See you around!
Thursday, August 29, 2013
See you around!
Saturday, March 16, 2013
|Click on this cast photo for a link to the program website!|
Friday, June 17, 2011
I've learned little things about myself in this month - things that help with the writing, and allow me to better enjoy the act of creation. I'll share:
* I've taken artist dates to Michaels and purchased a lantern (for candles), a new journal, candles, and fake ivy to drape over my other-wise very boring, very cheap book case.
* Going to visit Michelle gave me a nice change of venue, which was refreshing and at some points adventurous. You may not know it from our work here, but we operate from different parts of the United States: the East Coast and the Midwest.
* I was glad also to spend so much time with her, my creative compatriot. We artists need a circle of support, or, as Michelle and I call it, a mutual appreciation society.
* Try new things... or do things you've never done before. Par example, I boiled lobster for the first time this May! Also, I believe there is something to be said about branching out, using new brain cells... discovering new music, new television shows, a new favorite spot in the garden. Now on my list of inspiring things are BBC's Sherlock, the music of the Beatles and drinking lattes. (Thanks, Michelle!)
* Dive in before it's too late... in other words, don't think yourself out of something. In my case, I often over think my writing, and as a result, get scared or freaked out about its nascent uncertainty, and any hope of writing - just writing - dies a guilt-ridden death. We call that writer's block. Julia Cameron is very helpful about this: "Art is not about thinking something up. It is about the opposite - getting something down."
* And last but not least: sleep. Let's face it, the world is task-driven and we drive ourselves to the brink of exhaustion. We need to sleep: to recharge our batteries, to realign synapses and memory pathways, to allow our bodies to heal. This week I learned my lesson about staying up late to "watch just one episode of Doctor Who" (insert various other excuses): even one hour has severely reduced my ability to focus on my projects. This weekend I will sleep and enjoy it. No regrets. None at all.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
This activity could range from venturing to the local craft store for modeling clay and spending an afternoon twisting it into shape. Or it could be spent trying to figure out a sewing machine. Or simply take a long, thoughtful walk. Last week, I watched a movie. This week on my day off, I decided to plant flowers in the pot on our front porch which until then had been occupied by a very dead geranium. "Enough is enough," I thought. "It's finally spring, and I have an artist's urge to do something!" Hence the violas and purple allysum you see below.
Apart from the neighborhood squirrels digging in the pot for non-existent acorns, I'm satisfied to call this a success!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
A quick scroll through our Quotes of the Week archive will show you how often writers pontificate about what Writers Should Do and What Writing Should Be. Usually, it’s wise, helpful advice, but it is always good to bear in mind that the opposite of any maxim could be true for you as a writer. Alan Bennett says that when you come across a sentiment from another a writer that you thought unique to you, it's like being taken by the hand --- but don't let that proferred hand yank your arm out of the socket and lead you down a road you don't want to travel.
Because in fact, all a writer is is someone who writes stuff. Anything more specific is going to be personal, idiosyncratic, and discovered by you yourself.
Point for discussion: One of my biggest quarrels with Letters to a Young Poet was Rilke’s tendency to make up rules for young writers, who are already have enough challenges. Take this one, from the First Letter:
Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write?...It is possible that even after your descent into your inner self and into your secret place of solitude, you might find that you must give up becoming a poet. As I have said, to feel that one could live without writing is indication that, in fact, one should not.
(pp. 11-13 of the New World Library edition)
I take it that Rilke means that if one could live without writing, one should not write. To which I say: Piffle. Poppycock. Tripe and other expressions of increasing vulgarity and anatomic specificity. Certainly there are people who feel that writing is lifeblood—but if you don’t feel that way, or don’t feel that way every second of every day, that doesn’t mean you aren’t a Proper Writer.
What’s really criminal about dicta like Rilke’s is the way they undermine the tentative soul. Who is really confident enough to declare: "Yes! I know exactly what my inner soul is saying and I would die if I couldn't write!" Frankly, such a person sounds insufferable. (Further, I often think that the more unselfish love is the one that can live without the beloved but does not wish to. Then we are looking at the gift of self rather than selfish, acquisitive love.)
I think that for every one reason I have to write, there are about ten insecurities waiting to gobble it up. Writers are geniuses at explaining why their work doesn’t really count, why they are hacks, why they are not even proper writers at all.
Any of these sound familiar?
"Writers are supposed to scribble constantly, seized by inspiration like Jo in Little Women or Cassandra in I Capture the Castle or Jamal in Finding Forrester. I don’t do that. In fact, I hardly ever feel like writing."
"Writers are also supposed to have heads brimming with stories and characters. I don’t."
"I never played make-believe as a child, so clearly I don’t have a vivid imagination."
"I can’t write a novel. Ernest Hemingway wrote short stories for years before he wrote novels, and I haven’t written a single short story, so I have no business writing a novel."
"Stephenie Meyer had a dream that grew into Twilight while her kids were little. I never dreamed when my kids were small because I was too tired! I must not really have a creative mind."
"J.K. Rowling started Harry Potter while she was a down-and-out single mom, but all I can think about is where my next meal is coming from. I must not really be driven to write."
"I’ve never even been in love. How can anything I write be credible?"
"I don’t dress interestingly enough to be a writer."
And the worst: "I’ve never finished anything, not even a journal, so I’m not a writer."
There are plenty of responses to the doubts I’ve just listed. For one thing, wanting to write comes from making a habit of writing. There's a lot of habit-forming that goes into being able to finish something. For another, for me at least, it takes continual practice to crystallize vague emotions and interior colors into characters and plots. They don’t come ready-made, however the movies make it look. It is also ridiculous to compare ourselves to such a rubbish writer as Ernest Hemingway (and everyone has their own genre gifts anyway). Most importantly, if you’re worried about how you dress, just buy some fingerless gloves at Hot Topic. Insta-funky, and your hands will be warm while you type as an added bonus.
Forgive the tongue-in-cheek, but I am writing from a place very close to my heart, as someone who has wasted a lot time enumerating the reasons why I don't "count" as a writer. The point is that we all have different stories. We all have different artistic needs, different ideas to express, different roads that led us to the page. Comparing ourselves to our heroes, fictional or real, is natural, but they can’t be allowed to make rules for us.
The relationship between every writer and his or her pen is as unique as every relationship between one human and another. People are all different; writers are all different. Though you may benefit from the example or advice of Hemingway or Shakespeare, Stephen King or Francine Pascal for all I care, what you write, why you write, and how you write are all up to you.
I really am convinced that there are many more potential writers out there than dare to declare themselves. Many, many people would be happier and more alive if they would allow themselves to be writers or artists of other casts. Please: take a piece of paper, and a pen, and write something. String a few words together to describe what you are seeing right now if you can't think of anything else. It'll probably stink; so revise it. Welcome to the guild.
As Faulkner says: "Try not to be a writer. Try to be writing." If you give up on being Jo March, you might just become yourself.
A writer is someone who writes stuff. End of story.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
"My advice to Titania and Oberon? Leave the forest. It's this place. It gets into your head. I mean, all this nature...it's not natural, is it?" (Puck)
"If you don't get it right, I'm going to turn you into a novelty key chain." (Oberon to Puck, of course)
A Misummer Night's Dream, written by Peter Bowker; starring Bill Paterson, Imelda Staunton, and Johnny Vegas
Much Ado About Nothing, written by David Nicholls; starring Sara Parish, Damian Lewis, and Billie Piper
Macbeth, written by Peter Moffat; starring James McAvoy and Keeley Hawes
The Taming of the Shrew, written by Sally Wainwright; starring Rufus Sewell, Shirley Henderson, and Stephen Tompkinson.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Anyway, this was a great episode, about travel. It was "based" on the premise of LeVar showing off his "travel room," which is full of maps and souvenirs from the places he's visited. The segments, though, basically amounted to a really neat collection of interesting people doing interesting things that emphasized the richness of life, the variety available even within the United States. There were segments on:
- a woman with a rooftop garden in New York City
- a Brooklyn man who raises pigeons on his roof (He was extremely cool; he had so much pure enthusiasm, took such joy in the beauty of the birds and the feeling of freedom he gets from watching them fly.)
- a potter in Hawaii inspired by volcanoes
- a family who lives on a schooner in the summer months
There are so many different lives in this world; there is so much richness in being human. It's amazing that we take refuge in fantasy at all. And I say this as a writer of fantastical fiction.
So, I am an advocate of exploring children's literature and television when imagination runs dry. Children have a sense of wonder that we for some strange reason expect ourselves to leave behind as we become adults. But there was as much for an adult to savor in the potter explaining how thinks about his art as there would be for a child.
If you're curious, you don't have to take my word for it. I've checked, and the DVD is available on Netflix --- the one called Let's Go. The book of the episode was called Someplace Else.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I had a lovely one yesterday when I was making cookies with two toddlers of my acquaintance, and one of them spilled an entire bottle of blue sugar crystals (you know, decorating sugars) all over the floor. Now, I got in huge trouble as a ten-year-old (and rightly so) for sprinkling glitter all over the basement floor one afternoon and dancing around in it. And I have always nourished a secret (or not-so-secret) wish to be Ginger Rogers, gliding around in a fantastical world of art-deco satin and sparkles. (In college, I wrote a paper for a philosophy course trying to justify this. No joke.)
So, instead of being upset that there were blue sugar crystals all over the kitchen floor, glittering in the afternoon sun, I found myself incredibly pleased. I was wearing silver flats, too, so as I shuffled around, broom in hand, gathering up the sugar, I felt like I'd been given a huge present. It was spring cleaning day in Candyland; an explosion in Mr. Wonka's factory; perhaps it was the most serious problem Ginger Rogers would face after her sparkly, tap-dancey marriage to one of Fred Astaire's many smooth-faced characters.
I would highly recommend that, if you think you can be free enough of your social training that teaches you not to make deliberate messes, you immediately buy a bottle of decorating sugar (or glitter, I suppose) and dump it all over the floor to shuffle around in.
This is artist date suggestion #1. I have no doubt that more will follow!
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