I cannot deny that I am a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. I have long been a fan of her work and I enjoy listening to her talk. I was lucky enough to see her speak at the Perth International Arts Festival in 2014. Elizabeth is an inspiring, honest, non-sugar coating inspiration. Like Big Magic this course talks directly to the artist within. Elizabeth is generous in sharing her treasured truth will all creatives.
What is the truth we all seek? Just do it! Accept all that you are, write, paint, photograph, cook, garden, sew. Whatever your soul wishes you to do to add to this world. Just do it. Do it without looking for success in whatever guise you think it should come in. You may never write a best seller, you may never be able to quit your day job, but you can create. Write around the edges of your day. Make a date with your art as Elizabeth suggested in her podcast. Stop waiting for the muse, get to work. Work on your gift and as Elizabeth says the muse will show up. Stop being a chicken shit and get it done!
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Creativity Workshop is presented in five sections. Each section contains a talk surrounding the topic of creativity and also addresses a specific question from someone seeking help to improve their creative life. The sections are then followed by a workbook, that asks the tough questions and encourages you to get your answers down fast without too much interference from your right brain. (That interfering nay sayer). I like the workbook, it helped to reiterate where my writing is going, that I am still on track, even with one foot in the creative sphere and another in the real world, and I am okay with that.
I highly recommend this course for all creatives, spare a couple of hours to sit and listen and work with Elizabeth Gilbert.
Having one of those days? You have to write, you have targets to meet but everything that comes out is just blah.. forcing it is like painting a fence in the rain. But everything you know and have been told about writing is running on train carriages through your head:
‘you can’t edit a blank page‘
‘ writing is hard work‘
‘ it is better to write a 1000 bad words than nothing at all‘
and so on…..
Well I have written my 1000 words of crap today and I am done. I am not waiting for the muse, I am waiting for the kettle to boil. I have also done my ‘pages’. My crap is written for the day. I have tried editing my WIP, but there is a glitch in the story that I am not up to fixing today so I have set about finding things I can do to avoid writing today:
Clean the oven – this is an old favourite of mine. I can highly recommend Selley’s oven cleaner it is cheap, very toxic and quick to get your bake-house shining.
Walk the dog.
Take pictures of the dog and post her photos on Instagram.
Clean your desk, take care of those niggly little things that you promised to get to later: school notes, bill payments, hotel bookings, twitter.
Clean out your drawers – all of them. Kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, office, kids rooms?
Weed the garden.
Plant a new garden, will involve a trip to the nursery so research plants and make a list. May need ice-cream.
Buy some books. About anything, but maybe at least one about writing.
I see an opportunity here to re-arrange bookshelf to accommodate new books, maybe should wait until they are delivered? or not?
Sign up for an online course, about anything. Could be about writing though, it all helps?
Plan an elaborate dinner even though no one will be home to enjoy it because it is a karate night and you will all be eating subway for tea.
Listen to something, a podcast, an audible book?
Take the dog for another walk if she comes out of hiding.
Make dog an appointment to see the vet for a check up due to her hiding from walkies.
Still have to check Facebook! lets see what all our wonderful ‘friends‘ are achieving with their clever, ‘I am so good I am a writer skills!’
Pluck your eyebrows while telling yourself that you are a good writer, you are just having a bad day.
Put on something lovely but comfortable and take yourself out for lunch. Pull out the note book you keep in your bag, that pen you got for your birthday, order your favourite meal, and breath while flicking through one of their old magazines, it will give you something to focus on while you eavesdrop on the couple at the next table.
Write up a new schedule for getting work done. Laminate it. Everything looks better when laminated.
I admit that I am procrasti-blogging. I know it is not a real word, but it is a real state of mind. I need to be line editing Allison Song Bird, I need to move along, get things done, get it going, get on with it. I just need to do it! Plain and simple. What good are two unedited manuscripts collecting cyber dust in my aging computer? Don’t answer that, I know that it is none, nada, nothing, zilch. I am not afraid to release my creative outbursts onto the world, am I? I don’t think that I am but my lack of action might say otherwise, perhaps? I don’t know.
I spent the weekend absorbed in literary learning at Perth’ s Writers Festival where I had the opportunity to sit and soak in the expertise of Elizabeth Gilbert, Liz Bryski and Hillary Mantel. I am painfully aware that aside from their talent, experience and creative genius the one thing that all authors have over me is that they saw it to the end. They finished what they had started. They went ahead and did it.
‘Do it’ is now my motivational mantra. My writing, skill and imagination may never come close to these three talented, adored writers, quite frankly I do not care. I just want to write, tell stories and get them out of my limited space and into the world. So with that I make a pledge to bring Allison Song Bird (working tittle) out of the darkness and into the light of day. I am going old school, the printer is whirring and ticking away beside me as I type this. I want ASB out on paper, in a ring file, red pen clipped in the pocket. I want it out in the open, where I will see it, where it will remind me daily that it is here too, that it needs my attention as much as the dog sleeping on the couch, as much as the back log of paid work waiting in my in file, the dishes crusting in the sink or the washing melded with the floor. This is how I will finally get ASB out into the world. Time this baby was free, so watch this space, I am sure to be procrasti-blogging again soon. xx
“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences” Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar.
Many writers live within the “Bell Jar”. Seduced into that illusion of containment. A belief that no one can touch me, I can observe from within my safe, transparent shield. There is a difference between our minds and those of non-writers, the ceaseless narrative, the questions we keep under our breath too shy or too polite to ask. Quarrelling characters often bide for space and time within my head, yet I know I am not mad. Not as long as I can hold pen to paper anyway.
I have a great gaggle of friends whom I adore. We love to get together and share the latest happenings in our lives. Usually over coffee, lunch, dinner and occasionally at the gym. Now that I have decided to get my writing life in order and to finish the unfinished works, see new projects through and wade my way through the precarious worlds of blogging and ghosting I have to stick to a working schedule.
Most days it works. It keeps me disciplined. Plus I get to tick off my achievements on a new weekly print out of my schedule. Which is very satisfying indeed.
What is not satisfying is those nearest and dearest becoming miffed even scoffing at my new commitment. My friends have jobs some part and others fulltime that they dress in the morning for, that they attend throughout the day and return home to their own version of normality. I do not have that luxury. I work from home. I am either doing the books for our carpentry business or building my writing career.
In the background the washing machine is whirling, soon to be beeping demands to be emptied. Annie, my German Shepherd is snoring softly on the couch behind me. My office is a small metre square of kitchen space in our tiny timber frame house in Medina. A money saver while times are tough. I sometimes think I hear a scuttle of mice under my desk, that my no-kill methods of mice control are not working and our home is secretly infested. (probably not as I do mice-poo patrol every morning) Still I worry, I saw some once. I joke to friends that the mice were all eaten by the large caramel cockroaches that frequent our house when ever I let my guard down. How can a writer not write in this low-level garret?
No longer will I make myself available to ‘Do Lunch’ at a moments notice because someone is free, bored or has a day off. I can do dinner, weekends, an afternoon tea, yoga or a couple of mornings at the gym but otherwise I am busy working. It does not matter what I am working on or that so far my writing income has only reached double digits. I am working.
Dear writing friends, how do you stick your guns, your schedule, your dreams? When so many people around you are already at their ‘grown up’ jobs how do you stay on track when it is all to easy to let everyday tasks devour your time?
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King
I was stunned when during a writers workshop the discussion turned to what books we are currently reading and a young man announced that he does not bother reading, that he was a writer not a reader. He continued to say in our collective stunned silence that he did not want his “creativity plundered by conformity.”
I was immediately reminded of Stephen King and his book On Writing. One of the first of many craft books I have consumed over the years.
Every book we read teaches us who we are as writers. Every book we scour and scribble in its margins takes us that little bit closer to our voice. We are given a gift, from our fellow writers who have instilled their hearts, sweat and tears amongst the pages of the books they produce and we devour. How can we as writers not feast on the bounty before us. Regardless of our personal tastes and style so many have gone before us and done it well, some brilliantly.
Every writer with their name on a book cover reminds us that Yes, it is possible. Yes, we too can do it. With work, with dedication, and a little ounce of confidence we too can get our name on our own books.
When that happens dear writing friends, spread the word, share your journey and light the way for the next generation of scribes.
I know that it is a physiological necessity. We must blink to cleanse and lubricate the cornea or something along those lines but what happens when you blink and suddenly a year has gone. Pooof!
Last year was the year I was going to do 101 things towards my reaching my goals. The goals I made a list of are all here somewhere. Without even finding it, I know I never got there. My life led me in an entirely though not altogether useless different direction. Here we are now steaming into 2013 and my dreams, goals and aspirations have not changed but I am hoping that my ability to turn them into a reality has improved.
Another year of study, reading, seeking, daydreaming, analysing and debating has led me here to where I will now open the green file containing my WIP and get on with the messy job of editing and rewriting.
Allison has sat on the shelf for long enough. It will soon be time for her to emerge into the light and absorb the well deserved acclamations, or not. I want to finish her so that I can get on with telling the next story I have brewing.
The mere completion of Allison will be a success in itself. Anything else is a bonus.
On a recent shopping trip with my 16-year-old son he saw fit to diagnose me with Alzheimer’s disease. 16 declared his diagnosis following my increasing lack of interest on whatever it was he was talking about. The gaul.
Our friends at Wikipedia describe Alzheimer’s disease as ‘degenerative dementia’ where the sufferer is unable to acquire new memories. What I have to say now is that I haven’t lost the ability to acquire new memories, however I will admit to losing the will to acquire them, whatever they are.
I will admit to having a bad memory in as much as my brain is constantly overloaded. I have dialogue, plots, and characters developing in my head at any given time so is it any wonder I have trouble remembering my everyday mundane reality?
I must stop now and apologise profusely to my lovely husband, and darling children. I love you all dearly but I am a writer, it is in my blood and soul. I live in a world I can only share with you in pieces a world where I don’t have to remember the milk, create something for tea or remind you to do your homework and clean your room.
Today I finished the 50 K in 30 days challenge. Hosted by RWA under the inexhaustible guidance of Julia B, to whom I feel an endless debt of gratitude to. Thank you again. I now have a copy of my first full manuscript waiting patiently for editing and review.
My journey through June has been remarkable. I have uncovered the writer in me. No longer hidden, I am coming out of the closet. Yes I am a writer. Because I do write, not just for a living, but for life. Because feeling the muse work through me brings me joy. (opposed to what editing brings!) but that is another story.