Friday, August 16, 2013

Writer with Camera in Hand

Empire State Plaza 
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have been going around Albany,with my recently purchased camera in hand. I have committed to doing an on-going "writer's essay" about Albany. In fact, I plan to do a "day in the life" of Albany -- as soon as I have a whole day to roam around the city.

With my step up from disposal cameras to a "real" camera that takes terrific photographs even when I simply point and click, I can now see what I've been missing. I can see how much there is to be seen through a camera's eye. I feel a little self-conscious about walking around the city that I live in taking pictures. Except, of course, when I'm seeing the city that I know through a camera's lens, it isn't really the city that I know. In the photo above, I discovered the richness of the colors and the spectacular symmetry of the government buildings on and opposite the Empire State Plaza.

Oddly enough, I'm running into another problem with this writer's essay I want to do -- the need to provide captions.  For example, the photo below offers another view from the Plaza. In my essay, I could say that "The Egg"  (top left in photo) inspired me to think of having a UFO sighting in the recent history of The Red Queen Dies. Official name "Center for Performing Arts," it is one of the most recognizable architectural structures in the city. The nickname was inspired by the egg-like shape. Personally, I don't see an egg when I look at it. I see a spaceship.
View of the Egg with highway below.

Or, what should I say about the image that I captured by accident. Two of the towers on the Plaza reflected in the shallow pool, the details of the windows reduced to the appearance of solid gray granite. And in the photo below that a mother duck and her ducklings use a tiny miniature ramp to gain access to the pool.

Towers reflected in water.
Mother duck and ducklings.

I have other photos of Albany streets and odd corners that I can ponder as I imagine Albany as both setting and "character" in my series. Even in my parallel universe/alternate reality of 2019 and after, there are some things about Albany that haven't changed. The physical dominance of the Empire State Plaza, the architectural diversity of the city, the Hudson River (visible as one enters the city), the neighborhoods, each with its own history. This is the Albany that I can draw on to provide setting and social context for my books. But in my Albany, the future has arrived, bringing innovations such as an airship landing site at the airport and a vertical farm attached to a restaurant.

So now I have another way of seeing. Today, I started to give some thought, again, to music. I've heard other writers talk about using music as an inspiration while writing -- soundtracks to suit the mood of the scenes that they've working on. I'd tried this with some success when I was writing my first published short story, inspired by my favorite Kenny Rogers song, and later with You Should Have Died on Monday, the blues-themed fourth book in my Lizzie Stuart series. I decided to try listening to music when I was working on The Red Queen Dies. I wanted to think of my police procedural with opening credits -- a panoramic view of Albany, my detective Hannah McCabe chasing a bad guy. Since the book is near future and there's a reference to a UFO sighting in 2012, I thought of the music from the old TV show, "Alien Nation." But that wasn't quite right. So I tried "New Age" and classical. Nothing was inspiring enough to  listen to while I was writing. But today, as I was working on the second book in the series -- inspired by "The Ballad of Cock Robin" -- I happened to remember a reference on the Internet to a band that I had never heard of named "Cock Robin". So doing a break from writing, I went to YouTube to listen to their music from the 1980s. And in one of their songs,"The Promise You Made," I discovered not only a sound track, but lyrics that were perfect for the book. Synchronicity. One of my favorite words.


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