Saturday, August 28, 2010

Will I?

Hello, friends, I hope you had a creative week. This week is a little nudge for your self talk. No one really likes being told what to do. I have found that I don't even like telling myself what to do. So I ask.

"Will you write to day? Will you write 2000 words? Will you keep trying?"

All that -- "you must, you have to, if you don't," I grow very weary at the heavy handed approach. I always disappoint myself. Coming up short, whoa, am I good at that. What I have learned is to guide myself gently forward.

I whisper, "Will you consider getting up and trying again? Tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it."

Mix in the positive and nix all that negative talk. It besets me. If I put it aside and ask, "Will I, today and now? Will I?" This opens me up, and I feel myself answering back, "I think I will."

So be kind and encouraging in your thoughts as you create your masterworks. Be open- minded instead of driven. This is for me the better way to create art. I hope this helps you in your journey. Seize the day.

This week's doodle is called : "Hope Within".

If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of them every time they come up.

— Deepak Chopra

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Hi, folks, whew, it's hot! We are way over the century mark here every day. Today I'm going to talk about unloading the stuff. One thing I have noticed is that if I'm not taking care of myself, my writing suffers. People are complex and need lots of care. Recognizing that is the first step.

For me, I have to keep the emotional shelf unloaded. This includes talking with friends and counselors, and writing honestly about my feelings. Emotional baggage means no work for me. I also have to keep the spiritual shelf unloaded. This plays out in a number of ways. I have to pray and also have to connect with art in multiple disciplines -- music, visuals, writing, dance, and whatever else comes my way. A lack of spiritual connection leaves me nervous and keeps the words from flowing.

I must keep the family shelf unloaded. I have to "mom" my kids and spend quality time with my spouse. I am a great believer in friendship and keep space in my life for that too. I also have to keep the physical shelf unloaded. This is doing the mundane of life: making the bed, washing the dishes, the clothes, sweeping. The basics of life better be happening or my heart get so weighted down I never get anything done.

Time has to be given to all these things. If daily I work to keep things unloaded then I find my writing is smooth and moves with power and purpose. If not, my writing frustrates me. My words jumble on the page and the work loses the spark that makes it worthwhile. So today work on unloading what you need to be successful. You might not be finishing that book because you are not giving yourself the chance to take care of your needs. You can't finish projects if you are not bringing yourself out of the high seas into to the calm waters of rest.

I hope you take this heart. Unload, then seize the day, seize the night, and create art for the ages.

This week's doodle is called "The Wise Old Owl".

This week quote is some good advice. There is a lot to do each day, turn this thought over and see if it helps.

We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.
John Newton.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Necessary => Possible=> Impossible

I hope that all is well. Dog days of summer. Whew, it's hot here, 100+ every day. I relish the slower pace of lazy summer days. I love the sunshine, the heat, watching the pears turn red.

Today, focus on the necessary. It will always grow into the possible. That grows some more and then over time great things come. I keep a mustard seed with me. I guess that's as close to a totem as I get. The seed is tiny, a speck, and it grounds me. I don't think that our creative force is random. I see it as a gift, but it is like a seed. You've got to water it. You've got to put fertilizer on it. You've got to make sure it gets plenty sun. Respect the spark of life within you today. A seed has got all the blueprints in it. It need to be nurtured.

It's taken me half my life to put it together that all the small moments are what make the big moments possible. Life is all about nurture. You must embrace commitment and let it lead you to action to truly see the growth that you are dreaming of. Be kind to yourself, nurture the creative spark within. Don't push it aside. Give it a chance to grow.

I hope you take this to heart and really let the good stuff grow in you. All that amazing stuff hovering on the inside of you, it really can do exactly what you think it can do. Respect that this week. Keep working. Seize the day.

Here is the doodle of the week: "Wind".

And the quote that got me thinking: Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you're doing the impossible. St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Society's Big Event

Hey, dear friends, I'm back from the City of the Angels. Thank you to the Society (after years of not knowing what to do with the big name of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, I have decided to just call us the Society, like the film folks call themselves the Academy.) Thank you to Lynn and Steve the Grand Poobahs of the Society. If you want to read about the Society's summer conference in great depth try The Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

I have a mega-load to cover today so please forgive a longer post.

I'm always nervous about conferences. Will I know anybody? Will I fit in? Will I make any new friends? Most groups have been a bad experience for me. I know what it is like to be an outsider and unwelcome. The Society is such a wonderful thing. I saw Jesse Watson, Richard Watson and Kevan Atteberry on the flight down, and they set the whole tone for me. I was hanging with my folks, my people, my peeps. Soon, I was chatting with Laurie Thompson, Chris Eboch, Chris Cheng (the Society's member of the year and one of my co-authors of THE FOUR WINDS, our novel in four voices), Gail Carson Levine, Verla Kay, Sue Ford, Marion Holland, my roomie Melody DeLeon, blog friends: Michelle Griskey and Molly Hall(rising stars in the Society in my opinion). I made some new connections: Illustrators -- Shane Watson, Dan Santat and Joey Spiotto. Writers -- Jenn K and all the Houston and the Austin Society folks. I think I wore some of these folks out, hugging their necks so much. In the Society, I'm with a family I'm not born to, but belong to anyway. I can't help hugging them. It's a great gift to be a part of them and it makes me feel like one of the most blessed people ever.

One of the big draws to this conference for me was the chance to really hear some of the genius that is Tobin Anderson. I'm going to focus on his talks in this post because there is no way to cover this whole conference. I'm also to gush a bit about him some. I have dreamed of meeting M.T. Anderson for a long time. I've read a number of his books: FEED, The OCTAVIAN NOTHING series, WHALES ON STILTS, BURGER WUSS and THE GAME OF SUNKEN PLACES. I did go up and say hi. I'm sure I was just a face in the sea of faces, but it was the best moment on my part.

In one session, when Mr. Anderson brought up THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK written by Jon Stone and illustrated by Michael Smollen, two fat tears trickled down my cheeks. I'm a blue collar girl who depended on the public library, my school library, and the wonder of what I call affordable books (mass market) as my connection to great literature as child. THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK was a big favorite of mine and in a magical way made me feel like Grover was a personal buddy with all the same neurotic fears that I have. I was glad to hear such a world-renowed author recoginizing the genius of this book without an ounce of literary snobbery. A good book is a good book regardless of how it happens. Sometimes people seem to get too caught up in the shiny jacket, the weight of the paper, and the price point, and forget the content. I'm all about the content.

I offer two fiery ideas shared by Tobin in a session. First, ask yourself dangerous questions. Stop being so safe and contained in your stories. Shake it up. What are you avoiding in your work because it so freaking dangerous? And second, don't be afraid of your own weirdness. This hits home for me. I'm practically Piglet with all my worry. Yes, I have watched every episode of every Star Trek series and every episode of Dr. Who. I do not understand anyone's obsession with sports, any sport. I can always understand animals, people not so much. I am terrified of dentists, losing my glasses and keys, and being considered inconsequential as an artist. I'm afraid if anyone knows this stuff, that I will never get a shot at my dreams.

Thank you, Mr. Anderson for sharing a little bit of your Genius with the Society.

This is a great conference. Marion Dane Bauer and E. B.Lewis made me bawl. The cathartic release of pent up emotion is always a gift. I appreciated the honest stories of their works. Gail Carson Levine, Gennifer Choldenko, and Paul Fleischman all offered expansive writing advice. Michael Reisman made me think that Hollywood was not quite such a bad place. I cannot begin to express the full value of the Society's International Conferences. My advice, start saving your pennies and get to one.

I hope something here gives you a little boost. Seize the day! My son has asked me to include this: Carpe Noctem! Seize the night! (In case you are a night owl. :)!)

Here is a doodle from my conference notebook. It's the Grand Poobahs from several different children's publishing houses. They were all so happy. I was proud to be a part of such a kind and meaningful industry.

Next, I love a great conversation. Here I am with Chris Eboch and Gail Carson Levine having just such a conversation.

I'm shifting gears here at the end for big SHOUTOUTS! Want a good book to read? Two book trailers came out this week from two of my dearest writing friends.

First from Holly Cupala -- the TELL ME A SECRET trailer with a big nod to Paul Michael Gordon who created the trailer.

Next, from Conrad Wesselhoeft -- the ADIOS, NIRVANA trailer.

Last is my quote for the week:

If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I'll always be with you.
Winnie the Pooh aka A.A. Milne.