Blogs I follow and why

I don’t follow a lot of blogs, I just don’t have the time to read them all and sometimes blogs can be a bit narcissistic (ok, maybe that’s what blogging is all about, but why read even more?) But in case you were looking for some great blogs to keep track of, here are just a few of my favorites these days:

1. Saving for Someday. On top of some great tips on saving money, bargains, and deals in stores, Sara also shares some insights into her life and daily living as a giving, caring person trying to raise a daughter in this crazy world. Follow her, you won’t be sorry.

2. Pirates and Fireflies. Vicariously travel through Europe and other parts exotic, with photos that make me say AHHHHHH so many times it may be annoying to anyone around me. The posts are short enough not to be tedious, but interesting and bucolic. You won’t regret this one, unless the jealousy eats away at you. (What? I can’t help it.)

3. Nail Your Novel. Roz Morris, author and editor, shells out some great advice and quick tips to do just what she says…Nail Your Novel.

4. TIPPR Blog. An aspiring writer/editor who blogs a bit of poetry. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, but I do enjoy it sometimes, and I like getting just a bit every so often in my inbox and these are quite nice. Give a look.

OK, that’s four. I’ll put a few more up for you soon. What blogs are you following? Let me know.

 

Stretching your creative legs

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How do you stay inspired and creative? I seem to be on an inspiration rollercoaster lately. On the days I’m heading up the ramp slowly, it seems like I’ll never get to the end of this book, or ever get published. On the days when I’m heading down at breakneck speed and can’t stop writing, I feel there is no possible way I will fail. I’ve been to conferences, I’ve read the how-to books, I’ve talked to authors, etc. Now the only thing left to do is actually write the damn thing and get it published. No excuses…

But there are those days I’m heading up the slow ramp and I just don’t have anything in me to write, or I’ve written enough for the day. Sometimes I still feel the need to create and clear my head, so I break out the colored pencils and coloring books. A dear friend of mine taught me that coloring books are not just for kids. She came out for a visit and brought her coloring books and colored pencils and we sat drinking wine and coloring in our books. And I’ve discovered some of the most amazing coloring books out there are sophisticated and fun, as well as complicated and challenging. Some are based on famous paintings, history, intricate pictures of birds, waterfalls, flowers, abstracts, animals, etc. It takes concentration to color them in, and that means focus. And when focusing on my coloring project, everything else become clear. It’s almost a zen feeling to clear my head and create something colorful and fun.

So I’m coloring these days in between catching up on reading for book club, editing, writing, researching, and all the other things I feel I need to do. But this is something I do totally for myself and I love it. I’m renewed and ready to go after a page is finished.

What keeps you inspired and creative? Any new ideas?

 

 

 

 

 

Why creatives need each other, or, another lesson from Papa Hemingway

Perhaps I need to open a Restaurant and Social Club for Writers and Artists

Being a writer/artist can be a lonely life. Many of us end up sitting for long hours in quiet rooms writing/painting/creating. (I am tucked away in my tiny studio neatly hidden in my backyard as I write this). Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint, it is certainly something we choose to do. I write better when I am alone and I lose track of time. For some writers, the coffee shop becomes a refuge from the solitude. I know people who write all day in a coffee shop, blocking out the chatter and kicking out chapter after chapter. Then others work at home and end up hanging out in public with fellow writers when they have the chance.

I return to A Moveable Feast often, and I find that I do that when I’m feeling isolated or I start to get into a self-defeating mindset. Even Earnest Hemingway understood the importance of surrounding himself with creative people, including T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, etc. He liked to be alone and write, but he kept acquaintances and friendships with many creatives. I realize that this glamorous era in Paris when all of these creatives were drinking and socializing and sharing their work makes more sense every day. Yes, they had arguments and it wasn’t all rosy, but the bottom line was that they all encouraged each other. (OK, maybe Fitzgerald and Hemingway stopped encouraging and started bickering, but that’s later. Follow me here for a moment.)

Surrounding yourself with creative people fuels your creative juices. It has to. Being around that kind of energy and enthusiasm and angst can’t do anything else. We are all in the same boat, trying to create and share our work. We all understand the depression and elation that comes with being creative. Why do you think that writer meet-ups are so popular, or that writing groups meet all over the country in bookstores and cafes?

Who do you surround yourself with? Do you have a circle of people who knit with you, scrapbook, etc? If you’re a writer/artist, do you have a core group that “gets you?”

I realize that although I have a few friends who are writers, I don’t frequently hang out with other writers or artists. I had the chance to meet a lovely, encouraging writer recently and what a great feeling it was. Just hearing that someone else had doubts about her success or talent, or that someone else felt the need to create and didn’t know why. It’s a grand and fabulous feeling to talk about your work and be validated, and that’s what all those lucky people in Paris were doing. And that’s what all those lucky people in writing retreats do, and writing meet-ups in cafes. And yes, I know that the cyber world enables us to have relationships with other creatives from the comfort of the back studio, but there is nothing like being face to face with another writer and nodding your head as they express feelings you’ve had so many times.

So, my goal is now to add to my creative circle of people to share my journey. I know it can only be beneficial to me and to everyone else who has a chance to grow from it. Thanks to Shannon for adding me to your circle!

 

Recharging Your Life

I spent the past week in New York with a dear friend and I feel marvelous. Why? Part of the trip was to celebrate her birthday (Happy Birthday, Dawn) and it was wonderful to be with someone I truly love. Old friends just get you and that is so comforting. And like a warm cup of tea held gently in your hands, a friendship like that is soothing, peaceful and restoring in its simplicity and beauty.

The other part of the trip was meant to recharge my life. I’ve been feeling doubtful and hesitant about making changes in my life lately. Ever get into a slump where you feel as if life is charging past you and all you can do is watch? Yeah, that’s where I’ve been lately.

Some of those changes are happening whether I like them or not. My daughter is just a few years away from flying the coop and joining the world on her own and I’m so excited for her. But that means eventually I’ll be here alone (OK, Husband will be here, but you know what I mean.) Of course, that’s a change I’m coming to terms with slowly, but not something I can alter too much.

I was lucky enough to spend a few days in New York City with my daughter and I will cherish those few days forever. We ate pizza, rode the subway, strolled through Central Park and wandered the streets of the East Village. We shopped for used books and ate mac & cheese till be could have barfed. And then we ate a little more.

We found the perfect studio apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, (that’s ours on the second floor right with the flowers) just one block from Central Park and a few blocks from the Dakota Building and Strawberry Fields. We awoke to the sounds of the city and felt a little like New Yorkers for just a few days.

The apartment was on a Bed & Breakfast registry and a last-minute decision, which always seem to be the best kind of decisions in my life.

Having this time away also gave me a chance to reevaluate my writing life, and my writing ambitions. I realize that I’m secluded in my studio, writing and editing day after day without input from other writers. Why? I’m a typical artist who doesn’t want anyone to criticize my work so I keep it to myself. Yes, I realize how foolish that is. All artists need input, right? Who wants to die with a computer full of stories that nobody has ever read?

I am recharged and ready to write, edit and get serious. And I love blogging and I’ll be jumping in her more frequently. I love connecting to other writers through this medium and I cherish the friendships I’ve made here. Plus, I feel just a little like Carrie Bradshaw as I write about my life, only with less shoes and a bigger ass.

Creating art, no matter who likes it

“The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

This quote by Kurt Vonnegut has been making the rounds on Facebook and it really spoke to me. I love the line, “Write a poem, even a lousy poem.” Writers/artists are always so worried about what others think about their work. But the reward should not be who likes it, but the amount of joy we got out of creating it. There will always be someone who does not like it, and there will always be someone who does (even if that’s just you). Do it anyway.

I sent out a short story to a contest yesterday and I was sweating while I did it. I imagined the judges reading it with scowls and grimaces. “She thinks she’s a writer?” “What the hell is this?” Nightmares. Then I tell myself I’m supposed to be positive and that brings good things, right? At least that’s what all those cute sayings and photos tell me on Facebook. So I picture them saying, “Wow, brilliant writing. Check this out,” as they hand it around the table. (Yes, they are all sitting around a big conference table sipping martinis and reading short stories. It’s my dream, shut up.)

I’ve created all kinds of crappy art while trying to copy Pinterest. Who the hell does all that stuff anyway? But I had fun doing it and it’s all over my office where I can see it, but  everyone else doesn’t have to look at it. It might be brilliant, but more than likely it’s mediocre at best.

We’ll see what happens with the story, but I felt great while writing it. I felt great editing it. I felt uneasy sending it, but once it was gone it was out of my hands. And if, by chance, they don’t like it, that doesn’t take away any of the joy I got while writing it.

 

A lost art of letter writing

Remember when you were young and you couldn’t wait for the mail to arrive? It was thrilling. My grandfather used to write a poem for each birthday and mail it to me. My friends wrote long letters about boyfriends and parties and I reread them over and over.

These days, most correspondence is done online. Letter writing has gone the way of the cassette tape, typewriter and phone cords. Some of these things can stay gone, no problem. Phone cords will not be missed. But I do miss the typewriter and its clack clack of the keys, and the letter in the mailbox is a tragic loss.

When was the last time you wrote someone a letter? I challenge you to write someone a letter this week. It could be a short, “Thanks for the great lunch and conversation,” or even, “I miss you. Let’s get together.” If you must, you can type it up and print it out. If you’re writing a long, drawn-out letter, by all means print it out. But hand write the envelope. It doesn’t take that much time and it gives the letter a special touch. You could even embellish the note or envelope with a drawing, stickers, etc. (OK, I’m pushing it here. Sorry)

I know this sounds very simple, but it isn’t, really. Our time is precious these days, yet we still have time to watch our favorite TV shows or movies, right? Take a moment during a commercial to write out a note. Address the envelope on the next commercial. See how quick that was?

A good friend of mine frequently rips out photos and ads from magazines, slaps a Post-it with a funny note on it and mails it out to me. I love getting these and it makes me smile. It doesn’t cost much, just a stamp and an envelope. If you have children, try writing them a letter or sending them a card. Tell Grandparents to drop them a card or letter.

Make someone smile this week. What have you got to lose?