Friday, May 29, 2009

10 Weird Things

Beth of Beth's Adventures asked for a list of 10 things people might not know about me. So...
1. I can chew my own toenails, but don't.
2. I grew up in a ski resort but prefer to ice skate. I was so small when I started skiing I kept falling off the ski lift.
3. I met the love of my life on (Hi Bruce!).
4. I love basenjis (an African hunting hound, barkless but not silent, not obedient but loving) and I'm on my second one, 20 years of basenjis!
5. I started college when I was 15 (and made it through by attending a liberal arts school and taking English and History classes only).
6. I'm of mostly Scots descent. I've been to England and spent a summer in Ireland but I've never been to Scotland.
7. I have eyebrows, but my hair is so light as I am a natural redhead you can't see them. Means I have to pencil them in, BUT I never shave my legs either!
8. My oddest job: hmm, I've had lots, maybe cold sales calling for a guy with a cold storage truck business?

Okay, that's only eight, but I'd love to hear from my readers...what are a few weird things about you? Share!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Teach to learn

The purple lady is me, presenting a workshop on manga.

On June 13, 2009 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m in Twin Falls, Idaho I'll be presenting a two hour workshop on Writing the Short Story. This is not my first workshop, nor will it be my last. I also attend workshops, including Margie Lawson's on June 6 in Boise. For myself, I find teaching to be more valuable than attending. Not that I don't learn tons from being a student, but the old adage that if you really want to learn something then teach it is true for me. I've been remembering all sorts of things about writing the short story (my first love) plus learning new things as I prepare the class.

Do you, gentle reader, attend workshops? Teach workshops? Both? If so, what are your experiences? If not, why not?

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Grandma and Dad

Yes, my grandmother was taller than her son. She was 6'3" and he was only 6'. The photo above was taken in 1939, when my dad was in the Royal Canadian Airforce. He captained troop ships for the Canadians until the U.S. entered the war, then B-17 Bombers for the rest of the war.

Yes, it's Memorial Day, but what does a photo of two of my ancestors have to do with the creative process? Because, I believe, without our history we have nothing to create from. My father rarely spoke of his experiences in WWII or the Korean War, yet they had a profound impact on who he was and therefore who I am and what I create. Without that understanding and acceptance, we cut off so much of ourselves and therefore the raw stuff of creativity.

My grandmother is also in the picture because without her I wouldn't be a writer. When I was little and staying with my grandmother, every night we'd lie in her big bed underneath her chenille bedspread. "Tell me a story about when you were little," I'd demand. "Oh, child, you don't want to hear those stories again." "Yes, please." And every night she'd tell me the stories of her childhood as I fell asleep.

So this Memorial Day, honor and remember.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Prep Work

My honeysuckle bush in full bloom.

Helen Ginger of Straight from Hel mentioned my glorious roses in the comments of the previous post and Swubird of Swubird's Nest talked about his process in the comments of my post "Learning Curves" inspired this post on prep work.

We don't always think about the preparation that comes before a project, although it is one of the most critical steps. Without all the prep work that my wonderful s.o. Bruce does, I wouldn't have the glorious results you see above. But so many times creative people are inspired and rush into a project without taking the time to prepare. And get caught up as a result, stopped, or lose their way in the labyrinth. How many projects are abandoned because of lack of prep work?

To add to this, everybody's prep is unique. I, for example, must do an outline of a new novel, BUT only a loose outline. I know other novelists who almost write the book before they write the book and others who only have the story arc and main characters in mind. Some artists have sketches galore, while others have the picture only in their minds. But one certain way to know if you're not doing enough preparation is if you get lost in your work--and no I don't mean the right-brained kind of lost.

And yes, you can do too much preparation before the actual work. So much that you lose the energy of the project. But my experience with creative people is that overall we tend towards too little instead of too much.

What do you do when facing a new project? What do you consider an absolute necessity for preparing? What have you found on earlier projects that you wished you'd prepared for?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Virtual flowers from my garden, real ones have yet to arrive.

Holidays are a time of remembrance, celebration and honoring others. May you do all three this day.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Learning Curves

Our new baby.

Above you see my reason for the slowdown in my posts and comments. We're the proud and excited new owners of a netbook, a nine incher, about the size of a trade paperback. Bruce, my wonderful s.o. realized that since my elderly (8 years!) writing laptop never got on the net and might die at any time, a backup computer might be good. And since it weighs less than 3 pounds, it travels well! But, right now, I'm on a learning curve. The keyboard is different and smaller. The screen is smaller and I haven't used a mouse pad in years. So, I'm slower than usual right now.

Which brings me to the subject of learning curves for creative people, because I've noticed when they occur in the creative process, it can be frustrating. To the point of blocking the process, or worse, abandoning the project altogether. While it's acceptable in everything else to have to take the time to learn something new, it seems unacceptable when it's writing or painting or even playing a musical instrument ("Well, if you just practiced more..." when you're practicing as much as you can.). Perhaps this is because people believe talent=proficiency, which it doesn't. Everything new takes time to learn and for what we're good at the curve can be a cliff instead, because we're already at a high level.

Add to this that creative people often dismiss any accomplishment (Of course I can write short stories, that's so easy. It wasn't when I wrote my first one.) that we "guilt" ourselves for not being instantly proficient at any new creative task. And all this takes the energy that could be used for learning and creating! So give yourself a break the next time you tackle a new anything!

Does this resonate with you, dear reader? Do you have learning curves going on that you may not even be aware of, and if you are, are you beating yourself up about now learning fast enough? Or even that you need to learn?!

Oh oh, low battery, now where do I plug in the charger...?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Merry May Day

What my rose garden may look like in a couple of weeks!


May is a month for major growth, as you can see from the photo above. Here's wishing all my creative friends a fun, productive new month.

(And a postscript, I've been visiting my blog friends this week, but a busy end of month beginning of new month has kept me from commenting as much as I prefer. To my readers, please visit my favorite blogs listed here--they're all fabulous!)