Blogging, Writing, and … Creativity

OH MY. BLOGGING IS FUN, but there are times … I want to make sure it’s not all “moans and groans” or so boring that you are unable to get through without dozing off. I certainly hope neither has been the case since I got serious in my blogging.

This week has been filled with challenges to carve out any time to write. It’s already Friday and the above is all I’ve managed to write in a week (insert eye roll …). I’m finding my brain is resisting any cohesive thoughts that can be strung together for a blog—there’s just too much “stuff” filling my head. I’ve been trying … I’ve resorted to taking my binder with my edit for the first book with me wherever I go in a feeble attempt to do some writing, whether blog related or not. The funny thing is, in the places I figure I’ll have plenty of time to work (the usual long waits at doctors offices, etc), I’m finding that I just get settled and I’m interrupted. Maybe I should bring work more often (giggle) since the wait times seem shorter when I have something I’m trying to accomplish. And places I “know” I’ll never have time, but bring it with me anyway … well, it seems I’m the most productive then. Go figure.

So … my first run-through of book one in my Secrets Beyond Scymaria series is finished (finally!), but I need to go through at least one more time (I’ve already begun) before I turn it over to my editor for a “second-pass” professional edit. This book did not get a real professional edit before it was published and I apologise to those of you that read it and found the errors. Now that I’ve a new publisher, Inknbeans Press will be republishing the “new and improved” edition—hopefully by this fall and book two (which has had a professional edit) should follow closely on its heels. This means all of my books will be with one publisher. This is a very good feeling for me and makes me want to do a happy dance. Perhaps by spring of 2018 I’ll finally have book four published—it was put on hold so I could get the first two books pulled from Xlibris and republished by Inknbeans. Sigh, and to be honest, it was on hold because my brain wasn’t working right for so long that I couldn’t muster any true creativity. That is now a thing of the past and I am finally eager to dive back into books four and five. I’m definitely doing a happy dance (insert humongous grin).

And, on top of all of that, Joyce Oroz (my mystery writer friend) and I have already begun doing book signings. Friday night we spend three hours at a local Starbucks hawking our books to coffee drinkers. It was fun. In the quiet moments, she and I strategised for upcoming book signings, fine tuning what was on the current agenda and adding yet another potential event to August.

So … seeing as this blog is already two days late, I’d better get it posted. Here’s the schedule (the link will take you to my business Facebook page):  2017 Book Signing and Appearances Schedule  Have a good Sunday and a wonderfully blessed week. I’ve got a quiet week so I’m hoping for a creatively productive week of writing! Until Friday, cheers!

 

Commitments

LESS THAN THIRTY-SIX DAYS TILL TAXES are due. In addition to all that gathering of receipts (ugh … I really, really hate doing taxes), I still have an edit or three on my fourth book to complete, an edit or two on the rewrite of book one (I’ve passed the self-imposed deadlines multiple times for both), book five is begging to be worked on. Ideas keep popping into my head—I try to get them scribbled down before they vanish, but have yet to be successful at that … and I have yet to create any art (sniff …) Okay, that was one very long run-on sentence. Sorry. But, you get the drift, right?

I’m also in a holding pattern on finding out what’s going to happen with my left knee. I really did do it in when I fell (twice) in January. Sigh. I see my orthopedist at the end of March … results of an MRI arrived at my primary care doc’s office last week, and from what I read (I always get copies of the reports … handy to have a medical assistant background), it doesn’t look as bad as it initially felt. My regular doc definitely wants me to see the orthopedist. I’m hoping it’s just for PT … no surgery. At least, that’s what I read into the report, plus how I’m feeling. Hoping and praying …

Why is it, when all I want to do (now that I’ve got better vision—cataract surgery was a complete success—yay!) is to write with abandon, there always seems to be Things keeping me from it?? Doctor appointments that cut into the day, meetings, tax preparation (ugh) and my weekly commitment to help out (or even to actually creating some art, which hasn’t happened either) at Open Ground Studios … all of these vie for my attention and precious time. I write best when I have large chunks of time to let my mind go in whatever direction it wishes—remember, the characters seem to be in control. Those large “chunks” seem to be hard to find these days. The same applies to editing. And, I’m finding I need the quiet of my home for that … so I can concentrate.

I either need to “un-commit” myself a whole bunch or figure out how to work in smaller time slots. I have cut back on my commitments, but … oooh, this sounds way too familiar—it’s a repeating problem I seem to have. Balancing things that need to be done with things I’d like to do … and the things others would like me to do. None of it is going to be easy to work out—never is, is it?

I’ve found myself taking art classes that I cannot complete because of stupid injuries, doctor appointments and other time constraints that happen after I’ve made the commitment to take the classes or … well, you’ve got the picture. It is frustrating to not be able to engage in any artistic outlet, whether it is writing or creating art (hopefully that will change this weekend with a one-day monotype workshop). Sure, I am able to compose a blog weekly (most weeks), but those usually are random happenings. No serious “construction” involved—just ramblings for the most part. Fun to write (in most cases) and for you to read, but even those blogs takes me away from creating serious stuff.

So … I need to re-group, figure some things out and take a serious look at my calendar. And add (cringe) a serious exercise regimen to my schedule to help my knee heal. And start planning some book signings for this spring and summer—right?

Sniggle … even as I write this, I find that I’ve signed myself up for two art classes (hmm … how’d that happen? Insert monster grin)—one on Saturday (just a one-day workshop) and the other begins on 21March—for four or five weeks, I think. It’s hard to resist the great workshops and seminars that OGS offers! I’ve decided those two will be fine, as I’m progressing nicely on my sorting of tax receipts and I’ve actually managed to do a little editing. I’ve even made copies of my two WIPs that need editing—I do so much better with hard-copies … old-school girl, yup. But … I’ve also added another thing to my agenda (I’m not ready to divulge it as yet—I’ll probably do a whole blog about it). And it is eating into my time also, but so far I’m keeping it manageable—for the time being.

So … this isn’t the short blog I thought it would be (oopsie …), but I’m ending the week with a smile on my face, so hopefully you won’t mind. May you have a wonderfully blessed weekend and week to come.

Saying No …

IT SEEMED LIKE A LOVELY, SLOW MONTH — really it did. And that’s just how I wanted it, especially with two edits hanging over my head. But … I have a tendency of “filling” my time — without thinking. The only thing I had going this month was my cataract surgery in the middle of the month and my weekly NaNoWriMo group. Now, all of a sudden, my calendar is being populated with art classes at Open Ground Studios … and dinners with friends and families. Oh, yes. And there’s the short story for an anthology I said yes to (but now that I know more details, I may back out). Whaaat was I thinking?

I’m not even sure it has anything to do with saying no … because — at least for the art classes — nobody asked if I wanted to do them … the flyer was just sitting there and I was craving some dedicated creative time. Time specifically set aside for practicing and playing with what I love. I signed up for two classes (photopolymer and watercolour), but now I’m not sure about the timing for the watercolour class — evening classes and I don’t get along that well. I hadn’t realised the times when I signed up for the that class. The other is a daytime class so I’ll have no problem with it. And, I’ll be there anyway. Um, well, all except the first day. That’s the day of my cataract surgery (oopsie) … so, I’ve got a note into the instructor, letting him know — just in case that makes the class a no-go.

Well, I guess it does have to do with saying no after all. Just because there isn’t a physical “other body” to say no to doesn’t mean I can shirk the saying no. Sometimes I’m the one I must say no to. That’s hard. I thought I was getting really good at saying no — but apparently only to others (stifles a guffaw …) — so, I still have some work to do on that.

I was able to say no to an extended family get-together, but needed to say yes to another one … since I was sick for Christmas, I missed two dinner/get-togethers. My daughter (and son-in-law) and I decided to move our annual get-together to a time when I was well. We tried last weekend, but I wasn’t quite up to it. So, this Saturday it is! I’m looking forward to spending time with them … and planning our next dinner (also delayed due to me) to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. She gets to choose the when and where, then we’ll all go and have a lovely time. I love spending time with these two (one of my harder duos to say no to …) — any time!

Trying to keep my calendar underpopulated is going to be a challenge. I can foresee some complications that are likely to arise, but all in all, I think these first three months will stay fairly quiet … and that’s a good thing (and very much needed). Making time, finding time … and preserving those times for whatever is needed — for me, it’s time to be still, refresh and get some things done that have been ignored for a very long time. Saying no can be so freeing (Cheshire grin here …)

Before I sign off, I’d like to wish each of you a Happy New Year. May this year bless you with many serendipitous happenings.

 

Moving Forward

IT’S BEEN A ROUGH COUPLE of months (sigh … make that six months), the New Year has been celebrated—along with a few other holidays—and I’m nearly into the middle of April—how on earth can time go by so fast? I feel like Alice In Wonderland‘s little white rabbit (even more so than usual of late). You know the one. Always looking at his pocket watch, zooming off into the distance proclaiming, “I’m late, I’m late I’m late—for a very important date …” Yet, I feel like I’m in a hamster wheel, getting nowhere fast.

The dust is slowly settling after losing my fur-friend of so many years. I’m nearly done with my taxes (yeah … I’ll be doing an extension—again) and my primary goals at the moment are to get ready for the Good Old Days weekend event—tomorrow? … yikes!!!—in Pacific Grove and starting to unravel the mysteries of a cervical spine issue rearing it’s ugly head. I have two appointments. One with a DO to discuss possibilities of alternative choices. Then one with a neurosurgeon.

But enough of that. Because of the loss of my little fur-baby (and all the other distractions in my life), I’m finding creativity blocked. I have an edit that needs completing. Really needs to be done if I’m to have it ready to go to press this fall. But that elusive creativity is key to getting this done. It’s not just a red pencil edit. I’ve got lots of things I have yet to put into the story—to flesh it out, so I need those creative juices flowing as I “edit”. Wanting to sit down to do the work is another part of the problem. Focus, desire … or, should I say lack of it. Too many disjointed things bumbling around in my head are acting as stumbling blocks that need to be swept away—fast!

Connecting the dots seems to be a challenge at this time. Maybe, once taxes are done, once the book signing has happened (I always find a well of energy comes up after these things) … maybe then I’ll rediscover my muse and will begin my dance with words and images once again. One can hope …

Maybe … just mabye, my next blog will be photographic (insert huge grin …). That would be nice!

Until then, I wish you all a wonderful, blessed day and weekend. Enjoy your weather—whatever that might be … find that silver lining in whatever cloud hangs over you (I’ll be working/walking in the rain for the next three days—I can hear “… dancing in the rain …” forming in my head).

Until next time. Be blessed.

 

 

 

Think Outside The Box?

I LISTENED TO A YOUNG MAN, PHIL HANSEN, SPEAK IN a TEDTalk on Wednesday–a post shared by a local writer friend on Facebook, which I in turned shared to my Creations page … and his words—and art—inspired me. God is good that way … and I thank Him all the time for the gems he places in my hands, helping me work out solutions to my current “problems”.

I’ve been bombarded with serious, not-gonna-budge deadlines—something I’m not accustomed to at all (a novel concept for this author) … I’ve always made sure I had “wiggle-room” for any self-imposed deadlines—and though I’ve met them all, they left me drained. I am so happy to have them all done. Happy to be one step closer to having The Scymarian in print—it’s so close it’s palpable (insert huge grin) … but drained of creativity, nonetheless.

After I transcribed scribbled notes for book 4-5 from this weekend, I chose to “chill” by cruising Facebook (not terribly productive, usually … just a way to unwind). Laughing at some posts … nodding or shaking my head in approval or disapproval at some of comments. Then I came upon this post. TEDTalks have some amazing speakers, so I knew I’d be listening to something interesting, but for this one … I perked up. Listened intently. I’ve actually played the ten-minute talk several times so it could sink in better. Take root. Some profound insights by this young man. Experience is a wonderful teacher. It was time well-spent.

In the talk, he discusses his disability and—as an artist—his initial reaction to it, then how he embracing his disability, thinking outside the box … and more importantly, finally finds himself drawing back into his limitations. Discovering that having “the biggest, the best” does not make you any better … or even more creative. He found that limitations, either external or internal, can actually allow for greater creativity. I can see how being limited allows the ability for limitless creativity. And it applies to art, writing … even everyday life. I’m hoping to put these concepts into action as I go through my daily life. But the one example he showed that I would really like to try is his story-on-a-turnstile—I’m intrigued … I want to see what it creates with one of my short stories. I’m sure there’s more to it than what I was seeing … I’ll not give away what his creative process is (I don’t even know the half of it, I’m sure)—you’ll need to watch the talk. It will be interesting to see what it produces.

Embrace the Shake. Seize the Limitation. Learning to be creative within the confines of my world. That is definitely the key … and I want to unlock my creative world. But, I know it will be useful in solving everyday problems as well.

Short but sweet this week, but inspiring. It was for me. Hopefully it will be for you. Please feel free to share with your friends!

Here’s Phil Hansen’s TEDTalk link. Enjoy.

Whimsical Art Exhibition

WRITING A WEEKLY BLOG CAN BE INTIMIDATING at times, especially when technology is against you. I was at least three hundred words into my blog for today and attempted to save it in the “quick draft” section—after I copied it completely (to be safe, right?)—and then … it decided not to save. No worries. I went into normal “new draft” section and pasted it in. Only three lines of the three hundred-plus words popped up on the screen. To say I was filled with dismay is a gross understatement.

When that sort of thing happens, it makes me wonder if maybe … just maybe, I’m not supposed to be writing about that topic right now. Sigh.

So … here I am, at the proverbial eleventh hour and I’m kinda at a loss as to what to write about (insert huge pout). The obviously easy way out is to slip in some photos—I have been taking lots of them lately. Nope. Or write a blurb about my upcoming release (which may be delayed either till next month or even later) … hmm. Or talk about an amazing young artist that is new to the area and to Open Ground Studios.

Indecision … (seem to be good at that this week) the pressure is on. Okay. Decision is finally made (actually, a no-brainer—sniggle):

In a little less than three weeks, Katie Crawford of Katie Crawford Art will have her first showing since she moved to the west coast. It will be on Friday and Saturday, July 10-11, 2015 at Open Ground Studios, 1230 Fremont Boulevard in Seaside, California. She is working feverishly to get everything ready for the show. Things are looking absolutely beautiful. I am excited for her!

This creative young lady has a whimsical side to her and her art shows it. She lets

Katie Crawford at OGS

At Open Ground Studios, Katie and other artists are able to spread out and create in an inviting atmosphere.

her characters express her fun, frustrations and other adventures she has had since she and her husband moved out here. She writes a blog also, including these delightful drawings to tell of her real-life adventures. They are definitely fun to read. She is a sweet, thoughtful individual that has this amazing artistic side that I am quite envious of. If only I had a drop of her creativity (the ugly green envy monster is rising) …

We were so lucky to have her join our ranks at Open Ground Studios. She is a delightful addition and instills a wonderful work ethic—showing up nearly every weekday to work on one facet or another … from pencil sketches to preparing her “foundation” of old letters that she found at estate sales, adding the sketches, to water colouring the sketches … she is filled with ideas. The newest idea is to create a passport for each of her tiny critters that take flight on leaves, dandelion fluff—ants, crickets, worms (yes, worms) and others. It’s one of those “you just gotta see ‘em to appreciate ‘em” things. I adore her work!

And you can do that at her website: www.katiecrawfordart.com or at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/katiecrawfordart. At her website and Facebook page, you can peruse all of her art (please remember, it is her work—no copying without her express permission) and I believe she has a link to her store to make any purchases if you are unable to make it to the opening on the 10th or 11th of July.

I hope you can make it—mark your calendar so you won’t forget. It should be a fun event! She will be delighted to meet you—and do let her know where you heard about it. Maybe I’ll see you there, too!

Until next week, may you be filled with blessings to make it a joyful week.

 

 

 

 

Ideas

SOMETIMES—OH, MAKE THAT MOST of the time—my head is buzzing with ideas, whether it’s for the writerly side of me, my artistic side or even things that I could do around the house and yard. Corralling those ideas, getting them down on paper and actually beginning them is another thing entirely.

Case in point: blogging and writing in general. I have ideas floating around in my head all the time. Something I see triggers an idea and my mind begins to formulate it into words. The problem is, I’m usually driving when this happens and I cannot find a place to pull over so I can to put those thoughts on “paper” (electronically or the back of receipts), or even fiddle with my phone to get the recorder going. I’ve tried all methods—by the time I’ve got it up and running or paper and pen in hand, my thoughts have fled the scene.

Creativity is a fickle thing. And sometimes very frustrating.

Like right now. All week, I’ve been waiting for an idea to spring forth for the blog. Nothing. Zilch. Yesterday, I completely forgot—and really, was too tired to act on anything that might eek out—and now, it’s almost noon … time for me to post my blog … and I am still scrambling to get something written. Even though it only took a few minutes to come up with an idea once I opened the computer to my blog page, it’s not flowing naturally. Oh, I hate that. A lot. It might have to do with the fact that I’m still tired. I wanted to go back to bed this morning … but managed to stay up. Just barely—I’m craving a horizontal position, curled up with a blanket and my cat purring me back to sleep.  Or maybe it’s because I’m physically still recovering from my driving to and from the family reunion in S. California. Or it could be the fact that I have yet to finish my tax preparations for my accountant … or the yard work that keeps tapping me on the shoulder as I brush foxtails out of my dog’s coat. I know I need to keep on top of the weeds—and I’m not.

Whatever the reason (most likely a combination of everything), it’s hindering the creative flow. Even my series storyline (book four) is feeling the effects. I’m progressing, but only every so slowly—not even a page a day.

Artistically, I feel as if I’m in the middle of a vast desert, surrounded by beautiful mountains … forever out of my reach. I’ve taken photos, but I’m not satisfied with most of them. I have ideas for those photos (and others in my archive) but cannot find—no, scratch that—muster the energy necessary to make the time to play with them. I have several photopolymer plates created that are waiting for me to ink up and print.

There is such a huge ebb and flow to my creativity. I often wonder if others go through the same thing. They must. I can’t be the only one that struggles with this.

I know the flow will return, but I wish it was sooner than later. I sincerely hope the ebb and flow of your life is less “rocky” than mine is at present. For now, it’s time to just enjoy what I have and know it will get better.

Have a blessed weekend, friends.

Do I Or Don’t I? Sigh…

I’M TRYING TO MAKE A DECISION. I’ve been contemplating this for quite some time, too.
To go, or not to go…that is the question.

I’ve been reading blogs about the benefits of attending writers conferences. Kristen Lamb recently wrote about the pros of attending conferences in her blog. She’s good. Great at selling ideas. http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/why-all-writers-should-attend-a-writing-conference/

But I haven’t been able to figure out how to manage everything I’m already doing now and squeeze a conference in too…plus, there’s the impact on the pocket book. My trip to Europe will pummel my account for quite some time…

My trip has been in the planning stages almost as long as my pondering of the conferences. I’m not sure if I should be kicking myself in the behind or just chuckle at where I place my priorities. Some may feel the trip is a luxury. A non-necessity. Perhaps, at least the distances I am going to find relaxation. The trip will be my break from the frantic work I’ve done on two books–though, I know I will make it a working holiday and I’ll begin working on book three–and it will refresh my creativity. Yes, I could go somewhere closer…and it would be a lot less expensive, but I want to do my travels abroad while I’m still able.  I’ll be taking a ton of pictures so I’ll have a plethora of choices for my Painterly side to play with and my travels will give me plenty to write about on my blog when I return. The conference, on the other hand, will be work. Networking, learning, and sharing ideas (in a ‘work’ sort of way). Don’t think I’m ready for more work. Not yet, at least.

I need some serious ‘playtime’.

Well, I think I’ve answered my question about the writers conference–at least for now. Once I have three books under my belt–or book four, maybe I’ll be able to connect better then–early next year…I’ll just have to see how things go and play it by ear. Until then, I guess I should get back to my travel plans.

Cheers!