Thursday, November 25, 2021

Gratitude with Attitude


In the past, I have written about an attitude of gratitude. Because November is the month when Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated, at least in the U.S., that title played well into many people's  feelings about this time of year. However, in 2021, as it was in 2020, it can be difficult for a lot of folks to view November or even the year with gratitude — hence the slightly altered title of "Gratitude with Attitude."

Way too many of us have lost family, friends, and much more to the pandemic that continues to rage worldwide. We may even have battled COVID-19 ourselves and might still be dealing with the aftermath that affects a significant number of its victims. Every time the news reports that it's finally waning, it raises its virulent head in a new wave of potentially deadly infections caused by a different variant. Its ability to reinvent itself again and again sparks fear as it travels without regard for borders or seas. In a seriously divided world, citizens (not necessarily governments) are coming together, at least in spirit, to face this common threat.

Has this virus affected your writing? If so, how? 

It has made me think more deeply about the emotions displayed by my characters. Death plays a role in many fiction stories, as well as in our own lives. However, most of us have not seen it on the personal level in the proportions we probably have in the past two years. Emotions that often begin as fear evolve into anger, frustration, aggression, and more. Recipients of all this negativity are found everywhere: [former] friends, family [also may become former], strangers, fellow drivers on the road, other customers waiting in line, clerks, waitresses, and the list goes on. Channeling these feelings into our stories often come naturally to writers, and such scenes will likely ring true to our readers. Do you do that? 

Personally, I have always injected aspects of my own feelings into my characters, of course with a twist that is consistent with their personalities. For example, my tendency to feel emotions very deeply may translate into bringing out the drama queen in a character who strives to keep her volatility under control. My joy in nature (with a few exceptions, i.e. spiders, snakes, alligators, etc,) may surface in a reclusive character who prefers animals to humans. My love of music and cooking often finds its way into a story. It's about penning what I know — creative writing 101. Rather than exposing my raw emotions, however, I find that using them as a springboard rather than baring them inspires creativity, provides believable scenarios, and protects my privacy.

Do you use your own emotions to make your characters real to your readers?


The other side of the coin has been my reluctance to write despite greater opportunities during lockdowns and self-quarantines. The general lack of stability in the world around us, conflicting news reports, wishy-washy medical guidance, blatant disregard for the welfare of others displayed by so-called leaders, and the encouragement of violent demonstrations to express one's dissatisfactions do not promote creative expression. All these infringe on my ability to focus on my writing, and I'm struggling to regain and maintain the necessary attitude to get words on paper or hard drive.

How are you affected by such negativity?

I am grateful to still be here, to not have come down with COVID-19; to have sufficient food to eat despite difficulty in finding well-stocked grocery shelves; to have enough income to keep a roof over my head, heat in the home, and gas in my car; and to have adequate medical care. Many in the world have few, if any, of these luxuries I take for granted. So the gratitude is alive and well. 

Attitude, on the other hand, needs a boot to the backside. The get-up-and-go has, as the saying goes, got up and went. Creative energy is in short supply — not nonexistent, mind you — but increasingly difficult to bring to the table (or computer). It's time for an attitude adjustment. For years, I had several valid distractions that kept me from finishing long overdue projects. Most of those distractions have been resolved, so my circumstances are much better now. It's time to work harder and faster to recapture the attitude that kept my finger in the literary dike and my mind on future stories waiting to be told. I just wish that didn't sound so overwhelming. 

Maybe I need chocolate . . . 

How do you deal with pandemic-induced distractions so that they don't stifle your creativity? I'd love to hear your ideas.


Linda Lane is currently updating two previously written novels and is laying the foundation for her new cozy mystery series with a twist, the first book of which should be out in late 2022. She also has a number of partially finished novels that are scheduled to make their debuts in 2022 and 2023. Although still doing some fiction editing, she now focuses primarily on writing and on encouraging new writers to hone their skills and read, read, read. You can contact her through her writing website, LSLaneBooks.com.

4 comments :

  1. Linda -- this post will resonate with a lot of people this year, especially with today's news of another variant to be investigated. Writing is hard enough without this life and death distraction. But we carry on, grateful for those who do my shopping so I can do curbside pickup, the delivery folks for restaurants and even a local bookstore, and (so far) good health that's keeping us away from hospitals and urgent care. And I am finally wrapping up that cozy mystery that has kept my mind occupied for the last year. Wishing you the most gentle and kind holiday season.

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  2. Thank you for your kind words, Pat, and your gratitude for some of the services we now have access to which were probably not part of our pre-pandemic lives. Being grateful, also, for our ability to carry on despite adversity is one of the perks we possess as authors. Perhaps it's part of what makes us writers, or perhaps it's our ability to escape to the land (or universe) of our characters and temporarily leave behind what we find unacceptable in our real world. Whatever the reason, I'm so grateful to have it. Thank you for your comments. :-)

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  3. I could have written this post, Linda. You expressed my feelings exactly. The biggest difference is you’re more positive about your writing future. I, too, have a number of unfinished works, but I doubt I’ll finish them. It’s hard to keep a positive attitude when a good part of the world won’t play by the rules. It’s been two steps forward and three steps back, and that’s depressing. I will take a page from your playbook and forge ahead.

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  4. When the present reality gets too much, I spend time with my characters. Crazy? Maybe, but it works. It's an environment I can control in a world where control no longer exists. Hang in there, Polly. You bring so much to the table.

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