The Most Vulnerable Point for Writers

Writing Reflection

Writing Reflection

The most vulnerable point for writers
is when
the the artist opens
the door for
reflection
and
the inner critic
slams it in rejection.

 

Why does artistic reflection lead to a sense of critical rejection in one’s mind? Why can’t we simply say we are in the space of “reflection” when reviewing our work? That keeps the door open. Rejection (even our own internal brand) simply closes it.

Writers…of Feather and Fin

offinandfeather

We writers are of feathers and fins
The quill we take in hand,
the first strokes upon the page
– the ones we think we know-
and the ones we believe we control.

Until pen upon the page unloosens
something within us and it pushes below
the surface-
and becomes the fins that plumb the depths
below that which was known.

—-
I liked this image as it just appeared on its own. I believe it really speaks to writing and the creative process.
We take pen in hand (the quill) represented by feathers. We all have flights of fancy when we write.
Our thoughts centered on what we are sure we will say.

Something, though, happens in the creative active. We put pen to page (or fingers to keys) and suddenly we are in a depth we never know existed. We are surprised, as much as any one, at what has emerged from that which was hidden from the surface. We become the fins, swimming in our own deepness.

Publishing?…Does your book have These?

Determination

Determination

Every creator has this hope-
that his or her creation will be strong enough to walk out into the world on its own, with an eye for the right journey.

—–
I wanted to celebrate sending off the book proposal, and I liked this image. You have to trust your creations enough to let them go. They should have “feet” of their own in which to engage the world and an eye for where they belong.

I liked in the image that it looks like the book figure is walking in a stream. I did not intend that but it made me think of the stream of consciousness.

Resonating with the Irrelevant…What My Book Proposal Has Taught Me

Resonance

Resonance

I am just now wrapping up a book proposal on the topic of female embodiment and the power inherent in women. It was, in some ways, a delight to write. I focused on creating the book in a format that resonated with who I am as a creator. Thus, I included artistic images, poems, and bits and pieces from my speaking engagements surrounding this topic.

All was well and good, until about 3 days ago. I have been so busy with so many commitments that, although I was working on the proposal a great deal, I really was not paying attention to where I was in the process.

Suddenly- and this is the very tricky part for any creator- I realized I was almost done.

And that is when the panic hit.

When completion of a project is a dream in the distance, it is difficult to feel nervous. But, bring a project close to fruition and suddenly you begin to doubt and second guess yourself.

I came a little unhinged in the final segments I was working on – the introductory letter and opening material of the proposal.

I could not determine what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. I wrote in circles and deleted and wrote in more circles.

I began calling friends to get their opinions. They were busy and did not pick up the phone, so I called again. Never leaving a message until I tried at least twice.

I am embarrassed to say it was a writer’s version of “drunk dialing”.

Until I understood what was going on.

I was using my energy attempting to resonate with the most irrelevant aspects of my project and then wondering why I no longer felt assured in what I was doing.

I was spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about ridiculous matters- the 2nd and 3rd sentences in the 4th paragraph of my introductory letter- really? When the body of my work was whole, complete, and authentic.

Let me tell you this, the main body of the proposal will either resonate with the publisher or it won’t. The acceptance or rejection of the project will hardly hinge on sentence 3 of the 4th paragraph, but that is where I let my focus take me.

It’s an old defense mechanism of creative types the world over. Let me attempt to resonate with the irrelevant, so I do not have to look too closely and honestly at what I have created. For if I were to stand in front of my own authentic creation and allow the significance of what I have created resonate with me, I truly don’t know if I could stand it.

Once I understood what I was doing, I could let it go and stop calling my friends.

We are never at our best when we attempt to resonate with the irrelevant in our lives- whether that irrelevant is contained in a creative project, the details of a relationship, a work situation or whatever. We are only at our best when we authentically resonate with our best, most significant aspects of our work.

My Author Interview

Copyright: Post Independent, Glenwood Springs

Copyright: Post Independent, Glenwood Springs

One of the blogs I have enjoyed during the past several months is Kev’s Blog.

Kev is a writer living in the UK. To say he is multi-talented is an understatement. But, where I have connected with him is first through his writing. I just finished his book Miedo: Living Beyond Childhood Fear.

But it is not just that Kev is an author. He does an outstanding job encouraging and promoting other authors, along with his own work.

I mean, you know how you see someone doing something and it seems so natural to them, that is how I have always felt when I see how he integrates creativity and promotion.

He is constant champion for other authors. He provides a venue for author interviews and SENDS YOU MATERIALS AND EVERYTHING with how to go about completing the author interview. He will even help you format the material, correct mistakes, etc.

Given we are all so busy, how wonderful of a gift is that to give of one’s time and creative energy to helping others.

Unless you have tried it yourself, never take for granted how difficult it is to be strong both in a creative and promotional sense. They are not one in the same as far as skill sets go. I have learned a great deal from Kev in how he has handled these things.

Which of course leads me to this- Kev was kind enough one day to ask if I had ever considered doing an author interview. He even sent me a link with all of the materials needed.

I wrote back, ever clueless, “Hi Kev, such an interview engenders a great deal of fear for me.”

Sigh…sigh…sigh..

At this point, Kev, being the kind person he is, said, “There is nothing to be afraid of. Don’t worry.”

( I am sure he was internally likely thinking- “My gosh, I am just here trying to provide promotional opportunities for writers. I am not your psychotherapist for heaven’s sake.” – I am not saying Kev did think that, I could just totally understand if he did.)

Here is the link for my author interview on Kev’s gracious blog.

Thank you so much Kev!!
——

Note about photo: I wanted to attach a photo of myself to this blog. However, I am at the wrong computer and don’t have any self-images, so I thought that I would look up my name on the internet to see if I could find a photo. (It is recommended you do this every once in awhile to make certain no strange/harmful information is being posted about you. )

Although it is recommended by others, I don’t know if I would recommend this approach. If you are like me, when you Google your name and images, you will see a ton of images of people with your name who are way better looking than you and seem to be having a lot more fun in life than you ever will.

The photo is taken with our then college President giving me the faculty of the year award.

Self-Publishing: Do you have the “data” you need?

When I was getting my PhD in science, we always set the goal of 5 figures for each article we submitted for acceptance to peer-reviewed journals.

My advisor and the group he was associated with felt that 5 figures “told the story”. Five was likely an arbitrary figure, but it worked for us. We had a lot of accepted publications over the years.

This number also provided a guide for when we could consider we were “done” and ready to publish a given set (science experiments in a lab are not discrete- things overlap, build upon one another, and roll forward from previous work ).

The other thing the criteria of 5 figures did was it stopped us from telling lies to ourselves that we were ready to publish when we were in fact not. If we couldn’t pull five solid figures from the data, then we had not done enough to get a publication.

And this is where I am leading into the discussion of self-publishing. I have had several people ask, “How long exactly did it take?” or “How did you get this done so fast?”

My answers are “Not really that long at all” and “I already had all my data”.

What I am trying to say is that self-publishing did not take me that long because I already had everything I needed- a complete story (in my mind, at least).

I had all the artistic figures done, and a good portion of the writing. I just needed to link it together.

You can begin your self-publishing journey before you have everything complete. You don’t need “all the data and your five figures.”

However, like my advisor used to say, “You can’t make 3 figures worth of data into 5. And you can’t make 3 figures into a complete story. So, get back to work.” 🙂

You also can not publish a complete book from incomplete information.

If you start the self-publishing process before you have everything complete, i.e. you really need to write 5 more chapters of your book, that is fine, but realize you will complete the self-publishing process more slowly. Not because the process is slow, but because you did not have all the data you needed.

If it is important to you that self-publishing is a quick process, then make sure you have all “data” you need before you begin.

Otherwise, as my advisor would say if you try to publish too soon, because he grew up on a farm, “You are trying to get milk from an empty udder.”

Why on Some Days I love the Words I Write more than I love some of the people in My Life

Kim and Her Words Sitting in a Tree....

Kim and Her Words Sitting in a Tree….

Days exist in which I love the words I write. I, at times, love these words more than some of the people in my life. This is why…

The words I write have never spoken harshly to me.
Likewise the words I write have never once ignored me.

They have never insulted, demeaned, or chastised me.

My written words have, on occasion, revealed needed insights.
These words have also cajoled, pushed, prodded and cheered me to new
ways of thinking.

My words have never hidden the truth, nor have they shredded me
for daring to tell it.

My written words believe I have the right to exist.
They stake their claim to this simple idea.

My words will battle for me, the truth, and what is right.

These words place me first and refuse to let me hide.

My words weave a sense of safety for me- a literary hug,
and I am better for it.

And for all those people who refuse to do the same for me as my words, I really
must question-
Why are you in my life?

Well, There goes the Vocabulary… (Why you may not be able to find the words)

Kim's Coat of Arms (if she had one)

Kim’s Coat of Arms (if she had one)

Keep writing. Keep thinking. Keep growing. The words will come. Let them appear on your pallet, even those you feel are “unworthy”. There are only 3 primary colors and yet we end up with a breath-taking spectrum. Even the most simple, basic words can lend themselves to a world of beauty

The blank page is a writer’s pallet. It becomes the place to mix, match and manipulate the colors of writing- the chosen words.

The “right” word for an author has an almost tangible feel to it. It symbolically rolls through the fingertips and rolls off the tongue and mind. Even readers detect when the choice of words are particularly apt. We tend to label this as being “poetic” whether or not the writing appeared in anything even resembling a poem.

But what happens when the words you so seek can not be found?

This happening is not uncommon, but there are times, I believe, in which a very specific reason may exist for you being unable to find the correct words.

I have always liked the image of the chakra system. Chakras are 7 primary energy centers (there are more) in the body, beginning in the pelvic area and ending on the top of the head. Each chakra is associated with a certain energy dynamic.

I believe each chakra in addition to having its own energy also has its own vocabulary. And this is where word selection can fly out the window.

If one is dealing with the 7th chakra, spirituality, it is almost easy to write of the universal sense of love and light. Ditto for the fourth or heart chakra. When you are in that space, love, romance, compassion, rose-tinted glasses leap off the page.

What happens though when you are trying to write and create from a weakened chakra state. Lately, I have been reading many books about emotional abuse. Abuse in any form is a first chakra issue. When you see yourself on the page of a book dealing with emotional abuse, you are knocked for a loop. You begin to feel you do not know or trust your life (first chakra issue).

And this is what can happen, when you try to create from a place of injury or distortion, you will not be able to find the vocabulary to say what you mean.

For example, the first chakra is centered on such basic issues, I find when I think of writing or speaking about this, my vocabulary becomes very basic and black and white. Things are right or they are wrong. I mention the word “fight” a lot, as in “I am fighting for my emotional survival.” The issue of survival creeps onto the page. Things appear with very sharp borders- I can vs. I can not. I will not vs. I will. There are few gray areas and little subtlety in the first chakra. It is either survive or die trying, symbolically.

So I will look at myself and my journal during these times and think “This is horrible. I can’t even express myself clearly.” Of course, I can not. The issues are base in nature and my vocabulary reflects this.

In fact, when one is dealing with abuse and first chakra issues, we need blunt, un-nuanced words. It is very dangerous in such a situation to be taking flights of fancy into the 7th chakra of “Isn’t everything just love and light?”.

It is not only on the written page that this loss of vocabulary may occur. When one is struggling with issues, coming to a new awareness, and trying to express new feelings and thoughts, it can be very, very easy to end up being judged. People will say, “Well, you are not making sense.” or “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

If this happens with verbal or written communication, do not give it a second thought. Do not judge yourself. You are creating a new life and sometimes it takes a little time for a new vocabulary to emerge. So, you may stutter. You may speak or write and say, “Well, that is not exactly what I mean, but I hope you understand what I am saying.”

You may even read your own blog, as I am doing today, and think “Ugh. I am not even sure if I am making sense but I don’t know what else to do.”

You may want to repeat yourself again and again, as you try out new combinations. You may want to have the “same” conversation several times- trying out new words and thoughts.

This is perfectly o.k.! Creating art and writing are continual processes, not puctuated moments.

.

Don’t Understand Me?….Then, You are not Paying Attention to My Art and Writing

Supported in the Womb

Supported in the Womb

I am always surprised, and then a bit mistrusting, when people say they love me and know me well, yet do not relate in anyway to my art.

I am not saying everyone has to “get” my art, or even like my art. What I am talking about is that some people in my life are completely blind to the fact I have an artistic nature and creating art and writing are very important to me.

In fact, I would argue that to know me in a significant way, all one would have to do is look to my art.

I do not mean that every person I know needs to read my blog and oooh…and…ahhhhh….over every picture and sketch as if they were that enchanting.

What I am talking about is the almost willful ignorance on the part of some “close” people in my life in regards to this aspect of me.
I don’t think it is as simple as them not liking my art or writing.

My art and writing is where I bare my soul, and I think some people would rather not see my soul.
They like the superficial, persona-induced version of me.

Art can be messy, confrontational, and raw. I think they prefer me in a prettier package.

Maybe this has happened to you. Perhaps there has been a subtle hint or two along the lines of “Oh, are you going to write about that?” “Wow, that picture is a little weird. What did you mean by that?”

Or sometimes it is hidden as concern. Upon seeing your art or blog some may say, “I am worried about you” which often times is simply code for “Your work disturbs my status quo.”

Anyway, art always reveals the soul and because our souls are on display they deserve respect- or at the very least, acknowledgment. It is a brave soul who is willing to emerge from hiding and manifest in they physical world and we do this all the time as artists and creative people.

When Your Art/Writing/Blogging Wants to go all “Humpty Dumpty” on You

MB900390920

Art is a great teller of secrets. It can’t help itself. It’s compulsive that way. Patient, but compulsive. It will wait- years if needed- before slipping in an idea or two- the secrets you would rather not tell.

I read a book by Anne Lamott and she spoke about a writing class she was teaching. She told her students to write whatever came to them- even if their family or others would not like it.

She wrote that she remembered at least two instances in which students wrote about being made to choose their own switches to be struck with by a parent as punishment. Hmm….not the image most families would prefer be portrayed- most would prefer the stylized, contrived family portrait hanging over the mantle to the true stories.

And most likely not the topic these authors upon signing up for the class imagined they would feel internally called to write about.

But that is the thing about creativity. Its nails scratch at the door, refusing to go away until you let it in.

Lately, I have been feeling this sense. When the opaque stone is removed from the eye, everything is seen more clearly. Art, creativity, and blogging tend to dislodge the stone- but then you are confronted with the sense – if I even move one stone slightly, what if they all come toppling down upon me?

We are afraid sometimes that in writing our truth, we are playing with Humpty Dumpty. Things will fall, parts will shatter, and no one or no thing is putting Humpty or our lives back together again in quite the same way.

I have admired those bloggers who can write with cutting honesty- the kind of honesty that dislodges the opaque stone and pushes the fragile Humpty’s in their lives over the edge.

I don’t know what I will do next creatively, but I do know this- when something presses upon you creatively, you can not suppress it completely. You can choose how you want to manage it – maybe a private journal vs. a blog or a small sketch vs. a large piece of work or you may want to put it all out there. Whatever the choice, art and creativity demand the truth.

And if we leave the truth behind and hide from it, I believe our art and creativity leave us behind. Art requires honesty and in exchange for our honesty, art gives us resonance and truth.