Friday, October 28, 2011

Amanda Grayson

I found myself dirty and disheveled with no memory of how I got here. The right knee of my jeans was torn, my knitted sweater was unraveling at the collar where it connected with the hood, and the first two buttons were missing showing the faded pink t-shirt with the teddy bear which was my favorite. My left sneaker was untied and my right earring was gone. They had been my grandmother’s so with a pang of loss I started searching the leaf strewn ground for them.

Where was I? I didn’t have my purse which led me to believe that I had been mugged but I didn’t have any memory of it. Was it amnesia? It couldn’t be – I knew who I was. My name is Amanda Grayson. I’m 23 years old and I live in Dayton, Ohio. Clearly, it was short-term memory loss. I must have hit my head at some point and that’s how come I couldn’t remember how I got here or where here was.

Autumn was in full swing I noticed, as I kicked some of the russet leaves that piled in tiny mounds throughout the grounds. The golden, amber and auburn crowns of the trees surrounded the clearing I was standing in. A gust of wind wound through the leaves churning them into miniature whirlwinds that then glided softly back to the ground in a slow motion effect. It was beautiful here, a combination of park and natural woods that lent a serene feeling to the place. I was entranced by the otherworldly energy that I sensed emanated from the woods.

Part of me didn’t want to leave, but I also urged to go home and recover from whatever had happened to me. I couldn’t be far from the city so I headed west finding a trail nestled between ancient trees that hinted at their age by the large trunks and roots that plunged into the ground. For the most part all I could hear was the wind whistling softly. It’s bone chilling cold seeping into me. Soon, I could see a gate in the distance and hurried my steps. The day was ending and I wanted to leave before dark.

The warning hoot of an owl startled me just as I neared the gate and I glanced up into the trees to see where it came from. A large barn owl glowered at me with its dark eyes and I felt the menace in his message. Fear sprang through me and I tried to open the gate which rattled as I shook it but wouldn’t unlatch. I sensed more than heard the owl take flight and I looked back. He was huge with unusually long legs and talons. I panicked and started running back towards the woods – the owl pursuing me relentlessly no matter how many turns I took. I tried heading back towards the gate but he cut me off; painfully nipping at my shoulders and arms while I ran shielding my head. It didn’t matter what I tried, he continued to usher me back into the woods. Terrified, I entered the clearing - the barn owl still chasing me hooting angrily; chastising me while I ran sobbing hysterically.

The leaves were piled higher here and I had begun to shuffle to get through them causing them to bundle around my ankles until I fell. I had tripped over something underneath and I lay on the ground cowering and covering my face weeping uncontrollably. Then I noticed that it had gotten very quiet. I didn’t hear the owl any more, nor the wind – I heard nothing. I turned to my side to get up and my hand brushed against the hard object that had tripped me. Breathing deeply to calm myself I began to brush the leaves out of the way.

It didn’t take long to uncover the rectangular pink marble plaque with an elaborate scrollwork design. I was captivated by its beauty and knelt before it to read the inscription. The truth struck me as I read the name that was embossed in gold lettering – Amanda Grayson 1988 - 2011. I looked at my surroundings once more as the wind began to pick up again. The soft whistle of the wind flowed through me beckoning me to follow. And as the moon rose, I let go of this world vanishing into the wind.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Left Brain or Right Brain

Some people are logical, analytical and very good with numbers. Shapes & symbols are easily understood because they’re often used in language as well as math and science. Processing things in order of sequence, making lists, preferring organization and structure are important. The ability to pay attention to details as well as remembering the names of people and places is prevalent in these individuals. In other words, they are left brain dominant.

“Left brain people are more objective in the sense that they’re concerned with what’s outside of them; with the objective world.” - Bill Harris, Centerpointe

Others tend to go by feeling and intuition and are more likely to remember faces instead of names. Proverbial daydreamers, they can easily employ their imaginations and turn within to “see”. When calculating math problems, they don’t often work the problem out mathematically but find the answer intuitively. They seem to know, have a gut feeling about the right answer. Decision making is infused with this instinct; relying on gut feeling to remove themselves from uncomfortable situations or places. Music, art and creativity permeate their lives. Colors play a vital role as well by being used in associations and expressions both internal and external e.g.: “I felt blue this past Tuesday because the weather was so gray.” These are right brain dominant individuals.

“People who are right brain dominant are more concerned with the subjective; the internal world.” - Bill Harris, Centerpointe

What is intriguing about writing is that writing is known to be a left brain function but in order to write successfully, the right brain is also employed. The reason for this is that although the left hemisphere of the brain controls writing (grammar, punctuation, syntax), as writers we also invoke emotion, the senses, as well as color. This is where the right hemisphere steps in to lend a hand.

But how does this happen exactly? There is a bridge between the left and right hemispheres called the corpus callosum that allows the two hemispheres to communicate by connecting them together. So in a sense the corpus callosum is like a friendly messenger that allows two parties to speak to each other. When this happens the brain is functioning holistically. Even better is the fact that the more writers write, the more connections are made in the brain and the easier it is to write the next time.

So what if a writer is having difficulty with his/her writing? When this happens the writer may be entrenched in the left hemisphere. By turning within and activating the right hemisphere, the difficulty previously experienced may ease off. A good way to activate the right hemisphere is by listening to music - particularly Classical music like Mozart. Studies have shown that Classical music is beneficial for learning and memory because it has a positive effect on brain chemistry. Of course, not everyone likes Classical music so in that case Jazz, Blues, or Rock may work better depending on the preference of the writer.

As for me I listen to a variety of music from Classical to Goth to Rock to Symphonic Metal, depending on my mood and what is currently happening in the story.

Monday, October 10, 2011

First Person Narrative

One of the things that writers have to decide on is whether to write in first person or third person. Most often I write in third person. Somehow it flows easier for me to write in this style. My current work in progress, however, is written in first person. I want to show the perspective of the protagonist, Brooke, as the story unfolds. And of course, I could show Brooke’s perspective writing in third person but I want to hear her “voice” – her thoughts. It is a bit more challenging for me but since I don’t usually write in this style, I think it’s important to develop this skill.

As a side note, I’ve read that most published novels are written in third person and that novels written in first person are usually geared towards women readers. I don’t know how true this is and I certainly would prefer a broader reader demographic.

But as writers, I think we should just focus on writing the story we have to tell. If people are interested in reading it that’s great! If the population is mostly women, that’s awesome! And if the readers also include men well, that’s an added bonus!

When I write, I don’t worry about the gender of the reader. Mostly I decide whether the story is suitable for a young adult audience or for an adult audience. From there, anyone who wants to read my stories can do so and hopefully enjoy them.

Happy writing.