, or a warning of the approach of winter’s difficulties.

Winter is when many animals go into hibernation and in the U.S. a time when many people in northern states become snowbirds and take extended stays in southern states. Daylight is less time than darkness. Depending on where you live, travel can become difficult and the weather can turn into deadly storms. Yet it is also the time when many skiing or snowmobile enthusiasts show how they can conquer both the snow and cold. Winter can often represent a season of introspection and endings but it can also be one of rebirth as represented in the Christmas story. So it is also a season of hope. Most often, though, it symbolizes hardships, hopelessness, despair and of death.

While all of these are obvious, they can be effective in stories because the reader has their own experience of the season. If they live in a location that does not have the hard winters of some places, they are aware they happen. Many meanings in stories are subliminal or symbolic and writers can take advantage of the seasons to the story’s benefit.

Please visit the following authors for their viewpoints on seasons in writing:

Skye Taylor
Victoria Chatham
Diane Bator
Judith Copek
Beverley Bateman
Connie Vines
Helena Fairfax
Dr. Bob Rich 

Dr. Bob Rich 2

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Rowing Update

I've been rowing two and a half hours at about 27 strokes per minute each week since my first post on rowing. This week I've only done one hour. I've worn out my machine and for a second time, the cord has broken. Bill fixed it for a second time, so I'll be able to pick up and do more rowing, but I think I'm going to need a new machine before the year is over. The computer section in the control panel no longer works. It has been hard to keep going, but I've been a bit obsessive-compulsive about the progress. Now after a suggestion from my daughter-in-law, I listen to music while rowing and do two 15 minute sessions five days a week, or at least, I had. Now I have to get back into my schedule.

For the first time in my life, I can feel the muscles in my legs, which feels strange when I walk, and while the muscles in my arms have less development, I have some. I think I will take up some weight lifting that I learned from Margaret Richardson in the Body Electric TV show that aired for years here on PBS. I might look up some of the yoga I learned from Lilias Yoga and Your before that, again on PBS.  I have a CD for Lilias, but I might need to get one for Margaret's exercise CDs, if they are still available.

Whew-hoo! Just found out Body Electric is on YouTube; so are some episodes of Lilias Yoga and You. How the world has changed.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Reading: Escapism at Its Best

Reading fiction for me is escapism at its best, but it offers many other benefits, too. Reading lets me leave my everyday life and to mentally visit someone else, to experience a character’s life, understanding, experiences, and adventures. While I may never encounter their problems, I have connected with how they solved them, with the character’s resilience to continue despite their disappointments or even melancholy. It has also shown me the magic of forgiveness.

Reading allows me to go places I’ve never have and never will visit, including the past and the future. Time travel, what could be better? I find it relaxing except for those intense emotional or danger-filled scenes; plus, I don’t have to put myself into those extremely dangerous situations to experience them. I know, I know… reading it isn’t like exactly like experiencing it, but my imagination makes it damn close.

I’ve read in bed before sleeping for so many years I can’t tell you when I started except as a child. I know reading has helped me escape the day-to-day problems and stresses, to relax and fall asleep. It provides a time to disengage from my own life.

In the past, I’ve heard some experts say people should read non-fiction so they can use reading to improve their knowledge and understanding. Guess what? In the past decade, scientists have begun to learn reading fiction helps people in many ways. They claim reading improves the mind because so many different parts of the mind are engaged while reading. They believe reading improves memory and slows age-related memory loss.

When I said reading let me become someone else briefly, it also helped my mind develop understanding and tolerance for other people. Reading has given me insight into other cultures, lifestyles, personalities, and problems. In other words, it helped me develop empathy and understanding. I’ve also learned reading helped me increase my vocabulary and develop my communication skills, well in writing at least…I’m not always so great at speaking.

These are some backup information you might want to read:

Psychology Today: ReadingFiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Function by Christopher Bergland (1/4/2014): Reading a novel has the power to reshape your brain and improve the theory of mind (the ability to recognize and attribute mental states—defined by PsychCentral). 2 science-backed ways reading fiction makes you smarter by Marquerite Ward (5/28/17) Reading improves your vocabulary and emotional intelligence.

Time Magazine: Read a Novel: It's Just What the Doctor Ordered by Sarah Begley (10/27/ 2016)