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1. The Darkness We Need To Make Visible - Lucy Coats




The sad suicide of Robin Williams last week has sparked another 'conversation' in the press and on social media about mental illness - and more particularly about the link between creativity and depression. 

I think this 'conversation' - and the dispelling of ignorance and myths about these conditions by those of us who are sufferers speaking out honestly - is very important indeed. It is, if you like, the inner and unseen darkness we need to make visible, which is why I have written before, both here and elsewhere, about my own battles with the Beast of chronic depression and how, in some of those darker moments, I turn to writing poetry as a way to battle the demons. Externalising them on paper is, for me at least, a way of dispersing some of their power over me. 

Sometimes, though, when the despair becomes a deep physical paralysis, even the act of writing a single word seems impossible, and it at those times that the 'world would be better off without me' thoughts creep in. To the 'well brain' this is inexplicable - but the 'well brain' of a depressive is not always in charge. That is what the people who accuse Williams of 'selfishness' need to understand. Suicide, where mental illness is concerned, is not a choice. It is the last, most desperate act of a despairing brain which just wants the demons to stop eating it.


When I was first officially diagnosed with depression, I had a deep need to find a way to understand it which avoided medical jargon (to which I am deeply allergic). Being a writer, I turned to other writers to see what their experiences were - and how they had coped. The first name which came up was William Styron, whose book, 'Darkness Visible', about his own journey through depression became my manual. The title comes from Milton's 'Paradise Lost'
'No light, but rather darkness visible served only to discover sights of woe'
Writing is, for the most part, a solitary profession. In my case, I mostly sit in a room, on my own, making stuff up and setting the visions that churn around in my head down on a screen. It is hardly surprising that, living as I do in a daily creative world where evil Egyptian crocodile deities demand human sacrifices, immortal beasts battle horrid heroes and skeleton dragons with flaming red eyes menace innocent children, my own mind should sometimes rise up against me.  

Every writer, whether with depression or without, will know that little nagging head voice which tells us that what we do is unutterably useless and pointless. Styron describes his thought processes 'being engulfed by a toxic and unnameable tide that obliterated any enjoyable response to the living world.' Reading those words was, for me, a recognition akin to a light being turned on in a dark room. When I first read Styron's book I did what I never do (being a respecter of the sanctity of the printed page). I underlined and made comments and wrote 'YES!!' in large capitals in many places. I have scribbled a lot more on it since. I felt as if, finally, I had found a fellow wanderer in an empty desert who could describe not only what and how I was feeling, but also do it in words simple and direct enough that others--those 'healthy people' on the outside of this condition--might be able to understand too. When Styron speaks of the 'weather of depression', I understand precisely what he means. For him its light is a 'brownout', for me a greyish fog impossible to see anything in except blurred shapes and outlines.

It's hard for me to describe how strengthening and comforting it felt to read something which made sense of my own experience, and which reminded me gently of how many other writers have been in the depths of the pit too. Shakespeare certainly understood it - how else would he have written Hamlet? Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Camus, Manley Hopkins, Beethoven, Van Gogh - these and so many more were troubled by the Beast, so I am in hallowed company when I travel through Dante's 'dark wood'. 

For now, I am in a stable place, where it is possible to 'riveder le stelle' - to 'behold the stars once more.'. But when the Beast visits again (as it inevitably will, because that is its nature) I will try to remind myself that I am not alone. 

Captain Beastlie's Pirate Party is now out from Nosy Crow!
"What right-minded child could resist his allure?" Books for Keeps
Lucy's brand new Website and blog
Follow Lucy on Facebook 
Follow Lucy on Twitter
Lucy is represented by Sophie Hicks at The Sophie Hicks Agency

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2. How to develop your own style?

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Whether you’re an inky illustrator, a passionate painter, daring doodler, pro photographer or more finding that one of a kind style to be known for can sometimes seem a tad tricky to find. No doubt I’m not alone when I say that we can sometimes find ourselves gazing in amazement at the many other creative people in our field and think to ourselves “how am I going to get where they are”.  There may be a creative in particular whom you find yourself admiring both for their style and success acquired because they’re so individual, niche and unique at what they do. So your next head scratching question maybe “how can I develop my own style?” and develop it in a way that is going to make you different to all the other talented creative people in the world, because you yourself are one of a kind and have your own creative imagination to share. Well to answer your question here’s a few points I came up with to think about that may just help you creatively along the way;

  • Know that your style is forever developing and changing along the way

 

  • Your style will have characteristics, textures and a uniqueness of its own so don’t be to concern that it’s nothing like the next guy’s because originality is important

 

  • Discovering your own taste and stick to those tastes this can be anything from techniques to materials or the subject’s you draw, but don’t be afraid to explore beyond that ( don’t get scared to go out of your comfort zone).

 

  • Your style will reflect the kind of work you may want to be commission for, for example do you have a love for the human form, creating portraits of little characters or maybe alternatively you prefer to create sophisticated patterns with lots of colour.

Deep down your style is there you just need to create more to see it and then you can share it with others. Image by designer Lindsay Letters you can find out more about their work here.

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3. Steal Like an Artist

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative Austin Kleon

Who ever had this one checked out before me left a some sticky arrows in the front cover, which was good, because I ended up using them.

This book is a short read--lots of graphics, fun typography, and white space, with some good advice about how to be creative and make your art.

Kleon’s basic point is that nothing is new anymore, so steal inspiration from things you enjoy. As he reminds us, even the Beatles started as a cover band. Also, if you steal from 1 person, that’s plagiarism. Stealing from many is research.

He tells the reader to think about the flaws you see in your favorite artists work--what could have been done differently? If they were still alive, what would they make today? If your 5 favorite artists got together and made something, what would it be? And then he tells us to go make those things.

I also like that he tells us to give our secrets away. Part of it is building a name for yourself, but he also reminds us that Martha Stewart built an empire on telling the world how she does stuff.

It was a great read and well-designed, with a lot of advice and inspiration on how to go out and make art. I really loved it and now I need my own copy to mark up and reread on a regular basis.

Book Provided by... my local library

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4. Typographer & Font Designer Drew Melton

Ok, I’ll save you the spiel about how deeply I’ve fallen in love with typography and lettering, as that should be fairly obvious by now. Drew Melton‘s work essentially speaks for itself. His deeply expressive fonts and lettering demonstrate the importance of hand-drawing into the design process. Even in the sharpest, finalized versions of his work, you’ll a spontaneity that’s unmistakably fun and energetic.

Drew is an L.A.-based graphic designer and typographer who’s worked with clients like McCann, Nike, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Penguin Books. He’s had quite the interesting journey to success in the lettering realm, some of which is marked by serious self-reflection and the ability to remain humble.

One of the things that hurled him into the design spotlight was his Phraseology project, started with a few other designers and developers in 2011. Very similar to Erik Marinovich’sFriends of Type blog, Phraseology offers the public a chance to submit any word or phrase to be designed by members of the team. Soon enough, Drew was being commissioned for some big-time typography work by notable clients.

Unfortunately, with that exciting attention also came some consequences. As much as I admire Drew’s hand at lettering, I might be even more enamored with his grace and honesty about his past mistakes.

In January 2013, Drew bravely posted a public apology on his blog to several typographic designers, including Jessica Hische, Jon Contino, Dana Tanamachi, and Darren Booth, for drawing inspiration from their styles in ways that were not entirely “okay.” He spoke openly about his guilt and sadness at realizing that his creative process had been built too closely upon the examples of his heroes, and that his heroes were now upset with him.

The topic of creative originality is probably one of the most sensitive. It’s something that is constantly under debate and argued by strong opinions. I’m a strong believer that nothing is purely unique, especially in this day and age. It’s the nature of craft and evolution to build upon an existing idea. But in an age when visual information is so widely accessible, when an illustrator or designer can essentially educate themselves by opening their web browser–it’s up to the creative to draw the line between inspiration and imitation.

It’s a testament to Drew’s work ethic and passion for the art of typography that he was still able to gain success after this admission. Even while he struggled to define his style in the beginnings of his career, it’s clear that he’s succeeded.

Drew is now focusing on font development in addition to personal design and typography. Some of my favorite fonts of his are LastraHandsome, and Magnifique.

I highly recommend Drew’s interview with the Australian Graphic Supply Company (a previous Art Crush feature), as well as his feature (along with this wife, stylist and co-creative Kelsey Zahn) on Rverie. Follow along with Drew here:

Website Blog Twitter Dribbble

 

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5. Making the most of your sketchbooks

Elizabeth Caldwell

Being creatives we all get lost in the blank pages of our oh so faithful sketchbooks, before putting pen to paper we’re filled with anticipation of the ideas we have within our creative minds that are yet to spill across our page.  As they begin to fill with endless inky pieces of potential and piles of scribbled sketchbooks are formed over time they can often become lost sat within a draw of your studio out of sight. Although sometimes it’s breaking out those old books that can help you creatively in ways you don’t always quite realise. So here are a few reasons to brush the dust off your sketchbooks and reminisce a little in past potential you’ve made.

 

  1. They’re proof of how far you’ve come: Your sketchbooks are filled with your thoughts and scribbles and it’s these that also make them memories of your creative growth.  You might one day find yourself thinking “My illustration/design/painting/photography isn’t quite as detailed or good as these creatives” and sometimes we take for granted just how far we have come on our creative journey.  So look back on your own childhood, high school, college or university sketchbooks and see just how far you’ve come, just how hard you’ve worked and you may even surprise yourself with how talented you really are. In turn this is sure to boost your belief in yourself and blow your little inner critic away.

 

  1. Fruits for new inspiration : If at times you’re feeling lost for ideas or aren’t quite sure where to find your inspiration for a new and exciting project then flipping through the pages of your sketchbook might just help you find it. Sometimes we can forget where we found our fruit for ideas but in that little sketchbook may be a scribbled motif that can help you grow a collection of beautiful patterns, illustration for a book, painting and much more. Recycle your old ideas and make them into something amazing and new because your style and skills are forever growing it’s sure to look different than it did before.

 

  1. Rediscover old techniques:  I remember during college days we were encouraged to experiment as much as we could with a vast array of arty materials and techniques to expand on the potential of what we create. Combining watercolours, print making or markers with ink might have helped you to create a beautifully detailed project or give you a texture or effect you’re looking for. It’s little things like these that may just be the finishing element needed for an upcoming project or simply for you to try something a little different.

 

So it just goes to show how good your sketchbooks can be after all and gives you an even better reason to treasure them and not throw them away. Image by designer illustration  Elizabeth Caldwell you can find out more about her work here .

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6. Michael Jackson, 10,000 hours, and the roots of creative genius

By Arturo Hernandez


That any person could become an expert in something if they simply spend about 3 hours per day for ten years learning it is an appealing concept. This idea, first championed by Ericsson and brought to prominence by Gladwell, has now taken root in the popular media. It attempts to discuss these differences in terms of the environment. The idea is that practice with the purpose of constantly gathering feedback and improving can lead any person to become an expert. If becoming an expert requires 10,000 hours, does a prodigy need 20,000.

Lets consider, Michael Jackson, as an example of a prodigy. He grew up in a musical family in Gary, Indiana just outside Chicago. His father Joe played in an R&B band. All of his siblings played music in one way or another. Unlike his siblings and father, Jackson did not really play any instruments. However, he would compose songs in his head using his voice. One morning he came in and had written a song which eventually became ‘Beat It’. In the studio, he would sing each of the different parts including the various instruments. Then the producers and artists in the studio would work on putting the song together, following his arrangements.

Work in cognitive neuroscience has begun to shed light on the brain systems involved in creativity as being linked to psychometric IQ. Work by Neubauer and Fink suggests that these two different types of abilities, psychometric IQ and expertise, involve differential activity in the frontal and parietal lobes. They also appear for different types of tasks. In one study, taxi drivers were split into a high and low group depending on their performance on a paper and pencil IQ test. The results showed that both groups did equally well on familiar routes. The differences appeared between groups when they were compared on unfamiliar routes. In this condition, those with high IQs outperformed those with low IQ. So expertise can develop but the flexibility to handle new situations and improvise requires more than just practice.

Reports of Michael Jackson’s IQ are unreliable. However, he is purported to have had over 10,000 books in his reading collection and to have been an avid reader. His interviews reveal a person who was very eloquent and well spoken. And clearly he was able to integrate various different types of strands of music into interesting novel blends. If we were to lay this out across time, we have perhaps the roots of early genius. It is a person who has an unusual amount of exposure in a domain that starts at an early age. This would lead to the ability to play music very well.

Michael_Jackson_with_the_Reagans

Jackson came from a family filled with many successful musicians. Many were successful as recording artists. Perhaps Michael started earlier than his siblings. One conclusion we can draw from this natural experiment is that creative genius requires more than 10,000 hours. In the case of Michael Jackson, he read profusely and had very rich life experiences. He tried to meld these experiences into a blended musical genre that is uniquely his and yet distinctly resonant with known musical styles.

The kind of creativity is not restricted to prodigies like Michael Jackson. Language, our ultimate achievement as a human race, is something that no other animal species on this planet shares with us. The seeds of language exist all over the animal kingdom. There are birds that can use syntax to create elaborate songs. Chinchillas can recognize basic human speech. Higher primates can develop extensive vocabularies and use relatively sophisticated language. But only one species was able to take all of these various pieces and combine them into a much richer whole. Every human is born with the potential to develop much larger frontal lobes which interconnect with attention, motor, and sensory areas of the brain. It is in these enlarged cortical areas that we can see the roots of creative genius. So while 10,000 hours will create efficiency within restricted areas of the brain, only the use of more general purpose brain areas serve to develop true creativity.

Arturo Hernandez is currently Professor of Psychology and Director of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Houston. He is the author of The Bilingual Brain. His major research interest is in the neural underpinnings of bilingual language processing and second language acquisition in children and adults. He has used a variety of neuroimaging methods as well as behavioral techniques to investigate these phenomena which have been published in a number of peer reviewed journal articles. His research is currently funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development. You can follow him on Twitter @DrAEHernandez. Read his previous blog posts.
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Image credit: Michael Jackson with the Reagans, by White House Photo Office. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Michael Jackson, 10,000 hours, and the roots of creative genius appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Bill Watterson on life and creativity


I make no secret of my incredible affection for Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, who on the whole is a pretty reclusive author, but when he speaks he makes it count.

So two great links to share. In the first, Fast Company pulled four great principles on creativity from his interviews in the movie Stripped.

And in the second, Slate reprinted the cartoon blog Zen Pencil's cartoon rendering of part of Bill Watterson's commencement speech at Kenyon College about creating a life that's in tune with your values.

Just about everything I've learned in life seems like it came from Calvin and Hobbes, from the power of imagination to our powerlessness on some days when even lucky rocketship underpants can't help. Bill Watterson is a national treasure.

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8. #622 – Eddie and Dog by Alison Brown

9781623701147.

Eddie and Dog

written and illustrated by Alison Brown

Capstone Young Readers      2/01/2014

978-1-62370-114-7

Age 4 ro 8      32 pages

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“Eddie is looking for a friend—a friend who likes adventure. Then Eddie meets Dog. And the fun begins. This wonderful story, with stunning artwork celebrates the excitement of a beautiful relationship.”

Opening

“Eddie dreamed of adventure.

“He imagined flying off to far-off places and doing amazing things. Then one day . . . “

Review

Eddie found Dog. No, wait, Dog found Eddie.

Eddie is at the airport, dreaming of adventures, when he sees Dog in a pet carrier, which Dog opens with his paw. (Dogs can get out of anything.) Dog wants a life of adventure and must see the same in Eddie. Dog asks Eddie if he would like to play. This is the beginning of a unique friendship and a lovely picture book. Eddie and Dog is one of my favorite picture books this year.

What fun the two enjoy together. Their adventures are loaded with suspense, intrigue, and some silliness for good measure. The two hunt crocodiles, sail the seven seas—I’m thinking in alphabetical order—build a grand fort, and traipse through lush jungles. That was day one.

1

When Eddie introduced his new best friend to his mother, she said Dog could not stay—the yard is too small.  Poor Dog. Poor Eddie. Eddie keeps thinking about Dog and it is a good bet that Dog thinks a lot about Eddie. The next day, Dog returns to Eddie. Mom stands her ground. Dog needs a bigger yard and a better home. Mom’s imagination and creativity has taken back seat t her larger practical side. She can’t see the blossoming relationship between Eddie and Dog or how important it is to the new friends. Instead of working with the yard, she instantly says it is too small.

Dog is trying as hard as he can to keep his friendship with Eddie alive. Good friendships should never die—they are too hard to cultivate. But Eddie’s mom is consistently saying no to a dog. Do dogs make her nose sneeze and her eyes cry? Maybe mom really is concerned with Dog’s happiness. Hm, I wonder what will happen next.

2

I love Eddie and Dog. They must belong together else, Dog would not make such grand gestures, would he? Dogs do love unconditionally. And Dog is a dog. You cannot beat logic. Eddie and Dog belong together. I bet Dog keeps trying until Eddie’s mom runs out of excuses and places for Dog to go.

The story is well-paced and the illustrations hit the mark on each and every page.The final spread is my favorite illustration. Eddie sits behind Dog as Dog flies his shiny red propeller plane to their next awesome adventure.. Dog is a cute, cuddly canine. He is the perfect size for Eddie. Dog loves adventures, just as Eddie wanted! The ending has an unexpected twist that I love. Dog can accomplish many fantabulous things in a short amount of time.

sea

Children will love Eddie and Dog. They will be sad when Eddie is sent away, but after the first return—a wonderful twist—kids will keep smiling even when mom sends Eddie off several more times. Sometimes knowing the punch line can be fun. Kids will love Eddie and Dog, even to the point of wanting their own Dog (sorry Eddie). Parents can take heart. Eddie and Dog is an easy and fun read with moments needing sound effects only a parent can provide. Will Eddie and Dog become your child’s favorite book? Quit possibly so, at least until the next edition of an Eddie and Dog adventure hit bookstores. Enjoy!

EDDIE AND DOG. Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 by Alison Brown. Reproduced by permission of the US publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Eddie and Dog at AmazonB&NCapstone Young Readersyour favorite bookstore.

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Learn more about Eddie and Dog HERE.

Meet the author/illustrator, Alison Brown, at her website:    http://www.littletiger.co.uk/authors/alison-brown

Find more good books at the Capstone Young Readers website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Reader is an imprint of Capstone:   http://www.capstonepub.com/

Eddie and Dog was originally published in Great Britain by Little Tiger Press in 12/18/2013.

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Also by Alison Brown

I Love You Night and Day

I Love You Night and Day

Mighty Mo

Mighty Mo

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eddie and dog

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copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Alison Brown, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, chidren's book reviews, creativity, determination, Eddie and Dog, friendhip, imagination, Little Tiger Press, persistance, pets, relationships

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9. The Australian Graphic Supply Collective: Tuts and Type

In my journey towards becoming somewhat of a graphic designer, I’ve gone through many bouts of chocolate-fueled rage, cursing when I can’t figure out how to line up my beziers correctly, or how exactly to create a seamless repeat pattern. Although there are loads of tutorials online, the Australia Graphic Supply Company is set to become the “square one” learning source for budding designers and typographers of all types (pun not intended).

Self-described “pixel-wranglers,” Dave and Laura Coleman are a husband-and-wife team working out of Sydney, Australia, focusing on a wide range of visual services from photography and branding to illustration and tattoo design. While Laura mostly manages operations & finances, Dave handles the creative side of their shared business–and both of them share a serious passion for design, photography and lettering.

They host a selection of their own client work on their website, but the primary focus is on their community and growing tutorial section. What’s neat to see is that their tutorial aesthetic matches up perfectly with that of their professional projects–the aim is clearly to give the viewer proper insight into the process of creating high-quality design and typography while simplifying the process down to layman’s terms.

One of my favorite tutorials was Creating a Hand-Lettered Logotype from Beginning to End–I’ve included some screenshots and a video below.

Dave and Laura were briefly living and working abroad in Oviedo, Spain, but are now in the process of returning to their home base in Sydney. To follow along with their adventures, check out their travel blog.

I’ve also included a couple links to my other favorite tutorials below:

No Pain, No Grain (How to Create a Seamless Vector Wood Grain Pattern)

So What’s the Big Deal with Horizontal & Vertical Bezier Handles Anyway?

I can’t wait for more exciting tutorials and developments from the AGSC. Thanks so much to Dave and Laura for sharing their knowledge with us! Follow along with them on theirwebsiteTwitter, and Pinterest.

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10. My office featured in Andrea Skyberg's Tuesday Studio Tours today!

Thanks to Andrea Skyberg for featuring my Office Cave in her Tuesday Studio Tours today.

Find out why my office looks NOTHING like the rest of the house, how my hero husband Jeff helped enhance my office, my envy of those who have appealing-sounding creative rituals, music I'm listening to (including Ookla the Mok) and a sampling of my new OfficeCrazyDanceBreak playlist, the most useful tool in my studio, and advice for those who want to make a personal space where they can be creative. Plus LOTS of photos!

Thank you, Andrea!

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11. Frailty and creativity

By Cretien van Campen


Frail older people are more oftentimes considered a burden for society, than not. They are perceived to require intensive care that can be expensive while producing nothing contributory to society. The collective image is that frail older people are ‘useless’. In my opinion, we do not endeavor to ‘use’ them or know how to release productivity in them.

Around the age of 70, the extremely frail wheelchair bound musician Johnny Cash made the music video ‘Hurt’ with the help of film director Mark Romanek and producer Rick Rubin. The video was a tremendous success, receiving abundant critical acclaim and becoming a favorite with many for all time. The song was taken from a series of albums, the ‘American Recordings’, Cash created in his frailest period, selling millions of copies. The albums have been regarded as outstanding contributions to American culture and many people have found strength, joy and solace in his recordings.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Cash was no exception. He was not the only frail older person who flourished in his last years. The painter Henri Matisse, the music conductor Herbert von Karajan, and others reached creative summits in the last seasons of their lives. Also non-artists like sawmill worker Lester Potts became a creative painter in his later years when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In other types of dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia, creativity can be released as well.

The case of Cash also is an example of what is needed to release creative productivity in a frail older person — and what has to be avoided. In his last years Cash suffered from several complex diseases and physical limitations, a long and sad process which biographer Robert Hilburn has described with compassion and in detail. Cash was successively diagnosed among others with Parkinson’s disease, Shy-Drager syndrome, and double pneumonia. These contributed to hospital admissions several times a year and receiving prescriptions in quantities that greatly impacted the long time Dexedrine (speed) addict. (Cash had been addicted during his career as a touring artist.)

JohnnyCash1969

By the end of the twentieth century Cash was in forlorn condition, exhausting himself in a mixture of drugs and over-extended tours. Of deeper emotional consequence, his records did not sell the numbers they once had. His musical career was considered by many to be over by the time he was approached by producer Rick Rubin. In retrospect Rubin gave Cash two ingredients that supported his creative productivity: mental reminiscences and physical exercises.

In elongated sessions at home Rubin and Cash played old and new music, evoking reminiscences with musical roots and connecting them with the music of younger generations, which created new flourish and renewed hunger for music in Cash. He transformed from an older musician playing golden oldies into an interpreter of contemporary songs with vision, re-honing his craft. Mentally, he returned from living in the past to living in the present and creating new interpretations, which revived a sense of direction to his life. He connected to younger generations and inspired them with his interpretations as he mutually was inspired by their music.

Not only in the mental and spiritual domains did he regain strength, but also in the physical domain. Rubin engaged a befriended physiotherapist. Physical exercises got Cash out of his wheelchair and walking independently again, while simultaneously bringing back feeling in his fingers to play the guitar with agility. By exercising his body, energy returned and he was able to sustain longer recording sessions, his most valued passion.

Rubin is an artist, not a doctor. He did not cure Cash. Instead he gave a man whose health was rapidly declining renewed opportunities and stimuli to thrive and find meaning in his life. Cash often said that all he wanted was to make music. The music gave him the will to survive, and to fight the diseases.

Although the medical records of Cash are confidential, reports from his family share indications that he was overmedicated. According to his son, his father would have lived longer and produced more songs and recordings if the medication had been decreased – something his physiotherapist pleaded for several times after another hospital admission.

Returning home after this hospital stay, every inch of his body appeared unduly medicated. As well meaning of his professional caregivers were in prescribing such pill-induced treatments, he actually lived in a medical cage, and his brilliant mind suffered. Fortunately some of his family members and friends understood he needed physical, mental, and spiritual space to flourish. They helped in opening that cage with recovered mental and physical strength and he eloquently delivered to us some of the most heart-provoking songs in the history of music.

Cretien van Campen is a Dutch author, scientific researcher and lecturer in social science and fine arts. He is the founder of Synesthetics Netherlands and is affiliated with the Netherlands Institute for Social Research and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences. He is best known for his work on synesthesia in art, including historical reviews of how artists have used synesthetic perceptions to produce art, and studies of perceived quality of life, in particular of how older people with health problems perceive their living conditions in the context of health and social care services. He is the author of The Proust Effect: The Senses as Doorways to Lost Memories.

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Image credit: Johnny Cash 1969, Photograph by Joe Baldwin. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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12. Dealing with your inner creative expectations

Stephanie Ryan  |  *I Believe in Me*, Mixed Media Watercolor Illustration of Bird with Flowers (Print).

 

Following the creative path to live a creative life isn’t always an easy instant road to success.  You’re going to put in the effort and hard work so you’ll no doubt get there but like any journey there will be challenges to face and obstacles to overcome to become who you want to be.  Whether you’re a current art student at college, just graduated from university or are bettering your creative practice in your own time with the aspiration of running your own business there’s one teeny tiny obstacle we all have niggling away inside called “expectations”.

Expectations can be anything from aims you set to accomplishments and standards you may put on yourself or those that people around you may have of you themselves but today I’m going to cover self expectations.  Having expectations in general isn’t a bad thing as they give you points to work on and creative insight into ways you’d like to grow.

However sometimes when we set such high aims to reach and aspiring results to follow, when we fall short it can really knock us down and sometimes make you second guess what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. You may find yourself questioning whether you did something right, whether your skills are at their best , if you met the brief you were set and whether you can be as good as the next guy the list goes on and you’re not alone in thinking so.

 However amongst all this expectation you also need to be your biggest motivator and you need to brush yourself off and tell yourselfBelieve you can and you will achieve all you set out to”.  I believe you can achieve anything if you put the effort and the hard work into all that you do, although one thing you must truly believe in is yourself.  Remember these few things when you feel your inner expectations are clouding your creative motivation;

1. Your work is surely to be at its best when you are as well. 

2. Everyone’s story and journey is different don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

3.  A success is to be perceived through your own eyes, however if you don’t try you’ll never know how far you could have gone. 

Featured image created by designer Stephanie Ryan and you can find out more about her and her beautiful designs “here” .

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13. The Weekend Writer: Some Reading For You

37 Books Every Creative Person Should Be Reading from BuzzFeed.  Among them:

Manage Your Day-to-Day

Bossypants

The Power of Habit

I think there are a couple of others on that list I read back before I started blogging.

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14. Tip for aspiring writers & illustrators: find a different way to tell or show your story, avoid the obvious.

2014 07 02 WilliamKass

When I especially enjoy reading a book or fall in love with a particular illustration, it’s usually because the author or illustrator manages to convey an emotion, scene or story in an unusual way, that spurs me to look at the world a little differently.

I try to remember this when writing and illustrating. It's one of my goals when I create found object art, trying to avoid the obvious.

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15. What Do You Do With An Idea? By Kobi Yamada | Book Review

What Do You Do With An Idea? is about a boy who has an idea, illustrated as a golden crowned egg with legs. The boy wonders about the peculiar golden biped; its origins, its purpose, its place in the world.

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16. Dogs and Cats and Patterns and Moving and . . .

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Moving day approaches--just a couple of weeks to go! I am having a terrible time settling down to anything that doesn't involve going to Lowe's or Home Depot (hence my recent lack of blog posts). Right now it seems every minute of my life is geared toward making the new house habitable, or worrying endlessly about having nowhere to live if it isn't.


Amidst all the angst, though, I have had a little respite--somehow I've managed to fit in a new art class on "Illustrating Cats and Dogs." Each of the six weekly sessions is three hours long and may very well be saving my sanity. Not only is the subject super-fun, but our instructor, Debra Klecan, is an excellent teacher, full of great ideas that a) are diverting me from non-stop moving-day nerves, and b) are helping me organize my nonfiction WIP, A Pet Owner's Book of Days, as well as a new (yes!) picture book WIP I began in March--the two reasons I signed up for the class.

I particularly like our main assignment to create a portfolio that is also a scrapbook/journal/notebook of everything dog- and cat-related we can find. Debra recommended we use a three-ring binder and plastic sleeves for storing our reference materials, including magazine cut-outs, greeting cards, and samples of our own artwork.

I've always kept visual reference binders for my novels, full of  character wardrobes and writing prompts, but this is the first time I've tried doing something similar for an art project. For this particular exercise I chose a fabric-covered binder that zips closed and has a large sewn-in zippered pouch for pens and pencils (lots of pens and pencils). The binder itself is also big enough to include two 9" x 12" drawing pads I can tuck into the back (one is newsprint, the other is a medium-quality sketching paper). Finally, in the spirit of Serious Organization, I placed heavy, reinforced card stock dividers between my various categories:
  • Cat Photos
  • Dog Photos
  • Cat and Dog Fine Art
  • Abstract Designs and Patterns
  • Color Combinations and Palettes
  • How-to Info (including our class hand-outs)
  • Notes and Extra Sketch Paper (gray card stock I punched holes in--works really well).
So far I've got a pretty good collection of magazine and calendar photos for the "Cat and Dog" sections, but my favorite category of the moment is "Abstract Designs and Patterns." Copying designs from tiles and decorative architectural borders is meditative and calming, and good for hand-eye coordination. It's also giving me some interesting ideas I can use as borders for the pages of my picture-book-in-progress, as well as any future art journal pages. 

Some of my other reference materials for patterns and borders include:
  • Wallpaper.
  • Concrete, stone, and brickwork. 
  • Fabric.
  • The natural world: insect wings, wood grain, seed pods, leaves, petals, etc. 
  • Embroidery and knitting stitches.
  • Sewing notions, trims, and ribbons
  • Junk mail and print advertising.
  • Decorative packaging, e.g. cardboard boxes, chocolate wrap, luxury bath products.
  • Gift wrap.
  • Door keys (especially vintage/antique models).
  • Piano keys, too!
  • Shelf liner: rubber, plastic, paper, stick-on (been buying a lot of that lately).
  • Book covers.
  • Jewelry.
And that's just the beginning. I'm sure there's plenty more inspiration waiting for me at the hardware store. Today you'll find me in the aisle marked "Closets."
    Tip of the Day: Drawing patterns is an excellent way to spend some downtime away from your manuscript, especially when you're feeling stuck or uninspired. Add the designs right to your journal pages, or start a fresh notebook based on pure design work. It's amazing how easily you can problem-solve once you've switched gears from writing to drawing and back again. Happy doodling!

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    17. I v. We


    So Amy wrote this. I agree with it wholeheartedly.

    Then I wrote this.

    Then Amy extended the conversation with this. Again, I agree with her wholeheartedly.

    My post was chewing around the edges of something else that isn't quite as linear but is a huge piece of crediting people who create and citing them.

    When I wrote about management perspective I was not referring to "management privilege". I detest anyone who poaches and claims credit or by omission leaves out the people who do the true heavy lifting. It's not how I try to run my shop or thankfully been managed by others - or most importantly  -been treated by all my many colleagues around the state and country.

    And I think that there is a great deal of professional pain that youth librarians feel from work they have not been credited for, celebrated for and appreciated for. I am definitely not arguing the great teamwork-kumbaya (we're all in this together, la-la).

    I am coming at the discussion from one place as a long-time manager, a long-time active association member and a long-time consultant/presenter. And from the other place, I am coming as a newly energized researcher and teacher who demands citations and digging down to the original roots of work - most especially from myself! It is this perspective that I want to pursue.

    As I have been studying the history of children's programming in public libraries, it is increasingly clear that youth librarians have been pushing the envelope of service since the beginning of the profession. Over the last century, children's librarians were at the forefront of developing SLPs, outreach, use of technology (radio, TV, films, filmstrips, record players), programming to parents (my mom was in the parent group while I was in storytime!), and many many of the practices that some in the profession are currently "inventing." Everything old IS new again.

    There is a huge scaffold of practice upon which each and every one of us builds our own scaffold of service and innovative ideas. My concern is for some in the profession that don't want to recognize that foundation. Our foremothers and current colleagues have done work that we all build on - whether its oppositional building or complementary. When we don't acknowledge that debt - and appreciate where our own work is coming from, we do a huge disservice.

    My point in my original post about how collaborative we are comes from that place. It is the "we" I am trying to get at.

    So how do we acknowledge the "I" while being true to the "we" - and visa versa?

    As Amy writes: cite!
    Seek permission from those whose work your work is based on to share.
    Communicate and don't steal.
    Never false claim.
    Know that your support of someone else's work enhances your own.
    Acknowledge that the brainstorming power of coworkers, tweeps, Facebookers, a conference hallway conversation informed that idea that you brought to full fruition.

    You cannot be harmed by acknowledging and citing. Rather you can be the power that raises up those around you. And that is a powerful "I" and a powerful "we".


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    18. Avoiding Additional Asshat-tery


    Slide from a solo Unprogramming presentation
    that acknowledges my co-conspirator
    I laughed aloud when I saw AmyKoester's title on the  Storytime Underground post with guidelines on avoiding assholery when giving credit where credit is due.  I also was happy to see such a strong statement about the importance of knowing and stating where stuff comes from.

    I've blogged about this before - especially in relation to the our penchant to be good sharing  - and taking - people.  You can't ever forget where something comes from and it is a beautiful thing when you can do that acknowledgement - most especially in a professional atmosphere (blogging, presentations, workshops, Twitter and Tumblr and etc). We all stand on the shoulders of those before us. We may tweak and we may tinker but somebody got that ball rolling.

    I want to add another thought to the conversation - or throwdown from a management perspective: thinking about taking the "I" to "we."

    I have always worked in a strong team environment. From the smallest library to larger libraries, many people - not just youth services staff - from director to Circ clerks to custodial staff have had a hand in contributing to conversation and idea-building. They have put in an oar, a thought, a suggestion, a brilliant solution that has made each and every project and program far better than it began.

    I can count on one hand, ONE HAND, the actual stuff that I, me, myself, *I*, created, invented or totally birthed ON MY OWN in my 38 year career.

    Uh-uh. Didn't happen. Dozens of things I am known for were the result of collaboration - free, wild, plunge-into-"what-if, what-if, what-if", brainstorming, tornadic, mosh pit, scrum-filled collaboration. When I've changed something, I am still building on something that went before that provided the ignition spark to push my own practice. Same goes for all of you, my friends and colleagues, out on the internet - you have shared and changed so many ideas that have helped me grow an idea and make it better. It's ours!

    When you look at my blog posts as I am sharing a program, idea or innovation, you seldom see it written in the first person. Far more often, it is written as "we" and "our" because the progress or change or light bulb moment was built by many hands in the department and the library and out in my ULN/PLN land..

    While it is vital to credit your colleagues when you are sharing ideas that are clearly theirs and give them "mad props", it is also important to move away from the "I" and acknowledge the true "we-ness" of what is created through every-day and every-way collaboration.

    I believe we are stronger together in everything we create. What do you think?

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    19. Creating a Creative Movement in Education

    I love any and all TED talks given by Sir Ken Robinson. Take a look at his latest one about education and creativity and I think you’ll understand why:

    And if you liked that one, check out this earlier talk that’s still my favorite, on how to nurture creativity.

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    20. This Is What Is Possible (Part 2)

    I found this through Upworthy.com–a great site I highly recommend.

    Last week it was what was possible as an 80-year-old. Today we’re going quite a bit younger:

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    21. Embracing the Incomplete

    Back when I was practicing law, I had a sign hanging in my office that said: Perfectionism is an elegant defense against real life.

    I kept a separate note inside my desk that read:  If I don’t win your case, I’ll eat a bug. I leave it to you to decide how those two things matched up.

    (And for more adventures of being a law student and lawyer, you can read my lawyer romance LOVE PROOF. It’s lots of fun.)

    The issue of perfectionism haunts a lot of us. We’re never quite there. Wherever “there” is. And sometimes that feels like a moving target.

    It’s why I was interested in this TED talk by Sarah Lewis about success versus the “near win.” About success versus mastery. I loved her stories of artists and writers who knew their work was never complete, but who put it out there anyway. (Or who ordered their friends to burn everything after the artist died, but too bad–friends hardly ever obey those crazy wishes.)

    It’s why even though I know some of my novels aren’t perfect, I still let you read them. Because I like the stories and want to share them with you, even though sometimes when I look back at them I might wince at this line of dialogue, that awkward scene, some weird way of putting something that at the time I thought was cool. Oh well. I did my best. And I’m going to keep moving forward and write the next one, rather than constantly mess around with one I’ve already “finished.”

    Which is my way of saying that if you don’t love every single word I write, that’s okay–I probably don’t, either. But overall I’m happy with the idea that you and I sat around a campfire one night and I told you this story from start to finish. And we had fun. There were marshmallows. And then the next night we moved on to some new story instead of me saying, “You know last night when I told you the girl in the story’s name is Rose? It’s Giselle instead. And that part about her hating her mother? Forget it–her mom died.” Etc. Etc. BORING. Move on. We already got to The End on that one–give me something new.

    With that, I give you Sarah Lewis and her talk “Embracing the Near Win”:

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    22. Game Theory - Heather Dyer


    Copyright Levente Fulop
     
    Game theory must be the epitome of Western faith in logic. We think that if we plug in some variables and press a button we can predict the future. Apparently, we apply it to all sorts of things: economics, war… It’s founded on our belief that if we know enough facts we’ll be in control. But do we really think that we can ever come close to factoring everything in? Isn’t it a bit like trying to predict exactly how the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Tokyo will affect the time that Mrs Morgan arrives at work in Sheffield?

    And yet, perhaps those game theorists have a point. If, as quantum physicists now seem to believe, "we are one", the flap of a butterfly’s wings will affect the time that Mrs Morgan gets to work. Nothing acts in isolation. Every event, every movement, every action, every thought is affected by everything that has come before it and in turn affects everything that comes afterwards. So there is, in fact, a formula connecting Tokyo and Sheffield – and if we could plug in every variable we could calculate the outcome.

    In order to predict such complex causality with any certainty, however, our equation would have to take everything into account. The result would be that it wouldn’t just predict one outcome, it would predict every outcome. It would be huge. It would be a mathematical equation that would incorporate the entire world. No - the universe! Wait a minute – this equation would be the universe. Our primitive little left brains, which like to quantify and categorize, simply aren’t sophisticated enough for this sort of maths.

    Our right brains, however, would seem to be designed to compute exactly this sort of all-encompassing complexity. Not logically – but intuitively. In the creative and scientific disciplines, tiny portions of the Great Equation tend to reveal themselves in brief, bright flashes of insight, during which we shout ‘eureka!’ In fact, David Bohm, quantum physicist and author of On Creativity, believes that the intrinsic appeal of all artistic or creative endeavour is this moment of satisfaction, in which we perceive what he describes as ‘a certain oneness and totality or wholeness, constituting a kind of harmony that is felt to be beautiful’.

    The truth, in other words.



    Writing fiction involves exactly these sorts of flashes of insight. They’re like lightning strikes, illuminating the way. Flash by flash we find our way through the forest, and step by step the narrative unfolds. Every step must link logically – truthfully – to the one before it and the one that comes after it. One false note and the chain is broken and the mathematics goes awry.

    If we try and predict a plot logically, using a pre-arranged formula – the way that game theory seems to – it tends to feel ‘wrong’. It never quite rings true in a way that makes you want to shout ‘eureka!’ What a novelist wants is for the causality of events to be so sophisticated and yet so flawlessly logical that afterwards the reader thinks, “I didn’t see that coming – but in retrospect, of-course it was inevitable.” This sort of integrity is rarely achieved by the logical mind; it has to be intuited.

    So, step by step we intuit the way. We draw on all the powers of our unconscious to intuit exactly what a certain character will do and what will happen as a consequence. Intuition is about widening our perspective, holding the whole world of our novel in the periphery of our vision in order to feel the pattern.

    The end result is a plot: a linked sequence of cause and effect that has an almost scientific integrity to it. The plot reveals the underlying pattern, the mathematical formula that underpins our novel’s ‘reality’. How do we know if we’ve got it right? Because it feels right. It clicks.


    Sometimes people assume that writing fiction must be easier than non-fiction. They assume that because you can make it up as you go along, you can write whatever you want. But nothing could be further from the truth. You can’t just write whatever you want. You have to write exactly what would happen. No wonder writing fiction is so difficult. We are trying to predict the future.

    www.heatherdyer.co.uk

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    23. It's Not a Box! No, Really!!

     

    We offer monthly meetings for day care providers during the school year to boost their early literacy might, introduce them to great books and methods to share books and to highlight our collections and services. We have been certified as registered CE instructors to help our daycare teachers keep up their learning and credentials in our state-level Registry.

    In April, our training was all based on Antoinette Portis' multi-dimensional book Not a Box. We asked attendees to each bring a box of whatever size. Just in case anyone forgot, I gathered empty book boxes for a week or so prior to the training. Why did I worry?  Everyone brought one!!!

    I put out a selection of our finest stuff: scrapbook paper, tissue paper, stampers, markers, foamies, felt pieces, feathers, glue sticks, eyeballs, yarn and any other doo-dad I could lay my hands on.  Tables to stand and work at were put out.

    When everyone arrived, I read the Portis' book and talked about the importance of imagination, play and creativity. I gave a few examples of stories that you could extend with a cardboard box to accompany them (a car box for Sutherland's Dad's Car Wash; a train car box for Crews Freight Train). 

    Then the challenge. Create something out of their box using materials at hand and then work with me to find a picture book in the collection to match their box design. Read the book quickly. At the conclusion of the workshop, each provider then shares the box and booktalks the book with rest of the attendees. If someone had a particular book in mind that was checked out, they could, in addition to talking about a book on their box's theme, tell about the other book they use that works great.

    The results were amazing. People took special care with their boxes, with their reading, with their booktalking and with their additional recommendations. As a children's literature expert, I also added title ideas as well depending on what each person made.

    It was a perect blend of creativity and matching books to object! Below please see their wonderful creations!
    
    Rabbit, horse, robot

    
    Space, VH Caterpillar, penguin, birthday cake
    Garden, car wash, ladybug, monster, suitcase
    Surprise box, box to leave your shouts in, garden


    fun box, garden, playhouse, ?, ocean

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    24. It Got Me Thinking…

    State of MindI want to share three blog posts that I can’t stop thinking about. These are posts that (like a good book) I kept mulling over days after I read them. They’ve planted seeds in my mind that keep growing and growing.

    There’s a theme to these posts and it’s:

    Perseverance.

    How do we write when we don’t feel like we have the time or the heart? How do we keep writing with all the fear and uncertainty? How do we find the strength to be vulnerable and put the pen to the page? I’ve been struggling with my WIP lately, and I needed to hear all of these posts. Maybe you do to.

    Writing Truth and Authenticity Amidst the Noise

    by Jessica Denhart

    My truth today is that I am afraid. From the white-hot center of myself, I am afraid that I don’t have what it takes to make my writing good enough. I am afraid, and when I am afraid, I close my eyes to my manuscript, my words, my expression of self, my creativity, and effectively cut myself off from the one thing that I know is my authentic self. All I hear is the noise of fear and self-doubt.”

    Read More…photo-of-jess1

    Jessica Denhart received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in January 2013. She writes YA and middle grade fiction, contemporary with a magical-realism twist. She is also a member of the SCBWI. She currently lives in the Midwest, with longings for the taste of the salt-air, the sound of the ocean waves, and the feel of sand between her toes. Read more by Jessica on her blog Between the Shadow and the Soul.  She can be found on twitter as @jessdenhart.

    Creative Input and Creative Output

    by Heather Strickland

    I’ve come to think of creativity as a factory. Our brains are motors: if we stop fueling them, they won’t run. Or, more truthfully, if we fuel them with crap and nonsense, they’ll run like crap and nonsense. We have to feed them something delicious, something healthy, or they won’t run the way they’re supposed to.”

    Read More…

    Heather StricklandHeather Strickland started writing for children when she realized she was probably never going to be an adult. She moved to Brooklyn after graduating from Vermont College of Fine Arts because she heard there was a shortage of writers in Brooklyn. Now, she likes going for walks past brownstones and peering through open windows to make up stories about the people who live in fancy apartments. Follow Heather on Twitter: @StrictlyHeather

    Thoughts on Being Professional

    by Amy Sundberg

    “I ran across an excellent article on an economics blog I follow called “Amateurs versus Professionals.” It very much applies to what I’ve observed about writing, and I imagine it holds true for many other pursuits and professions as well … After reading this list, it occurs to me that much of the difference between an amateur and a professional is a state of mind.”

    Read More…

     Amy SundbergAmy Sundberg is a SF/F and YA writer. Her short fiction has appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, and Buzzy Magazine, among others. She lives in California, and when not writing, she’s either buried in a good book, singing musical theater songs, or trying to add more pins to locations visited on her world map. She is an avid blogger at practicalfreespirit.com and can be found on Twitter as @amysundberg

     


    1 Comments on It Got Me Thinking…, last added: 5/27/2014
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    25. It Got Me Thinking…

    State of MindI want to share three blog posts that I can’t stop thinking about. These are posts that (like a good book) I kept mulling over days after I read them. They’ve planted seeds in my mind that keep growing and growing.

    There’s a theme to these posts and it’s:

    Perseverance.

    How do we write when we don’t feel like we have the time or the heart? How do we keep writing with all the fear and uncertainty? How do we find the strength to be vulnerable and put the pen to the page? I’ve been struggling with my WIP lately, and I needed to hear all of these posts. Maybe you do to.

    Writing Truth and Authenticity Amidst the Noise

    by Jessica Denhart

    My truth today is that I am afraid. From the white-hot center of myself, I am afraid that I don’t have what it takes to make my writing good enough. I am afraid, and when I am afraid, I close my eyes to my manuscript, my words, my expression of self, my creativity, and effectively cut myself off from the one thing that I know is my authentic self. All I hear is the noise of fear and self-doubt.”

    Read More…photo-of-jess1

    Jessica Denhart received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in January 2013. She writes YA and middle grade fiction, contemporary with a magical-realism twist. She is also a member of the SCBWI. She currently lives in the Midwest, with longings for the taste of the salt-air, the sound of the ocean waves, and the feel of sand between her toes. Read more by Jessica on her blog Between the Shadow and the Soul.  She can be found on twitter as @jessdenhart.

    Creative Input and Creative Output

    by Heather Strickland

    I’ve come to think of creativity as a factory. Our brains are motors: if we stop fueling them, they won’t run. Or, more truthfully, if we fuel them with crap and nonsense, they’ll run like crap and nonsense. We have to feed them something delicious, something healthy, or they won’t run the way they’re supposed to.”

    Read More…

    Heather StricklandHeather Strickland started writing for children when she realized she was probably never going to be an adult. She moved to Brooklyn after graduating from Vermont College of Fine Arts because she heard there was a shortage of writers in Brooklyn. Now, she likes going for walks past brownstones and peering through open windows to make up stories about the people who live in fancy apartments. Follow Heather on Twitter: @StrictlyHeather

    Thoughts on Being Professional

    by Amy Sundberg

    “I ran across an excellent article on an economics blog I follow called “Amateurs versus Professionals.” It very much applies to what I’ve observed about writing, and I imagine it holds true for many other pursuits and professions as well … After reading this list, it occurs to me that much of the difference between an amateur and a professional is a state of mind.”

    Read More…

     Amy SundbergAmy Sundberg is a SF/F and YA writer. Her short fiction has appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, and Buzzy Magazine, among others. She lives in California, and when not writing, she’s either buried in a good book, singing musical theater songs, or trying to add more pins to locations visited on her world map. She is an avid blogger at practicalfreespirit.com and can be found on Twitter as @amysundberg

     


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