When the River Runs Dry

Ever have one of those weeks where you felt drained dry, as if you couldn’t put two words together to form a sentence? This week is like that for me. But suddenly I’m thinking of a few two-word sentences:

Help me.
I can’t.
Do it!

And if you put those together, that’s the message running through my head this week. Some of you can relate. I’ve read your blogs (Kate and Victoria). And I’m here, looking at rocks instead of water. Whenever I’m worried about deadlines or problems, I find myself here.


So, instead of heeding the siren call of Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns, I decided to remind myself of the beauty in the world. I’m often inspired by images. Unfortunately, I don’t have a camera (at least not yet), so I’m grateful for the good ol’ Internet.

Here’s what I found (and why):


I chose this image, because the cardinal is my favorite bird. I’m sure I mentioned that before. (Andy of City Jackdaw likes jackdaws; I like cardinals.) A family of cardinals nests in a tree near my home. I often see the male flitting about, especially near my car. One day he hopped over to my window and serenaded me. The little flirt!


Two nights ago, I had dinner with three old friends. Our continued camaraderie is a thing of beauty in itself. But when we left the restaurant, I was struck by the beauty of the sky—a bundle of clouds sprawled across the still blue sky. The sky looked so huge, and reminded me that the world is so much bigger than my problems.


Kids are exasperating and demanding at times, but ultimately are endearing. If you want a laugh, have a conversation with a child (especially those in my family). They look at the world in such a fresh way. I’m grateful for the kids in my life. My nephew sometimes shoves one of his ear buds in my ear to listen to a song on his iPod. He also makes me laugh when he finds weird videos on YouTube.

A friend has a daughter who thinks all of the world’s ills can be solved if everyone sat in her playroom and drank cups of her imaginary tea. I love the fact that she tells me the tea isn’t real, in case I’m disappointed by the lack of moisture in my cup.

Kids remind me that the words I place on a page need to be whimsical and lively to reflect their view of the world. They also need to be real.


If ever something exemplified joy, a gerbera daisy does. Look at that. You can almost imagine a smile on its face.


If you’ve had this flavor, I don’t have to explain why I included it. You just know, right? I thought so.


I didn’t say I wouldn’t include fictional characters. If you don’t know who this is, click here. As Austin Powers would say, “Yeah, baby, yeah!”

If you click on Victoria’s name above, you can read the awesome advice she provides for those who are going through a dry period. And I suggest you click on Kate’s name, because I love her profile picture. If any of you would like to share what inspires you, please comment below. And may the river of inspiration run for us all.

Images from en.wikipedia.org; wallpaperswala.com; bhg.com; mayorshealthline.wordpress.com; fanpop.com respectively.

Harvest Moon: A Writer’s Life

Got my coffee ready. Maybe the blog needs a theme song too. Anyway, today I return to a subject near and dear to my lazy heart: comparing videogames to the life of a writer.


From LOL Cats

Oh, yes I did. Hey, some people dissect Proust; I talk about Pokémon and Harvest Moon. But don’t worry. This is the last post of this ilk. Had to get it out of my system. If you clean your room and eat all your vegetables, there may be time for a little Proust quote at the end. Not promising anything, y’understand.

First, a little housekeeping. The previous post began a great discussion on process with the fabulous Laura Sibson. Some of you (Will in particular) have asked whether or not there will be more posts where a writer discusses his or her process. The answer is yes, so please stay tuned! I have a nice lineup of writers eager to talk about writing and their path to publication. Perhaps you’ll share your process as well.

On with the show. Let me start by saying this: I don’t have children. Probably more than you wanted to know about me. But there are children in my life—nieces, nephews, children of friends who are like family, kids in Sunday school who demand Goldfish crackers, because they caaaaaaaaaan’t maaaaaaaaaake it until lunch. So when kids offer book or game suggestions to me, I take them seriously, because they’re . . . well . . . kids, and I write for kids. Knowing what they like is a good thing. Sure, their frontal lobes are still developing, and some think SHRIEKING IS THE ONLY WAY TO BE HEARD. But I listen to them.

Several told me about the Harvest Moon series of games by Natsume for the Nintendo DS. I started with Harvest Moon Cute, where your avatar is a girl, but you can play the original game as a boy.


If you’ve never played one of these games, the basic premise involves planting crops, raising animals (cows, chickens, sheep) and then finding that significant someone to raise a family. Trust me, the conversations I’ve had with kids (“I’m going to have a baby in a week, but I’ve still got crops to harvest. How ’bout you?”) only sound weird if you’re not playing the game.

There are variations, depending on the game. Some include finding harvest sprites, raising sunken islands, and mining for gold and other precious metals in order to raise money to buy more animals or seeds for crops. You also need money, because to win over that certain someone, you have to keep giving him things to make him like you. And the crop of eligible bachelors (or bachelorettes) include a thief (the silver-haired Skye below), somewhat hostile loners (looking at you, Marlin), and others who are Just. Not. That. Into. You. Sounds like a page out of my life.


2215536Hey, Skye! You’ve already robbed a house. What’re you gonna do next??

So comparing a writer’s world to the world of Harvest Moon seems a given. Planting crops—draft phase. You take the seed of your idea, water it with words, and continue to cultivate. (For a great post on gardening and the writer, go here.) Mining for gold—revision phase, where you search for what’s precious and toss out the dross. Thankfully, in real life, you aren’t subject to attack by dark creatures (wild-eyed chickens and aggressive sheep and cows) like those lurking in the mines. Wait. You are. The dark creatures are discouragement and fear. (And for great posts on fear, check here and here.)

But what about the other aspects that crowd your day in the game? That’s easy. They represent all of the balls a writer has to juggle daily—deadlines, relationships, housework, day jobs, world domination. The game’s ticking clock is a constant reminder of the “gotta get this done” drumbeat in our heads.

The ones you want to woo? Well, they’re your inner editor, beta readers, agents, publishers, and, ultimately, readers of your published work—those whose hearts you must win. So what do you give them? Everything you’ve got.

Well, you’ve been good, so here’s a bit of Proust to end this:

Only through art can we get outside of ourselves and know another’s view of the universe. Marcel Proust

Happy now?

Harvest Moon images from Polyvore.com and Nintendoblast.com