Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bloom: Evolve

Hi folks, welcome to the blog. I'm writing a continuing series called BLOOM this month. It's all about how to make your work bloom. Not always an easy task. This week I'm going to chat about how blooming is really evolutionary process. Writing a book definitely starts a  with a spark of an idea and slowly over time a complex book appears.

Be confident in this process, my creative friends. Keep working and the work will get better. This is the most honest truth that I can tell you.  You are a unique creature on this planet. Your major adaptation is that you thrive in change. Don't allow yourself to stagnate in any way.  It's when you apply the pressure of change to yourself that you will find your work blooming. 

One way you can stagnate is by sitting on one project too long.  If you have been working on that first chapter for 10 years, it is time to put the project away and move to the next one.  I'm not saying you can never go back, but this particular project has drawn you away from your need to change. You must push yourself into dynamic work. It's messy. It's painful. It's exhilarating. It's unsure. Yes, you will bloom in the midst of chaos. Have you ever thought about about how that winter ends and spring bursts forth with life? Let the winter of your work end and allow everything to change. Today. 

Another place that will keep you from evolving as a creative person is to be stuck in a rut. You may have ended up writing romances but you always wanted to write gritty thrillers. You keep churning out those romances. The work has lost the gloss of the early times.  It is not blooming at all. It is not evolving into something better.  This state of affairs has you down.  Clear off the desk and take a new path.  Oh, now you are terrified. Good. You will evolve. You will bloom. 

Here is a third way to stir up the creative pot. You want to bloom.  Are you hiding in the shadows? Keeping yourself safe from critique, safe from rejection, safe from failure? That works for a while. When the work is young, it needs to be kept safe, but when your work is ready to bloom it needs conditions that force it to bloom.  The nutrients of critique, the water of experience, and sunlight. Exposure. Are you lurking in the shadows? Seeking that connection with others is important. You must be brave now,

I hope this helps you on your journey!  Come back next week for one more in this series,  Also remember that my book PLUMB CRAZY is out.  Please consider adding it to your shelves or the shelves of your local library. Here is a link.

Here is a doodle. Oregon Plains

Finally a quote for your pocket.

It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations. Precisely one of the most gratifying results of intellectual evolution is the continuous opening up of new and greater prospects.
Nikola Tesla

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bloom: The Happy Mirror

Hi folks, I am continuing my series called BLOOM this week. This month my series is about how to make your work bloom. Not always an easy task. For the artist, the story isn't really always so pretty. This year has been tough for me. My stupid brain has been letting me down. I've stumbled into a period of anxious depression. I've always been this internal optimist at heart, but gray clouds have rolled in.

Here's what it feels like. I sit at down to work. I've put the time aside. I focus but the feeling of jazz is gone. Bitter feelings have replaced it, and it's really choking my soaring spirit. It feels  like my window to bloom has passed me by. The winter is here and I'm just screwed. There is no money for a hothouse to force a bloom in this cold winter's walk in my life. Has my opportunity passed me by?  I don't know but I keep working.

To tell the truth, the only thing keeping me afloat right now is the work itself. I can see the years of crafting on the page. It's a happy mirror to me. I've never written better. How weird is that? Even if the brain is sort of messed up, the work is not. I'm bleeding onto the page.right now. This blood is rich stuff. This work is  the best of me. It  dodges all the feelings and the life is on the page. More than a few tears end up on those pages too.  I am so grateful for the work. So grateful.

I refuse to pause even on these cloudy inside days. Life feels too short to pause for them, and I plan to bloom. I believe that for me and you. I know that time and life isn't always on our side. And yet, dream for tomorrow. Dream another dream. Don't let the chance to create slip away from you. I know how scary it is to feel no one is ever going to see your work. Work anyway.

I have heard a saying. "April showers bring May flowers." I'm counting on the truth of this.  Showers are here. Flowers should be coming. I hope you come back next week for more of my bloom series.

One last thing, a request.  I hope that you check out my book PLUMB CRAZY.  Please read it, share it with a friend or a library, post a review somewhere.  I put a lot my heart unto this book. It will lift you up in unexpected ways.

Here is a doodle.


Here is a quote for your pocket.

Your coffee's warm, but your milk is sour
Life is short, but you're here to flower
Dream yourself along another day
Never miss opportunity    
Pete Murray


Saturday, May 09, 2015

BLOOM: Plumb Crazy is Up!

Hi folks, My novel Plumb Crazy has been released under my pen name Cece Barlow! Here are the links. Here is the Amazon link for paperback Here is the link of the ebook.

This is a day of blooming, but blooming does always work out the way you think it will.  Did you ever listen to Paul Harvey. He had these little radio segments called 'The Rest of the Story." He'd share little vignettes about real folks with an unusual twist in their lives. This story is one like that. 

I will tell you sometimes it may feel like it is not working out for your creative soul. Whenever I think this, I remind myself of an alcoholic and bi-polar sufferer. This guy wrote and sang songs. He had a small and devoted fanbase but success did not just jump his way. He didn't have a successful album or single and he had a tough time keeping his records in print. (A feeling I am sort of aware of.) His main stages were dive bars, backwoods cabins, or friends' couches. One of songs was performed by some friends and did pretty well. 

So here is the rest of the story, The song that did pretty well was called "Pancho and Lefty" and was a number one hit for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Townes Van Zandt's music has been performed by a galaxy of country music stars. The journey of art is worth it. Success can be strange. And finally, every little thing is going to shine.

Here is a link to Townes Van Zandt singing "To Live is To Fly."  I think you will treasure this song as much as I do. I hope that you Bloom anyway!  Just do your art. Don't worry about the rest. I will be back next week with more on the series Bloom.  

The doodle this week is fanart -- Exploding TARDIS. 



Here is a quote for your pocket

Well to live is to fly, all low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eyes
Shake the dust off of your wings
And the tears out of your eyes

-- Townes Van Zandt

Saturday, May 02, 2015

BLOOM: Addicted to Change

Hi, folks, yay for all the blooming flowers in my yard!  I feel like blooming too. Next Saturday is the release of Plumb Crazy by Cece Barlow aka me. :) If you have wanted a copy to tuck away in your backpack, purse or the floorboard of your car, that day is about to come for you.

This month my series is about how to make your work bloom. You have all seen it. Those roses by the back fence didn't bloom this year or those bearded irises just didn't show any color,or the dailies that languished with nary a bloom. What is going on?  Conditions just aren't right yet.

Blooming doesn't just happen.  Books don't happen either. If your works in progress keep on fizzling, you need to consider what you are cultivating. The soil of you just isn't allowing whatever you want.

Dang.

What is the creative soul to do?  Hint, the solution requires you be addicted to change.

Here is an idea. Change what you are cultivating. You might not be literary heavy that you have sought to be and instead are really a genre mystery writer. This kind of change takes chutzpah. I mean it is tough to dig out a flowerbed and replant. It is hard to rip out all your grass and shrubbery and put something else in. And it is excruciating to toss all your WIPs out and take a new direction, but this may be the only way you will bloom.

Here is an idea. Listen to what  your counselors are telling you. If they love your work keep with it. If there is no critique love, it may be time to change to something else. This takes humility to adhere to. I mean it is tough to follow someone's advice.  We all have feet of clay and more than one person has steered you wrong before. I have some news for you, creative endeavors involve high risk. Try engineering or something like that if you want a sure thing.

Here is one last idea. You might have to transplant.  The nutrients flowing into your life.  The support, the love, the encouragement, might not be there. You may need less feedback or much more. You may need to rent a cabin in the woods and work as hard as you can for a few days. You may have to start working in a local coffee shop instead of at your house where you keep getting caught up in stuff.

Want to bloom?  Get real about your work to find good success. Let me know how it is going! I will be back next week with more blooming.


Here is a quote for your pocket.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, April 25, 2015

PLUMB CRAZY Journey -- The Transcendent

Hi, folks, this month I'm focusing the blog on the writing journey of PLUMB CRAZY. I'm calling this series: PLUMB CRAZY Journey -- The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Transcendent. I'm going to dig deep into the generation of my novel and dynamics of that creative journey. Be aware that I write as Cece Barlow for this work. It will be released in the beginning of May. :)

Oh, I have been waiting to write this post.  PLUMB CRAZY was a unparalleled experience for me. The things I learned are difficult to describe and that's why I call this part of the journey transcendent. These things are mystical, divine, and beyond all of my human experience. 

The first thing is about knowing your main character.Yes, I did the charts, the character surveys, the letters from the character, the picture studies, the personality tests, all kinds of stuff. All of it was necessary but not the most needful thing. The most needful thing was to give Elva Presley leeway. I let go of what I expected her to do, and you know what, she surprised me. She fought with me me. She told me things about life that astounded me. She was her own person. The process of giving her the lead was a little like pulling bricks out of a wall until the whole thing tumbled down. I found out what it means to follow a free spirit while writing this book. I think my spirit is freer because of it. 

The next thing has to do with pacing. Me, I want to write chapters about how to set a plumbing fixture and how much it makes your shoulders hurt when you work so hard. Pages and pages of that. I wanted to weave a plumbing manual into my book.  Yes, I had to cut a few chapters. I might post one on the Cece Barlow blog so you can groan with me. What a waste of writing time. "The devil is in the details, but so is salvation." Admiral Hyman Rickover said this and had something there. I found my best book by clinging to the details that move the story forward and letting go of the rest of it. 

The last thing that came to me because of PLUMB CRAZY has no name. It's something about the great meaning in friendships, the quirkiness of love, and the unusual gifts that life presents us with when we are not expecting them. Perhaps we find the best things off the beaten path. Do you know what it feels like when you end up lost somewhere and then stumble onto something that you would not have sought in a million years, but it is just the thing you need? PLUMB CRAZY gave me that. It was unexpected. It was out of mainstream. It was transcendent. This thing wrapped around my heart, my mind, my soul, I am so blessed because of it. I hope PLUMB CRAZY does the same for you. 

Well that is the end of this PLUMB CRAZY Journey series. I hope it spoke to you. Next week, I will beginning my blooming series. All about how to make your stories bloom. I am excited.

Here is a doodle: "Flowers"



My quote for today is followed by a rare and short political rant from me. Something has been bothering me. 

I suggest that this is a good time to think soberly about our responsibilities to our descendants - those who will ring out the Fossil Fuel Age. Our greatest responsibility, as parents and as citizens, is to give America's youngsters the best possible education. We need the best teachers and enough of them to prepare our young people for a future immeasurably more complex than the present, and calling for ever larger numbers of competent and highly trained men and women.  Admiral Hyman Rickover

My RANT: We don't need standardized testing. We will encourage teachers to be accountable by giving them generous pay and favorable working conditions. Burying them in regulations and paper work is offering a future of mediocrity to our kids. Not one test has ever made a difference in my kids' lives. Teachers make differences in my kids lives -- Mr. Chapman, Mrs. Sherman, Mrs. Westberg, Mr. D. Mrs. Palmer...to name a few. The culture of the negative needs to stopped. Let's offer kids glorious, eye-opening knowledge, opportunities to apply that knowledge, and finally an instilled habit of  decisions made on VERIFIED facts and logical thinking. Let's give teachers the reins of the future and not bureaucrats. We are the captains of our fate. We are masters of our destiny. Will we stop this educational madness and pave the way for a future with a sure foundation?