Archive for ‘Creative Process’

Stage Fright

April 1st, 2012

I had my second oil painting class this week, and it started just like the first one. I stood in front of the easel with a blank canvas and an assignment, and I couldn’t move I was so scared. I couldn’t think how to begin — the tiny canvas seemed vast and overwhelming. Once I made a tentative daub, I was able to overcome the jitters and enjoy what I was doing. But it’s that first pause before going onstage, jumping off the diving board, raising your hand in class that often prevents me from doing something new. In that first pause, I’m always so afraid I’ll fuck it up — whatever it is — that I back away, pretend I don’t care, give up before I give it a chance. I love painting lessons just for the eye candy of the oils, the smell and texture, the way my monkey mind gets turned off for two hours and I lose track of time — not because I’ll ever be serious or good at it. It’s teaching me that I don’t have to excel at everything I do, and in the case of painting, that it’s getting lost that’s the payoff.

I love Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of work so much that I’ve printed out a copy to carry in my laptop case. Even though his rules refer to writing, I think they can be applied to most any calling or vocation. I especially like #5 because if I’m not inspired or called by the Muse, I just give up instead of plugging away at something, like editing or research, that doesn’t require creativity.

A Brilliant Idea

February 9th, 2012

I get goosebumps when I come across things like this that are so obvious and yet so mysterious and wonderful. A dress made out of a map. To hang on your wall. To dream about. Each dress is handmade and unique. Approx 90cm long and 60 cm wide from Art-full. I want.

Muse to Muse

May 17th, 2011

Before Fridaville, I had a daily blog called Muse to Muse with a friend living in Prague. Each of our posts was a complete surprise to the other, but they often ended up being similar in tone or focus or content. Daily posting became more a chore than a choice when babies and moving and life intervened, so after a year and a half, we closed it down. But now we’ve started a new project — lower tech but just as satisfying. My friend is living in London, and we’re both hungry for something creative to occupy our hands and minds, so we’re making and mailing weekly postcards to each other. For my first one, I cut up a linoleum block print I’d done of flowers and on the back wrote a “Summer is…” list. Maybe we’ll tire of this more quickly — it requires more hands-on work and stamps — but right now I’m happy to have a creative goal. I realized I’d been waiting and waiting for ideas and projects to materialize instead of doing and doing. If I’m going to stumble on a new calling, I have to prime the pump, and this is just one way to start doing that.

The Woman Who Fell to Earth

February 4th, 2011

Coming back to Reality, SC,  after a month in London was like being Dorothy falling back into her black and white world after the journey through all the colors of Oz. I know “normal” life has to be filled with errands, laundry, dead plants, overdue bills, and just plain drabness sometimes, often. But I wish I could figure out how to see my little, familiar world with the eyes of a stranger. Kind of like falling in love with your predictable husband all over again. Maybe it starts with seeing myself in a new way. Wearing clothes that make me feel exotic and unfamiliar to my own being. Pursuing a project that is all mine, a personal passion, and carrying that around like a secret all day. Wearing perfume that makes me feel like an amoureuse even when no one but me is there to appreciate it. In January, the windows at the Le Bon Marche department store  in Paris were themed around different meetings in 2011: deliciousness, inspiration, greed, love, voluptuousness. The creativity of each one made me want to be, do, make something equally inspiring and witty and beautiful. Now that I’m home, when I walk in my neighborhood, I won’t pass a Middle Eastern grocery with piles of Turkish delight in the window and little cups of pomegranate seeds for sale on sidewalk,  or the news agent with a gazillion papers and magazines or the Waitrose grocery with its inventive packaging or the Tube signs beckoning me on a new adventure. I’ve fallen back into my black-and-white world, and now it’s up to me to film it in Technicolor. To see myself in lights instead of complaining that everything around me is so dull-colored. I promise to try to re-new myself in 2011.

The Whole Truth?

November 28th, 2010

Because I’ve come to know so many people through starting  Skirt! magazine in the same small Southern city I’ve lived in since 1985, I often find myself pulling my punches when it comes to writing. I know it’s cowardly, but I’m reluctant to mention in an article that my secret dream is to write erotica anonymously when I know that every time I walk into Whole Foods and see someone I know, which is every time, they might be wondering or judging. I’m incredibly grateful to have an audience for my work, but I worry that censoring myself has become second nature no matter what I write. I have an unpublished essay about my mother that I’ve never tried to submit anywhere because it’s so painful and reflects badly on both of us. So even though I wrote it and it’s true, I can’t bring myself to put it out for public consumption. I don’t even always tell the whole truth in my journals because I’m worried that in case I die unexpectedly, my friend Nancy won’t make it to the house in time to get rid of them (along with the vibrator) before my kids start to pack everything up for Goodwill. I don’t know if it’s possible to have that kind of double life creatively and maintain an authentic voice in anything you write, no matter what the content or venue. Except maybe in a blog, because although it’s an illusion, I feel anonymous here. I’m not sure what the answer is — to try and write something totally honest that only my eyes will see? Somehow that’s not enough, and yet, I’m not sure why it isn’t. I only know there’s a voice in me that hasn’t been heard yet. Any thoughts on this from other writers and readers out there?

Calling All Angels

September 20th, 2010

If you pulled your bike out of my spider-webbed shed and rode it a few blocks from my house, this is the view you’d find. Because we’re entering the days of splendor in the marsh grass and fiery fall skies in my part of the country.  Soon there will be goblin moons suspended above the ocean, and I heard yesterday there were dozens and dozens of spinner sharks driven shoreward from the passing hurricane, leaping out of the water like star-spangled acrobats. I daydream about living another life, a bigger life, in a different place, and then I remember William Blake never traveling anywhere and seeing angels everywhere. They must be here, too — it’s just my vision that’s faulty.

Signs of Love

September 15th, 2010

This graffito was chalked on the wall of a parking lot by my office — street art that will be washed away in the next rain. I’ve been having an email dialogue with an old friend about the nature of love.  He’s still looking for that one soul mate, while I believe I’ve had too many. His romanticism makes me feel jaded, while my distance makes him wonder what happened to the teenager he fell in love with. He believes in Forever, but For Awhile has always been my experience. I don’t think one of us is any happier than the other, but he might be more hopeful, and since men have a much easier time dating as they grow older, he probably has more grounds for optimism in that area. But little signs like this one give me a different kind of hope–that in a world where hate, meanness and bigotry seem to be on the rise, someone is out there drawing pink hearts in public.


September 8th, 2010

At the bottom of a long, hot arduous trail in Yosemite this summer, we ended up at a spectacular river that was crystal clear and icy cold from snow melt in the high country. Peeling off shoes and socks and plunging in to cool off was a revitalizing pause between hiking down and the long haul back up in unaccustomed high altitude. Sometimes we need a pause between stages of life, I think, but it’s a luxury not many of us have. After all, we have to keep going to work even when we don’t feel we’re doing a great job. We have to take care of the kids, even when we forget why we wanted to be parents. We have to sleep in the same bed, even when we wonder why we married the person we’re sharing it with. And life just keeps sweeping us along in its current, so how do we find a way to sit on the bank, cool off and gather energy to continue on?  I particularly need to press Pause right now in order to give my brain a break from pawing over stale, overworked ideas. I’m going to start by doing something totally different and unconnected with my job — a weekend of watercolors instead of words. I’ll keep my hands busy so my mind can relax and spin some new stories in the background without being hitched up to plow the same field day after day. The brain craves novelty and fresh experiences and play, and I’ve been treating mine like a work horse. Time to giddy-up and take it for a joy ride.

Double Dog Dare You

August 25th, 2010

This week I took a step outside my comfort zone (which is always set at about 80 degrees) by submitting an essay to a writing competition run by a national magazine. Regardless of the fact that I started my own local magazine, I still break out in a sweat to think of sending my work out to a larger venue. After all, isn’t that why I started my own publication — to avoid rejection? I always accept anything I submit to myself!  And then a friend emailed me the link to the competition with the message “Today’s the deadline–do it.”  My first reaction was that there was no way I could write 1500 words off the top of my head in an afternoon. But I feel like I’m saying “no” way too much lately. And I needed a challenge, so why not try? Why not try and not tell anyone in case I couldn’t pull it off? Why not try it, submit it and not tell anyone in case I didn’t win? But in the end it was such a win for me just to prove to myself I could do it that I felt like I was walking on air after I emailed it off to the magazine running the competition. I didn’t go on a safari, I didn’t run for office, I didn’t learn how to parasail. I just hit “Send” and that was huge for me. What is “daring” for you?