Writing

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I plop into my chair before my computer and pull up a blank page.  Okay, I’m writing. Now.  Time for creativity.  My blog has followers, waiting for the next gem.  Nothing.  Just write, what?  Anything, anything at all.  I can’t think of a single thought, my mind is totally silent, unlike at 3 am when I would rather be asleep.  What did I think of then?  I am clueless.  Apparently, nothing was keeping me awake.

So maybe if I just get my fingers moving, so I type the alphabet: abcdefghijklmnopqristuvwxyz  abcdefghijklmnopqristuvwxyz  Okay, now what?  ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRISTUVWXYZ!  Okay, my fingers are loosed up.  I’m ready to go.  Nothing, but silence.

I practice meditation and then the noise in my head jumps from one thing to another, going on and on, a free association of all that is going on, right and wrong, negative and positive, personal and world events.  So I mediate for a while, and time passes, and still nothing.  Nothing except, what ever made me think I could be a writer!  Writers have stories, things to say.  I’ve got nothing.

Writer’s block.  The inability of a writer to think of anything to write.  This state can go on for days, weeks, months, and years.  No inspiration.  No solution.  Nothing but grocery or chore lists.  We are out of mayo I write to Hubby.  This is the level of creativity I’ve been reduced to.  Give up?  Though in the towel?  (Great!  I’m reduced to cliches.)  Quit!

But wait.  The daily prompt triggers a memory. “Plop, plop.  Fizz, fizz.  Oh what a relief it is.”  Another thought, families have trouble just plopping into a chair to have a dinner together.  Another thought, about Fizzy’s on a picnic with my family plopping into a glass of water.  Another thought, about plopping into my chair and writing.

Okay, not the most exciting of posts, but not every day can be a winner.  At least my readers can relate.  Posting every day is an ambitious goal.  One I have yet to maintain for long.  But one more thing.  A good picture could save this.  Yes.  I may get lucky yet.

Now to go read some really great posts by others.

 

 

Lunch Maybe

Our modern lifestyle is just too busy.

Huntington, West Virginia is nice sized city with plenty of places to eat, and beyond Huntington there are many more places to eat,  so that is not the difficultly in getting my Creative Cluster (CC) together.

Brittany Johnson and her dog Lacy found a place to eat.  In fact, I think there are at least a half a dozen places (maybe more) to eat at in and around Pullman Square.  This is one of the things that is attractive about a city, one of the reasons people young and old are migrating from the suburbs to the city.  With the many gathering places, movies and other entertainment all within walking distance, we are considering a move to a city for our retirement.

Many cities also have a college or university.  In Huntington, West Virginia that college is Marshall University.  Football, basketball, music and art programs are readily available, and some of these forms of entertainment are completely free.  There is also the option for continuing education, and if you are so inclined earning a degree.

I live a short hop across the river from this pleasant city.  Pullman Square isn’t the most convenient meeting place for all members of our CC, but we have driven further to get together in the past.

It started with an e-mail about getting together the week of August 8.  After a week of negotiations, we end up with this:
So far it looks like:

Eileen S      any day    either restaurant

Eileen C   prefer   Thurs. Fri     Ruby Tuesday

Dolores  leaving Thurs     Wed looks like it is only option Salad place
   Ruby Tuesday ?

April     Friday best

Carol Ma   Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

Carol Mo  ?

Kim    ?

As it turns out, Kim has time restrictions and would like to move the meeting to Saturday or an evening.

Knowing I was going to be in Pullman Square, I put forward an invite that anyone in the group could join me if they were available, and nobody was, although I did get a call from one person.

A week and a half of e-mails and we still don’t have a date, but maybe an evening later in the month would work?   As soon as school starts things are difficult for Kim.

I miss our CC meetings.  Participation got me writing again after an extended writer’s block.  The CC encouraged me to share my work with others.  Plus, I got to know and appreciate the talents of each person in the group.

I hope we can work something out.  Dessert maybe?

No Crying in Art

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The greatest luxury is creativity and art.  Even more of a luxury than viewing art is the honor of being creative.  It doesn’t matter what your creative outlet is, you are entirely in control of  its expression.  The nature of the arts is one of searching and discovery.  Like a child reaching for crayons, we seek the expression of something within us.

When number one son was a boy, he complained he was no good at art.  I took the children to the Cleveland Museum of Art.  There were pictures (like the one above) that had number one son thinking he was indeed good at art.

I gave my children cameras when we went on vacation.  Each child took very different pictures with their cameras.  Number one son took pictures of spreading vistas, and to his dismay, his sister took close up pictures of flowers, bugs and rocks.  The good son took pictures with people in them.  There was no right way to take the pictures.

As a writer I have known the self-doubt that others have expressed.  I questioned my talent, which has prevented me from sharing my work, but never completely kept me from writing.  It was actually dabbling in other forms of art that taught me my most important lesson.  I took up black and white photography to learn how to see shadow, texture, and framing.  I took up regular photography be of the color of nature.  But it was sketching and painting that in a class with other’s that showed me no one is happy with their efforts.

As a first time painter I got encouraging compliments on my painting, while the experienced people in the class complained about how awful their pictures were.  I thought all the pictures were great.  I wanted to tell these artists,

“There’s no crying in art!”

If you compare yourself to people you admire, you could believe you have no talent. Instead of comparing yourself to other creative people, study their work.  Figure out what it is you admire about the work of others, and what it is you would do differently. This will give your work more richness as you discover your creative path.  Practice makes perfect applies to any creative endeavor, but if you wait to be blessed with perfection from on high you will never delve into creative waters.

There may be rules to your art, but feel free to break the rules.  Worst case, you will learn why to follow the rules, and have a good laugh.  Each creative effort is an opportunity to explore and have fun.  So many things I’ve hated and put aside for some future time turned out to have a nugget of insightful beauty and creative sparkle.

This is why I blog.  My blog is the perfect testing ground to see if I actually can write every day.  My blog is also a testing ground for different kind of writings. September 6, 2014 I wrote my very first poem. After learning what a Tanka is from a posting on WordPress, I wrote  A Tribute Tanka.  I have now written ten poems, and begun a personal study of poetry.  (Remember that list of categories you have written about?  Mine is on the bottom.  Feel free to click on it for my complete poetry collection.  Feel free to leave a constructive criticism.)

Remember:  There is no crying in art.  So indulge in creative play.

 

Journey from Reality to Fantasy

 

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At Universal Studio, Orlando

Daily Prompt:  Journey

Michelle Zacharias, a Canadian artist living, creating and writing in Japan posted a blog about an artist show by Arthur Huang  titled Memory Walks-Is This the Way I Went?   Huang documents the journey he makes through his day on the canvas of eggs.  Strange.  Interesting.  Why do I even like this?

Many of us document our days with photos, notations on calendars, journals, or blogs.  We document our health concerns with notations of test and doctor appointments.  We document the significant events in our lives with pictures and announcements on little cards saved in boxes.  We post on social media, the big and the small, to save what we think is funny, cute, touching, and outrageous.  Our journey through life is saved in boxes, on shelves, in bits and pieces.

We travel and explore, and document every step.  But sometimes, we just want to escape from our everyday reality.  Lacking cash for a flight to paradise, we still have an easy escape.  A journey into fiction.  We can hop on a train from platform 9 3/4 and go on an adventure where the good guys always win, where friends never let you down, and magic is a part of everyday.  This same magic happens with any good book.  The thrill of adventure, digging for treasure, traveling to far away places, falling in love, and fighting (and winning) the good fight.  All of the world is between the pages of a book (or the pages on your tablet).

If the journey you desire has not been written yet, perhaps you are the one to write it.  Your journey is only limited by your imagination.

May the creative road rise up to meet you.

(Yes I took the picture above.  Need to learn how to create a watermark for my pictures.  So much to learn.)

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Studio Reorganization

On this wonderful snowy Wednesday I welcome you to my studio.  A snowy day would be a wonderful day to be occupied with the many projects started in my studio, but it is no longer an environment conducive to creativity.  The part of the room you don’t see in the following picture is the office section of the space, and although the office section is not tidy, I can still work at my computer.

studio mess

You can see the chair I am reupholstering, and the pile of fleece left from other projects that will be transformed into two dog beds, and there is a shoe box full of doll clothing that needs to be sewn.  The shoe box on the cutting table is full of pictures.  Plus there are a number of items that have just migrated to the flat areas outside of the main living area.

The main living area has been simplified, dusted and vacuumed (daily).  My allergic little Brutus is currently free of skin rashes, and ear infections.  So far so good.

Now it is my turn.  I have three rooms worth of stuff in my studio.  Without constant vigilance, entropy slowly and surly overtakes my space.

Like many creative people, I collect stuff that might be useful someday:  dry cleaning bags, papers, ribbons, magazines, fabric (old clothing, sheets and new yardage), batting, foam, little plastic or metal pieces, rocks, stray game pieces, interesting bottles, strange items of packing material, cardboard tubes or sheets, etc.   Everything might be useful to create something new and wonderful.  I have a variety of art supplied for a variety of media.  All of this stuff needs storage, and often it is inaccessible.   (Those doll clothes were buried in the closet and lost for several months.  Fortunately dolls do not grow.)  Just assembling what I need for an idea is a major accomplishment.

But I am ready to try again.  I’ve been studying craft room organization on Pinterest and other websites.  I am determined to lick this.  But there is another option if I find myself in the same position is a few months.  I’ll have to buy a house with three additional rooms.

 

 

 

 

The Computer Died

The title says it all.  My trusty computer, with all my picture files, and customizations, died.  I could have fixed it, but I have this newer computer with up to date software, so I decided to bite the bullet and go with the new system.   I will figure it out.

While waiting for the diagnosis of my old friend, Shadow and I have been busy.  I dug a bunch of old t-shirts of my stash and set to work cutting strips.   Every once in awhile it is just good to make something with your hands, and I needed a new rug at my kitchen sink, one that could be easily washed.  Reusing t-shirts is easy.  T-shirts do not unravel, and can be cut into long strips, for my project, or sliced and knotted  to create a new look for wearing.

Shadow was fascinated by the dangling strips of cloth.  As much as she tried to be a big cat, she is sucked into the entertainments of a kitten.

Mom, What are we doing?  The Hell.
Mom, What are we doing? The Hell.

Shadow sat on my lap while I worked.  If I left the project for even a moment, Shadow was checking it out.

I think I like crocheting, Mom.
I think I like crocheting, Mom.

The project was completed swiftly with a large needle, and is very comfortable underfoot, or under cat.   She has been very busy looking for the next project and has little time to sit around, so no picture of Shadow reclining on the rug.  Shadow prefers dangling strings or balls to bat around.   For your enjoyment here is a picture of the new rug.   It is amazing what you can do with a few old t-shirts.

Recycled T's

We are buying more than 80 billion new items of clothing a year, an increase of over 40 percent over 20 years ago, due to the rapid change of styles.  As a result Americans alone are dumping 11 million tons of textile waste into landfills.   Textiles are one of the most easily recycled items around, yet only a small percentage are recovered.

Pinterest is full of ideas to up-cycle clothing, from little girl dresses out of men’s shirts, to wonderfully creative t-shirt remakes.  But not everything can be remade.  Some items are just to worn, but that doesn’t mean they have no use.  Wiping and polishing cloths, insulation, and stuffing are a few of the ways recycled fabric is used.  If you are handy, you might make something from an old garment, or piece of fabric.  If you are not handy, look for ways to recycle in your area.

Our Inner Life

Inkblot Test Plate #1A Rorschach Test is a psychological test developed in 1921 with the aim of identifying individuals with some thought disorders. It is better known as an inkblot test.  To me many of the inkblots look like x-rays, but that may be because I was an x-ray technician for the first 12 years of my adult life.  My second choice for the picture above would be angles.  I don’t know what a psychologist would think of my results, but I have no doubt that I do have some minor thought disorder.  If you would like to test yourself you can go here.  You won’t learn anything significant, unless you are a psychologist, but it can be enlightening.

Doodles can give you a hint of your interior life.  I learned my doodles of circles show I am trying to find unity and peace, plus I am sociable and friendly.  Drawing eyes means I am also reserved, and look inside myself.  My face drawing show I see the best in others.  My flowers show femininity and love of family.  Triangles show I have a rational mind. Check the meaning of your doodles.

Art therapy can be a window to your inner life, and improve your self-esteem.  Creating a drawing, painting, sculpture, or collage is fun, playful, and you get to interpret it as you see fit.  Here is a collage I did two years ago.  It decorates my studio, and I enjoy it every day.

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More Than Meets the Eye: four worlds represent my children.  My love of nature is represented.  The story it tells me today is different from the story it told me when I first completed the collage.    

Just looking at clouds is a window to your interior life.  While traveling with my husband the other day I was amazed by the things I saw in the clouds.  I wished I was a better painter so I could have preserved what my imagination saw in the sky that day.  Not simple images, but complex constructions, with depth and beautiful shading.

Just like my collage, you are more than meets the eye.  Have fun exploring who you are.  Rordr

Hidden Talents

I have admonished you before: Don’t Hide Your Light.  You do not need to go back and read that posting before you read this. Today’s topic is a bit different.  The fact is, many people may not realize nor value their own talents.

I’ll use myself a typical example.

I’ve been told by others how wonderfully artistic I am.  My first memory of appreciation by others of my artistic talent came from Mom and Dad who kept my kindergarten art throughout their lives.  I agree, there were very nice finger paintings and in second grade a very colorful nice piece with of a chain of abstract flowers included in my childhood portfolio. I did have a seventh grade teacher steal (fail to return to me) my model of a Spanish house with a courtyard.  At about 19 I drew a portrait of the minister during his sermon, and left it in the hymnal.  When the Minister said he wished he knew who that person was because they had a real talent, I just kept quiet.   I taught myself to crochet and have given of that talent to everyone I know.  My sewing gifts have dressed several members of my family, including a couple of brides, and now enfold my grandchildren with my love.  I am also a fairly good cook, and I loved baking.  My friends call me Martha Stewart!

I call myself a generalist, someone who likes many things and toys with everything, but the idea of making it a career, as Martha Stewart has done, never occurred to me, and how to make a career of my artistic bent was entirely beyond my knowledge.  Also, support of my creative endeavors was not consistent.  My family certainly never thought of my creativity as a career path.  Some of my family members suggested my creatives gifts were simply a way of avoiding spending money on a “nice” gift.

When it came to deciding what creative pursuit I would focus on, I decided on my writing.  My earliest compliment on my writing came from my third grade teacher, for a story entitled “April, May, and June,” three young witches who landed on the roof of a young girl.  In sixth grade I had created a pen name, A.E. Hutton.  (Funny my last name is now Sutton.)  As I declared my goals  to study writing to my family, they thought I was being foolhardy, and were just happy I had a husband to take care of me.

I’ve always loved old houses, and Hubby and I have saved many a house from neglect and disrepair. I’ve always wanted to know an architect, and it wasn’t until I was 61 that I realized that might be the career I was really meant for, but how would I really know?

My lack of a best seller, journalism awards, and trending blogs has some saying I am a failure. I’ve used my skills to give to many organizations, and get things done.   I look at all the ways I have used my creative talents to make a home and share with others, and frankly, to live a life of creative and personal freedom that others envy, and I don’t feel like a failure.  Things could have been different, possibly, but I still don’t know what path would have led to financial reward and personal fame that some equate with success.

What would be worse is to be one of the many people who don’t even recognize they have talent.

Mastery not Perfection

My youngest grandson, Nick, is a natural-born athlete, and scary smart. Nick went to gymnastics, and his teacher had plotted out his path to the Olympics, but once across the balance beam and Nick was confident of his mastery. In our conversations I tried to convince him that walking a balance beam is easy, but to walk it with perfection, like you must to get a gold medal in the Olympics are two different things. Gymnastics was boring for Nick, but baseball is Nick’s current passion.

Engaging in a variety of activities makes life interesting, but achieving skill and mastery takes time. Judging ourselves against those who have already achieved mastery, could send each of us looking for a job that includes the words, “Would you like fries with that?” Rather than judge ourselves lacking, it is better to find something you enjoy doing, and keep doing it, just for the fun and challenge.

Hubby has loved electronics since he was 17 years old and put together an organ form a kit, and with training in the Marine Corps launched a career that grew to increased mastery at every level. Hubby’s woodworking skills are still emerging, but each items results in an increase of his ability, as well as nice items shared with family, and a lot of sawdust.

Amber King, soprano, offered a beautiful program at her senior recital presented by the Marshall School of Music and Theatre on Sunday, November 9, 2014 in the Smith Recital Hall. William Murphy on the piano accompanied King. The program included Quando M’en Vo’ from La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini, and ending with Tonight from West Side Story by Lenard Bernstein where tenor Gabriel Gray joined King. It was a thoroughly enjoyable concert, and as King continues to work toward mastery of her skill she will provide hours of enjoyment for any audience she performs before.

Of all the things I do, writing is the skill I have chosen to try for mastery in. Perfection is an impossible goal, one I am sure not even Shakespeare aspired to, yet his impressive body of work is held in highest esteem. But what was his first childish effort like? What was his first unedited version like? Most of us have no idea. Perfection is terrible, paralyzing task master. My first drafts are terrible, and many ideas have died right there, but you can’t achieve mastery if you quit at the first setback. You can’t achieve mastery if you paralyze yourself with the fear that you are not the best. You can’t achieve mastery if a misplaced comma brings you to a screeching halt.

So set aside the idea of perfection, and start working on mastery. It is a daily struggle to get a bit better through practice and persistence. Don’t quit just because it you are not perfect, nobody is perfect.

Don’t Hide Your Light

An amazing pianist plays at all the church functions, and shared that she wrote a piece of music and was going to get it recorded at a local studio, except that she put it away someplace and can’t find it. What really makes this story special, is that this pianist, like many self-taught musicians, cannot read notes, and does not know the names of the notes on the keyboard, but plays entirely by ear. Another musician wrote down her music for her, and she put her one copy away and now, she can’t find it for the making of her recording.

Just like her, I have gone through every drawer, box, nook and cranny of my home looking for stories I wrote and put safely away. I moved them from place to place around the country, and I can remember exactly where they were in different homes. I decided I wanted to share my stories with my grandchildren, my church, my blog, and I can’t find them. The good new is that the very polite rejection letters are also gone, even letters telling me my effort is good, but does not fit their current editorial needs. My work is hidden, even from me. Lost.

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to share your creativity. The reviews might be mixed. Your family may not understand why you waste your time when you could be doing something productive like training for a marathon, before rushing off to work and then back home to take care of families at night. Your friends might politely say “That’s nice,” as they rush off to pick up the kids and take them to their next scheduled event. Busy people don’t have time to sit and appreciate your creativity.

But there is a light of appreciation you see reflected in the eyes of others when they take the time and really appreciate what you have done. Others will admire the work and skill put into that crocheted baby blanket, quilt, or beautiful and tasty meal. When your work of art or writing creates exactly the response in another person that you intended, you have stepped beyond admiration to heart to heart, mind to mind connection.

If you hide what your creativity, you will never know the joy of appreciation or connection. So get yourself out there and do some self promotion. Enter contests, use social media, pass it around, do whatever you can think of, just don’t hide what you do. If those closest to you don’t appreciate what you do, there are those out there who might, if you give them the chance, so follow your heart. You will be happier as a result.

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