Season of Wither

Poem and artwork by Meg Sorick

The rains have come
And the birds have gone
Just the carrion crows
Cackling like crones
Gather in the bare branches
Watchful for a meager meal

Falling Hawthorne berries
And delicate dandelion clocks
Mark the passage of time
Golden gorse and crumbling
Stone walls
Creep the ages by

It is the season for reflection
When death is all around us
To close the doors and windows
On the cold and howling wind
When the brief and bitter daylight
Yields to darkness and decay

To wither or to weather?
Hidden and hermetic
Insulated, introverted
To waste these hours of isolation?
Or cling to life and dream of love
In a springtime so far away

Two Minds, One Brain

A writer’s life and pondering…

The brain has two hemispheres: a left and right brain. The connection between the two is the corpus callosum. It allows information to be shared from one side to the other. When this connection is lost, either through trauma or surgical intervention [it can be severed purposefully in the treatment of some types of epilepsy], the two hemispheres act independently of one another. This can produce some rather bizarre phenomena and raises some metaphysical questions.

The separated hemispheres will have separate perceptions, concepts and impulses to act. One side of the brain can countermand the actions of the other. For example, while trying to dress himself, one split brain patient buttoned his shirt with one hand while the other hand [controlled by the other hemisphere] immediately undid all the buttons. The same happened when trying to put on trousers.

Not only does this make getting out the door to your job extremely difficult, it raises this question: if the two hemispheres are expressing different wants and needs, are they then two separate minds? And in fact, are all of us two separate individuals dwelling in the same body? I don’t know the answer to that question and I’ll leave it up to the neuroscientists and philosophers to figure it out. Nonetheless, this phenomenon made me think of the terms we [as writers and artists] use to describe the creative inspiration: the muse, the voice, etc. Is it possible we are simply talking to the other ‘mind’?

Some writers go so far as to attribute their inspiration to the supernatural. The poet WB Yeats was convinced that there was a collective consciousness that could be accessed and the revelations could be passed on through the written word. His wife, George Hyde-Lee, claimed to have access to the spirit realm via a messenger from whom the secrets of the other side would be revealed. The method of delivery, termed ‘automatic writing’ produced some 4000 pages of text which the poet poured over in search of answers. Of course, much of this writing is open to interpretation and would probably make little or no sense to most of us. Yeats however, formulated theories about life, history, love… and it greatly influenced his own writing forever after.

Ok, so then my question is this: is it possible that this ‘automatic writing’ was Georgie girl simply accessing the other ‘mind’ in her brain? I guess that takes the magic out of the story if that is what happened. Still, it’s a really amazing concept to visualize another person existing within you, prompting your actions, influencing your decisions, inspiring your art. Is that what happens? I don’t have the answers and so far neither do the metaphysicians, but it sure is an interesting question to ponder.

Genre Bending

An older post revisited.

One of the things that catches me up at the end of a project is selecting the best genre for the book. Seems like it should be a no-brainer but it isn’t really. Of the five complete novels I’ve written in The Bucks County Series, all of them have a romantic component, so I’ve listed them under the romantic suspense genre. Nevertheless, all but one are crime stories: mysteries with clues to be followed and criminals to be apprehended. The one exception —Run For It— is even more hard to define; there are elements of suspense and romance, but no crimes get committed nor are there secrets to uncover. What is that? Realistic fiction, maybe? The thing is, I feel like I might be misleading the reader by including the ‘romance’ part in describing the genre.

Do romance readers expect steamy sex scenes? Or is that now classified as erotica? While the stories I write include the development of romance/relationships between my main characters, I abstain from depicting any sort of physical relationship beyond kissing. I think a romance reader might be a little disappointed. In any case, writing romance was never my objective, it was to write a good story in which a relationship might develop. In fact, I have nearly removed the romantic components from two of the five books because I felt the stories could stand on their own without it. I just liked the books better with the relationship left in.

I’m not a good, traditional romance writer and I know it. And perhaps that’s because I’m not particularly traditionally romantic myself. Candlelight dinners? I like to see what I’m eating. Chocolate? Ok, I’ll take the chocolate but not one of those samplers – half the stuff is inedible in those things. Flowers are nice but eventually they will dry up and all the petals will fall off and make a mess. I can never remember where I keep the vases anyway. New jewelry is lost on me – I always wear the same favorite pieces every day. You see what I mean… I feel like a hypocrite writing those sorts of things into my books. My characters feel as silly as I do in traditionally romantic situations.

So how does a romance go in a book by Meg Sorick? Most of my female leads are self-rescuers – they don’t actually need their men to bail them out of their crises. That is not to say my male leads are not capable of rescuing; I like strong male characters, just not Neanderthals. No offense Neanderthals (I hear that’s actually a thing … Neanderthal DNA showing up in all the ancestry testing everyone is having done to find out your real lineage, not the one your grandma lied about. But I digress…) Anyway, except for the non-mystery in my collection, the women find themselves as the target of some sort of criminal activity: burglary, stalking, attempted murder, and finally vandalism/arson. The men are there to help follow the clues, discuss possibilities and ultimately assist in solving the mystery. This is how I like the relationship to develop — the couple works together to overcome an obstacle or withstand a series of terrible events. They will genuinely like and respect each other, they will definitely be attracted to one another and they will learn to trust each other with their very lives. Not a bad formula, I would say. But then I arrive back at the original issue: how to classify the stories I write. I have some thinking to do. And I may give romance a rest altogether after I finish my next stand alone book —a historical novel set partly during World War One. I have plans for a sweet romance in that story, but after that? I think I should part ways with love…