Friday, October 30, 2009

Update on Artist's Daybook Pages


Back in April I posted that I was free writing each morning as a creative exercise. You can pop over and read all about it here:

Like many endeavors I've been hit or miss on following through. That's unfortunate because when I consistently do artist's pages, my creativity soars. I now call it 'taking out the garbage' creatively. When I clear the gunk and junk from my head, I can create.

It really is that simple.

Have you tried it?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NaNoWriMo Preparations Part 2


My preparations for National Novel Writing Month continue...

4. Chocolate, Snacks and Food. Many of you have reminded me that I didn't list chocolate on my last post. LOL! We always have chocolate around here. In fact, I have a fairly big stash of the good stuff--Belgian chocolate--courtesy of the Baseball Guy who lived in Belgium last summer. We was a good boy and brought his mama a lot of chocolate.

I'm also laying in a supply of healthy stuff, too. Apples, pears, granola, almonds, walnuts, carrots, peppers. Green tea. Ravenous is the only word to describe me after a lengthy writing session. Last year I gobbled too many Oreos.

5. Jamba Juice cash. Just like last year, for every 10,000 words I write I get my favorite Jamba--Peach Pleasure. Ahhhhhh....

6. Walking shoes ready. Do you realize how many authors use long walking sessions as a time to work out character and plot? Stephen King and Julia Cameron are two well known ones. No iPods allowed--just you and the breeze in your hair. Fresh oxygen to the brain, endorphins, and stronger muscles. Good stuff.

7. Crock Pot. The other people in my house expect some sort of hot meal at least once a day. Every day. Imagine that. I'm digging out my trusty supply of crock pot/one dish meals/easy fix recipes to use. I'm assembling a menu list to post on the fridge. With encouragement those other souls in my house can pick up some of the slack. They'll have to--mom's gonna be writing!

8. I've joined my NaNo buddies online. At the NaNoWriMo website, for sure. The pep talk emails from them are terrific pick me ups. There's a group of local real life NaNo buddies who'll communicate by email each day. My favorite homeschool group of writers has an online meeting place. Plus, I gathered a few email addresses from the NaNo kick off party. I'll be emailing those folks from time to time. Having a wealth of support is only one of the fabulous benefits of playing the NaNo game. I didn't blog about NaNo last year. I want to this year, so stay tuned!

9. Lastly, I've found a fossil. If you've read Stephen King's 'On Writing' you know he calls a story idea a fossil. When he finds a fossil laying on the ground, he knows there's a story to be excavated nearby. It's his job as the author to extract as much out of the ground as possible. As a gardener I think of story ideas more as a seed that needs to germinate and be nurtured until it is full grown. Either way, I've got an idea in my head....NaNo always calls for something completely new so I'm not so emotionally involved with it that I can't take creative risks. I'm beginning to take notes and form characters. From the characters shall come the plot. I can't wait to see where they will take me.

10. Okay, one more...the good folks who hosted the official kick off party for my region last Sunday gave out some fun goodie bags. Included in it: Chocolate, of course, Marbles (for when I've lost mine), a paper clip (because you never, never, never staple a completed manuscript going to a publisher), a yellow balloon (who doesn't like a yellow balloon?), a small plastic policeman to keep me from wandering, a pen, a word count calendar, colorful star stickers for decorating my calendar after a good writing session. Best of all, there was a trusty NaNoWriMo decal/sticker straight from the writing folks at the Office of Light and Letters.

I'm set. Are you ready to write with abandon?

Friday, October 23, 2009

NaNoWriMo Preparations Part 1


Okay, I'll admit it. I'm on the verge of giddy in anticipation of National Novel Writing Month this year. A little apprehensive as well. NaNoWriMo was such an exhilarating experience in 2008. I want to have the same fun, freeing, and fantastic experience this season.

To that end, I'm doing a few things to prepare. Take a look at my list and see if any of them strikes you as helpful.

1. Reading. I've done some market research by diving into a half dozen current books in my selected genre. Stephen King's 'On Writing' is being savored once more. In a few days, I'll pick up my copy of "No Plot, No Problem" to amp up to November 1st. If you are a writer and haven't read either of these books, remedy that by clicking on the link to the right and getting your own copy. Every writer should have a copy of "On Writing." It is simply the best. R-rated for language, but you knew that about Stephen King anyway, right?

2. Cleaning house. I hate cleaning house, but I love living and working in a tidy, clutter-free, and well decorated space. I'm doing some clutter busting, especially in the kitchen and my writing spaces. If I clean well now, I can ignore vacuuming, dusting, and mopping until December 1, don't you think?

A corollary to this is cleaning out my computer. My poor Traveller (my laptop's name) is packed to the gills with photos, writing, forms, brochures, good stuff and junk. The Pilot Guy and I think my hard drive in on it's last legs. If I get myself in gear, I can transfer my data and get the new drive installed. If not, I'll tidy up in here and defrag so I get the best performance possible.

Grabbing any supplies is a good idea, too. Paper, pens, pencils, white board markers, file folders and disks for backing up every day...lay in your supply now.

More to come in my next post.....

will you be NaNoing this year?

How are you prepping?

Monday, October 19, 2009

NaNoWriMo Prelude

It's almost time!
November is National Novel Writing Month...
thirty insanely fun days of writing with
and not much skill.
NaNo is one of the creative highlights of my year.
If you've ever thought even for a minute you might like to write a book someday, head for the National Novel Writing Month Website to join in the fun.
Stay tuned to the next few posts here to see how I'm prepping for NaNo

Memoir Monday ~ Cars

I'm amused when I look through old photos of my parents, especially during their dating years, at how often the young couple was posed in front of their car.
My mom and dad

There are a number of reasons for that, I'm sure. Fifty years or more ago, film definitely liked the bright sunshine and flashbulbs were expensive. Photos were done outside. Secondly, those cars were a great big purchase...still are today, too. There is just something about those hunks of metal and combustion that make us happy. I'm even more amused to find a number of photos of me in front of my car. Cars are nice and all, but you'd think there would be more photos of me with a dog.

So, what did your first car look like? (Or what was the most interesting vehicle you've ever driven?) Was it given to you or did you slave at some job to purchase it? Standard or automatic? How old were you when you learn to drive?

My first car was a Ford Maverick I shared with my mom.
My mom and I

Mavis as I called my little vehicle, was an odd grass green color. No air conditioning and black interior. We are talking Texas here, folks. Can you say hot? We kept towels in the car to sit on, especially in the summer. I sorched my shorts clad legs several times before I figured out the towel thing. Mavis was also a standard shift car with the gear on the steering column. It was an adventure learning to drive in traffic while also learning how to shift gears. My mother said if I learned how to drive a standard I could drive anything. How right she was. I've driven all over Europe in standard shift models. I've driven tractors and an eighteen wheeler. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me how.

Look, here is one of the Pilot Guy and I in front of Mavis.
We hit the jackpot here because we not only have a photo of Mavis, but we have a glimpse of the Pilot Guy's red LTD in the background.

One last note...every dress I'm wearing in these photos I made with my own little hands.

We had a great little car in Europe. I'll have to write about that car some day soon.

Alright, people, show me your first or favorite car. If you post photos on your blog, come leave a comment here so we can traipse over and enjoy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Creative Chains


In India of old, young elephants began their training in a simple way. One foot was shackled and chained to a sturdy post. Pull, pull, pull though they might, the young beast couldn't break free. Eventually, the animal learned it was useless to struggle and quit trying. For the rest of it's long life, the elephant could be tethered not with a chain, but with piece of string, so strong was that early conditioning.

What 'chains' hold you back?

Are they real or are they imagined?

For me...I've noticed lately I quit on a project before I really get into it. In the back of my mind are those nasty voices. 'The publishing industry is hurting in this economy.' 'Maybe I'm too over the hill to write for a younger audience.' 'This is too much a who you know industry and I don't know enough of the right people.' 'What a waste to spend weeks and weeks and weeks writing on something I can't guarantee will ever sell.'

Chains of 'quit before it hurts too much.' Just like those elephants.

Do chains hold me back or a simple piece of string? How will I ever know unless I flex my creative muscle?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Memoir Monday ~ A Favorite Teacher

As you can see I've been blogging a lot in my head lately. I'm making a real push to get the words out of my head and onto the screen. Follow through, right?

For today's memoir prompt...who was your favorite teacher? This does not have to be a childhood or school age teacher, but someone who taught you a skill or concept that you value today. Perhaps what they taught wasn't as important as how they taught it.

So...favorite teachers....

Two of my favorites were Sharon K., my English teacher and Mama Marge W., my journalism teacher. Mama Marge ( and yes we often called her that) had already encouraged my love of photography by putting me on the photography staff of the school newspaper and yearbook. She is a tall, thin woman with a quick, sharp mind. She treated her staff students not as students only, but as adults capable of doing amazing work. My sophomore and junior year of high school, she taught me to write according to strict journalism standards. Just the facts and economical with words. Deadlines became my friends.

Sharon K. (whom we called Mrs. K---) loved being an English teacher. I ate her class up. We studied classic books with enthusiasm. It was in her class that I discovered Ray Bradbury. What a discovery! During my junior year, she taught me to write in a traditional English manner. Vivid description, powerful presentation, and the joy of organizing a big project.

Having both of these teachers in the same year was excellent for me. Because of their demands, I learned to write according to the audience. I can't tell you how valuable that skill has been in my creative life. Whether I'm writing a marketing piece for my studio or a letter to the editor or a piece of fiction, I know to pay attention to the unseen person who will be reading my words and craft accordingly.

As I said, I had a very adult type relationship with Mama Marge. She attended my wedding and my dad's funeral. A few years ago, her children arranged a party to celebrate her 80th birthday. It was delightful to see her again. She was, as ever, a sharp, insightful, and intelligent woman.

In my thirties, when I was showing German Shepherds in obedience, I ran into Mrs. K-- at several shows. She, too, had taken up dog showing. Her Bernese Mountain Dogs were like huge teddy bears...all plush fur and happy expressions. She introduced me to her husband by his first name. When she noticed I was still calling her by Mrs. K--, she said, you know, you've graduated. You can call me Sharon. With a smile, I shook my head. "Nope, I don't think I can."