Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hoops and Loops

Occasionally, I miss the basketball hoop the children had. I like dribbling and shooting even though I miss more than I sink. In school I was good at a few sports. Anyone who knows how klutzy I can be may find this surprising. But in junior high and high school I managed to participate without significant injury or humiliation in hurdles, basketball, volleyball, modern dance, and swimming.

These days I rarely swim; have less occasions for one-on-one and probably could only clear successive hurdles with a gun pointed at me, a big, mean automatic. In college I wanted to take a fencing class but ended up in modern dance to solve a scheduling problem. Things change, often not by intent or declaration; the changes are quieter, more seamless or as the case with fencing are practical.

These days sans hoops I have discovered loops. With that discovery comes a deliberate and calculated decision/change.

A fellow writer referred me to a loop, an online general discussion by writers that covers many subjects, like contests, conversations, points of grammar, new works, publishing trends, angst, Q&A, and blogs. This is an amazing and vast resource. It is an active, thriving, online community of writers with subjects as varied and in depth as individual writer's interests.

Following an extensive postmortem on my Golden Heart entry and several revisions, FROZEN brain and writer's block have been huge issues for me. I have several other novels I can revisit but that was also not satisfying.

It is time to move in a different direction, romantic-suspense. After more thought, I am finally committed to take the plunge. I do not do this lightly. My last two years and the pursuit of contemporary led me to place as a finalist in the RWA's Golden Heart contest as a first time entrant. I have done a lot of work yet remained restless and dissatisfied.

Changing directions requires a basic shift in mindset, a new learning curve, and an immersion into the genre particulars. This is a little overwhelming. I probably would not have considered this pre-Internet. The wealth of information and postings via loops helped me make the decision. In the isolated writer's world, networking, fellow writers, and the Internet are one of the most valuable resources.

Growing and taking chances is one of the exciting and disquieting aspects of writing. I feel energized. There may be a time in the future when both hoops and loops are part of my day. Who knows maybe I'll finally take that fencing class. En Garde!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Purple hats, french perfume, and pocket rockets

The messy desk is back...what a tremendous relief. When I am blocked, I clean and my desk is an ordered place. I clean the keyboard with alcohol and Q-tips, between the keys, and the surface. It is a bleak and uninspired ritual and I persist to keep me near my computer...waiting...waiting for the muse.

In the years that I focused on my art, my creative identity solidified, complete with little rituals. Creativity and rituals, creativity and structure, in my wired brain these elements are aspects of being able to paint and write. When I was a younger artist, I would paint and paint, the muse in my heart and mind, never gone. In the rituals was a part of my artistic identity: black tights, eye makeup, lip gloss, long hair, and perfume. The perfume was a counterpoint to the heaviness of linseed oil, turpentine, and oil paint vapors. The rest was just for fun. I'd listen to music, paint long into the night til morning - and slide into bliss.

When I grew up (ahem) and more and more people occupied my waking hours, my little rituals retreated. I got tired of the question, "Where are you going?" as I appeared in one of my flamboyant outfits and smelling of perfume. The message was clear; the artist had departed - there were fewer and fewer works in progress. If I was dressed it must be for a special occasion like grocery shopping, scouts, dinner date, or work.

The happy dances in black tights disappeared. I have never been a public person; I'm not good with an audience. Yet, somehow I lost my private space too; no one to blame, it happened. In my artistic days, I was about the creative act and the expression - the artist made visible. Jeans, awesome shoes, short skirts, ties, hats, eye make-up, and lip gloss - the outward expression as I worked on my latest painting. Canvases lined my walls, works in progress and blank, beautiful canvases ...waiting.

Look artistic, smell artistic, live artistic, do artistic, think artistic, all the package equals artist's life. That was my mantra.

As I traveled thru the parenting and social complexities of family, my creativity transferred to storytelling/reading, artful cakes, children's outside art shows, how many different ways could I arrange the furniture, and moving bushes outside.

Recently, one of my daughters dragged me into Ultra, the makeup mecca at Pier Park. What an uncomfortable and fun several hours that became. I was made over in the low key way I am most comfortable with and it was an improvement. As I was checking out the clerk held up one of my purchases and joyfully announced to the small crowd, "one pocket rocket." I went red; for some maddening reason I still blush. I had unwittingly purchased a lip gloss that is marketed as a pocket rocket compete with a hologram of a very fitful and lovely male named David who disrobes as you apply the product. All of which she demonstrated to me and the crowd. Oh, and he smells like dessert.. Welcome to the new and improved lip gloss.

There is nothing to be done to apply what I have learned or am now learning to the past. But today and tomorrow offer possibilities and hope. Here I sit back on track with my writing, with my favorite purple fedora, french perfume, and David; even my paints and paintbrushes are near. What fun! Write on...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Between the covers - Reading for fun

I love Mondays. The day is like a mini New Years day; I have survived another weekend to arrive again at a new beginning. The week stretches before me, a little celebration of possibilities, rife with opportunities.

For years I have read quite a bit for research and market study. Reading for pleasure fell to the bottom of my list. I am taking the week to do just that - read for the fun of it. Rather than reaching for the book before I sleep, I'm reaching for it during the day. It strikes me as truly indulgent to do this.

I'll continue ee cummings - Poems 1923-54, Michio Kaku - Hyperspace, and James Kelley - Lego-Mindstorms Programming Guide. And will read a couple of other authors, Elizabeth Strout - Olive Kitteridge and David Sedaris - Naked.

A few nights ago I reached for a favorite book for the comfort and pleasure it offers. I had forgotten the power of a good book, a good read. I was transfixed by the cadence and the emotion of the poetry. Then I read some of Lester Del Rey's short stories and I was transported - a time traveler. It was one of the best parts of the long day.

I remain surprised at how the structure of our lives is determined in small ways. The choices we make either directly or by omission can seem insignificant. But these choices direct our path, determine in no small measure who we are and the texture and substance of living. Reading is a simple joy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Why we do it

It's funny what prompts inspiration and insight. Yesterday I found myself thinking about boundaries and what is entrenched - sacrosanct.
As old as I am I discovered something about myself- surprise.

There are few things that hurt my feelings. I'm immune and if not immune; most of the time fairly protected. I've had a lifetime to perfect those defenses. But I realized yesterday- two things cut deeply- automatically. Both are about my creative endeavors.

One is disengagement- a disinterest that is I don't care to read or view your work.
The second is value. Is there value, beyond the immediate in what I share? Is there a connection, a communication worth rereading and experiencing again?

In this immediate and short attention span world of twitter, facebook, email, and blogs perhaps I will become hardened - buck up to the trend. And those two surprising triggers will go the way of other sensitivites. But I suspect these two reactions are tied to my creative psyche.

It is evident to me that although writing is a lonely pursuit; it is an intensely social act. What prompts someone to sit and write is probably as varied as the individuals. Yet, I believe the end goal is a profound need/desire to communicate, to share, to connect. For someone who suffered from extreme shyness and has felt alienated most of her life; this realization struck me hard.

When I write, it is like when I paint. It is a private place- a flow removed from the daily mechanics of living. I agree with the characterization that painting/ writing (creativity) are a state of being - a flow. That experience continues to be one of the most profound and intense of my life. I had no idea how earnestly I desired to share, to interface socially. I am still looking for that connection.
Writing - creativity are the best of me- even though I have not reached/produced my best work. For me there is nothing more personal than writing and painting, than sharing one's creativity. It is what I have to offer.