Thank you to San Fransisco Review of Books for their fabulous look at Uncle Neddy’s Funeral! Click here to read.
Thank you to San Fransisco Review of Books for their fabulous look at Uncle Neddy’s Funeral! Click here to read.
This week’s creative is young, talented, a writer to watch, and she happens to be my niece. Amanda has been published in several literary magazines along with a study gig writing for Courthouse News and Westword. Her talents extend beyond the writer into translating and editing. Here is her creative process:
“If you haven’t written a word since your last school assignment, you probably think writing is a magical thing that happens to a few gifted people with great grammar. Truth is, I would be lost without spell check and muses are a lot like lightening, if you’re waiting to be struck, you’re probably still waiting.
My process is slow and tedious and involves countless hours of going back and crossing out whatever I finally managed to write down.
On a good day, I’ll wake up a good hour or two before everyone else in the house, make a French press, and get to it. On a bad day, I sleep in and spend the afternoon lying to myself about how I will make up for it later then inevitably go to bed early.
For me, the two most important parts of the story are the ending and the twist. Without those, my character is all dressed up with nowhere to go. In the case of “Two Soups for Table Eight,” I began with the idea that I wanted to write something that might be seen differently on the second reading—either Jean’s a bored waiter with a big imagination or he really is a reporter. I also wanted to capture that angst of being stuck at a day job, when you (feel like you) have more important things to do.
I try to put some truth in every story and challenge myself to experiments with new techniques.
I figure if I keep grinding away like this, the muse just might strike day and I will be ready for it with a kite and a key.”
Greetings and apologies for missing a few weeks. I could fill in some of the excuses my student’s favor, yet I will not. Instead please allow me to introduce this week’s creative, Steve Patarini, also known as the hubz. Our household is creative. Both hubz and the offspring possess musical talents. I write. Together we inspire each other.
Finally, after asking many a times I will discover, with you my readers, how hubz creates.
I hope you enjoy.
“I am a person whose mind races constantly and the voices in my head seem to never shut down, even when I try to go to sleep at night. As a middle school teacher my day starts early with a 5:30 wake up to complete my morning routine in time for my commute to work by 7:30 am. As I speed up a relatively lightly traveled highway at 6:45, I find myself in a uniquely altered state of both sleep deprivation and high caffeination. The six and a half hours of sleep I routinely get, or less, is insufficient for me. I compensate by gulping down 2 cups of sugar laced coffee by 6 am so that as I drive to work I am practically vibrating.
It is in these state that I find my subconscious mind is enabled by the caffeine and my conscious mind is suppressed by my drowsiness. This is a fertile situation for both verbal and musical creativity. I will get a melody or rhyme in my head and in the interest of safety I will pull out my handy voice recorder to preserve my inspirations.
I often dictate the lyrics to an entire song in one session. I often compose a carefully worded work email, letter, or classroom activity to a degree that very little editing needs happen afterword.
My auditory style of thought basically narrates my daily life like a noir detective novel (“he went to the fridge and poured the iced tea as little droplets of condensation rolled down the side of the pitcher…”). Using a voice recorder to capture those thoughts and preserve them is crucial since they will soon be pushed from my mind by the next “chapter” of my consciousness.
While I don’t usually recommend sleep deprivation; a combination of lack of sleep, huge quantities of a favorite caffeine source, and a lengthy car ride in silence with a voice recorder nearby can produce interesting creativity.
There is no telling what the voices in your head might inspire.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
This is the second installment of me sharing the creative thought process of others. Enjoy!
“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.