Michaeline: February Inspiration

February, the shortest month of the year! The coldest two weeks of the year in my area; I’m sure some of our southern-hemi friends find it the most miserable hot days of the year. So short, yet so packed with inspiration for writing!

A fashionable lady in a befeathered big hat and stole holds a Lippincott's magazine. TEXT: Lippincott's February. The Chaple of Ease
February — a great time for reading and writing. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

First up, Groundhog Day in the US. It’s come and gone, but if the groundhog sees its shadow on Feb. 2, it’s supposed to get scared, run back to its hole, and there will be six more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, though, the groundhog will play around, and there will be an early spring.

This reminds us that it’s fun to play with opposites in a story. Does our heroine have a terrible, awful life, and then get hit by a car, only to wake up as Queen of the Vampires (MaryJanice Davidson, Undead and Unwed)? Or does she have a happy, sunny life, suddenly get pelted with unsuitable suitors who make her life miserable, but after six weeks of BS (OK, six months or so), discover that one of the suitors loves her deeply and would rescue her wayward sister for her . . . and she loves him (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)?

Also on Feb. 2 this year (but usually on Feb. 3) is Setsubun – the half-way mark between winter and spring. This is a day of balance, of being on the edge. Japanese people with kids will usually put an adult in a mask to represent the demons (oni) and the kids will throw beans or peanuts at them, yelling, “Luck in! Demons out!”

There’s a lot to work with in that holiday! It’s a good time to check your second draft to see if it has too much light or too much dark, and slip in some balancing scenes. In a first draft, it’s a great time to have a character throw something, banish something, or invite something in.

Both the tiger and George Washington look like they are drawn by a Japanese person who hasn't seen either.
George Washington battling a tiger; what a story, huh? By Utagawa Yoshitora (Image via Wikimedia Commons) Washington was born on February 11 by the Julian calendar, but his birthday is recognized as February 22 by the Gregorian. He used to have his own holiday in the US, but it was combined with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (Feb. 12) to create the current public holiday, Presidents Day on the third Monday of February (Feb. 15 this year). Whew!

Feb. 12 is Darwin Day – work on those character arcs. Have your people evolve, and make sure nobody is winning a Darwin award.

Feb. 14 is Valentine’s Day. Allow yourself to be wildly romantic! Or completely vinegary!

And Feb. 15 is “Galentine’s Day” – invented by Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knopes to celebrate female friendship. Does your story pass the Bechdel test? Do you want it to?

Feb. 21 is Nina Simone’s birthday. She brought power to her songs with pitch and timber. Can you write something dramatic, elegant and powerful this month? This is “Mississippi Goddam”.

Elizabeth Taylor was born on Feb. 27. For a whole generation, she encapsulated smoldering romance and beauty. Have you seen any Elizabeth Taylor movies? It might be a good day to watch one, and see what inspiration pops up.

Enjoy your February! It’s short, but it packs a wallop!

Two cupids manning a cannon
The cupids have updated their weaponry in the 19th century. Please welcome the Love Cannon. (Makes your heart go boom.) Another story begging to be told. (Image via Wikimedia Commons — The Merry Ballads of Olden Times.)

4 thoughts on “Michaeline: February Inspiration

  1. I’d never heard “Mississippi Goddam” before, which is an amazing song, and, sadly, still applicable today. You’re right about February—it does pack a wallop! You forgot to mention that I’m scheduled for my vaccination this month. 🙂

    • AMAZING! Happy vac day! Will you get the Dolly shot, or Pfizer (which doesn’t have a cute name besides the generic Fauci Ouchie, as far as I know). Doesn’t matter! What a relief, huh?

      They are talking about starting to vaccinate the elderly (my MIL qualifies) at the end of February here. It would be cool to get the entire over-50 population vaccinated by Feb. 28, but I don’t think that will happen. Maybe by August? One can always hope!

      Change of topic:

      It’s so discouraging that we are stuck with the some of the same problems people had in the 1960s — and in the 1920s — and in the 1870s. Not just racism, but sexism, homophobia, xenophobia . . . . But at least this year, there have been some encouraging notes sounded. One can always hope.

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