Shout Outs to Some Creative Ladies

I am blessed to have friends who share my love of creative endeavors.  Today,  I would like to celebrate a few of them.

My good friend Alyson  and I met many years ago in Cambridge where we each went to study one summer.  So, our first shared love is literature (and the cute professor who taught her class 😉 ). Over the years, we found we shared more creative interests, especially regarding fabrics and yarns, until we finally started our Etsy business together. It’s pretty slow going,  but we still have fun creating the inventory.  Check us out: alycatcreations1.

Another creative friend who deserves some support I met at art school. Actually, she’s my teacher,  Julieann.  She helps me see, so I can paint.  (Let’s give a shout out to the whole Roslyn School of Painting while we’re at it. Charlie and Lydia create a warm environment and open studio so we can learn at our own pace.  My friends and classmates-Meera, Kelly, et. al.-are so encouraging too. It’s a wonderful place to paint. Check out their Instagram feed.) Julieann currently has a painting of her adorable Scottie, Violet, entered in a pet portraits contest. Why not check it out and vote for her!

I’d also like to acknowledge some newer, virtual friends. In this blogging universe there are many pretty creative people who nurture and support each other. Connie@BohemianArt is one such new friend who recently nominated me for a Creative Blogger Award. I am honored.  Check out her blog where she muses, much like I do, on a variety of creative topics. Sarah Dougherty at Heartstring Eulogies shares poetry worth checking out, full of vivid images which will pluck those heartstrings.

Two more blogs I recommend are by women whom I know in both the virtual world and the real one. Moira Donovan offers us her thoughts on fashion,  family, and fun at Nine Cent Girl. And Gerri Woods keeps me laughing with her snarky observations on grammar miscues at Grammarian in the City.

There are many more of you creating out there and sharing your talents and encouragement.  Thank you all.

Keep blogging, painting, sewing, knitting, ladies! Keep creating! And most of all,  let’s keep supporting one another. Creativity does not occur in a vacuum.

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A Man Called Ove and A Blog About Creativity

I recently started reading A Man Called Ove, a book by Swedish author Frederick Backman. My mom recommended it to me after it was recommended to her by two of my sisters-in-law. I was instantly hooked. What strikes me about it is that Ove is quite the old curmudgeon,  yet I find myself liking him. He’s rude and gruff,  but I feel like I understand him. When other characters are frustrated with him or fed up or rude themselves in response to his taciturnity, I want to take them aside and help them understand.  And, yes, sometimes I want to take him aside as well and help him understand his world or express himself better. But, of course, I  can’t do that,  exactly.

What does this have to do with a blog about creativity?  I’m taken with Ove not only because of the charm of the story or the clarity of the prose  (nod here to translator Henning Koch as well), but also because I am writing a story, have been writing a story for some time now, featuring a curmudgeon.  Readers of early drafts commented that my character was too nice, not curmudgeonly enough,especially for someone named Billy Codger. Ove, and Backman,  inspire me to return to Codger’s story and revise.

In a different story, another of my characters has a horrible boyfriend whom  (spoiler alert) she dumps by the end.  A friend who read an early draft advised that I give the boyfriend “a few more hateful lines.” I happily complied. It is easier to write negative dialogue for a character no one is supposed to like. But, striking the right balance of  rudeness and reticence with likeability is tough.  With Ove,  Backman has hit a bulls-eye.

Of course, my prose and Backman’s differ,  and it would not do for me to simply copy his style into my story,  but I am gleaning ideas to help me create a more believable Billy. This summer will see a new, expanded version of my story. Ove has lit a fire in my creative heart.

It is a wonderful book that can both charm the reader and inspire the writer in you. A Man Called Ove does that. Now,  let me get back to Ove.

Poem-a-Day Retrospective

Another April has come and gone, and so has the Poem-a-Day Challenge. This is the second year in a row that I have participated in Writer’s Digest‘s challenge, and for the second year in a row, I have succeeded in writing 30 poems in 30 days. Here and there I missed a day, but all misses were made up before the challenge ended.

The PAD challenge prompts the habit of daily writing. I find it much easier to complete this challenge than the November NaNoWriMo challenge; I am not sure why this is. With the NaNoWriMo challenge, you build on one idea, expanding and clarifying it. That would seem, on the face of it, easier than creating something entirely new each day. Yet, for me, it has not been. I have not successfully completed a NaNoWriMo, but the PAD challenge, I have accepted and met these past two years.

Each day facing a new prompt can be daunting. There were days when I mulled over the prompt all day, trying to get a handle on where to go with it. There were definitely days when I was not 100% happy with the resulting poem. Yet, there were days when I finished and was truly proud of my poem. Interestingly, my feelings about a particular poem were not always in line with its play on the blog (and Facebook). What I do know is that I will revisit these poems in the future. The habit of writing one a day and the necessity of publishing it to the blog (and the challenge site) immediately results in the occasional publishing of drafts. Some of these situations and ideas will be revisited.

Now the challenge is to keep the momentum of April moving forward. I may not, okay I will not, be able to sustain a poem a day for the rest of the year, but I need to keep the writing going. I do wonder how Emily Dickinson managed it. She wrote approximately 1,800 poems in her lifetime, some years averaging a poem a day for the whole year. That is an incredible output.

I don’t claim to be as insightful or prolific as Emily Dickinson, but I did find the process of writing poetry engendered more poetry writing. As the month moved on, I found my thinking stimulated, my creativity sparked. That doesn’t mean that some of the later poems weren’t difficult to get started  (or finished), but it does mean that my mind was ready to meet the challenge. I look forward to more writing of all types this year–and to the PAD challenge again next year. I hope you’ll join me!

PAD 30: Dead End

Today is the last day of the poem a day challenge for April 2016. What a month it’s been! The prompt today is to write a dead end poem.

Dead End

We reached a dead end
On our hike through the woods
Meandering paths amidst
Majestic pines and verdant ferns,
Led us across brooks and streams
Balancing rock to rock,
Sometimes relying on a handy stick
Or each other’s hand,
Other times simply hoping not to slip.
Up hills we trekked, and mountains,
Across heaths and peaks,
Down again into the vales.
And now, an impasse–
We are stopped by nature,
Perhaps our own natures,
So we must backtrack to where
We can once again see our way
And walk hand in hand
Into the clearing.