May luck be stronger than death

A miner in Kono District, Sierra Leone searche...
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I love that saying.

It’s a phrase I picked up from an article I summarized for one of my Toastmaster speeches (yes, I used to attend TM meetings, gotta start that up again).  The article, titled Diamond Wars? Conflict Diamonds and Geographies of Resource Wars (I’m a spatial analyst) and written by Philippe Le Billon, almost got me back in school to get my PhD, but my bank account disagreed.

It’s a fascinating article.  If you are at all interested in how geographies shape illicit trade and wars, Mr. Billon was a series of articles that explore conflict and how geopolitical trends shape the outcomes.

Now, if you noticed the tags on the left of this post, you might be asking what does this have to do with the Writer’s Digest 25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day article?

Easy.  That one phrase has been the source of a thousand stories.

Let’s review the next tip:

11. Inspiration
In my writing classes, I devote a session to daydreams, which are spontaneous messages from our subconscious. After one of my presentations, a puzzled member of the audience raised his hand and asked what a daydream was. Others were surprised, but I wasn’t. Not everyone has a daydream-friendly mind. In fact, some people have been taught to repress daydreams as mere distractions.

As writers, however, we should not only welcome daydreams, but train ourselves to be aware of them. In fact, the cores of most of my novels have come from daydreams. Daydreams are our primal storyteller at work, sending us scenes and topics that our imagination or subconscious wants us to investigate. Each day, we should devote time (I usually do this before sleeping) to reviewing our daydreams and determining which of them insists on being turned into a story. Don’t push away those daydreams that make you uncomfortable: The more shocking the daydream, the more truthful about us it is. Embrace that truth.

After reading Mr. Billon’s article back when it came out (sometime in 2008), that phrase stuck with me.

May your luck be stronger than death

It’s what the artisan miners would say to each other when they would go out to mine in contentious areas.  As they would scour the tailings of larger mines, they had to watch out for the local militia or the mine security patrols.  If caught, a quick death was all they could hope for.

Of course, that sort of stuff is just pure primordial fodder for a writer.  If you are like me, you were blessed (cursed?) with an imagination gene the size of a bus.  Feed that imagination some juicy tidbits like the above, and you’ll have a host of excellent, novel-worthy ideas.

So this is one writing tip I don’t think I need to work on.  I am well tuned to my imagination and when the ideas flow, usually when I’m running or on my ride into work, I pay attention.

The one thing I haven’t done is as Mr. Morrell suggests: review my daydreams.

I may play them out repeatedly (for years), and the choicest dialogue and scenes get written down, but I don’t systematically review all my daydreams and write them down.  Not sure I have time to do that everyday, but definitely might end up on the weekly schedule.

Get it out of your system

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