One of the things that gives me hope in humankind is arriving at the gym at 6 in the morning and seeing the parking lot full. If that many people can get up before dawn to sweat, the human race can't be all that bad.
As I was e-chatting with the incomparable Tine via e-mail, I realized I haven't been totally upfront on my blog. I write a great deal about my creative endeavors -- my paper arts, my knitting, my kids (and boy, are they a creative endeavor!). But what I haven't written about at all is one of the things that is closest to who I am as a person -- and that's my role as a writer.
Using the word "role" doesn't even feel right because I don't even feel that it's a role -- something I can take on and take off. It's something I AM, all the time. It's the lens through which I view the world, an innate part of me.
So here's a bit about my writing and my writing dreams, just so you can know me better.
I've been a writer since birth, practically. I have always been a huge reader, and been drawn to writing as well. The short story: I became a freelance journalist about 8 years ago, and have earned my living (more in some times and less in others, depending on the season and the needs of my kids) through my words. I've written well over 1000 articles on topics ranging from spas and swimming pools to the nuts and bolts of websites and online commerce. For many years, I specialized in high-tech, particularly in online marketing. And when the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, I lost many of my high-tech clients as magazine after magazine went belly-up (some of these still owe me money!!!).
All this time, I really wanted to write fiction. I started and stopped a book or two, sold a short story, and began writing my true love -- mystery. After two long years (and a couple of kids) I finished the first book in what I hope will be a series, and began the editing process. And began the process of looking for an agent.
Finding an agent is harder than finding a single, attractive, heterosexual male who dresses nicely in San Francisco. Or so I hear. I won't get into the details of the agent hunt here (I'll save that for later) but I will say that my book is now being reviewed by four agents who hopefully will find something redeeming in it.
My goal is to become a best-selling mystery series author, a la Diane Mott Davidson and Earlene Fowler, two of my favorites. I feel like I'm doing my part, but I also wonder if that goal -- one I've held so long -- is really what I am supposed to be doing with my life. I keep feeling the need to do something more, to create in new and different ways. Thus the paper arts and the knitting and my blog.
I don't have a great ending to this story except to say I'm in the process of discovering.
Aren't we all???
This week's Studio Friday is here! And the topic is...
I suggested this to Tine as a way that we could play in our studios. Sometimes our own notions and concepts of who we are and what we "do" and "don't do" can be overwhelming -- and limiting. So to get outside those boundaries, why not pretend we're someone or something else? Younger, older, richer, freer, smarter, dumber, whatever.
For the past two months I've been amassing an astonishing array of paper crafting materials and books, but I haven't done much "out of the box" with them. In conversation with my awesome and wise friend Jennifer, I discovered that a lot of my hesitation to use these materials is my ongoing battle with perfectionism. Since I'm new at this paper arts stuff, the key to getting perfect is to get all the goods. If I have all the "stuff" that a paper artist needs, then I can do it RIGHT. And you know as well as I do that I can never have all the stuff, so it's a safe way of putting off actually getting my hands dirty and creating. Instead I make yet another trip to Michael's or University Art and buy yet another magazine or pile of raw materials. Then I store them away, thinking that I will use them when I know I can do so PERFECTLY (which means NEVER).
So yesterday after I got off the phone with Jennifer, I went straight to my studio, sat down and started creating this collage. I did not stop to think if I was doing it "right," or even to think about if what I was doing made sense. Instead I relied totally on gut feel. I pretended I knew what I was doing, and I pretended that I was a "real" artist, the kind who never has to worry if what she's doing is any good. It was definitely freeing. I could just create and not have to worry about outcome -- because I knew it would be good, 'cause that's the kind of artist I was pretending to be.
So here's what came of it:
Thanks, Tine, for letting me play! I think I'll be pretending a lot more in the future.
Happy Monday! It's Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., and it's 78 degrees here in Los Gatos. Wow! While I'm not complaining too much about the weather, I do wish it would cool down just a skoosh for the holidays.
All sorts of fun things to report. First, I've started a festive holiday project from Holiday Knits. It's a present for someone, so if your initials are HBD, AKA Feather, don't click on this link! Otherwise, you're good to go.
Quote of the day: "It's not looking into the future and worrying about it that helps us grown in faith; and certainly trying to control the future, to make it safe and predictable, is the very opposite of faith. Instead, we grow into faith by examining the trace of God in our experience, seeing how wonderfully well our Creator can MacGyver, if we give God the chance to get creative instead of trying to run the whole thing ourselves down to the last jot and tittle." This is from Molly Wolf's excellent book, "A Place Like Any Other." It's full of essays musing on the everyday and the spiritual and the intersection between the two.
I think this quote appealed to me for two reasons. First, I have decided (discovered?) that one of my life lessons both to teach and to learn is FAITH. It's my watch word these days, so whenever someone starts talking about faith, particularly in an innovative, thought-provoking way, I sit up and listen.
Second, the reference to MacGyver reminded me of one of my favorite new projects -- Studio Friday! Just a few weeks ago, the theme was "MacGyver," or created/invented tools. Such a coinkidink!
Next announcement: I'm still accepting players for our Circle Journal -- What's In a Name. We'll be starting in January, so if you think you might want to take part, drop me a line!
What else? What else??? Going to the ortho today. Wanna get these railroad tracks off my teeth before Christmas. What a present would that be!
Tell me what you want for Christmas -- and don't be shy!
It's STUDIO FRIDAY! And today's theme is Sweetness. Maybe this entry should have gone under "secrets," but it certainly fits here, too... That's not the best photo in the world, but it's definitely a glimpse of what goes on in that studio o' mine!
What is that hidden back there, behind the calendar, on the back of the top shelf? Could it be... CANDY CORN??!!!! Yes, it is!
And why is it squirreled away, safe from seeking hands, sticky little fingers, and judgmental eyes? I'll let you figure that one out for yourself. :)
Mid-week update... it's been crazy as John's been in Japan and is now on his way to Kuala Lumpur. Readers of this blog will know exactly how I feel about his traveling. He could redeem himself if he brought me Habu from Japan, but NOooo!
I've been staying up too late and trying to fit in the fun stuff around the edges of the work. (Just in case my editor is reading this, of COURSE I consider writing for Selling Power to be fun!!!). I actually really do enjoy my work, but my deadlines always seem to hit when there are fourteen other big things going on. Ah, well...
I just finished creating my first ever rubber stamp for a swap through Moki's blog. I carved a coffee mug (complete with steam!). It came out surprisingly well, and it didn't take nearly as long as I anticipated. I had purchased all this special kee-rap from University Art -- a block of rubber, a Speedball carving knife, a block of linoleum -- and then ended up making the thing out of Ben's old Pink Pearl rubber eraser and my X-acto knife! I stuck it on one of my lucite blocks with rubber cement and stamped away. Of course, I forgot to take a darned picture of my stationery and tags before I sealed 'em up! Durn it all anyway. I'll take some more photos when I stamp some more. All in all, I was really impressed with myself for taking on a new challenge. Swaps are great that way -- once I'm committed to someone else, I have to come through, no excuses.
One thing I'm realizing as I do more and more art and creating is how stingy and miserly I've been. I like to collect things, and I like to have things -- and I don't much like to use them. I squirrel them away, fearing that if I use the item now -- whether it be a pad of paper, new glitter, a fancy bath gel -- then I may regret it later when it's all gone! I am sure this is a function of my perfectionism. I'm waiting for the "perfect" time. But the thing is, there IS NO PERFECT TIME. And if a "better" occasion comes along, well, geez, I could buy more! What a concept!
So I'm urging myself to use my possessions. To give away my books. To let go of things. I read a great quote the other day: Hearses don't pull U-Hauls. In other words, you can't take it with you. So use it now, before it's too late. And you know what? It's fun.
In a few short hours I'm teaching my first paper arts class at Picture Passion! We're doing a perpetual birthday calendar, which you can see here. Of course, it looks better in person -- this pic is a little blurry. I've been running around like crazy making sure I have all my ducks in a row, and that I'm all prepped. I'm sure I forgot something, but hey -- we'll make do.
Thanks to all my pals -- Deb, Mindy, Lauren, Darlene -- who are attending or who ordered kits to support me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Many of these gals are non-scrappers, so it means even more to me that they're coming out.
I'll report on all the fun and excitement we had soon!
But before that... the kids and I are running a 5K turkey trot this AM. I'll be pushing the stroller, so my time is going to be lousy (That's my excuse, anyway!).
Happy Turkey Month!
Hey all you dudes and dudettes! It's STUDIO FRIDAY! And today's topic is "All Things Round." So what do we have here?
And what is this, you might ask? Well, I'll tell you...it's a round journal all set for embellishment from 7 Gypsies. I want to make it into my first circle journal. I've never done one before and I'm not even positive of the protocol, but I think I choose a topic and then send it to a bunch of people and everyone does a page. Then we look at it and say, "Ahh!" Sounds like fun to me!
So, who wants to play with me? The topic will be simple -- your name. A one-page spread on your name.
All in favor, say "I!"
Anyone? Anyone???? (First come, first served... let's explore and create together!)
For the past few months I've been collecting odds and ends of websites, podcasts, and other resources that I've found intriguing or inspiring. I wanted to share them with you here:
-The Goddess Factory. Abiola Abrams is one awesome woman! With information on living true to your soul, creating a larger life, and dancing like no one is watching. Weekly podcast that'll get the lead out!
-Crafty Chica. Cathy Cano Murillo does it with style -- and glitter! An artist, teacher, author, and all-around awesome crafty mentor, Cathy will make you grab that glue gun and glitter and get crafty!
-Knitter's Review. The best knitting community I've found online. Lots of fun, advice, and camraderie, and a regular newsletter from the incomparable Clara.
-52 Projects. A book by Jeffrey Yamaguchi that will help you celebrate your everyday creativity. I don't have this book yet, but it's on my wish list!
-Cloth Paper Scissors. My new favorite magazine on paper crafts and collage art.
-Above the Mark. Online site for unmounted rubber stamps.
-DaFont. Free fonts in every style.
-Papier Valise. Cool stuff.
Enjoy -- and feel free to send me some of your favorites, too!
I've been thinking some random thoughts, so I thought I'd jot them down here.
I feel change coming in my life. I'm not really a new age-y spacey type, and I consider myself pretty well grounded in the here-and-now. But I've read a few Shirley Maclaine books, and I'm not so sure that some of the ideas of the metaphysical don't have some basis in reality. That said, when I found out that numerologically speaking I'm a strong 9, I kind of bought into the idea that my life goes in nine-year cycles. When I look over my past decades, I do see patterns of behaviors and challenges that track to the nine-year cycles. So it is with excitment and more than a slight sense of apprehension that I usher in the next period of my life.
I feel like there's something inside me that needs to come out (hopefully not another 8-1/2-lb. baby, but never say never!). I feel the need to create, and to create BIG, and in ways that I haven't before. I have found myself buying numerous books on art journals and collage, and I am turning towards the unexpected.
For many years I considered myself quite mainstream. I always thought that I'd be a vice president in a financial company or something like that. I had resigned myself to a life of a corporate droid -- albeit, a successful corporate droid, sporting blue pumps and two-piece suits from Ann Taylor.
And then I met my husband, who convinced me that I had always been a writer and should just admit it and get on with my life. So I did.
Fast-forward to the end of 2005. I've now written one complete novel and am working (sporadically) on my next. I have several agents looking at my work, and hopefully one or more will be interested in representing my work. Writing mystery novels is a kick in the pants, something I truly love and can see myself doing for a long time...
There's something more in me. Something colorful and fun and joyful and downright silly at times. Something that wants to be expressed in oil pastels, scraps of paper, and vintage stamps from Zimbabwe. There's something in me that keeps me up late at night looking at sites like this one for a dada journal, and this one for art journal classes, and blogs like Crafty Chica, Wish Jar Journal, Tracy Roos', and Goucho Girl's. I want something that it seems that they have -- maybe it's lives that are created around their creativity, instead of having their artistic endeavors relegated to a sideline position.
There's really nothing keeping me from this, only my own limitations. I tell myself I'm too old, too boring, too busy, too untalented, too scared to do more with my life. (I know the only one of those that's true is the "too scared" one). But though I recognize the limits I place on myself, I don't seem to be able to break out of this mindset.
So I keep buying scrapbook and paper arts magazines, and using my talents and creative energies to do the posters for my son's world faire celebration and to write our Christmas letter and design our cards. And I guess that's okay. Maybe I'm starting slowly. But maybe what I need is a good kick in the pants.
How do I get there from here?????