by Luba Lesychyn, @LubaLesychyn
The Mystery in Everyday Miracles
Writers often pick up tips about their craft in formal settings such as workshops and classes, but sometimes the best gems are gleaned in rather unusual locations. Of the many hats I wear, one is as a yoga instructor. But I was as surprised as anyone when an experience at a yoga conference had a significant impact on the novel I was writing, Theft By Chocolate, a sassy museum mystery about a woman of a certain age looking for chocolate, love, and an international art thief in all the wrong places.
I was still in the initial stages of the book when I participated in a yoga session called “Everyday Miracles” led by internationally renowned yogini Seane Corn. Throughout the physically grueling class, Corn’s profound narrative challenged us to stop putting so much emphasis on pursuits that create “big wows” in our lives and, instead, to begin noticing the wonder in the smallest moments.
This suggestion resonated with me on so many levels, but as far as my writing, it sent me in a new direction. From the beginning of my creative process I knew I wanted to set my story in a museum, a world with which I was very intimate as I had been working at Canada’s largest museum for more than twenty years. And I wanted to construct my story around a protagonist addicted to chocolate, because that was a character with which I was excessively familiar. The plot was a work in progress and I had been diligently working on a page-turning adventure, but I wasn’t convinced I had a work that was fresh, that readers hadn’t seen before. Lots of stories are set in museums – what was so different about mine?
So it was on that bone-chillingly damp Sunday morning in Toronto, in a bleak conference centre room filled with 200 yoga practitioners, most of whom were looking for a serious physical practice or hoping to find spiritual enlightenment, that a very different kind of insight came to me.
The cast of characters I worked with daily were stranger – and often funnier – than fiction. And the types of things I encountered in my everyday work routine and considered mundane were what others might find fascinating. It was time to notice, discover and describe the everyday miracles of my life and weave those into my story.
So, I found the magic in my day-to-day world and suddenly taking on new prominence were moments such as encountering someone in a hallway pushing a cart of ancient Egyptian mummified cats or experiencing uneasiness while working late in a building rumoured to have ghostly occupants. Even some of my own embarrassing “moments”, like covering up chocolate bar wrappers in my trash bin so the cleaning staff wouldn’t see how much chocolate I had eaten in a week, became material for the story. Interweaving such anecdotes, I realized, would give my readers a behind-the-scenes access to museum life and to the life of a chocolate addict that they may never have previously experienced. It would be a new layer to my story that readers could cling onto firmly while they journeyed through my universe. The backdrop would no longer be a flat curtain, it would be a three-dimensional character in its own right, with quirks and flaws and redeeming qualities.
I was fortunate to have such a wealth of unusual stories in a distinctive setting to draw upon for my novel, but so many of the other stories I have percolating within my creative spirit have nothing to do with museums. So my challenge as a writer will be to create a hologram for every tale, even if it’s set somewhere as commonplace as a convenience store. Depending on the story, “big wows” will still have a place in my work, as they do, in Theft By Chocolate. But I am convinced that it will be the everyday miracles that I share with readers that will encourage them to keep coming back for more.
How do you add layers and depth to your writing?
Please leave your answer in the comments with your email address to be entered to win an ebook copy of Theft By Chocolate,the new release by Luba Lesychyn. In five days, a winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. Available in any ebook format. Remember to write your email address in the comments so that you can be contacted if you win! $150 Gift Certificate Giveaway of Grand Prize on July 31st. Do you love chocolate as much as Kelana, the heroine in Theft By Chocolate? Here’s your chance to indulge in $150 US worth! The Giveaway Grand Prize is a gift certificate to a delectable chocolate online retailer. Winner chooses from one of three sites: Chocosphere (US Retailer), Hotel Chocolat (UK and US Retailer) , Darrell Lea (Australian Retailer). To be eligible for the Grand Prize, enter the Rafflecopter below. Remember to sign up for Luba’s email announcements (worth five entries). On occasion she’ll send out exclusive announcements for special events, blog posts, giveaways and free swag! On July 31st, the winner will be chosen at random and notified via email.
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