Monday, December 31, 2007

Setting an Intention

It's that annoying time of year: New Year's. When people grown and moan as they make their goal lists.

Doesn't have to be that way. There's an easier and more effective method. It's called setting an intention. I've discussed this before but it needs reiterating.

Setting an intention is more than simply semantics. Words are powerful and when you set an intention, you're saying "I intend" not "my goal is" which is static. Which is somewhere in the future. Whereas "I intend" is an active verb. "I take action." And unlike a goal, it's not possible to fail with setting an intention. You're intending, you're acting, but what will happen due to your actions is in the future and not in your control. So setting an intention means you've already succeeded.

Let me start with my intention: I intend to write the first book of my new trilogy in 2008. See? Simple. And having stated that, I'm already thinking and planning of how to make that possible, without the pressure of failing a goal.

So, readers, what is one intention you have for the new year, hmm?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Embracing Change Redux for Creative People

The last of the Christmas photos.

It's beginning to feel a lot like time to take down the Christmas decorations. It may seem early for some, but this all part of embracing change. That can be the glory of the season: Christmas and the holiday season is so dramatic, so extreme, followed by January. Big change.

Many people fight that change. Somehow, if only Christmas went on they put up lights in September and don't take the lights down until Valentine's Day. This is one way of attempting to stop change.

Another is rigidly insisting on traditions. I know someone who, when she moved into a new house, took photos the first Christmas season so that everything could be placed in exactly the same way the next year, and the next, and the next.

It's as if though people believe that re-creating the situation will re-create the experience. This isn't possible. Christmas last year was different than this year and it will be different next year. Change is inevitable.

And not only accepting but embracing that simple fact releases enormous amounts of stress. In fact, it makes it impossible to "ruin Christmas," because it's only that year's Christmas. So what if the lamb roast is still frozen and takes forever to cook? So what if the Christmas gifts don't arrive in time? Or somebody's ill and doesn't come to dinner? That's the experience of that particular Christmas.

And by celebrating the differences, enjoying the change, a whole world of options and choices opens up. If we're not trying to re-create an experience, we're free to create a new experience. If we're not cemented into traditions, we're free to pick and choose which tradition we celebrate this year--or create new traditions.

And that's just with the Christmas season--think of the plethora of ideas that would flood forth if we just remember--it's always changing and always will. Perhaps that's the only constant.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Here's a touch of Christmas Cheer.

Tomorrow, I'll be being creative in the kitchen for Christmas dinner. So wanted to wish the wonderful blog world:


Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Recipe and Names

Amazing what you can do with a cell phone these days.

English is one of the most difficult languages to learn. One of the problems with English is all the imprecise names. Of which this recipe is an example.

This is a recipe for Popovers, which is a misnomer as they don't pop over. This is also a Yorkshire Pudding recipe, and for this Idaho gal, they're not pudding either (whether or not the original recipe comes from Yorkshire, I don't know).

1 cup fat-free milk or soy milk
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour (can use unbleached flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites or egg substitute 1/2 cup

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Generously coat 6 large metal or glass muffin molds with cooking spray. Heat the muffin molds in the oven for 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the milk, flour, salt and egg whites. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Fill the heated muffin molds 2/3 full. Bake in the top part of the oven until golden brown and puffy, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tips for success: Beat mixture until fluffy. Pour batter immediately and quickly into heated muffin molds and slam into oven.

Yummy plain or with the traditional gravy, or even as a roll with jam, honey, etc. Freezes well.

So why can't we call these rolls, which is what they are? Or does that mean something else in another part of the U.S. or Great Britain or?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Emotional Writing, the Cons

What, you may ask, is a Christmas photo doing on an entry about the cons of emotional writing?

On the left, the small glass container has always been in my life and part of my Christmas. It started out as a pine candle that was burned every Christmas eve. When I was four, I was allowed to use a kitchen match and light the candle, my first really grown up act ever, ever. I remember the brilliance of the flame, the heat of it licking near my fingertips, the pride of the accomplishment.

I could write pages about my memories of that one item. But I won't. Why? Because it is particular to me. Family stories don't constitute fiction. Sometimes that line gets blurred and what should only be a dairy or journal entry ends up being stretched too thin to become "a story."

Which brings up the major con of emotional writing. Jim of The Truth About Lies commented in the previous post: Many time I have written a poem as a direct emotional response to certain events but what I have noticed is that the closer the writing is to the event in general the poorer the quality of the piece is.

Good point, Jim. And the bigger the event the more distance is needed. In my workshops, I've run into this problem over and over. What's happened isn't fiction. Fiction is not only retelling a story, it needs more. It needs a story arc and resolution. "But it really happened," beginning writers wail--and that's the problem.

And if the event is large enough, the writer may never be able to escape the confines of the emotion. In my candle-lighting event described above, I can use my memories to heighten a moment in a piece of fiction. But some events are too large, too strong to use so specifically.

That having been said, the pros outweigh the con.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Emotional Writing Pros and Cons

The snow makes it feel like Christmas...

The responses to my blogger friend Nancy's question about Christmas stories brought this topic up for me. Because the comments and stories were wide-ranging and passionate. Full of emotion. Emotional writing.

So what are the pros of emotional writing? Writing that comes from the gut, or from the heart, a visceral place, instead of the head?

One, strength from passion. What we care about we can write about. And what we write has immediacy. It possesses the power of our remembrance--emotionally charged writing is redolent with the senses, taste, smell, touch.

And the passion often comes through in the writing, catching the reader in a world of words. In my workshops I suggest to brand new writers that they write about something that truly mattered to them. It never matters how small or large the experience they write about, the writing is riveting.

So, when have you emotionally written? What has been your experience? What has been the result.

Next post, the cons of emotional writing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tagging--I'm tagged

Nancy P at Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life tagged me.

These are the rules:
1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.2) Share 7 facts about yourself.3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are my facts:

1. My favorite breed of dog is the basenji. I'm on my second one and don't know if I'll be up for a third (tough, independent, somewhat crazy breed).

2. I can still chew my own toenails while they are still on my toes, but choose not to do so.

3. Sad songs on the radio make me cry, which can make driving very difficult.

4. Although I grew up in ski country, I prefer to ice skate. Virtual treason.

5. I adore doing things I've never done before. Last year, I did Thanksgiving (the works) for the first time. This year, for Christmas, I'm doing a lamb roast (anybody have a recipe?).

6. I'm a natural red-head, which means, according to some scientists, 2 things: I'm the last of the genetic material of Neanderthals and I'm about to go extinct.

7. For three months, once, I was a vegan. I kept waking up smelling meat with my stomach growling. After I read that the Dalai Lama, on the advice of his doctors, ate meat, I went back to being an omnivore.

Ah, now to tag other bloggers. Unfortunately, I'm fairly new to this blog world so can only think of one person who I know well enough to tag, and know probably hasn't been tagged recently: Kathy at Well Placed Words. Other fellow bloggers, if you'd like to be tagged by me, let me know!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Practising Gratitude for Creative People, Part 3

When it's this kind of weather...

I'm grateful for a fire.

So why practice gratitude? Why be thankful all the time, not just during the holidays, or at other "required" times. And why are those that practice, practice, practice, the most creative?

Studies have long shown that those who practice being thankful are the most happy. On the Authentic Happiness site there's even a gratitude questionnaire. But what does that have to do with being creative?

One of the main, and most important, parts of creativity is problem solving. Coming up with various and multiple ideas is one major part of creating. Creating problems and more problems and then solving them in interesting ways is the work of writers.

When we practice being aware of our gifts, our fortune, our good luck, then it is far easier to come up with ideas. Or conversely, have you noticed when you focus on your misfortune, how it can be almost impossible to problem solve? Or even have any ideas? All there is, is the difficulty, the flaw, the bad luck. It looms large. But remember one thing you're grateful for, no matter how small, and opportunities open up.

So, when has gratitude given you an idea, a solution, or even a wonderful problem?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Practising Gratitude for Creative People, Part 2

Amazing how Christmas lights resemble an abstract painting.

There's a lot of thankful people expressing gratitude. My blogging friend Beth just blogged about it. My other blogging friend Kathy at Well Placed Words has recently done the same. In fact, if memory serves me right, many of my fellow writers often express their thanks (and eloquently as well).

So, for part 2, I'd like to thank a few of my fellow bloggers for their excellent blogs and superb support: Nancy at Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, with her great ability to start up a conversation in her comments, Jim with his The Truth about Lies, with his sharp insights into writing and The Muse at Inspired Day by Day for her fabulous tips about blogs and marketing.

These are a tiny sampling of a few great blogs and a mini-taste of the excellent writing community out there. I don't have the time and possibly not the space to mention everyone...

What are a few of your favorites? And if it yours, well mention it!

Next post (part 3), why I know that the creative people who are best at creating are also the most grateful.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Gratitude for creative people, Part 1

This kind of a day requires

This much delightful light.

Sometimes we ignore the simple. The obvious. As in, oh no, it's a dreary awful December day. Instead of, it's a December day, so the lights are so bright.

What are you grateful for, today?