Friday, July 30, 2010

City of the Angels

Short post. I'm off hanging with peeps. I'm in Los Angeles for the Summer SCBWI International Conference. This is like the best of the best times. I want to hear, to learn, and to grow. They have really good fertilizer for this stuff. Yay!

And now I will prognosticate: There is a secret in the back of your head -- a thought, something crazy you want to do, something that will require some sacrifice, some complicated planning, do it! I have found that chasing after a dream is a good thing to work toward. It is good for everyone around you too. You can put that in the bank.

Ask yourself what is that secret something and start working toward it. Write about it on a piece a paper, tell a friend, start making plans. Don't be afraid. Peace on your journey, readers. Peace. Seize the day. See you next week.

Here is my doodle of the week: "Girl and Texas Hills"

Here is your quote for the week: We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. ~Lloyd Alexander

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Not Feeling It

Hi folks, today is a big secret day about stuff I depend on to write on a daily basis. Many days, I'm just not feeling it. No inspiration, no drive, nothing, nada, and my secret? I work anyway. Sometimes this can go on for days. I have found a odd grouping of things keeps me motivated that has nothing to do with actually writing books.

1. Walking. A long walk makes me loosen up and helps me discover the power within. It's always on mile three. When I get to mile three on my walk, I punch the air and jump up and down. I feel like I could hop to the moon.

2. Reading books. I read wide. I love so many genres, so many types of books. Some books are so bad I feel desperate to write something that will put something meaningful out there. Other books are so profound that I marvel that we can fly so far with our art, and I want to chase after that.

3. Conversation. A conversation opens up my creative self. It forms all kinds of new connections in brain. It makes me understand the forces within me, the stuff driving me to create. I'm back in storyteller land here in Texas, and I have to admit, it is wonderful. I always feel so satisfied after a good conversation.

4. Sky. I am back in big sky country and it feels like my whole soul is saying yay! It's like being reunited with a long lost friend. I've found my routine has fit in the sunsets and the sunrises as much as possible. I'm going to see the Perseids for sure this year. The expanse of the sky is a vast canvas that is like a living thing to me, full of intensity, beauty, and surprises.

5. Routine. Something about going through a routine works this magic within me. The repetitive tasks of making the bed, loading the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, etc. It's like you can trust these things to add together and fill you with a sense of order and purpose. When I string words, nouns and verbs together, I feel the power of routine and know that from these simple steps will come a reflection of the galaxies that spin overhead. I trust the process.

So this week, think about the strange alchemy that motivates you. Wake up and trust it. Let this mix of things help you on your journey to create fine arts to share with the generations. Seize the day. See you next week.

Here is the doodle of the week. "Sunrise behind a tree."

Quote of the week:

Novelists do not write as birds sing, by the push of nature. It is part of the job that there should be much routine and some daily stuff on the level of carpentry. William Golding

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Be Aware of the Great Battles

Today I want to focus on kindness. What is kindness to me? It's tenderhearted concern, to be sympathetic and understanding. I've been thinking about a Philo of Alexandria quote again: Be kind, for most everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. I think about this almost daily. It's important terms of story telling. I've learned to see that all my characters, the good (of course) and the bad (not as intuitive), are fighting great battles. As I turn my mind's eye toward concern and sympathy, my characters grow and expand. The cardboard cutouts disappear and multi-faceted jewels replace them.

This isn't the hero talk. Generally heroes are likable. Bad guys, not so much. I do think that the bad guys need the most kindness. If you don't try to understand what is motivating them, if you don't try to see the mosaic of good within their evil-slanted psyche, then they end up seeming fake, one note. It will weaken your story. So today, think about an antagonist in your story, what mercy could come his or her way? Why is the character bent on harm? What thorn is in his or her side to cause such pain? What good things do he or she want? Yes, the darker the character, the more difficult it is for the audience to understand. Cut in strands of light to make your darkest characters more human.

Hope this thought helps you as you move forward with creative works. Seize the day, folks.

I call this doodle, "Fire".

A quote for the week:

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.
Albert Camus

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sleep On It

This was an intense writing week for me. I had these three chapters that were driving me bonkers! I tried all kinds of stuff to make them work. All I want is my plot threads to be totally unified, to draw the reader in and keep them interested. Is that asking so much? Instead of moving forward, I kept muddying the water of the story. Instead, it really started getting wholly confusing. How annoying is that?

The plot tied in knots, so convoluted. I made changes that were bending the manuscript out of discern able shape. I'd have to write the whole thing again. Erk. I called my sister and explained to her all of it. How I had all these good dijointed, wonderful stuff -- great scenes, no glue. She laughed and told me to simplify. I threw up my hands and went to bed, grumbling.

When I woke up in the morning, and the fog was gone and I knew exactly what to do. Something about sleep helps unravel tangles of thought. So if you are backed into a corner in your work and are not sure how to proceed, find a friend and explain the ins and outs of the problem, not to solve it but get in the open so you can see it better. Then sleep on it. What happens in the morning? Things are clear. Yay!

Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes. Get things moving forward at a good pace. Seize the day.

This week's doodle is "A Pig Flies".

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.Irish Proverb

Friday, July 02, 2010


It's raining dingos, lions, and bathtubs here. I'm working through FINDING WATER: THE ART OF PERSEVERENCE by Julia Cameron. One thing I've learned in this book is the need for a weekly Artist's Date. This is a bit of time set aside for creative pursuits that will fuel your spirit.

I'm finding a lot of energy at the monthly BRYAN, TEXAS's FIRST FRIDAYs. Tonight I headed by the Brazos Glassworks and chatted with artisans there. Then I went to The Frame Gallery where the band plays rather awesome and soothing jazz. I took a chair at their wonderful art table, where they provide paints, palettes (paper plates) and paper (more paper plates :)).I paint whatever is in my head.

I will admit the table had a good mix of kids and grownups. The little girl next to me happily shared my paints. She declared that painting rainbows is the best, it's too difficult to paint an entire plate red, and that the color that goes with red best is white -- good to know. I also headed over to Must Be Heaven and had some Blackberry Chess Pie. Yum. Highly recommended. Pie is a total art form and I am deeply inspired by it.

So Happy Campers, go out this week and refuel. Find your perfect slice of pie, some dedicated artists to chat with, some tranquil tunes to soothe your spirit, a few paint brushes to splash paint on the paper. Whatever you do, open up your creative self. Seize the day.

I was definitely channeling Carroll here. My doodle on a paper plate, "Grinning Cat".
Sorry about the image quality 3D art and 2D scanner.

The quote for the week comes from Lewis Carroll's ALICE IN WONDERLAND:

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."