Saturday’s Share: Arytana Inspiration

Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!

This week’s Share is three little white flowers with a big voice.


I took this picture at Sayen Gardens in Hamilton, New Jersey in early June, 2013. I love the shape and slight decay evident on these blooms, and the way they stand, fragile and proud, against the background. These flowers almost shouted to me, with a voice I knew. They said their name was arytana, and that they were the answer to a question I’d had for a long time.

It’s been this way most of my life. I live many of my moments twice – once in my own reality, as myself, and another seeing the world through the eyes of my characters and their realities.

Here, in this world, this flower has a name, but that’s not what’s most important, to me.

Because, in my other, fictional, reality, it’s arytana – the most common flower on my female lead’s homeworld, which blooms in a continuous cycle throughout the year, and is crucial to many plot lines and relationships, and to all the cultures of her world.

I had a vague idea of what the plant looked like, but it was sketchy, and I’ve been seeking a more accurate image for some time now, since it is such an integral part of my story world. I wanted to know what arytana looked like, smelled like, how it moved on branches, how it decayed… to learn arytana well enough to describe it, to experience it through my characters, because it is a nearly omnipresent part of their world, the way sagebrush was to me, when I lived in northern Arizona.

Many of my characters have known arytana their whole lives, as deeply as I have known the rolling hills, the scent of frost on crisp leaves, the sound of crickets and the flashes of lightning bugs.

And, when I saw these flowers, I came closer to knowing arytana.

It’s not exactly like arytana, this plant. Arytana is a vine, but the flowers stand out as these do. Arytana is a little thicker, more like a succulent. It has more blooms for the same surface area, and so it’s a little heavier on the wind, and less likely to sway.

But I know arytana better now than I did before I snapped this picture.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened. My mind works best in images and emotions, and thrives on images that evoke emotion, or emotions that evoke images in my mind. When something is bothering me, finding an image helps me to name it and describe it. When I have a puzzle to solve, putting an image to it helps. When I need to express something, coming to it from an emotional place helps me to find the deeper truth in it.

I’m learning to move with this, to give myself to it, and let it work with me. I know myself better, and express myself better, because of it. Sometimes I wish I knew it sooner, but then I realize that these are things of patience and perspective, and, for me, those things have deepened as I have gotten older or as I become more aware of a problem . I wasn’t ready to understand that about myself – until I was.

So, in this image, there are the shadows and textures of three different ways of living the bloom -the initial experience,on that day in the gardens with a friend; the fantasy that wove through it, of a flower that drives a world and an epic,improbable romance; and a path toward more fully knowing myself.

That’s a lot for three small flowers at the end of their lives…

Are there things in your life that trigger deeper self-knowing for you, while at the same time feeding your imagination? Are there images you’ve captured, or seen, that speak to you of things for which you have no words? I would love to hear about them!

Feel free to drop a comment, image file, or link into the receptacle below – I love sharing, especially when others join in!


  1. Dogwood here… the inspiration for more elsewhere.

    Odd, because I always saw arytana as being slightly more trumpet-shaped, a bit looser, more like a Rose of Sharon, but less than a Morning Glory…

    Interesting on how descriptions can give so diverse images. It’s one of the reasons I love books so much–the fact that new worlds and images are created as each new reader brings the story to life in his/her mind.

    • Sys,

      Dogwood! D’oh!

      I knew that,even read it, but then saw so many more lovely things….

      funny that you had such a vision of arytana, when I really didn’t have one beyond vague impressions. I can see where it may be a little deeper and more trumpet shaped than this bloom, so you’ve already increased my sense of it, in your comment.

      I bought a sketch pad and some pencils recently, and will be playing around with some drawings, and I might even get brave enough to attempt some coloring….

      It’s pretty exciting. =)

      An interesting side note: This week, I read the extremely rough draft of Chameleon’s Dish to the children, aloud. Miah stopped me several times to ask about hair and eye colors I knew but hadn’t added. he said he needs those details in order to visualize the scene.

      I think we’re all different. And that makes me happy. =)

      • Yay for the new adventures in creativity… I actually find I write better after drawing things. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. You seem to work very well in words, but you also have a visual element in your creative mind (your photography shows that). Explore! It’s fun, and it bring so many gifts with it.

        The physical appearance thing is something I’m noticing more and more… especially among younger readers. I wonder if it’s because people are growing up more and more with visual stimuli… I haven’t actually done or read studies, but I’d be interested to know if it’s true. My anecdotal evidence is that readers from our parent’s generations and older (and people within our generation about 1/2 the time) tend to “create their mental images of characters” while people younger than us tend to rely on cover illustrations and other artistic representations for their characters if no description is given, but need a description in some form.

        It’s cool we are all different, but it would be sad if there was an actual trend and kids were losing the ability to create their own inner images. I don’t know if they are… I’m just curious based on observations.

        • Sys,

          I’m looking forward to the exploration, and the return to drawing, even if only on a small scale. While it’s true that words are deeply familiar waters, for me, I am also a creature who processes in images and emotions.

          I’m intrigued by your idea of descriptions, although, in Miah’s case, I think it has more to do with the fact that he was listening instead of reading…he’s read widely, and never complained about character descriptions, even in some books, like The Secret Garden or Heidi, where there wasn’t as much description as action.

          I do know that he is a very visual person, and always has been. He wanted hair, eye, and skin colors for both Tisira and Henry, and what Tisira looks like in Lynxform.

          Annalise, on the other hand, didn’t need any more description than I gave.

          So maybe we have more awareness of learning styles today, or maybe there are more visual types than there used to be…

          But, even if he wants descriptions, don’t fear. Jeremiah is not at all imagination impaired!

          • I never said he was imagination impaired… Far from it. Just noting a trend I had been seeing in other places. Though, as you say, you were reading aloud, and that adds a different level of storytelling to any tale.

            Sounds like it was a magical time.

          • Sys,

            I never said you said he was imagination impaired(we could go on forever like that!) – I’m pretty sure you know him well enough to know that he has plenty!

            He does, however, seem to be more like Jim in that listening at length is a very difficult thing to do, especially if he doesn’t “know” the characters. For example, he LOVED the audiobooks of The Magic Treehouse when he was 7 and 8, because he had first read the minimal descriptions of Jack and Annie for himself. I think it would have been a little different, if he had heard the books first…

            On the other hand, while driving home from New Jersey, we bumped into a broadcast of an old-style radio show, and both kids were captivated by it. They’d had a full weekend of play with their besties, and had been asleep, so maybe those channels in the mind are drawn to dreaming….?

            Or maybe the trend in many kids is the being required to read or listen to specific things they may have no interest in, over many years, which (as we both know) can cause people to do things like stare out the window, draw horses, create languages, and even gestate novels they’re writing decades later! =D

            It is a fascinating topic…I may come back to delve it further!

          • I think you said it perfectly… it is a fascinating topic. Even if it proves to be “things are always as they’ve been and I’m just noticing different things as I go through life”, I’ feel as if it’s something to delve into further. I’m already learning a ton, about myself and other people.

            So cool about the radio shows.

  2. fabulous post 🙂 you enthralled me with your evocative descriptions. It must be a marvelous way to create another world and the stories that weave through it 🙂

    • Kim,

      Thank you! I love when my words stir someone, and they take the time to tell me.

      I’ve tried to force stories, and that just doesn’t work or me. I need to see them and feel them, before they are real to me. Interwoven stories are the best kind, for me.

    • Marianna,

      Thanks for your compliment, and for sharing! I love water, too, and fire. The sound and motion of water soothes me, always (except for that one time whitewater rafting on thunderstorm-induced Class 5 rapids on the Snake River in Wyoming, but that’s another story!)

      I’ve been to some Massachusetts beaches,near Plymouth, but haven’t yet made it to the Cape. We have dear friends, though, who vacation there yearly, and have offered to show us around. So maybe next year.

      When I feel stuck with writing or a personal issue of some kind, a hot shower helps. The water falling on my head seems to clear my thoughts, and inspire new and more creative ideas.

      I like picturing you strolling the beach. =)

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