Saturday, November 3, 2012


If you follow me on social media, you might be aware that I've been posting a lot lately on all of my outlets (facebook, twitter and instagram) about a word count and something called na-no wri-mo.

It's not as weird as it sounds! November is national novel writing month (thus the abridged Nanowrimo) and I'm participating for my 2nd time ever. When I first heard about this, I was in college, and in the middle of writing papers constantly for nearly every class. (I wrote papers like it was going out of style. My major had a heavy writing component, and I churned out work on what seemed like an every other day basis. I was always shocked when my roommates who had more math and science based majors agonized over writing ONE paper for their midterm or final. Just one. The entire semester. I still don't have any sympathy.)
Anyway, I heard about writing 50,000 words in a month for the sake of writing a novel in college, and I about fell out of my chair. Who in their right mind would do something like that?

Well, turns out, a few years later, me.

Last year, I felt like I was finally comfortable enough to really put the work in and write what I have been talking about writing for the past 2 years, only to sit down and agonizingly creep out word after word, only to hate it and start rewriting (and rewriting, and rewriting). I have a really strong voice that spans across all of my writing, and I just couldn't find myself in this text. It was like having a foreign non creative version of me write something that is at its core, intensely creative. It felt wrong.

Even though I had thought about this for months, and I had let it keep me up late at night imagining what could happen and how it could happen, everything seemed so fuzzy. I had a grasp on what I felt like could happen, but the who it was happening to, felt like a mystery. I couldn't write it. I was bitterly disappointed, and I shut up about writing because I felt like a failure.

Later either that year, or very early on in this year, I read "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. Have you read this book? I really like it. Its like reading one person's science experiment, only much less dry, about deliberately trying to make their life more enjoyable, and therefore increasing their happiness. In it, she talks about her love of children's literature and quotes an essay that C.S. Lewis wrote on Children's Literature, titled, "On Three Ways of Writing for Children."

Feeling like this was up my alley, I looked it up hoping maybe to find it in a library nearby or an old copy on in a collection of essays on Amazon, and to my surprise, it was available on Google Books.

In it he describes how an editor asked him to elaborate on how he wrote, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. And he confesses, that he's not entirely sure. That it just happened. What I found really interesting is that he says:

"One thing I am sure of. All my seven Narnian books, and my three science fictions books, began with seeing pictures in my head. At first they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try and make a story about it.' " -- C.S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, p. 42.

I felt relieved in a way I can't quite describe. First of all, because I shared something in common with C.S. Lewis (which was absolutely thrilling)-- the image of my main character literally popped into my head one day and wouldn't leave me (or the subsequent images that followed) alone. I didn't know who she was, or why it had come. It just did. Second, the bit about the amount of time between when he saw the image first, and when he decided to craft a story around it, was 24 years. I was not the only one who had ideas that just didn't settle immediately and declare themselves. I decided that I could wait a little longer to write what I wanted to write.

The only difference between this year and last year, is that I have a lot less pressure in my life, and that for the first time, I can hear my characters, some of them more clearly than others, in addition to seeing them. It's making the writing come along nicely, for which I am grateful.

And so, I am pushing forward. I am going to write 50,000 words, which now that I've gotten into it, I'm not sure that my whole story will be a nice neat 50,000. It could easily be longer. But then, it's only day three. (See my little widgets off to the side? They automatically update my word count and the calendar turns green when I've met my word goal for the day.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stretching Creativity

In an effort to try and include people with what's going on in my life (thus, something to put on the blog besides really long updates and emotional traumas), I thought I'd write about some of the projects I've been working on, so to speak.

Maybe this will be like a series on creativity. Maybe not. Who knows.

But as you may or may not know, I do a lot of different things creatively. I like to jump from thing to thing as it suits me, and while that's fun, I'm actually working on being more disciplined when it comes to certain projects. While it's fun to take an afternoon and pound out an idea you had in your head, what's infinitely more rewarding is the eventual pay off from daily work on something. So, I'm taking that approach to my writing. After all, I have a degree in a writing field (sort-of) and I've let that skill slide for awhile. There was a long stretch of time where I had a lot of ideas for writing, but I was really afraid of my own skill, or perceived lack of skill, and so I felt like I couldn't try or whatever attempt that I made at it was beneath the idea itself. Defeatist much? I know.

One of the things that came over today or yesterday, as a pep talk for Nanowrimo (more on that later) and this paragraph resonated with me:

"Regardless of the words that fill those pages, whatever story you choose to tell, the great discovery of this month will be the stack of pages that bears the words that did not exist a mere month before. You will possess the evidence of time spent at your computer, unspooling the narrative in your head. You will have hard evidence, and this will always grant you conviction."- Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

Basically, unless you try, you'll never know. Unless you put in the hours, you won't have a start point to assess growth.

I totally agree with that. You can't say, oh, I'm a terrible X, if you don't put in the work. Why? Because then you aren't writer, a painter, a whatever. You've never even tried.

But what if, like me, you develop a case of the "I can'ts, no, it's not possible, that's a pipe dream, someday when I'm richer/smarter/funnier/thinner" and you doubt your main skill?

Try a different one.

Seriously. Put your main skill down for a hot minute, and pick up something different. And don't just go and pick one out and say this is my new skill. I mean, you can do that, but I tend to like to do things that I'm actually interested in. Over the past couple of years, I've sloooowly made a little headway into paper design and it's turned out pretty nice. People ask me to do wedding invitations and bridal shower invitations and such. It's fun. I love it. I'm not 100% amazing at it. My first christmas card was, I'll admit now, a little too cutesy and cluttered. But what if I had never tackled the christmas card? I would have never learned indesign, or better yet, stretched my creativity in a way that was primarily visual. My loss.

So, I've learned to never say no to a creative process that comes to me on my terms. There have been a few that I've had to turn down because there was no way, no way that I could overcome my learning gap and produce a product that I was comfortable with....but they weren't on my terms, so no loss.

Which leads me into what I've done recently! My brother and sister-in-law have just announced that they are expecting! They told our immediate family a few weeks ago, so we had time to prepare, but one of the things they wanted to do was announce it in a unique way that could get the message across quickly via the internet.   (and I realize that these little shoots are all the rage... in fact, I read an article recently about how its this new thing to glam up what used to be an exciting sentence. oh well. that's millennials for you!) So they asked me to do it. I've never done a photoshoot. I remember very little from my basic camera class in film school (I was more theory and screenwriting...I never got comfortable with the technical stuff).... and I haven't photoshopped anything in ages.

So I said yes! I figured it would be a fun way to stretch my creativity. And while what I have isn't the most amazing thing ever to grace the internet... it's a start. It was fun. I learned a lot. And you know what? I felt like I succeeded, which is the most important part.

Here's the originals:

Yikes huh! We were working with an older digital camera that didn't have great glass as arthur would say (lenses) and while we tried to drench the space in a lot of light... instead of clean and crisp, we got warm. Like drenched in a mexican sunset warm. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew.

So there was a lot of color correction to be done. Thankfully, they were going for a instagram/photo strip look.  And this is what I came up with:

I did loads of color correcting and contouring on this one.

This one's my favorite

I think they look good. It was really fun to do. And I got a big lesson in photoshop actions, color correction and contouring. Which was awesome.

Yay creativity!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What's been going on lately...

Hey peeps...

So, I thought about doing another looong post where I could talk about everything we've been doing lately.
But then I thought that was boring.

So instead, I recorded a video about the biggest change that's happened recently! Fair warning, it's a little shaky. I watched it a couple times on my phone, and I thought fine, but then I watched it on my computer and I was like....woah. So, keep it small screen.