New horizons

Helga’s Post #59 — Today I went on a hike through the desert of California’s Coachella Valley along the San Andreas Fault. A first visit here for me.

I was fascinated to learn that despite its benign name (Saint Andrew), the San Andreas Fault is a violent and destructive killer. Over its long history, spasms of its enormous energy have been released in countless earthquakes along its great length. These have ranged in magnitude from slight tremors to cataclysmic upheavals and rupturing of Earth’s surface.

You wouldn’t know its violent nature as you traverse the sand dunes and arrive suddenly at an oasis dotted with gigantic palm trees. Everything looks so peaceful, making it difficult to imagine the earth could suddenly open beneath your feet.

But this is not a National Geographic blog sort of thing. How does it relate to writing? I am not sure it does. Except there is a link between this location and what it does for my own writing. The wide vistas are so unusual for someone living in Vancouver where the ocean is so close, and high rugged mountains define the area. The difference is that Vancouver is limited in every direction but east. The Pacific Ocean to the west, mountains to the north, the U.S. border to the south. Vancouver can only expand to the east. Where I live, I see mountains or the ocean. Nothing like the endless horizon and barren mountains of the California desert. There is nothing to stop the eye. The landscape goes on forever. A curious feeling.

It has an interesting effect on me. It allows the mind to open and expand. To change direction and say, wait a minute, why did I limit my story line in my new novel to such and such? Why does my protagonist have to work for the U.N. instead of a dubious think tank? Truth be told, I have trouble digging my way out of a particularly challenging scene that defines the rest of what happens in my story. It’s a nasty experience. I think and think, and try to fix it, but it doesn’t seem to work because I refuse to change direction from the original idea.

So time to let it happen. To face the music. To say, if it doesn’t work, don’t waste time to fix it. A blank page doesn’t have to be my enemy. It can just as easily be my friend. My conspirator. My opportunity to create something better without the shackles of pages written so far. I don’t own these pages anything. This is after all the prerogative and the power of a writer: to create a new story. To create new characters and kill the ones who refused to perform. To create loving tender relationships or murderous conspiracies. To save the world or let it go to hell in a handbasket.

Nobody else in the world has such power. We writers do, so let’s use it.

And we are trying. There is a new wind blowing here in the desert. Writing buddy Paula is hard at work creating a local writing group. At yesterday’s inaugural meeting some new talent showed up. Two women who would love to write novels and are willing to commit to learning the craft. What is encouraging and proves again just how useful writing groups are, is their background. One is a paramedic, trained firefighter and has lots of experience working inside the prison system. The other woman has written short stories that have been well received by established authors. She has a huge family story to tell that just gave me goose bumps listening. More potential members are waiting in the wings.

I am big believer of synergy. The potential benefit of each new or established writing group member’s experience could benefit everyone in the group. Will it get off the ground? Too soon to tell. But if it does, who knows, there may be potential for collaboration across the miles.

Meanwhile, I better go back go my own project. I have to make progress and get that draft finished, or no writing group in the world is going to help.

But it’s fun to explore new horizons. Happy writing to all of you out there.


11 thoughts on “New horizons

  1. Nice blog Ibi. Don’t forget you can also look up and there is no limit either in the desert nor Vancouver.

    Love you keep at it.

    Sent from my iPhone


      • Hello and pleased to meet you Helga,

        What is your novel about? (If you dont want to divulge that, I will understand why.)

        Personal memoir or fictional story?

        I just created the writing site and am always modifying it and trying to improve it.

        Feel free to tell your other writer friends to join the site and see what kinds of discussions and other interesting things we can all collaborate on.

        You might also like

        Totally Inspired Mind: Where Positive Minds Congregate

        Paulette Le Pore Motzko

  2. Hi Helga, I just dropped by to say thanks for the ‘likes’ and for following our blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey. I love what 5writers are doing. It’s been a pleasure flowing along.

    • Thanks, Alison. I appreciate your comment. I have read your blog with great interest, especially your S.American journey. I did almost the identical trip a year ago, starting in Rio de Janeiro, down to Patagonia (Ushuaia was cold!) and up Chile to Santiago – which we found to be a fascinating city steeped in a violent and undeserved history. When you get there, try to visit the Museum of Human Rights. Your blog is beautifully written and illustrated with excellent photos. It’s very rewarding to read your impressions of the region and it brings back colorful memories.

      • We left Ushuaia 4 days ago early morning. It was snowing! Arriving later that day in Mendoza it was 30 plus. Patagonia was fabulous but it’s so good to be back in the warmth. Thank you for your kind words re my writing and photos, and I’m glad it brings back some good memories for you. It’s a remarkable part of the world.

  3. It sounds like a refreshing holiday for you Helga — nothing like a change of venue to stimulate new perspectives. Paula’s new desert writing group sounds exciting.

  4. Thanks, Silk. It is indeed a refreshing holiday, but like all good things, it’s coming to an end. And that means no more excuses for postponing my writing. I’ve done lots of it while I’m here, but only in my head. So the challenge now is to get it from up there down to the computer screen and save it. Too many grand ideas stay up there and then are forgotten when daylight dawns.

  5. Sometimes a change of scenery does wonders for the creative mind. And I love the feeling when a solution presents itself for a nagging problem in a story—even if it means rebuilding the novel. 😉

    • Thanks for your comment, JM. When that happens – finding a solution for some nagging problem – it feels really good. Because from that moment on the rewriting is so much easier. It takes time, but you can feel the progress with every single scene and chapter. I am hoping to arrive at that juncture very soon.

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