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  • January 11th, 2010 | 11:52 PM
What soothes your soul?

A lot of people took the holidays off from blogging and online activities intentionally. I took some time off but it wasn't so intentional. I was in one of those dark holes I fall into sometimes and it sorta surprised me. But here I am and now I'm wondering how to jump back into things because it feels a bit odd to  be away from everything for a while. It was good for me, though. I realized that online noise is just as noisy to this introvert as going to a crowded cocktail party so my brain has had a chance to rest. And then hubby and I got sick and this year's cold has been a bugger to shake. I've beaten myself up a few times about things that haven't gotten done and stuff that's fallen through the cracks. But you know, sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug.

Writing is one of those things that fell through the cracks. I think I know why. Or at least part of the reason why. I was working hard on Flyboy and making great progress. Then I took a few classes. The classes were all wonderful and helped me in a lot of ways but I have ended up with feedback from way too many people and it just short-circuited my brain. I needed the time away from everyone's input so I could just let it go and then return to the project with their comments in the back of my mind but not so forward that they overtake me. At least that's the plan.

Lately I've been thinking about things that soothe my soul.

Birds. We don't have anything fancy or unusual in our yard but just seeing the little house finches or the mourning doves hanging around the yard makes me smile. They help me feel connected to nature here in the big city. And they make me feel that little things, like our native plantings for wildlife, can make a difference

Unexpected love. Cassie isn't an affectionate dog but sometimes she just seems to know when I need a little something and will come over and nudge my hand with her nose. It might not be an all-out love fest but for her it's a big deal so it means a lot to me.

Hearing from a friend. An email (not a Tweet or a Facebook message) but an email from a friend that speaks to my heart is a good one. Or a phone call. I do love to hear the sound of a friend's voice.

I can see those things, or the need for those things, in my writing. My characters are always looking for where they fit into a family or a group because they need to feel needed, to feel loved, to feel wanted.

What about you? What are that things that soothe your soul? Do those things show up in your writing?
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 11 comments — Leave comment )
January 12th, 2010 10:48 am (UTC)
Hi Susan... life's hard sometimes. I don't know why, but it just is.
I live in a mudbrick house on a very large bush block and because our windows are slightly tinted we see endless wildlife and I absolutely love it.
Apart from a huge native bird population we have a lot of Potoroos (really tiny kangaroo type animals...less than a foot high). We have several families distributed over our land but the ones we see most have birthed twins this year.
To watch these tiny furry babes interact with their Mum and Dad and eventually grow to adulthood soothes my own depressive soul like no drug can ever do.
Maureen. www.thepizzagang.com

January 12th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
I live next door to a golf course, and in the winter it's quiet - no snowmobiles allowed. It's soothing to me to sit in my rocker and look out onto the snow and shifting patterns made by the lights of passing cars and, when it's snowing lightly and the wind is blowing, those patterns as well. And my kitty, who is a rescue, gets on the back of my chair and rubs her chin and whiskers against the top of my head, and my cheeks, making me once again belong to her. Then she crawls into my lap and purrs.
January 12th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
There is a lot of chocolate in my first novel, now that I think about it.

My second book probably would have chocolate in it, but it hadn't reached that part of the world yet!
January 12th, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC)
Soul soothing depends on why it needs soothed. Recently - because of a break up with my boyfriend of almost 6 years - it's been counted cross stitch and anime.

Mostly what soothes my soul, though, is music. All types of music. Angry, wistful... doesn't matter, there's a song to fit my mood. I like just putting on my headphones and letting the music lead the way.
January 12th, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC)
I love seeing deer -- it always feels miraculous, surprising. It also feels nice to feed our resident fox. He seems to know us, and comes when we call him for dinner!

Also soothing: watching family show reruns, like the Waltons and Little House. Can't leave out music and chocolate!
January 12th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Ah, we are like-minded people, Susan.

Birds definately make me smile and do make an appearance in my YA.

Dogs, too. My YA and my MG have dog characters that I adore. One is based on Pepper (my current dog) and one is based on Poncha, my last dog.

I've been yearning to watch family videos with my kids. I feel a bribe of Chinese take out and quality time coming on. :-) It'd fill my soul and our guts.

January 12th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
Right now, what soothes my soul is quilting. I find I need the stimulation of bright colors to help me through these cold months when the landscape is drab. Sometimes just sitting in the old rocker in there, just staring at the fabric, warms my heart. Having the wood stove is also very soothing, more to my psyche than literally, (although right now it's both :) Those two elements did show up in my first manuscript.
January 12th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
First, I beat myself up over feeling too bad to do stuff, too - I'm convinced I'm malingering! But it's important to learn the difference between the times you're being lazy and undisciplined, the times you're tired and sick, and the times when your writing work has sunk to the back part of your brain. In the first case, you pick something and go do it, no more fussing. In the second - you're sick. Pretend you're someone you love and go easy on yourself! All you can do is the best you can do and that has to be good enough. In the last case, recognize that *you are working.* Sorting through all that input is not going to get done by your conscious mind. Let the well refill itself. If you try to pump it, you'll pump yourself dry.

Second, my soothing things - sitting still outside. I found the best way to survive my various soul-sucking day jobs was to take lunch outside, anyplace outside, just get some fresh air and give myself a chance to see animals and plants. Also, catlapping. If my cat is happy I must not be all bad! Binge-reading certain authors - Diana Wynne Jones, Tove Jansson, Louisa May Alcott, Christopher Isherwood, Lois McMaster Bujold, Dorothy L. Sayers. Binge-reading comics, preferably ones that combine humor with an action plot, like Narbonic, Skin Horse, PS238 (a great one for children's authors). Readig helps the well refill. And sometimes I just need a cup of tea. None of this fancy stuff with herbs and flowers, but not bitter-washy Lipton either - plain old black tea, Russian Caravan or Darjeeling or Assam, with half a teaspoon of sugar.

Feel better. We're sick over here today, too, and I'm just going to have to deal with it.
January 12th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
What soothes my soul?

Beethoven's Piano Sonata 110 - the one with the theme and variations.

Staring into a green or white or gray hillside. Or walking on a country road in whatever the season.

Working in the garden, which, since I live in Vermont, only helps 5 or 6 months of the year.

Building a fire in a wood stove and watching the flames while sipping a mug of tea.

These things don't necessarily show up in my writing. Only the walk on the country road has. But I think that's because my characters aren't me, or even a young me. Other things soothe their souls.
January 13th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
I share many of those likes/needs. Birds, dogs, a connection with another person. Also a patch of sunshine, sharing a laugh, rubbing my cat's head and hearing him purr, listening to my kids getting along (I really savor that one!)

I'm not sure there's a direct correlation between these and what I write, but the essence of those feelings is present, I think.

Glad to have you back and hope you're feeling better, Susan. This can be such a difficult time of year.
January 13th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
Hasn't it been a long dreary winter for us East Coasters? Birds soothe my soul, even the little snowbirds, but especially flying geese. Reading on my porch (few months before I can do that again). This time of year, I crave color. As soon as pink tulips hit the grocery stores, I start buying them by the bunch. Yellow daffodils, too.
( 11 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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