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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Passionate About Writing

This passion to write is nothing new; it isn’t a sudden gust of inspiration or a sprinkling of Muse kisses – it’s just the way I was made. I am an introvert with a mad drive to express myself, an active thinker with ideas that spin one another into new and unexpected shapes, a visionary who sees and hears layers upon layers of images and sounds, an enthusiast for words and the process of assembling them into both structured forms and chaotic storms. Because of these qualities, I am first and foremost a writer. I have always known these things about myself, but only began to claim the truth after establishing myself in a career, only to opt out of it in the name of “saving my sanity”.

I believe that ultimately we all have to answer to the passions that are uniquely ours – those passions that make you hear your own heartbeat, the passions that keep your blood pumping. We all know this as children, though we may not know how to name them when we are so young. We are dreamers in the teen years and proclaim this wisdom to “follow your heart” with loud aplomb. Some of us keep that mantra close to our living even in our early adulthood, but little by little, the passions get relegated to the category of “hobby”; they get squelched down into our hearts where voices are silenced. Somehow we think such passions are merely childish dreams. Some of us learn to function quite well with passions packed away in bone marrow. We learn to manage because it seems to be the “right thing to do”. We are afraid of looking straight on at those passions because we can’t bear to face the pain of acknowledging that we have allowed them to dwindle so.

But I couldn’t look away. Insanity rose in strong defense of the soul when I ignored my passion. The passion to write keeps gripping me, pulling me away from the center of the world and forcing me into my own seclusion where I am compelled to write, driven to write, desperate to write. Feeding this passion welcomes the Muse who brings gifts. I know this now because I made a dramatic escape from my career and plummeted into depression where I was once again reunited with my voice.

When I found my voice I found myself, and when I found myself, I became honest. Honesty made me whole; not complete, but whole.

After two years of solitude and full time writing (it wasn’t all freedom because I wrote for others in order to make money), I have returned to the career. I can feel the hairs on my head popping and turning gray for the days are far too stressful. The circumstances of career demand conformity to a world where the passions are viewed as frivolous and childish. The voice of Satan rumbles in my head with a steady rise in intensity like an on-coming train: your passion must die; your passion must die. It threatens to drown out the sound of my own voice – the sound of truth.

The right thing to do is to draw a line at the end of each day and leave the work of the career in its own container. The right thing to do is to “follow my heart” and declare that truth with loud aplomb! The right thing to do is to feel the wind beneath my wings and say YES! to the shower of kisses from my Muse!

And so it is that I honor the truth that I know is right for me: the right thing to do is to write.

WRITE


WRITE

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blogging Lesson – some techie stuff

Last night my blogging group met at fellow blogger Sandi Baron’s house with her personal techie guy, Jason, to learn more about computer tricks. We are writers, after all, we write. Period. Generally speaking, we don’t do techie stuff. None of us really knows, no care to know, how the mysterious mechanics of the cyber world work. We only know that it all works and that it is important to the success of our blogging endeavors. 

Oh, if only someone would take our words and feed them into the magical web of the internet stuff for us, we would be happy – oh, so happy!

But the truth is, we’ve got to do it ourselves. 

So we asked Jason for help …
… after a delicious dinner and several glasses of wine …

Jason, a tall, young, quiet man with a gentle spirit and a logical mind was truly brave as he worked with four older, A-type women with quirky visions and scattered brains. As he demonstrated how to use all those buttons on blogger’s dashboard on Sandi’s desktop computer, we sat behind him with our laptops and tried to follow along. Adding pictures, changing the design and layout, linking, and understanding the purpose and value of linking were some of our lessons.

A couple of hours later we smiled complacently behind glassy eyes and said “yes, yes, we understand”.
I’m glad it’s a weekend now because I hope to spend some time practicing what we learned. Only then will we really know if we understood or not.

Thank you, Sandi and Jason for the lessons!
                                                                           

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Art


This week I got two new painting done by local artist Phoebe Wantz, owner of a new gallery in town called Art and Soul.

I first saw the paintings in May of this year. It was one of those magical moments: I walked in and of all the paintings on the walls, those two jumped out at me and called my name. I had to have them! I made payments all through the summer and finally, this week, I could claim them.

The pictures are beautiful, whimsical, and fun. They describe elements of my own spirit. They now hang in my office adding to the creative essence of the space.

Two of my mantras, 1) support local artists; and 2) nurture the Creative Spirit, are made manifest by this purchase. Having these pictures is a validation of my own creativity. I have them because I spontaneously reacted to the authenticity of the Creative Spirit that lives in me.

The addition to my office d├ęcor is so much more than a choice of wall hangings: it is a growing pulse of self-knowledge, self-honoring, and self-confidence that I steadily gain by being true to who I am: 

I am a writer. 




Friday, October 15, 2010

Nurturing the Creative Spirit


Several of my friends are working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way online. One of the underlying themes in Cameron’s book is total emersion in art – all kinds of art. She also promotes what she calls “artist’s dates”. These are things you do to nurture the Creative Spirit. I worked through Cameron’s book more than 15 years ago and am still changed by several of her strategies and ideas. Allowing yourself to be open to inspiration and moved by the creative energies of others is indeed as basic and necessary to your own Creative Spirit as the act of creating. Since reading The Artist’s Way I have made it a point to seek art and opportunities to be in the midst of art and its creators. Sometimes it isn’t easy to make the effort to go out; it is often too easy to get caught up in the details and demands of regular life and to think of nurturing the soul as a “luxury”. Luxury activities usually get pushed to the bottom of the “to do” list. I’ve made a conscious decision to try and keep them at the top and even better, to make them a part of life and not something on a list of things I gotta do.

On the first Thursday of every month, our downtown shops and galleries stay open until 9:00 pm. This past Thursday I was really too tired to go to the “Art Walk” and could easily have just gone home to veg out alone in front of the TV. Fortunately my friend Sandi was already planning to take me so I had an extra boost to compliment my personal commitment to fostering the blessings of art in my life. She picked me up at work. I hopped into her car, tossed my shoes into the back seat and off we went.

Plates of hot brie, flaky cheese bread, gourmet dips and salsas made from ingredients grown by local organic farmers awaited us in the middle of one art gallery after another. The walls of each venue pulsated with creative energy from works made with metals, fibers, paints, and more. the streets were filled with student artists and their works, vendors of all kinds of wares, musicians, and even our friend Sherita was set up reading Tarot cards. Wine-tasting complimented hugs from old friends who in turn, introduced us to new friends.

When I lived in southern Kyushu in Japan, there was an outdoor public bathing place high in the mountains where my best friend, Kyoko and I loved to go with our children. The bathing pools were built into the side of the mountain so that as we sat in the steamy waters, we had a front row seat to God’s art show. At one end of the largest pool there was a waterfall. Oh how I loved to sit beneath it and feel the shower of the natural spring beat down on my head and blanket my whole being with cleansing renewal.

The first Thursday Art Walk was a comparable shower of the Creative Spirit – an energy that stimulates all the senses, beating down into the cerebral center and then penetrating into the soul.

We writers must court the arts in all aspects of our lives for this deliberate intention is what nurtures the soul and opens the gate to free the stores we were born to tell. 


Monday, October 11, 2010

Creating...

You are Worth the Time!
Please watch this because you ARE worth the time. I am thinking a lot about the act of creating these days and this absolutely fits that thought.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Facebook: Important Connections


I am still thinking about social media and its value for writers.

If you are already known by a broad audience, you can easily gain lots of followers (Twitter) or friends (Facebook). These are both fans and real life friends. They see what you post and are more likely to be proactive about it – they will read it first of all, and they will probably retweet it or repost it and talk about it in their own circles. This is a good example of free and good quality publicity. Patty Digh, author of 37 Days blog and Life is a Verb, with 1,700 friends is a great example. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I am willing to bet that they are significant. People read what she is doing on her facebook site and then they buy tickets for her presentations and lectures, they buy books, they write reviews, and they tell their friends. Such publicity has a life of its own – there is very little you need to do to make it work for you other than post and tweet.

But what if you aren’t already known by a broad audience? This situation requires a bit more work on your part, but it is just as possible to hone in on your key audience and build the right following. A great example of this is the barefooters. Nearly half my facebook friends are barefooters from around the world. I didn’t even actively seek them, but because barefooters long to know that they are not alone in this world, they have some incredible community-building skills. It all started with just a couple of barefoot friends. Their barefoot friends saw my comments on their facebook walls and friend-requested me. I accepted and left comments on my new friends’ walls and so the friends started collecting. Before long, I found myself with a significant following of barefooters.

Last week when I posted on this blog about barefooting, I simply posted a link to the Nitty Gritty on my facebook status. On that day alone I had more hits on the Nitty Gritty than I get on any average week!

So here is the point: translate that barefoot story to your own writing. Focus on the theme(s) of your writing and tap into the audience who wants to read that stuff. Although I wasn’t proactive in collecting the barefoot friends, I can certainly learn the lessons demonstrated by them. Seek friends and followers who fit into your niche and follow them. People will always look at their new followers and if they like what they see, they will share it. It’s like the old adage – jump on the bandwagon. If you mix with your intended audience and they like your stuff, it will snowball before your very eyes. Your message (i.e., your name and your writing) will show up in unexpected places beyond what you can imagine or manage all on your own.