Research can be deadly (OR) Why Scotland?

So, as I’m writing (yay!), I’m listening to a guided meditation.  There is a very calming voice in my ears telling me that I am intimately connected to the creative power of the Universe.

I’m also looking at pictures of the Scottish countryside, because that’s where the next part of my story takes place. Why Scotland? Why do American writers always go back to Scotland? I’ll tell you why: because it’s pure dead brilliant that’s why. And if you’ve ever been there, you know what I’m talking about. It’s been over 20 years since the summer I spent there, and it still pulls me back.

eilean donan castle

My husband thinks I’m crazy. I’m sure he thinks it’s just a nerd-fantasy thing, and yeah it’s that, too. I’m a nerd, I like fantasy, so that’s cool. But he probably wishes I would shut up about it –  the same way I get when people talk about football.

Eye-Roll-gif-6

But looking at the pictures helps me get in the mindset. Where my characters are, what they’re doing, the topography they’re traveling through. If I can see it in my mind’s eye, I can follow them, and let them show me what’s going to happen next. It also helps me focus.

Why is research deadly? Because like so many other things – like blogging for instance (ahem) – it takes away from what I should be doing, which is writing.

The searches, images, and learning more about the things in my story help me feel connected to what’s going on in that world, as opposed to letting my mind wander back to the dusting and the laundry pile. Not to mention that it’s Christmas and that puts a whole new spin on the lack of writing time. Even though research (er, Google) can be a deadly distraction from your daily word count, sometimes you just need to dump the everyday garbage out of your head before you can make way for your story. Don’t overthink and don’t be too hard on yourself.

clear your head (y-oman.com)

Thankfully, I’m making progress. I keep telling myself that all I have to do is keep moving my story forward, and it will tell me where it needs to go.

So now I’m going to stop blogging and researching and get back to writing. Happy Holidays everyone.

xoxo heidi.

Enjoy some pictures of Scotland (click for source):

Black Watch Regimental colours

d1182071f86b0626b8f8cab348293cb1

birks of aberfeldy
birks of aberfeldy
the Isle of Mull, with Duart Castle, from Bike Scotland
the Isle of Mull, with Duart Castle, from Bike Scotland
Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull ©Mitchell Ratner, Smile of the Dandelion (with permission)
St. Kilda, www.kilda.org
St. Kilda, http://www.kilda.org
Kelpies at Falkirk, ©Ben Williams, bbc.co.uk
Kelpies at Falkirk, ©Ben Williams, bbc.co.uk
Jamie and Claire; Outlander
Jamie and Claire; Outlander

— If anyone ever says to you, “Hey I’ve got an aunt who lives in Glasgow, you want to hang out for the summer?” Say yes.

— More Scotland info here.

— the meditation currently in my ears: click here.

Merry Christmas.

Juniper is waiting for Santa :)
Juniper is waiting for Santa :)
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Foggy morning, December

We finally had a good soaking rain. It has been over 3 months since we had any precipitation, and the whole place – the house, the yard, the whole city for that matter, had been covered in layers of dry gritty dust. There was a lifeless pallor over everything, keeping the color and vitality of the desert hidden from view.

While everyone in the rest of the country gets hammered by storms, here’s us:

Not that I’m asking for a hurricane (my heart goes out to everyone affected by Sandy), but a few drops here and there would be nice. Below is a lovely photo of what we Phoenicians call “the brown cloud,” caused by ozone: “Ozone is an invisible gas created when other pollutants in the air – such as those created by combustion- are heated by the sun.” Just another day for us:

And then I’m sure this doesn’t help the dust situation – summer dust storms known as Haboobs. (Yes that really is what they are called, and yes, they really do look this big and freaky)

So when we hear we are getting rain after almost 4 months, we kinda freak out. All the weather people have their sleeves rolled up, the maps are flashing all over the place, and weather is the LEAD STORY.

before the storm

What is just an average storm in any other part of the country is an event for us. I mean, it didn’t just rain…it rained for two whole days!! 

I loved it.

Sat in my jammies drinking coffee all Saturday morning, then actually got my rain jacket out of the closet (yes, it had DUST on it!), and went out Christmas shopping.

In the rain!

It was kind of exciting. Everyone had jackets and/or hats, and some even had this fancy type of nylon water shield that they would hold over head. You see them a lot in British shows.

But the cool this was, everyone was in a good mood. And mellow. No grumpiness, obnoxious yapping or complaining…just cool, you know? The rainy day vibe.

The horses loved it, too. They stood out there, just soaking it in, and getting good and muddy.

And then I woke up Sunday morning, to

FOG.

um…mom?
isn’t it time for breakfast?
over there. see? the hay?
look at those ear tips. she might be a vulcan.
talk about my ears, will you? hmph.
(there’s a foreshortening exercise for you art students)
no, seriously, where’s breakfast?
see? I told you! breakfast time!
umm nom nom nom….
mud? what mud? I don’t know what you’re talking about…nom nom nom
of course these two have to see what’s going on
what did you find, Butter?
her ears don’t work so well anymore, but her nose is juuust fine… :)

then I almost tripped over this…when you have boys, this is the kind of thing you find in your yard
and when you kneel down to take a picture of a baseball, your labs take the opportunity to climb all over you.

Let’s see what else we can find around the ol’ place…

I’m trying hard to keep my own fresh herbs

the lemons are getting more lemony. they look like limes until they begin to ripen.
this eucalyptus tree has to be over 50 years old. it’s HUGE.
looking up

ah, the challenges of living with taxidermy
this is what happens to the street in front of our house after two days of rain
this lady doesn’t want to splash her fancy schmancy car.
wuss.
the fog is already starting to burn off. I knew it wouldn’t last long.
but it’s nice while it lasted
back inside…
back to the blog, and baking christmas cookies.

Thanks for hanging out with me on my foggy desert morning! I hope you are enjoying some crisp fresh air, wherever you are.