Packing and Unpacking

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3 Crows a Letter, 4 Crows a Boy

I am writing this post in the midst of controlled chaos.  Namely, I am packing.  Everything.

Last time I wrote I had just decluttered and sold my home.  I did not have a new home to go to yet.  Now I do.  I also have a moving date, so I am packing with a purpose.  The perfect thing about having already decluttered?  No decisions to make about what to keep and what to let go.  No decisions complicated by memories or by dreams yet to be fulfilled.  That bit is already done.  Yay!

I have a new home with my perfect, amazing, big-with-awesome-light studio.  This is the studio I have been imagining since I began art school.  Twenty-one years of imagining have created me this wondrous place.  There is room for my writing desk and reference books.  Room for my art table and easel and supply shelves.  For my library.  An area with sink and tiled floor for mucky projects.  Storage space.

I saw a studio like this, owned by a master artist, a few years into my art practice.  Always I have remembered it.  Now I have one like it.

A blessing.  A gift of abundance.

I am dancing inside.

I’ve heard tales of artists and writers who freeze up when they finally have the creation space of their dreams.  Like somehow the expectations of results have been upped beyond what they can easily deal with, and it scares them into silence.

I’m mentioning this because when I first walked into this space I said out loud, “Too big.”  It scared me, this huge lovely space made for creating.  This perfect space that could be mine, and I was rejecting it.  This space I had imagined, and I was turning my back on it.

But something interesting happened as I turned my back.  I caught myself in the middle of no.  I felt the abundance being offered me here in this light-filled space.  I stopped, and I began to laugh.  I began to feel joy.  I began to dance with the possibilities of creating image and word right here.  Right here.

In that moment, something unpacked itself and I saw it clearly.  Old beliefs limiting my worth, my abilities, what I do and don’t deserve, what I can offer through my creativity, how big or small I should be.  For the first time, these old beliefs stood fully in the light, and I discovered they are not mine any more.

Oh, I know their ghosts may still show up once in a while, as I create in my new studio.  That’s okay.  They no longer have the same power over me.  When I see my beliefs clearly, I know what to do with them and how to handle the feelings they carry.  I have choice.  They won’t stay long, and I’ll wave goodbye as they leave.

Then I’ll go right back to creating.

_____________________________

A note re unpacking limiting beliefs:

Jennifer McLean teaches a gentle and effective method of releasing old beliefs, emotions, experiences, and trauma.  Spontaneous Transformation Technique (STT) is an easy and quick process to learn and to use.  I know, from personal experience, how beautifully it works in clearing creativity blocks and glitches that slow us down and limit our creative lives.  As a Certified Level 2 Spontaneous Transformation Technique Practitioner, I use STT’s powerful process in my creativity workshops and coaching.  This link will take you to Jennifer’s information page.  http://go.spontaneoustransformation.com/powerhealing

 

What The Dream Said

 

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‘Bird Son With Blue Feathers’-detail

I am asleep.

I’m dreaming.

I’m sitting in a rowboat.  The boat is all wood.  We, the boat and I, are floating on a deep pond.  A fir and cedar forest rises beyond.  The water is rimmed by a grey rock beach.  The boat and I are still.

I watch a small, black and white cat step from the forest, across the beach, and into the water.

The cat swims, and then dives deep.  ‘I didn’t know cats could do that,’ I say.

I can see her, as though I am under water too.  The cat catches a large fish in her mouth, swims back to the surface, and returns to the beach.

She eats the fish.  She looks very satisfied with herself.

I wake.

I write my morning pages after breakfast.  Purple ink today.  It is snowing again.  The thermometer says -10 degrees Celsius.  The forecast says expect the same through this coming weekend.  Hmmm.  My eyes are beginning to get hungry for green.

I write out my dream.  I hear my voice again.  ‘I didn’t know cats could do that.’  I again feel my astonishment at something unexpected and new.  Since when do cats not only swim, but swim underwater?

Tigers swim, I write in my pages.  So do jaguars.  Why not small, black and white cats?

Why not me?  I am Cat.  I love swimming, and my dad taught me to dive.  I know how to dive cleanly and well.

If I dive deep, I will catch the words.  I will catch my book.

I sit very still.  My pen has stopped moving.  Exactly what Natalie says not to do.

The dream is talking to me.  I start writing again, to catch the words.

This second draft I am creating—I need to dive deep.  The dream says I’ve only been paddling along the surface, even staying safely on the beach in some parts of the story.

If I want my book to be fully realized, and I do, I can’t stay on the surface.  The book isn’t here.  The words and feelings I want are down below.

The pond is deep and clear and full of flashing, silver words.  I love words.  There is nothing to fear.  I know how to swim and dive and imagine and write.  I am good at all these things.

The dream says, take a breath, and dive.

The dream says, cats can do this.

___________________________

Natalie Goldberg’s first rule of writing practice is ‘Keep your hand moving.’  She also says ‘Shut up and write’.  I’ve invented a new writing rule for myself, ‘Shut up and dive.’  All of Natalie’s books are my favourites.  You likely already know Writing Down The Bones.  So go read The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life With Language, Atria Books, 2013.  Really, the true secret of writing is in there.  Natalie spills the beans.  Thank you, Natalie, for showing me a way of being a writer, and spilling the beans.  http://nataliegoldberg.com/

 

 

My Love Affair With Books

 

1.'Containers for the Soul'--Cat Fink
‘Containers For The Soul’ by Cat Fink

I have a long love affair with books.  With stories.  With words.  Longer even than my love affair with drawing, but only by a year or two.

My husband knows about this affair.  How can he not?  He helped me pack 55 boxes of books last time we moved.  The back wall of our suite is all shelves of books, two rows deep.  I’ve probably added three more boxes since we moved in two years ago.  That makes the current total 58.

This love affair, in other eyes, looks like an obsession.  Or maybe a difficulty with hoarding.

Only someone who does not love books would think that.

My parents read to me when I was two years old.  A story before bedtime.  Thus begins the love affair and my book collection.

Continue reading “My Love Affair With Books”

Getting My Second Draft Right, or Not

 

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 9 2016 (books)

All the intense, warp speed creating I did through November was fun and fulfilling, and it did me in.  I needed a rest.  So I rested.

Now I’m back.  My well of inspiration is full again, to the brim and bubbling over.  (Watch out.  You might get splashed!)  I am itching to get creating again.  Writing stuff.  Drawing stuff.  Making stuff.

I am in a New Year.  Possibilities abound.

Yesterday I made myself a list, ‘Stuff I’m Doing’, and posted it beside my studio work table.  I used sheets of paper from my sketchbook and my set of fifty Crayola felt pens.  My list covers the first six months of this year, and has lots of room for additions, alterations, and addendums.  Even my lists are drafts.

At the top of the list is the second draft of my book.  I have been struggling with this for more than a year.  The main problem—no clarity on how my book needs to be structured.

Structure did not matter while writing the first draft.  Now it does, and it has had me baffled.

Not anymore.

I was thinking of my book structure as written in stone.  I have to get it right.  Totally scared myself, saying I have to get it right.  Stopped me for all of last year.  That is sad.

Actually, I don’t have to get it right.  I have to get it down on the page.  This is exactly what I tell myself when I am writing content.  I don’t have to get it right.  Just get the words down and then I can change them.

I am now treating my book structure like I treat my content.  It’s a draft, a work in progress that is allowed to shift to meet the needs of the book as I create it.

What a relief!  This feels so much better.  I have space to play with my book’s structure.  Get it sort of right.  Get it wrong.  Get it eventually right.

Why didn’t I think of this earlier?  Probably because I have never moved past first draft in a piece of book-length writing.  No experience at this.  A total newbie.

So here I am.  A New Year.  New ideas and space to play.  I am closing my first week of January 2017 by meeting with two of my artist-writer friends.  Tomorrow we are having lunch together.  We’ve promised to bring writing (two of us) and paintings (one of us) to share and receive help.  The best way of all to begin my year.  Sharing creativity with friends.

Happy New Year, All!  Let us give ourselves full permission to play, and space to create what we love, through love, all year long.

Now go make something.

________________________

Thank you, Meg Ward, for your listening ear and sage advice in getting me started again on my second draft.  Meg has an info page at http://www.shareyourbigidea.com/

 

 

Messy Creative Process

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 4 2016 (music)

I’m on a break today after three days of drawing.  Sort of a break, because while I am doing laundry and other such household chores,  I am thinking about my creative process.

I had this idea, when I was an art student, that eventually creating art would be easy.  Once I was a well-experience master artist, there would be none of those messy emotional stages of anxiety, fear, and outright panic during my drawing process.

Yes, you who are are constant creators, go ahead and laugh.  I’m laughing right along with you.

That naive art-student-me had lots of hope.  Hope carried me through the hard scary emotions of creating.  I refused to let myself be blocked because I knew making art would get easier the more art I made.  Also, I am stubborn.

I was right, sort of.  Art making did get easier, the more art I made.  Even though the anxiety-fear-panic has not disappeared, as a stage in my creative process these emotions have become smaller, shorter, less intense.  I have become used to them.  I can keep creating right through them because I know they don’t last.

Anxiety-fear-panic have become signposts for me.  They are indicators of how important this drawing or piece of writing is to me, and how important being an actively-working artist and writer are is me.  They tell me how non-negotiable it is for me to create from my authentic heart.  No shortcuts.  No faking it.  What shows up in my creation has to be the real thing and nothing less.  Something I am proud of creating and sharing.  Something that speaks to my heart, and connects with the hearts of others.

To reach that kind of authentic creating, I am willing to move through the messy, hard stages of my creative process.  I will be moving through messy and hard again tomorrow, and coming out the other side with a new drawing.  I would not want to be doing anything else.  I was made for this.

_________________________

The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC.  The show runs to November 26th.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.  I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th.  Come and join me!   https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/

 

Artist AND Writer

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 3 2016 (stars)

(This post written the morning of November 4th.)  My beautiful blog, I have been putting you to the side this past month, all in the service of art rather than writing.

I am artist and writer in equal measure.  The past two years, writing has been all.  Now, my drawing is centre stage for all of November, and this makes me very happy.

I have missed my art-making.  This is not to say I don’t love my writing.  I am in love with both, switching back and forth depending on the inspiration that comes and the projects that grow.

My drawings for ‘The Joy Diary’, my solo art show, have writing in them.  I get to play, moving between my two loves, marrying them in ways that push me to further inspiration beyond the drawing I am creating.  Seeing on the paper before me how my mind connects ideas and information, the leaps it takes, surprising and delighting me.  Learning how I balance image with word, each playing off the other and suggesting something more than 1 plus 1 equals 2.  More like 2 squared or 2 cubed.

Drawing feeds my writing.  Writing feeds my drawing.  There are some feelings and knowings that I can only express through images, and others that need words to bring them alive.  I am blessed to be Artist and Writer, and to be in love with both.

The drawing heading today’s post is brand new, created yesterday in the Station House Gallery studio.  ‘What Gives Me Joy Nov. 3 2016 (stars)’.  Inspired by a birthday tea with another artist-writer-friend.  (Thank you Lynn!)  Drawing number one, with seventeen more to follow throughout November.  I am heading over to the gallery thirty minutes from now, to begin drawing number two.

Thank you thank you thank you that I get to be Artist AND Writer.

_________________________

The Joy Diary is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC.  The show runs to November 26th.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.  I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th.  Come and join me!   https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/

 

 

The View From the Cheap Seats

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Cat’s Instructions for a Creative Life

I am reading Neil Gaiman’s book The View From the Cheap Seats, a collection of his nonfiction writing.  Magazine pieces, book introductions, speeches, musings, more.  I am being inspired, delighted, learning, and made curious.

The making-me-curious bit is fun.  I have a Curiosity List going as I read this book.  Writers, books, comics, artists, articles, web stuff.  All new to me, and I have to check them out, now that Neil has made me curious.  I am nearly two-thirds of the way through his book, and my list is getting long.  This is a good thing.

One of the things I love about those of us working in the arts is how so many of us share what we are discovering, what is delighting us, what we are learning and doing.  Neil’s book is delighting me, not only because of his writing, but because of his sharing who and what inspires him.  Sharing one of the paths through his universe.

Thank you, Neil.

________________________

In this post, and other thoughts:

Neil Gaiman, book The View From the Cheap Seats, 2016, WM Morrow.  http://www.neilgaiman.com/

The image at the top of this post is what I have been creating the last two days.  It is going onto a postcard I’ll be handing out at my interactive art show ‘The Joy Diary’ in November.  (I was going to add the link here for the Station House Gallery in Williams Lake, BC, but according to Google just now, their site may be hacked.  Yes, the weird and wonderful world of the internet.)

The Continuing Story of My Second Draft

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‘Jack Built My House’ by Bryan Fink

I’ve posted several times about doing the second draft of my book.  This is the latest installment in the eighteen-month story of my efforts.

One word describes things at the moment.  Confused.

I’m adding others.  Messy.  I am okay with messy.  Messy happens in all my creating at some point.  It gives me possibilities.  Having been a neat and tidy child, as an adult I enjoy messy.  Also, I know how to go from messy to focused, a useful talent.

Another word.  Procrastinating.  Somehow, and I have said this before, other jobs and delights keep taking precedence over my second draft.  Strange how that happens.

Yesterday I am telling one of my fellow artist-writer friends about this.  We come to the conclusion I need to clear a chunk of time for only the draft.  Yes.  I do this.  Now marked off in my diary is February through May.  My friend will meet with me throughout this time to help me keep accountable to myself in getting the draft done.  Cool.

A third word.  Blind.  This draft feels like I’m doing a jigsaw puzzle without the picture from the box top to tell me how things should look.

I tell this to another artist-writer friend.  She talks about finding the arc of the story, a kind of outline.  Oh.

I know about outlines.  I tried one out at the start and it drove me crazy.  I learned I am a writer who feels her way through the story.  As Nanowrimo fans say, I’m a pantser, not a plotter.

I am very visual in my thinking.  My friend says ‘arc of the story’.  In response, I see the image of an arc drawn on a big sheet of paper, with me writing sticky notes all along it.  This makes sense.  A way of creating an outline that works for me.  Here is my picture of how things will look when I am done.  Yay!  The picture will likely shift as I go.  That’s okay.  I still have a picture to play with.

Continue reading “The Continuing Story of My Second Draft”