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”

What I Read on My Summer Holiday

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

I love books.  I love reading, and I am always curious about what other people are reading.  So, of course, I enjoy reading people’s book lists, especially those from writers and artists.

Here is what I read during July and August while I was on holiday.

The Owl Mage Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey – Mercedes is one of my favourite writers.  She dives deep and at length into what her characters are thinking and I find this inner monologue fascinating.  Some might read this and say ‘get on with the story’.  Not me.  These inner monologues are part of the story, developing the character, connecting with me-the-reader and my personal inner talk experience.

End of Watch by Stephen King – As a teenager, my introduction to Stephen’s writing was ‘Carrie’.  The story totally creeped me out, and I loved it.  Later I left off reading horror.  I came back to him with ‘Lisey’s Story’, and I’ve kept up with his writing ever since.

A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George – A friend introduced me to Elizabeth and her intricate, very human mysteries.  I read the one lent to me, then promptly hit the used bookstore for all Elizabeth had written up to that point.  Now I wait with anticipation when I hear a new book is coming, and get my order in at my local bookstore.  If you are a writer, check out her book on writing fiction ‘Write Away’.  I borrowed it from the public library three times and then ordered my own copy.

Return of the Padawan by Jeffrey Brown – Pure fun.

The King’s Man Trilogy by Pauline Gedge – Pauline makes me feel I am right there in ancient Egypt.  Heat.  The smell of dust.  Cool water poured over my bare feet.  Linen brushing against my skin.  I read her books in the summer to heighten the feeling of being there.

Raiders of the Nile by Steven Saylor – Steven’s writing has the same effect on me as Pauline’s.  In his books, I am in ancient Rome.  This one happens in the Nile delta, not his usual setting.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling – I admit it.  I am a Harry Potter/J. K. Rowling fan.  I read this slowly, right after a week of watching all the Harry Potter movies in sequence.  I let my inner vision create the movie for me as I read.  Fun!  Then I discovered the website Pottermore, got myself sorted for Hogwarts by the Sorting Hat, and claimed my wand.  (For my fellow Potter fans, I am a Hufflepuff–totally suits me– and my wand is sycamore with dragon heartstring core.  Cool.) Continue reading “What I Read on My Summer Holiday”

Creating Stuff With Friends

kevintheminionandfriends
Making Stuff With Friends

The past two weeks I’ve been experiencing one of the things on my list for living a creative life—Find friends who love to create too, and inspire each other.

Drawing and writing give me great joy.  I mostly create alone, and this works for me.  I hear my heart, mind, and Source clearly.  There is peace in this, and an awareness that holds both energy and ease.

Lately I have been visiting with my artist and writer friends.  Meeting for lunch.  Going for walks.  Sharing what we are each creating.  Asking for and giving advice and points of view.  Laughing a lot.  Appreciating.  Being inspired.  Making notes of books to read and websites to view.  New resources to play with.

We talk about creativity and life.  For us, these are threads that wind round each other.  Impossible to separate.  I know I wouldn’t want to.

Thursday I sat across from a friend, at her round wooden table.  The table was high, and I am short.  I put an extra pillow on the seat of my chair.  We had pens and paper.  We wrote.

There was peace in this space, and the quiet act of creating in the presence of another.  My friend and I know intimately the feel of writing alone.  This day we chose to write together.  There was joy in this.  I feel it again as I tell you.

There is power, too, in creating with a friend.  Familiarity, love, and acceptance of the creative process.  Friendship, love, and acceptance of the person across the table.  This power is ease, and it let my words flow.  I looked up and saw my friend moving her pen across the paper, her words taking the shape of a new story.

Grace was given both of us in this time and place.  Grace, joy, friendship, and writing.  A perfect afternoon.

_______________________

In this post:

July 10th post, List For Living My Creative Life, https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/07/10/list-for-living-my-creative-life/

Creative Balance

alice
Alice and the Cheshire Cat –John Tenniel

Usually I come to my blog posts with ideas in mind.  I sit down at my studio work table, pull out pen and loose leaf paper, and begin writing.

Not today.

So, I start where I am.  I have my glass of water with a lemon slice floating in it.  I have my coffee with cream, in the white mug with Alice and the Cheshire Cat decorating the outside.  I love Alice and the Cat.  They let their imaginations run, and nothing tips either of them away from being grounded in who they know they are.   And I covet the Cat’s ability to fade away, leaving only his very toothy smile floating in the air.

My two strings of Christmas lights are on.  Does not matter that this is June and half the year away from Christmas.  Seeing them gives me joy, especially on grey days like today.  It may be officially Summer, but there is a sky full of clouds out there.  Someone forgot to shift the weather dials to ‘summer’ and ‘sun’.

My pen with the sky blue ink is in hand.  A thin stack of paper rests in front of me.  This is paper rescued from the bottom of high school lockers last June.  Unused paper abandoned by its teenage owners at the end of the school year.  Retrieved to be used for my first drafts, which are handwritten, messy, and exactly what I love.  Paper happy that its worth has been recognized.

Just now, I realize why I am empty of ideas.  I spent my week creating two workshop proposals and a coaching proposal.  I am written out.  My creative heart and mind have run full speed for five days.  It is time to rest.

Time to let my weekend be a weekend in the original sense of the word.  There is no 24/7 for me.  I am 5/2.

Five days of building and sending out my creations into the world.  Two days of my creative self receiving in.

Reading.  Reading some more.  Doing crossword puzzles.  Colouring in my colouring books (I have several).  Talking and playing with family and friends.  Walking.  Cooking and savouring the meals I and others have created.  Sitting on the front deck, listening to the birds and the wind.  Watching the clouds pass overhead.  Breathing in the green smell of the next-door neighbour’s newly cut grass.

This is balance in my life.  Giving.  Receiving.

Come Monday, my creative well will be full again.  Ideas and Inspiration will whisper to me, ‘Let’s try this, and this.  Let’s play!’

_______________________

In this post:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by John Tenniel, first published in 1865.  You can find images of all his illustrations for this book at http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/