Last November, I made a fairy garden—a place for my imagination to sit and dream up new plot lines, or mull over old plot lines, or try to forget the plot lines completely. I think this is a “displacement activity”.
From the MacMillan Dictionary, a displacement activity is
something that you do in order to avoid dealing with an unpleasant situation.
In biology and psychology, it is something that a person or animal does that has no obvious connection with the situation which they are in and that is the result of being confused about what to do.
The Collins Dictionary defines a Displacement Activity this way:
1. (psychology) behaviour that occurs typically when there is a conflict between motives and that has no relevance to either motive, e.g. head scratching
2. (zoology) the substitution of a pattern of animal behaviour that is different from behaviour relevant to the situation, e.g. preening at an apparently inappropriate time
I first heard about Displacement Activities from author Cherry Adair when she spoke at one of my writer groups. She told us how she made a binder for each book—spending time making a cover for the binder, putting in dividers, finding pictures.
For a writer, a displacement activity might be something you do to avoid writing. But, in a writer’s case, that may be a good thing. A displacement activity is a way of turning off the Editor so that the Creator can perform its work. Building a fairy garden can be a displacement activity and that is what I did.
Yesterday I showed you the plants I used. Here they are, freshly planted, before any of the other stuff showed up.
I started off with the black “large” furniture, but later I changed to a scale half this size.
For ROCKS, I used a piece of quartz that I found while walking. (I put it through my rock polisher.) And I had some ocean rocks from when I was on Vancouver Island. (They also were in the rock polisher, for a long time.)
“large” fairy furniture
blue agate slice
I needed some WATER so I used marbles from the Dollar Store. This makes the “ocean”. Some glass shells, also from the Dollar Store, float on the ocean.
My fresh water POND is a blue agate slice that I bought at the Rock & Gem store in Whistler.
Once it was all put together, it looked like this:
And like this, up close:
I needed some fairies too. This fairy garden is full of fairies, but you can’t see them because they are invisible.
By February, the garden was slightly overgrown. This shows the “half-size” furniture, which makes the garden appear so much bigger.
But there is still lots of room to sit and dream.
However, by early April, the plants are taking over . . .
I should go in there with a machete. But I don’t have time. I’m working outside in a real garden now.
Anyway, I like the way the plants have grown. I make a cup of tea, sit by my garden, stare at it and try not to think.
That is when the Inspiration Fairies show up and help me out.
fairy from bigstockphoto.com #45611884
I’m looking for inspiration and I think I might find it if I can get lost in a jigsaw puzzle.
When the Muse has deserted you, you go and look for her. Although with all the changes in my life lately, she may be hiding for a while.
One friend suggested a funny movie and a good Merlot. This works, although the effects are transitory. I return to the keyboard and nothing comes out of my fingers. So I am trying jigsaw puzzles. Maybe immersing my mind in a jigsaw puzzle will loosen up my brain.
There is something about snicking those little pieces into place. Something that is good for the soul. It may not free up my writing muscles, but it is relaxing.
I started working on the coffee table in the living room. This is just a 300-piece puzzle and it fit the space nicely.
I was with a friend when I bought it. She commented that she wanted to get an “adult” puzzle—meaning one with more pieces.
“Adult?” I said. “What’s wrong with this? It’s a pretty picture and the pieces are large and sturdy.”
Besides, I’m not looking for Hard. I’m looking for Doable and Distracting.
After the 300-piece was finished, I got a 500-piece. And the pieces started dropping off the edge of the coffee table. So, Rolf made this “puzzle board” to fit on top of the coffee table.
The Puzzle Board has edges so the pieces cannot go astray. That’s kind of comforting, knowing all your pieces are there and not in danger of disappearing.
The back of the board is covered in vinyl so it does not scratch the coffee table underneath.
Do you like jigsaw puzzles? Do you equate a large number of pieces with being adult-like? What if you are a tired adult and only need 300 pieces?
orange puzzle piece from bigstockphoto.com #15892556
Every time I write a new book, I get myself a new mug.
Each book will involve numerous cups of coffee or tea and it’s important to have the right mug to humour the Muse.
This is the current mug. I got it while I was visiting Ontario last October at a pottery place called Pinecroft.
The Muse also enjoys teatime at Pinecroft.
And walking around the grounds.
Admiring the leaves is also very useful for inspiration.
Kissing the frog has been known to help the Muse.
But the surest way to inspire the Muse is tea with friends.
With this new mug and all the inspiration attached to it, the new book should be out by October. Wish me luck!
I continue to struggle through National Novel Writing Month, with not very much success. Oh well. At least there are words on the page. Not a lot of them, but more than I started with.
A few motivational lines that sometimes get me started.
Inspiration exists but it has to find you working. —Picasso
The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. —Gustave Flaubert
It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward. —Old Chinese Proverb
A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God. —Sidney Sheldon
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. —Mark Twain
Another secret is having sufficient prompts. Like these:
And always remember: he who hesitates is not only lost but miles from the next exit.
cupcake rose from depositphotos #3235106
cupcakes from photos.com #114302447
Earl Grey from istockphotos.com #09447849
brownie from photos.com #92264610
mint tea from photos.com #153469650
fruit from Rolf, latte from Suzanne