Tuesday, 30 March 2010

My way of living creatively....

"Art is not a thing; it is a way." Elbert Hubbard
I started this week with renewed determination to follow my self-designed daily creative practice. Flicking through my copy of "The Zen of Creative Painting" by Jeanne Carbonetti I found the above quote and it seemed a perfect affirmation of my aims. I felt it possible to also substitute the word 'art' with 'writing' (Writing is not a thing; it is a way.) and 'creativity' (Creativity is not a thing: it is a way) and I could go on with the words such as music etc..... I think the word 'art' is meant to encompass more than just visual arts and this quote may offer different meanings to each individual.
Whilst recovering for the optic neuritis I've started to lose confidence in myself as a writer. It's difficult to remain confident when not able to see to work on my novel. But for a good part of this time I've been able to scribble down notes, poems & short pieces. I've kept being a writer, but not producing at the rate or quality I'd have liked. This quote has served as a reminder that, for me, being a writer is not just about being published but is "a way" of life. Ultimately I'd like to see my novels published but this isn't my sole reason for writing. Similarly I may never be a professional musician, craftswoman or artist but I will still express myself creatively because creativity is a way of life that I'm realising is essential to my well being.
My daily creative practice continues to grow & adapt as I learn to listen to my intuition. It serves to help with physical things like coordination & concentration. It also helps keep me happy, fulfilled and practiced in my chosen crafts. I just have to show up & try even when I don't feel like I can.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Memories that frame our stories....

Recently I've been riding a roller coaster of emotions. My Gran (my Dad's mum) died ten days ago. I've spent huge amounts of time lost in memories, considering her story & how it intermingled with others. On Mother's Day I was by the sea (photo above taken then) and remembered how she spent over half her life living by the coast but died landlocked in London. I on the other hand spent my childhood landlocked in the East Midlands always craving to live nearer the coast, as I do now. Smells, phrases, people and all manner of irrelevant details have sparked memories that play a part in our interwoven life stories.

I've been trying to cope with grief & some troublesome health issues by trying to keep involved in creative activity as per my plan. I've written poems, anecdotes & journaled my heart out. I've also continued to create pages in my new art journal. Below is one such page:

Tomorrow is my Gran's funeral & I'm sad that I'm not well enough to travel the more than 300 miles to be there. I agonised over this frustrating situation. But now I plan to spend the day in quiet contemplation & creativity dedicated to my Gran. I'm going to go through old photos & create scrapbook pages. I shall write in my journal & work on some of the memory poetry I've started.

Stories are interwoven into every part of our lives. Creative activities can help us face and express our emotions. The more I make creativity my healing practice the more I realise its importance to my well being.


Monday, 15 March 2010

Journaling Adventures....

I've kept a written journal for as long as I can remember. My daily writing splurge has been an important part of my life.

I've also tried keeping morning pages, dream diaries, scrapbooks, collecting inspirational quotes and a creative visualisation journal amongst other projects. I'm now trying my hand at art journaling. And so far.......it is clear I am not a natural artist. BUT the purpose of keeping an art journal, for me, is creative self expression. A playground for my creative ideas and thoughts. For this reason I'm sharing the first three pages with you all in an attempt to tell my inner critic "I don't care what it looks like. And I don't care if you say it looks rubbish or stupid".

So here's my front cover....

And here's an exercise I did where I cut out about 30 words from old magazines, arranged them on the table & then made myself create something using only those words (no cheating & looking for new words or writing my own).......

And here's a little self expressive fun I had cutting & gluing stuff I liked....

So there it is. See "inner critic" - I'm not afraid. (Much!) (Hands shaking as I go to press the 'publish post' button)
If you like the idea of art journaling but would like to learn more from someone with talent visit Shannon Kinney-Duh at http://freespiritknits.blogspot.com/ whose blog is a wonderful source of creative inspiration. Shannon runs "Inside Out" an e-course that uses personal art journaling & more to guide you on a journey of creative self-discovery. She can also be found on Twitter: @FreeSpiritKnits .

Monday, 8 March 2010

Seaside inspiration...

The theme in March for the Creative Everyday Challenge 2010 (see post below) is 'Stories'. It got me thinking about how my life story led me to settle in the coastal county of Cornwall and how much the coastline inspires me creatively.

After the most recent relapse kept me away from the seaside for a couple of months I am grateful to have just visited the coast two days in a row.

This is Polzeath beach mid-afternoon yesterday:

Whilst my husband and children got sandy & wet I did some free writing at Polzeath yesterday afternoon. I've spent many hours writing at Polzeath. It is one of my favourite places and consequently the childhood home of a main character in my current novel.

This next photo was taken from above Fistral bay at lunch time today:

This next photo shows sandy Fistral beach today. Cold but beautiful & sunny. I've also written a fair few scenes at Fistral either in a cafe, on a bench or in my car.

I feel blessed to live in Cornwall. The place, people and history are a constant rich source of inspiration. I find the sea magical and liberating. I am glad they are a part of my life story. In turn Cornwall has become woven into my fictional stories, poetry and crafts.
Tomorrow is my Birthday and traditionally I buy a new journal every Birthday. I have the ritual of ending my old journal with a review of my past year and beginning my new journal with an introduction of where I'm at and where I'd like to be. I always keep a personal written journal, sometimes a scrapbook journal (pictorial ideas) and a journal about my children. All of them are an expression of my story.

What place(s) are important to your life story? What place influences the fictional worlds you create? What place inspires you to create?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Creative Every Day 2010 Challenge

I recently discovered the 'Creative Every Day Challenge 2010' created & run by the very talented Leah Piken Kolidas who set this initiative up to (in her words) "help infuse my life and lives of others with daily creativity."
Having just renewed my own commitment to include creative practice into my daily life; the discovery of such a challenge/group seemed like fate.
Presently I feel the need to focus on daily creativity as a form of healing, meditation, inspiration and balance. After this recent MS relapse prevented me from being able to express myself creatively I was reminded just how vital living a creative life is for my well being. Now I am recovering well I feel even more motivated to pursue my writing and creative life.
Fiction writing has always been my number one passion. But apart from this I love to craft cards & jewellery or paint, knit, take photos, write poetry and play music. My plan is to try to build on a daily creative practice that could include any of these activities or/and new forms of expression.
As part of my self imposed exercise plan I've also started to play scales on the piano in order to improve my coordination and concentration. Hard and near impossible at first, within a few weeks I am improving. Once my eyes are up to reading music I shall try playing more than just scales which will no doubt please my long suffering family who are sick of scales accompanied by
shouts and bangs of frustration when I go wrong.
And this weekend a real improvement was made with my eyes/brain/concentration when I created my first ever mixed media collage on boxed canvas (above). Its not a great photo but basically I have included various papers, plastics, found objects, acrylic paints, cut out words & metallic embossing. I made a fair few beginners mistakes but overall I am happy with the result not least because it marks an improvement health wise.
The Creative Every Day Challenge has monthly optional themes. In February it was 'Home'. I'm a couple of days late but as I live in Cornwall where the coast plays a focal part in all aspects of life; this collage seems appropriate.
Check out the CED2010 challenge & Leah's own fantastic creations at http://www.creativeeveryday.com/. I dare you not to be inspired!


Monday, 1 March 2010

Read "Thaw" by Fiona Robyn

Ruth's diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.
Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow at http://read-thaw.blogspot.com.

These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It's a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we're being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.
The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they're stuck to the outside of her hands. They're a colour that's difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.
I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I'm giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering whether it's all worth it. I've seen the look in people's eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I've heard the weary grief in my dad's voice.
So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I'm Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I'm sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?
Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat - books you have to take in both hands to lift. I've had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I've still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.
Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about - princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad's snoring was.
I've always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I'll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say, 'It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for,' before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It'll all be here. I'm using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I'm striping the paper. I'm near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I'm allowed to make my decision. That's it for today. It's begun.
Continue reading at http://read-thaw.blogspot.com.
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