Stay Human – Michael Franti’s Creative Message

I apologize for the late post. I was out getting a recharge at a four-day music festival during which I experienced the inspirational message of Michael Franti and Spearhead. If you haven’t heard of him, click here for a music video. I also encourage you to read his lyrics. Franti’s message is one of encouragement, kindness, and a reminder to all, especially today, to stay human.

Michael Franti BLOG

He spoke to the crowd about what motivates him. He connected with his audience on multiple levels by acknowledging different groups within society. “I have a sister who is a lesbian and a brother who is a police officer. My family covers the spectrum.”

Franti produced a film titled Stay Human. He spoke about his creative motivation being the world we are in and how we treat each other. From the website, “During these turbulent times, the feeling of hopelessness is an epidemic. In a quest to hold on to humanity in the craziness of the world we live in today, my new documentary STAY HUMAN takes us on an experiential journey through music and stories of some of the most inspiring people on the planet that I’ve met along my travels, who have chosen to overcome cynicism with optimism and hope —and remind us all what it means to STAY HUMAN.”

After his set, Franti took the time for multiple selfies and hugs, exemplifying the concept of staying human by connecting further with his audience. I personally received a lot of inspiration and one sweaty hug.

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Stay Human people.

 

A Writing Guru

I am fortunate to have many wonderful writer’s who work with me on my projects, inspire me to reach further, and encourage me to continue honing my craft. It’s a great life.

Way back during my undergrad at UConn, several writing professors had the book

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Totally geeking out about meeting Natalie Goldberg!

Writing Down The Bones on their optional reading list. Since I first purchased this classic, I have re-read it a dozen or so times. Natalie Goldberg’s classic inspires, directs, and assists writers through the process of writing.

I had the honor to meet Ms. Goldberg at The Bookstore & Get Lit Wine Bar in Lenox Massachusetts where she was promoting her latest book, Let The Whole Thundering World Come Home: A Memoir. Here she shares her cancer journey through writing and Zen. I bought her new one yet got my 1986 copy of WDTB signed.

I learned a few important things during her session. 1. When I asked a writing question, she answered, “one must just shut up and write” (she really wanted to talk about her new book) and 2. Ms. Goldberg doesn’t like cameras.

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A little more calm after she signed my book.

About WDTB from Amazon: “With insight, humor, and practicality, Natalie Goldberg inspires writers and would-be writers to take the leap into writing skillfully and creatively. She offers suggestions, encouragement, and solid advice on many aspects of the writer’s craft: on writing from “first thoughts” (keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get it on paper), on listening (writing is ninety percent listening; the deeper you listen, the better you write), on using verbs (verbs provide the energy of the sentence), on overcoming doubts (doubt is torture; don’t listen to it)—even on choosing a restaurant in which to write. Goldberg sees writing as a practice that helps writers comprehend the value of their lives. The advice in her book, provided in short, easy-to-read chapters with titles that reflect the author’s witty approach (“Writing Is Not a McDonald’s Hamburger,” “Man Eats Car,” “Be an Animal”), will inspire anyone who writes—or who longs to.”

Click here to visit her website. Click here to visit the The Bookstore & Get Lit Wine Bar’s website. Both links have options to order her books.

Visual Artist Sean Powers

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Me and Colorado artist Sean Powers on the Boulder Mall. Thank you, Sean, for sharing your creative process!

Welcome back, folks! This week Colorado visual artist extraordinaire Sean Powers shares his creative process with us.

The process of creating my work is sort of like a cross between narrating with imagery and watching an image spontaneously emerge through paint. I’m interested in the literal and figurative nature of an image; the way different subjects can interrelate through abstraction and representation and how the subjects’ forms communicate something literal while suggest something figurative in the mind of the viewer. The subjects I’m working with have a literal relationship to one another in the current world and an abstract relationship through their concept, function and form. I use art history, abstraction, representation, design and other techniques to bridge these different images together in a way that is equally literal and ambiguous in content.

The inspirations for my narratives are weird and diverse. I read a lot, currently I have been pouring over the works of Nietzsche, Michio Kaku, Patanjali and Joseph Campbell. My narrative pictures are rooted in the current and past traditions of human cultures and psyche, but I seek to shape the story further along and create a new picture that conveys the mystery of these subjects and their evolutionary past.

To see more of Sean’s work check out the slide show below or visit his website.

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Singer * Songwriter * Activist

This is the second installment of me sharing the creative thought process of others. Enjoy!

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Me & the incredibly talented Terri Lachance. I caught up with Terri at a solo gig at The Gelston House in East Haddam Connecticut.
Thank you, Terri, for sharing your creative process!

My creative process starts with a nagging feeling of being unsettled, the kind that won’t leave me alone no matter how many times I try to brush it aside or ignore it. It is a feeling I can’t name until I take out my guitar, a piece of paper, and a hand-held recording device.

I know I have something to say to help me process a situation. I need time carved from a busy schedule, to understand for myself something that his happening to me, to the world, to other people. I need to say something about it. I need to understand.

When I was younger, I reflected on relationships that did not last, observations about how the world worked around me, truths from my perspective. I had to let people know that even though something did not work as I expected, I understood it better or learned something from the encounter. I was touched in some way.

This is when I wrote songs such as New York, New York which describes the homeless on the streets while people in business suits walked by. I could not understand their invisibility to those who walked by and didn’t look in their direction or acknowledge in any way.

Then I became a mother, full of uncertain decisions. I needed to understand the steps and stages of my children. I would have a physical pain or tightness in my stomach that would not leave me until I wrote a song about what I wanted to say. Only then I would be able to understand my feelings about what was happening.

When my daughter was graduating High School, I found myself tearing up all the time at odd moments. I would be thinking about the graduation. I would feel panicked she would be leaving for college, all the time living at home with me would be a fading memory. One day I found some time to sit down, take out my guitar, and write a song. That is when it hit me, she is not leaving her past, it is always inside her because she has come from me. That having that part of me with her will be what she needs to fall back on in her new stage of life. Once I wrote it and played it for people, I realized my song summarized my feelings, I was accepting of what was happening.

With more maturity and the extreme confusion now in our country, I have stepped more out of myself to want to change the world. I want to point out what we are not doing as a Nation; bring awareness to the plight of others.

These feelings of anger have allowed me to write songs about people who are not living by the Golden Rule, treat others as you want to be treated.

People cannot be judged by outside characteristics, that each person needs to be known individually. My songs help me cope with the helplessness that things are not getting better fast enough. We all need to try harder and work together to have the world we want to see.

My creative process keeps me sane. If I did not write songs, I would probably cause harm to myself in my weakest moments. My songs keep me alive because I know by writing them, I am trying to fight evil and understand my own sense of reality. They give me hope that if I sing them enough, I will touch someone to make a change in the world, maybe start a conversation, or meet someone who mirrors what I have felt and empathize with each other. It will help someone know that they are not alone, and neither am I.

To hear some of Terri’s songs or see her perform, please click here.

Inspiration Move Me Brightly*

Greetings All!

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Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com   

With some deep thought (still healing and getting more mobile 😊) this summer I will be switching up the blog. There will still be book updates, yes, I am still working on Maximum Trouble, and am hobbling to a concert or two, however I thought it would be fun to introduce other creatives I have the pleasure of spending time with during this crazy journey and sharing how they create.

Writers, artists, poets, musicians and more!

For example, I am a puker when it comes to writing. No, I don’t ingest weird stuff until I get sick, I write out a semi-complete project, usually without an ending, then go back and outline to see what I am missing.

My process takes longer than those who plan ahead yet in my mind, my characters and their situations dictate the story. Sometimes it works while other times the half story ends up in my W.I.P. folder to get re-hashed, reviewed, or deleted later.

When I get genuinely stuck revising, I go to other projects like writing this blog or building websites, maybe designing a book cover, or helping with a children’s book, usually for friends, to relax my brain. Doing this currently works for me.

(Ta da!) This is my process.

Here is the part where I ask a couple favors from all of you; please let me know if you like the new format.  Feel free to leave a comment so all can see or message me privately.

And, for all those who have read Maximum Mayhem, if you have a better title idea for the sequel (yes, you read that correctly… Zack and Maxi are coming back to a bookseller near you) than Maximum Trouble, do the same here via private message or in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

*lyrics by The Grateful Dead

The Art Of Breaking Rules

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I spent a sunny, eighty degree Saturday getting my prose on at the Wesleyan Writers Conference, pictured here with the incredibly talented Steve Almond.

We have so many rules that we function by.
Life has rules.
Prose has rules.
Heck, everyone I know have rules.
Rules have overtaken our lives. But we need rules, no? Maybe? Yes?
Where was I going with this?  Oh yes, I remember now … In college I was taught a specific way to construct a story. Certain elements needed to be present while others induce boredom. I am a rule breaker at heart so when a presenter shows how to break all I have lived by, all I can say is that I am in!
Being given the option is freeing!
Side note:  Maximum Trouble will take a little longer…

Snow Day Writing…

Scene: Feet up in a recliner, green, fabric. A gift from one of my parent’s friends because he liked his old chair better. Heat radiating off the blue soapstone wood stove in the corner. Cadenced breathing coming from a black lump on a brownish gray dog bed. Dim lights.

A gray day sits out my picture window. A “snow day” actually.

Except there is no snow. The thermometer reads 38 degrees. If the sun would peek out, it would be beautiful. Instead today is dreary.

My next book is slow coming. I debate every move to the point where I write dual scenes. For example, my latest has two prominent characters making a narrow escape from a psychopath. One should get shot… then again, she might not.

The other version has the dual getting rescued and the bullet piercing skin is definite.

Otherwise the scene would be expected… boring.

The rhythmic sounds of my dog snoring interrupt my characters dodging of objects that would cause some type of pain. I wonder if dogs could have a deviated septum? Would they need an operation to breathe better? Should I be concerned?

Silence. Oh yeesh… She’s looking at me with her big brown Lab eyes. This could mean almost anything except she doesn’t want to go out. She crawls right up on my lap when she wants to do that. She doesn’t want food because she’ll sit in front of me and make noise by bouncing her tail off the floor. Water bowl is full. Her purple bone is under her stomach, hedgehog is to the right, and her head is laying on her squirrel. No missing toys.

Why is she staring?

Oh… more snores. I guess she’s sleeping with her eyes open.

Kind of creepy.

It is starting to rain…

Disclaimer: I got up to get my camera and apparently this is code for “cookie”.  Adorable dog quickly becomes P.I.A.  Moment over…