Friday, June 28, 2019

Exercise Changed to Walking

Well, by the end of April the rowing machine was worn out and unfixable except at a cost more than what it originally cost. I was very distraught. What about my exercise schedule? I've worked hard to gain some muscle, was I doomed to lose it?

Luckily, even with the rain and cold lasting much longer than usual here in Michigan, the road was clear so I began walking again. Now I've walked this road many, many times but not on a regular schedule, so I began again. Being a little obsessive-compulsive I've timed my walks and distance. I know where the 5-minute, the 10, 15, and 20-minute walk markers are. I travel one mile per twenty minutes (sometimes less by a minute or two), and I have been doing 2 miles a day, and hope to continue doing it six days a week or ten miles per week. It takes 38 to 40 minutes.

Yet, my arms are not working as vigorously as my legs as they did while rowing, so I'm doing 4 to 5-minute exercises with five-pound weights every other day.

Hopefully, all of this will help improve my overall health and condition. I can probably walk through October, but which time I hope to have a new rowing machine to continue working throughout the winter.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Reality into Fiction

The topic for this month is: has an event in your life, or that of someone you know, or one covered in the news ever worked its way into one of your stories?

This depends on the genre of writing I am using. I've written several personal essays, which of course, are based on events or people in my life. In my fiction writing, things differ. I don't want family or friends to recognize themselves as a character, and I don't want to make anyone think a mean or evil character is based on my acquaintanceship with them.

In thinking about this topic, I decided it would be very difficult not to have my life events play in some way in my writing. We all learn how to communicate and get along with members of our family and community and also how to disagree, and that learning can differ significantly. What I have learned and experienced must show in my writing. It is probably why I've heard writing exposes the author as a person.

I doubt specific events of my life have appeared in my stories, except maybe in very changed and convoluted forms. I've written mostly science fiction or fantasy romance, so most of my challenges and defeats would probably not work. However, my knowledge of art and history and experience with horses, riding, pets of all types, gardening, nature, and environment, have played into many of my stories, including my limited knowledge of sailing and other incidental knowledge. Throughout history, I have learned about certain types of events and how people reacted in the past, plus all the horrific things people have done to others they think of as invaders or miscreants, and I think the crime seldom deserved the punishment. I also think real-life situations portrayed in the news such as youngsters disappearing from home to other local catastrophes might enter my writing, but of course in a different way from the news presentations.

While the news describes many disastrous situations happening worldwide, from weather such as flooding, wildfires, droughts and various types of storms, to people instigated tragedies like uprisings and government reactions, I have not experienced them. I might use something like them in the future, but I know I would have to do extensive research to make the situations feel real to the reader. Politics, as exposed both in history and current media, have entered my stories, but in strange worlds and places, politics is often important.

Please visit the following authors' blogs and read their takes on this topic:
Skye Taylor
Judith Copek
Dr. Bob Rich
Beverley Bateman
Anne Stenhouse 
A.J. Maguire 
Diane Bator 
Connie Vines
Fiona McGier 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

How Far Can Fantasy Go?

Fantasy may be one of our oldest genres in storytelling. After all, isn’t it astounding that stories of ancient gods in mythology and all the strange happenings that take place in folktales and fairy tales remain favorites? Fantasy stories have been with humanity for a very long time, and it seems their existence has affected the believably limits of all other genres of storytelling.

Folklorist scholar Vladimir Propp studied Russian folklore and found similar plot characteristics and characters existed in the stories, as he explained in his 1928 book Morphology of the Folktale. He discovered certain actions and events common in all the Russian fairy tales, and many of these same elements are found in contemporary stories no matter the genre. Before Propp wrote his book, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung had already started exploring the concept of archetypes and the collective unconscious, all of which helped to explain aspects of storytelling.

However, it is the reader’s relationship with the characters that might count the most in reading any story despite its bizarre setting or action as related in the previous post "Purpose in Writing."

Even contemporary stories whether in print or film can stretch inevitability. I watch Midsomer Murders, an English TV murder mystery. While it is in England, Midsomer county with its extraordinarily numerous villages is fictional. Another fantasy factor is every murder in each village leads to at least two more murders. Yet the lead characters are believable, and the stories are entertaining. Plus, of course, the English scenery is a strong attraction. Anthony Horowitz, the first writer for the program, explains the bizarreness of the show and what makes it appealing to viewers.

I believe these factors are also very true in written stories. If readers can relate to a character whether human or not (to sometimes even becoming the character), they can relate to very unusual plots and settings. Do certain things cross unacceptable lines? Yes. I think the promotion of hate unacceptable along with persistent and extreme cruelty of any type. I know hate and cruelty are part of many of my works, but it is there not to promote but to overcome. These lines between acceptance or rejection of reality and fantasy concepts differ with every reader or viewer no matter the medium.

Can there be other effects?

Yes! Interestingly, these trips of fantasy in writing can affect the future. In the PBS show "How Sherlock Changed the World," it describes how this fictional character first published in 1887 helped changed police investigative and forensic procedures starting in the next decade from an era where eyewitness accounts and smoking-gun evidence was prevalent and far less accurate than the methods used today. Fiction fantasy literally changed the world! I find this fascinating.