Saturday, June 26, 2010

Avoiding Perfection

Hi folks,

Lovely day here, hot and sunshiny. I worked hard this week. I'm weaving the deepest magic I know in what I'm writing right now. I keep comforting myself by avoiding perfection. I feel turned inside out with all the complexity of the work: reviewing scenes over and over again, quibbling over line breaks, changing a word and then putting it back for the tenth time -- and then the twentieth, cutting away my "darlings". shoring up the sub-plots, making sure the transitions are better than adequate and reaching the eloquent levels, smything the words with every bit of blarney stone, Texas tall tale juju I can toss on...

I don't know about you, but there is something inside me that wants my work to be perfect. I'm begging for something to rise up in me and shake the foundations of the world. I hunger to write a book that lasts through the ages, relevant for all time.

Uh, I think I've set the bar pretty high, and I'm cool with that. But all this lofty principle has a biting downside, it can really kill my creative flow. How do I avoid creative death by freezing myself in the headlights of the potentiality of doing something unendingly meaningful? Believe me, the pressure is unbearable.

I've found a solution.I've learned to navigate to the middle ground between the tortured artistic diva who must create an earth-shattering work to be satisfied and the ten shekel shirt, snake-oil hawker, TWILIGHT junkie, and talented hack writer corrupted by the glitz of possible $$$.

Believe it or not, I find genius in the middle ground between these two gals. I find fire there, and I'm jogging down that tight-rope to find my best book.

Are you taking a balanced approach to your work? One that gives you the freedom to actually achieve something? Be kind to yourself. Look for your own middle ground this week and see how that gets the creative inferno going. Seize the day.

This week I'm posting the cover of my newest book 'cause I think it is nifty. It's called THE TRUTH ABOUT UNICORNS written by me and illustrated by Necdet Yilmaz. Artist friends, do yourself a favor and check out Necdet's website, very cool-O. The book should be out in a few weeks.

This bridge will only take you halfway there, to those mysterious lands you long to see. Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fair, and moonlit woods where unicorns run free. So come and walk awhile with me and share the twisting trails and wonderous worlds Ive known. But this bridge will only take you halfway there. The last few steps you have to take alone. Shel Siverstein

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cardinal Song

A short post this week. Lazy summer day, that's my only excuse. I love bird song. A cardinal sang in my backyard today, and I couldn't help but sing back. After, I was trimming the hedges and found a perfect bird's nest nestled in the branches. I think it is my wonder at this world we live in that makes me a writer. Surprises are woven into the fabric of spacetime. Much of our journey is discovering these things.

Relax. Be open. Let the world speak to you. That's the most important thing. After you hear, write it down. Do it every day. My writer recipe.

I've uploaded a ton of doodles. I call this one "Storm".

Last, your quote of the week. A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tough Week

The post is short this week. Oh, I had a rough week with no hot water, little sleep, and two four-hour drives to Houston and back -- I'm sooo tired.

I'm going to share a bit from a little writing exercise I did a few years back. I was asked to take a few minutes to write down the most obvious stuff in my world. The following is what was obvious to me, at least in that moment.

The Obvious

Pumpkin pie spice
Warmth from a fire.
Bath time.
Story time.
Sleeping in on Saturday morning.
Hot sun on my back at the beach.
Plain vanilla ice cream and pound cake.
Sunsets, rain showers and sunlight in the fall.
Teenage daughters, sons.
Puppies, first bowls of Cheerios.
Realizing you have eyelashes.
Knowing eyelashes have a name.
Attics are filled with pink pillows.
Everyone is like their mother.
We all bleed.
Everyone suffers just as much.
Time does heal all wounds.

Perhaps my thoughts have sparked something about the obvious in you. I hope this inspires you to write. I hope you add the obvious to your stories. Seize the day.

A recent painting, I'm calling it "Moon".

And finally a quote:

Don't be too clever for an audience. Make it obvious. Make the subtleties obvious also. Billy Wilder

Friday, June 04, 2010

Wind for the Sails: Bethany Hegedus

I had the opportunity to go to a workshop with Bethany Hegedus . She is the author of BETWEEN US BAXTERS and upcoming TRUTH WITH A CAPITAL T, edits the children's section in Hunger Mountain: the VCFA journal of the arts, and is the Austin host of Her workshop was based around Francine Prose's book, READING LIKE A WRITER. Thank you, Bethany, and thank you also to Brazos Writers for hosting the event!

I will be honest now. I could not think of what to write about in the blog this week. I'm so tired from unpacking boxes, figuring out where the stores are, and finding good food for the table, and then working on my side job of reading on top of it all, and tossing in several hours of home schooling every day, and wedging in a family emergency, or two, ay, yi, yi, I am busy.

I keep pecking at my stories, but my creative ship has been becalmed. As Bethany moved us through a little exercise about our favorite movies and favorite books, and more, and then asked us to look for connections, I was baffled and then I began to see! I'm all about the underdog getting a day. I'm all about families figuring out a way to coexist in peace. I am about people taking care of each other. I am about putting together families from odd mixes of folks. I could feel the wind, and my sails began to billow out. The ship of my creative self began sailing again. As always, sometimes we need that surge of creative input to get moving through the deep waters of story.

Do something for yourself this week that will get your creative ship sailing. You know the stuff that moves you. Get off the beaten path. Mix it up. Get yourself in a place where the wind will hit your sails. See where it takes you. Seize the day. See you next week.

I have a photo today of pattypan squash, tomatoes, and green beans from my daddy's garden. I'm calling it: "Bounty", taken by talented daughter Jubilee Blaisdell.

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous... Thomas Merton