Hello friends! After a brief and unexpected hiatus, I’m back at 8LW. Oh, how I’ve missed you! Since it’s been a while, I’m behind on reporting status on my 2016 non-writing, creativity-building exercises. Remember those, from way back in January? They are my 5-step plan to finding zen, inspiration, and joy in writing this year.
So let’s dish about February. The first two exercises on my list – learn new things and make mental connections between what I learn and story – happen pretty automagically. It’s what our writer brains are wired to do. I’m still taking notes, capturing inspiration when it strikes, and looking forward to the time when I can put all that brain work to use in my own stories.
The other things on my list require a little more action on my part. Making social connections and drinking really good wine at least once a month are, believe it or not, harder than they sound when you are myopically focused on something as stressful and all-consuming as my day job currently is. But I knocked those out of the park! The first week of the month, when I returned from my weekly trip out of town, I returned home to find my husband had bought me a bottle of 2012 Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir. (There’s a reason that man is the love of my life.) So the ‘drinking good wine’ part of my plan was easy peasy.
The social connection was much more difficult. I’m spending all day, every day, seven days a week with people at work. Who wants to see more people after that? But I had a plan, remember? So when four or five of my more interesting co-workers were going out for drinks and invited me to join them, I agreed. I got to know them each on a different level, watched a ridiculously fun trivia bar game, and (bonus points!) got to drink some good Bourbon.
The only thing left on my 5-step Joie D’Ecriture plan, then, was to enjoy story. I wish I could tell you about the pile of really good books I’ve been getting through, now that I don’t have time to work on my own stories. Sadly, that’s not the case. I’m lucky if I’m getting through 2-3 books per month, and some of those are comfort reads from my keeper shelf. But I did read about a Broadway musical I’m dying to see, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. If you haven’t heard about this tour de force, it’s the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton’s life, set to hip-hop. And it works. Here’s a clip of Miranda performing the opening song for the show at the White House. And Miranda doesn’t just perform in the musical. He wrote it.
His journey to getting the story onto paper (in this case, sheet music and a libretto), fascinates me. He was reading a biography about Hamilton while on vacation from his first hit musical In the Heights. Miranda was struck by Hamilton’s familiar immigrant story. Hamilton was impoverished, orphaned, and likely to die young. But he was also brilliant, driven, and ready to seize the opportunity to get to America (which wasn’t yet the US). Add to that the fact the Hamilton was a writer, a poet, and a master of words himself who is possibly remembered most for his untimely death in a duel, and Miranda couldn’t resist bringing the rest of the man’s story to life on stage.
The writer’s brain. You can take the writer away from story, but you can’t story away from the writer. Right now, Miranda is my inspiration. When I take a break from my day job and go on my own vacation, even if it’s just a mental one, I hope the stories and inspiration come rushing back to me. In the meantime, you can listen to Miranda’s talking about Hamilton in his own words. Here’s wishing you a week full of story, connections, and really, really good wine (or Bourbon or coffee or your drink of choice)!