Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Artist's Life

We could probably start this post by talking about a sort of identity crisis I had when I moved.



Let it suffice to say that when I moved I was stripped of all the ways I used to feel important and special. It's just what happens when you change up your life completely.

Family



I've always been mom and wife, though, even after moving (of course.) Over the last two years I've learned that those are the two roles that mean the most to me and make me most proud of who I am. Perhaps that's why, if I have a choice between spending time with my family or working on a story, I'll most likely choose family.  Over the last two years, I've decided to not feel bad about that fact, either. My kids will grow up and eventually I'll have all kinds of time to to write and edit. I want to fill my memory with as much love and children hugs as possible now while I can still get them.

Career

After the first year, due to monetary issues (ie. lack of...) I returned to social work.






And now I've comfortably reclaimed social worker as another part of my identity. Different population and different type of social work, but it turns out I really do enjoy helping others, and seem to be pretty good at it. Nobody enjoys the paperwork, but I feel good when I get it all done, so there's that bit of silver lining.

Writing

When I released Finding Meara I added the role of author to my identity, even though (because I self-published) I felt a little like I was cheating. Now, five years later, I don't know what to think. Am I an author, really? Or because I haven't been making writing a priority does that mean I'm a big fraud and never was a writer/author? If I do still consider myself a writer, what kind of writer am I? Will I ever be disciplined enough to actually finish editing Through the Fairy Ring and write more/new stories?


I honestly feel like I am a writer, but I sure don't act like one!

And then, when I do try to write, my muse is...well, absent? I don't know, but I don't really feel all that creative. I'm trying to pump water out of a dry well. I plan to write every day, and I really do want to. I WANT to write. A month ago I plotted a flash fiction story for a Wattpad contest. I thought it was great, right? Went to write it out a couple of weeks ago and realized it was...well...crap. I mean an honest to goodness craplet. I can't seem to work on anything that gets me excited to write. I'll have little brushes with words and ideas that make me believe I'm going to turn on the writing mojo and get cracking again. But it just fades away or gets stalled out.

What's a writer to do?

This week I was driving to do home visits in a nearby tiny Nebraska town and heard a John Mellencamp interview on NPR. He said that one day he'd realized he'd become someone he didn't like. He was focused on how his records were performing and getting frustrated if they didn't get a lot of acclaim or do well. He was living a "rock and roll" life, focused on the money, glory and how his music benefited him instead of living "an artists life" and was determined to change that.

He decided he was going to "create" every day. It didn't have to be any certain type of creating, he just had to create. He paints, or writes, or plays music, or whatever. And he found the muse became readily available to him. He'll be painting something and all of a sudden his Muse will overwhelm him with something he needs to write. He'll be writing and a melody will come to him. He said that the act of choosing to create every day has enabled him to get out of his own way and just make art. He doesn't worry about if it's good or bad, or whether it'll be profitable or if people will like it. He just creates. Every day.

So, I figure, what the heck? Why not give it a try. Let's see if by creating anything I can start writing something. I'm not terribly talented in many artistic areas. Most of the creative arts I've been involved in require other people (acting, drumming.) But, I figure it doesn't matter, really. I will just try out some new things. I'll draw, or paint, or write, or craft something (scrapbooking page? beading? wire art?)

I've decided to commit to one week of living an artist's life. I know myself well enough to know that I need to make a declaration of my doable goal in order to even have half-a-chance of actually doing this. Here it is, my declaration. You, reading this right now, are my witness and it's to you I'll have to report to next weekend.

Today, obviously, this blog post is going to be my creation. Tomorrow, who knows. But I think it's going to be fun to find out. And that might be what I've lost in writing. Why my muse doesn't want to come and play. I'm no fun to be around. Hopefully I'll find that changed, even if just a little bit, by next weekend.

How do you maintain creative flow in your life?
Are you a "show up and work" kind of creator, or do you have to have inspiration to create?
(I really do want to know!)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Silly Saturday Photos: Assassin Turtles

First off, Happy Weekend!!

Secondly, I'm so sorry! I didn't realize until Sunday night I'd not made a post for last week. I weighed going ahead and writing one up, but decided to just wait for this week's post. However, I'm not going to let not posting become a habit again. It was just a really busy weekend!

We're lucky because there's actually funny photos! I hope you enjoy the pickings this week. :)

Actually, not very LOL at all!



Boy 2 is begging to get  a Leopard Gecko. They are cute, aren't they?









The boys were asking me what you put the "rectangles in to hear them, like in Guardians of the Galaxy." Took me a bit to realize they were talking about cassette tapes and tape players. Egads, but I'm getting old!
Caption by DJAussie




Puns!








Photos this week came from a variety of places - the ones not marked came off of icanhascheeseburger or pinterest (which means they could be from anywhere.)

I personally liked the turtles, especially the one threatening a "mostly slow" death.

Have a great week and see you next weekend!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lazy Saturday Photos: A Cozy Mystery Setting?

It's been tough to find funny photos the last couple of weeks, so I thought this week I'd do a random photo post, instead. Welcome to Lazy Saturday photos!

I've been toying with writing  a cozy mystery. I know, I know. I have a contemporary fantasy I need to get finished and really shouldn't be thinking about anything else. But, I haven't written anything new in a really long time, and I think I'm finally sorting through my writerly issues and am ready to soldier on (I'll need to do a blog post on that some day.) And the plotting of a new story is some of the best fun I have in writing.

So, anyway...back to why I should write a cozy mystery... I love Murder She Wrote and mystery dramas on television, read reams of cozy mysteries, and realized many of the thrillers I've enjoyed over the years owe much to the mystery genre as well. Even my own books are kind of mysteries hidden behind a fantasy veneer. And my love of mystery, specifically of the cozy variety, came early to me, as I loved the Encyclopedia Brown books, Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew as a child.

My home town (the current one) kind of lends itself as a setting. It's not very big (25,000 people) but still big enough to have complex relationships. We've got a college, a community college, a museum, library, courts, crime, (limited) retail, a nifty downtown area, bike paths, and will be at totality of the solar eclipse this summer. Seventy-five percent of the population is retired, and people still wave and smile at each other, go to the parks on a hot summer day, and attend high school sports events. And it's beautiful here! Lots of trees, green grass and flowers. There is a seedy underside, of course. My husband is a probation officer and I hear about some of the problems of the area from co-workers, too. It's not perfect, but it seems like a nice setting for a cozy mystery, a la the Cat Who books.

So, I thought I'd take you on a tour of our town today. My family and I went for a bike ride this morning, and I took some photos of a couple of the places we went by. I'll share just a few that give an idea of what I find appealing about this little town.

We started off by going to the park where bricks were made many years ago. The stacks are still standing and the size of the park is immense. It's more like an over-sized meadow than a park, with lush green grass and graceful trees sharing the space with an amphitheater and some pretty ancient playground equipment my kids adore.

This picture was actually taken on a different day.




Then we headed downtown and decided to stop for a bite to eat.




I always forget how expensive Jimmy Johns is. So much time passes between our visits to the restaurant, because of how expensive it is, I forget and then am always shocked at the tab when we do go. Today was no different. It will now be another 9 mos to a year before we eat at Jimmy Johns again.



This is one panel of a connected row of buildings whose rear exteriors are painted in a colorful mural along the bike path. I liked this one because of the flying moose. Just joking. I'm actually quite perplexed at the flying moose. It's not like there are moose in Nebraska. In any case, all the panels are whimsical and bright. Very interesting to look at, and I imagine have meaning to the area.



Just a picture of my family going down the bike path. I'm so enchanted with the amount of trees in this town. Very different from where we lived in Wyoming.



The bike path follows a viaduct over the train tracks. I love how train tracks look when seen from above. They seem to hold a promise of travel and novelty. Even if you aren't going to be hopping a train soon!



This was new along the path. We can't tell if it's someone's personal tree house or if it was built along the path for the public to play in.

And then finally we ended up at a different park than the morning. Actually, by taking the bike path in a big (10-12 mile) circle, we managed to go through the three major parks in town. This one has new equipment, old equipment and a spray park. We enjoyed all three, proving once again that playgrounds aren't just for children, they're for the young at heart.


I hope everyone had as nice a Saturday morning as we did. I decided to limit my social media/internet usage today, so as to not taint the day with the craziness of the outside world. I wish all of the world could have some of the peace and contentment I had today.

Have a wonderful week and I'll see you next Saturday!

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