The skies here in northern California are still a crazy shade of apricot, and sunlight has a reddish tinge, so I was moved to write a rain dance for California, a poem to the rains we desperately need. Once, in Hawaii, I learned an ancient hula dance said to bring rain. And the rains came, for three days! More than 20 fires are still burning, but rain is in the forecast for next week. More
Emotion is important in fiction, but thought and will are also a huge component of character and character development. You can identify with a character’s thoughts and decisions when she’s under stress. One of life’s pleasurable but stressful activities is travel. Since my novel’s main character is on a three-week, intensive tour of Renaissance Italy, stress is a given. May Gold combats it through her Gratitude Practice.
I gave May this habit of enumerating things she’s grateful for to associate her to the San Francisco Bay Area, where mindfulness meditation is popular. I also wanted to show that she’s active in battling anxiety. She isn’t passive. She uses her Gratitude List to steer her thoughts another way.
Is Gratitude Practice just a Bay Area whiffen-poofy idea? Turns out, it’s been scientifically proven to have very powerful effects on mood, as this Business Insider article indicates. The article cites passages from The Upward Spiral, Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, by neuroscientist Alex Korb, PhD. Dr. Korb identifies the different brain processes linked to types of thinking. Gratitude, mindfulness, and decision-making are powerfully positive for our brains — they even can be “the key to happiness,” the article claims.
So I gave May the knowledge and will to fight negative thinking with gratitude. It’s a key to her journey. I like characters with strong and articulate inner lives. If I’m let inside a character’s most basic processes, I can connect and have a feeling of inevitability as the story plays out. And that keeps me reading!
Thanks to editor Angelique Jamail, my poem “Prayers for Everywhere” appears on her site Sappho’s Torque today. I’m delighted that it appears on the weekend of Passover and Easter, as I think prayers should be borderless and expansive, helpful to all, everywhere. Which is where the poem started, actually. The poem is from my book Gods of Water and Air (reviewed on The Pedestal).
Happy Easter, happy April, and have a poetic day! Buy or pick some roses if you can.