Good News: I like my book!

Various papers and writing tools rest on a cloth surface.
Image description: A clipboard, post-it notes, a typed page and handwritten notes in a notebook are resting on a cloth surface.

I spend a good chunk of today reading my novel draft and making notes on various characters.

It was boring to do the work but the reading was really fun.

I was happy to discover that I really like my book – the characters are interesting, the plot is pretty good, and the writing is pretty solid.

There is a lot of work left to do to make it into the novel that I want it to be but I am very happy with this starting point.

Revisions

I’m on a writing retreat this weekend so I can start revising my novel.

I’ve revised stories and articles but I have never revised a whole book before.

(No, I don’t think I can do it all in one weekend. This is just for starters!)

Wish me luck!

GIF of a man typing on a laptop and saying ‘This is good.’
Let’s hope this is how I will feel tomorrow. Image description: A GIG in which, Nick, a white male character from the TV show ‘New Girl’ is typing on his laptop in his messy room and saying ‘This is good.’

Not the boss of words today

I generally find it pretty easy to write.

Sure, it might be hard for me to actually get myself to sit down at my desk but once I have the document open and I start typing things usually flow pretty well.

In fact, I often describe my writing as bossing words around.

Today, however, I was not the boss of words. They did not want to pay any attention to me and they flatly refused to line up on the page in a logical fashion.

Luckily, I’ve been writing for a long time. These kind of days are going to happen. They don’t have any special meaning about my writing, or my writing skill, they aren’t a sign of anything.

Today’s frustrations only mean that today was frustrating.

There’s always tomorrow!

A GIF of a monkey typing.
Image description: a monkey (or maybe a chimpanzee) in a pink shirt types on an old-fashioned typewriter.

A is for Art

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge again this year.  My plan was to have a theme but that hasn’t worked out yet.  One may develop as the month goes on. 🙂 

I think that a lot more people are drawn (ha!) to art than we realize, and maybe even more than they realize.

I can remember when I was a kid, I used to draw these endless pictures of two hills with a sun rising between them, and a blue sky and clouds with a perfect arc of a rainbow. I included a river sometimes and little tufts of grass, sometimes there would be trees. Occasionally there would be seagulls (really just v-shapes in the sky). It wasn’t a good drawing per se, but there was something satisfying about drawing it. I knew what it was going to come out like, I liked using the art supplies, and it was fun. I would never have called it art, of course, and it wasn’t even particularly creative, but it made me happy to do it.

At that point in my life (and for a long time after), I didn’t know that you could learn to draw, that you could learn art techniques. I thought that you had to start with *some* talent and that you could improve on what you had, but if you didn’t have any natural skill then you might as well choose something else.*  So after a while, when no natural talent appeared, I just stopped playing with crayons and I stopped drawing the hills and rainbows.

But I still felt that pull, I still WISHED I could draw. And I did, sometimes. I drew things for my kids, or for birthday cards for my family, that sort of thing, but I never really did any actual practice because, after all, I wasn’t an artist. (I’m moving away from that position but I’ll write about that another day, this post is about that pull to create.)

I think that there are a lot of people in that position though. A lot of people who can’t name what the feeling is but they feel pulled towards creativity – they flail on dance floors, they spraypaint graffiti, they doodle on walls, they make weird comments (online or in real life)**. They may not have an appropriate channel for their creativity, but they feel that need to put their stamp on things, to say that they were here, that their ideas matter.

They may not recognize that art is what they need, they may not understand that art is available to them for that purpose, and for those that do ‘get it’ they might not think that they have ‘permission’ to create art, but they do.

Part of my work as a creative life coach is giving people permission to do the creative things in their hearts. I just wish that I could let them know that they had the power to choose it all along.

 

 

*I believed this about a lot of things, not just art.

**No, I don’t think that every shitty internet comment comes from a thwarted artist, but I think that some do.

 

I is for Ideas

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. So far, so good.

I always find it a bit puzzling when people ask me where I get my ideas because I am never really conscious of looking for them, they just kind of tumble out.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t help someone create the conditions for coming up with good ideas themselves, though. I *am* a creativity coach and ideas are usually the first step.

Personally, I think that people generally have a lot of ideas but they have a mental filter in place so the ideas are ‘caught’ before they make it to the conscious mind. So, the trick becomes in teaching yourself to let those ideas make it to a part of the brain where they can be recorded – giving yourself permission to have all kinds of ideas, silly, serious or anything in between.

It’s a bit like when I took a drawing workshop a few years ago and my instructor mentioned that step one in learning to draw is learning to SEE. What she meant by that was they we need to see objects as made of lines, and shapes and light, not just as a solid unit. When we are trying to be creative and find ideas, we have to learn to break down ‘units’ of thought into their component ideas. Then we can take those pieces and look at them different ways and see where they lead us.

ANYWAY, about me and my ideas…

(yes, it’s always me, me, me, it’s like this is my blog or something!)
I have always had a strong imagination, firing off elaborate mental scenarios for the tiniest thread of evidence and when I get started with ideas I ‘chain-smoke’ them – each one is lit from the idea before.

Pulling one idea out of my oddly connected brain is like pulling on one piece of a net – you may get one string of ideas or you may get all kinds of offshoots and interconnected pieces. It might be hard from the outside to see how they are connected, but I know.

For example, when I said chain-smoke above, that reminded me of my friend Jason because we used to say he chain-smoked conversations, lighting one topic off the one before so the rest of us could barely keep up. Mentioning Jason reminds me that he used to have blue glasses, and that reminds me that my youngest kid wants his hair dyed blue and that reminds me of how my sister Ange used to dye her hair with kool-aid and the stench of kool-aid would permeate the house.

Now, I might not say all of those things aloud to you. You might mention chain smoking and next thing I am talking about the smell of kool-aid, it’s not obvious when you are outside of my head. 🙂

And you might be thinking ‘Okay, Christine, that’s a flood of associations but where are the ideas?’

Well, from that net of connections, I thought about including smells of childhood – playdoh, crayons, kraft dinner, and kool-aid in a story and how those things can bring back such vivid memories, both good and bad.

And I had the idea of writing a story in which someone’s hair colour reflects their magic ability, or perhaps it makes them stronger – kind of like an update on Samson.

And I thought about writing about someone who is brave enough to be who they are, no matter what anyone thinks of them -their own opinion of themselves is far more important to them than anyone else’s.

And I thought about why someone might talk a lot – are they excited? Nervous? Do they just have a lot to say? Sometimes a lot of talking seems rude but it doesn’t always have to be. So I could write about all the different reasons around talking a lot. That could be for a fictional character or someone real.

So, now that I have told you all about how my brain churns out ideas, I am going to turn the question to you…

Where do you get your ideas?

Also, what does the colour blue make YOU think of?