Compulsive Writers and Readers

Soul Vision

Soul Vision

Digging through some cupboards this morning, packing my bag for the day.
No room in the small space, shoved a box of Glutino crackers on its side into the shelf.

Noted some simple writing on the bottom.

“Compulsive writers appreciate compulsive readers.”

The joy of blogging world on the bottom of a Glutino box.

You could probably split the world into those who compulsively read and those who do not. Personally, I have never held complete trust in those who don’t like to read. There is always something questionable about these types in my mind.

I will read anything and everything at any time. I have been known to bring my Kindle into the theater during children’s movies. I found the experience to be less painful that way.

Here’s to all who compulsively write and read. I like think we make the world a better place.

And also a shout out to Glutino and the “Universe” for finding the most creative ways to get us the messages we need.

I liked myself so much today…

…I was thinking if I could, I would give myself a “high 5” or marry myself. I felt that good!

For the first time since getting my new office, I was able to complete some art-

Picture 1

Awaiting to Dive In

Awaiting to Dive In

and

Picture 2

Traveling Dreamcatcher

Traveling Dreamcatcher

I will write later what these symbolized for me, but it felt so good to be able to create.

My office was quiet, good sunlight through the small window, warm and did I mention- quiet? 🙂

I was even able to run some errands in our downtown area which was a nice change versus being home or in my office on campus.

Feeling blessed 🙂

The Narrative Gap

Seeing

Seeing

I am not sure how the above picture emerged but it relates to something I have been witnessing.
I think there are those who “see” certain dynamics in life. This is a gift and the sight is often clear and true.
The sight is not the problem.
The vocabulary, however, is.

In our lives and culture, there are certain narratives at play. These narratives may have everything and absolutely nothing to do with the truth.

The problem with the narrative is not that it exists, the problem is that it limits our experiences and our ability to relate our experiences as they are.

A couple of the topics on my blog push up against these “narrative issues”, one such topic being stepparenting. When you think about it, the only cultural narrative that we have surrounding stepparenting is the story of the evil stepmother.

This may be strikingly far from reality and a part of us may know this, but for the majority the relationship with idea of the stepparent begins with the “evil stepmother” narrative. Why? Because it is true? No. Because it is all we have.

What ends up happening, then, is the narrative drives the vocabulary and stories of all who come later. As a stepmom, I am well aware that when I engage in certain situations, I do not begin at point zero. The cultural narrative already has my score at ~ -812 based on the narrative starting point.

When I and others talk about stepparenting, the proverbial cat has our tongue, because we have limited language to pull from based on the cultural narrative available to us. We have to, in our mind, create bigger stories with more examples, and very precise words, to convey our experience, because there is no space for our experience within hte cultural narrative- other than the idea that we are “evil”.

These narratives, of course, are not limited to stepparenting.
They are bountiful and pervasive.

Ask someone who writes on child abuse how difficult it is to find the “right” words to express the experience. It is difficult to find the words, because our cultural narrative about parenting is that all parents are loving and self-sacrficing for their children, especially mothers. Live a life counter to this narrative and the vocabulary to express your experience is limited.

And, of course, we see the broader examples- the narratives associated with one’s skin color, gender, sex, sexuality and so on.

I guess what I think when I see this picture is that witnessing and seeing are powerful acts. In fact, they are the first step in change, because to dismantle the narrative, you first must see it.

Recognition isn’t everything, though.
We must create new narratives that more accurately reflect our experiences.

We must write, and re-write and struggle to find the “right” words, even when our word choices are limited, because that is how new narratives are built- one word at a time.

—-
Above is a self-portrait- sort of. Sometimes my art gets away from me. I request and it insists on being otherwise.
I had done some research about a leg injury and (you will love this) – the injury related to the bladder meridian associated with “Eastern medicine”. This is a “yang” channel-and so I thought I needed some more “fire” energy. Hence, the colors of my picture.

I, personally, do not like this picture, but my inner artist does. It refuses to have the same scale of judgment as the rest of me. I sometimes wonder if my inner artist even cares what the rest of me thinks- I think it is too busy creating its own visual narrative.

When it Becomes Painful to Write

I have, as of late, experienced some chronic pain. Pain can be such a nebulous thing to nail down, despite our tendency to make it linear (“On a scale of 1 t 10, how would you rate your pain if 10 is the highest?”)

All pain has a way of taking a parasitic attachment to our comings and goings.

Ever the hearty traveler, once pain has placed its hooks in you, it requires quite a bit of work for detachment.

Pain, physical and/or emotional, can also be quite the reflective surface in our lives. Any hurt pushes awareness to the forefront of our consciousness. We see things through a different prism when we are in pain.

The prism isn’t any more “right” or “wrong” than any other view. It’s just different.

This particular pain has shown me where I am blocked in life. My modus operandi through life has been this-Let me attack myself, and I will feel the pain, so you don’t have to feel anything at all.

This has led at various times to compulsive exercise, compulsive not eating, compulsive sex, compulsive anything – so I could “manage” this pain that was never quite mine in the first place.

So what does this have to do with writing? I am not in such significant pain that I can not write.

The issue has been rather, “What should I write and when?” For you see, many thoughts and ideas have swirled about but they have always been a bit out of reach. I could write about that…or not…I may finish that one piece…or not…

This is not necessarily complete writer’s block, but somehow the flow is off. The stream which used to be languid and smooth is altered, corrupted.

And, I realized (because, yes, blogging is where I compulsively share my 1,001 “realizations” per day. Seriously, could I use the word “realized” any more than I already do? 🙂 ) that the pain and the lack of the writing both reflected the same thing-

an unwillingness to address what is present in my life.

I don’t believe artists or writers truly run out of ideas for long. If there is difficulty coming up with ideas or bringing the ideas to fruition in some form whether it’s missed deadlines, incomplete works left hanging, rough starts and even more abrupt stops – it is the creative version of a pain signal.

Something, somewhere is not “right”. And the what is “not right” is NOT the problem. (We never truly know what is “right” and “not right”. ) The problem is that we are denying it.

Too often when we write or produce creative acts, we have expectations. 90% of the time, our inner artist is happy to go along with any creative thoughts and the attached expectations.

But every once in awhile, I will feel my inner artist refusing to hide and lie the lie any more. The truth is always the realm of the inner artist and the inner artist does not respond to the external scale of “good art” and “bad art”.

All art derived from the truth of awareness is “good art” and is meant to be produced and shared in the eyes of the inner artist.

When we turn away from this truth, our inner artist turns away from us.

I am not saying you have to drag out every tidbit of ugliness that has transpired in your life out into the public forum for your inner artist to be satisfied.

What I am trying to say is that if/when writing or art becomes a creative pain in the a**, be aware enough to ask yourself what you may be trying to keep hidden.

Maybe the “writer’s block” says more than we think. Maybe is the writer who is blocking something from evolving into expression.

If you ever find yourself “blocked” creatively- “What story am I holding, what story am I placing a lid on that wants to get out?”

The inner artist can “wow” each and every one of us with its brilliant displays of innovation but what it asks for in return is for the venue of expression.

Pain holds us. And we in turn create pain by our holding on to things that long for release. Let it go. Let it move in to the world as it should.

Where Logistics, Art and WordPress Themes Meet

Spirit Within You

So, per my last posting I tried a new WordPress theme. I compared switching themes to getting a new hairstyle, summarized with “It was time for a change.”

And, change I did! Apparently, I managed to switch from the mousy, brown brunette of my previous theme to the raven-black of a different theme only to end up making it more difficult for people to read the blog.

I know we all blog for different reasons and hope for varying outcomes with our blogs. Despite these sliding criteria for each of us, I think we can all agree that of paramount importance to blogging is actually having a blog people can read without eye strain.

As I am scientist by training, to me this is simply an example in which logistics meet creativity. You normally hope their meeting results in a symbiotic union in which each emerges stronger for the other.

In this case, however, I have to say I think logistics won out.

I have chosen another theme and we will see how this goes.

On a sidenote, I think all endeavors are a balance between creativity and logistics. Many of you may remember that I self-published a book several months ago. Thank you to those who purchased it!

One of the things I found surprising at the end of the process was the price set up for the book by CreateSpace in conjunction with Amazon.

I knew as the author, I would have some say, but I did not realize until the end (yes, I am that slow) that the base price was set based on number of pages, images, etc.

My book came in at ~$20!!! I was hoping for $6.99. (By the way, the price on the book changes now and then. Why? I don’t know, but this is not something that is being controlled by me.)

The reason the cost was so high is that I have images in the book and in some ways, I later realized, I had wasted a lot of page space.

Then, the logistical part of my brain took over. Really it did. My main goal for my second book was to produce something relating to the spirit within each of us and our sense of compassion for ourselves.

I still wanted to do images, but I wanted to cut out any pages that did not have images. That is, I wanted to make this book “tighter” (read, “less costly”.)

I am really pleased with the outcome. The page format is more consistent than the other book. And I chose to actually use the same font throughout the book this time (Yes, this should have been an obvious thing to do the first time!).

With just as many images, but fewer pages with simply words, the book comes in at ~$12. Much more reasonable.

A friend read it and said, “I can see your strength and belief in compassion for ourselves written all over these pages.”

I loved her words and secretly thought to myself, “All for $8 less.”

I do not write this so that you will buy the book, but just to show another example of the balancing act we are all performing as creators- logistics and creativity…

Hair styles and Blog themes

To state the obvious, I have changed the “Theme” of my blog.

I went with a black background on my artist’s website (soulhealingart.com) so I thought I would do the same here at wordpress. Black-backgrounds apparently are now my self-defined identifiers on my sites now.

Actually, that really isn’t true. What resonates a bit more is that my blog, having been the same basic format for years, needed an update.

One friend actually asked me about my previous blog format if I had purposely chosen the most bland blog style, because other people were not as likely to have chosen it. No. I am just bland and boring and select things in kind.

I realized that changing my blog template had little to do with what was happening on my artist’s website.

The closest analogy of how my thinking emerged- and many of you women will relate- is when one suddenly, after years of the same hair style, up and decides one day to drastically change one’s hair.

A woman may walk into a salon with relatively long blonde hair, and exit with a short brunette bob. She will summarize this stunning transformation with “It was time for a change” and move on with her life. Snip. Cut. Dye. Done.

As a witness to such transformations, you are always placed in the position of “Should I comment or not?”

“If I praise the new hairstyle (blog) am I indicating that I never liked the first one?”

Or “If I don’t comment, will that make her feel bad? I mean she put all that time and effort into her new hairstyle (blog), she is probably expecting it will be noticed, isn’t she?”

So to summarize the switch in blog format, “It was time for a change.” Explore themes. Preview. Activate. Done.

The Gentle, Authentic Creator…The Essential “Y” Questions

I was at a writing conference this past weekend. Well, it wasn’t exactly about writing, the conference primarily centered on publishing your writing.

For the actual writing part, they basically left that up to you and the ghost writer/editing team you may decide to hire once you realize writing is hard work and sucks a lot of the time. 🙂

Well, the one editor did say about 20% of the population were adequate writers. You know, every single person at the conference was sitting there thinking, “Oh, yeah, that’s me. I am even in the top 20% of the 20%.”

I normally don’t attend such conferences or workshops, but the timing/logistics of this one felt right. And plus, my friend signed up first and so like the proverbial lemming, I followed.

I was familiar with most of what was discussed in reference to publishing , what was stirred within me, however is how essential an “internal compass” is for every artist/writer.

The possibilities for publishing now are quite broad. Add to that the diversity of options for developing a “platform” (Publishing-speak for getting your ideas out there and connecting with audiences beyond your book).

Mix these together and every artist/writer is confronted with literally hundreds of decisions beyond the creative work itself.

Do you see yourself as a speaker and writer? Do you have social media associated with your work? How do you handle such media? Is it integrated with social media of a more personal nature?

Do you need an author website? Twitter? How can people find you (or not find you- as those in the audience who asked during Q/A about writing memoirs that are picked up by Oprah, but still wanting to be anonymous.)

I realized that there are so many options that not only must we be authentic with ourselves in the creative process, we must be authentic, and gentle, with ourselves in relation to our platforms.

We can not, most likely do it all, nor should we. Each artist must make those clear decisions for him or herself based on temperament, time available, logistics, topic choice and so on.

As I was sitting there and saw one participant after another in the Q/A trying to get some answers, I understood that no one can give us such answers. Many participants spoke in paragraphs (NOT sentences or a simple statement followed by a question, I am talking – Paragraphs) only to have the speaker say, “And what is your question?”

And in some ways, no one wanted to ask the simple, direct question because the answer may be equally simple and direct.

Sometimes we like too make life harder on ourselves and stay in the nebulous-aspect of life, in which things float about and meander and no clear decision is ever made.

But if one is to be clear in life, then one has to be willing to answer the “Y” questions in life. Note, this is “Y” and not “why” because these are the “Y” in the road questions- they provide one direction or the other.

Every person who walked away from the microphone with a sense of relief that they had “gotten an answer” was because they were finally able to articulate their situation in a “Y”-context. As in, should I use a penname? If I use a penname can I be “unknown” on Oprah? and so on.

Next time you are feeling, perhaps unsure or overwhelmed by your next step, don’t be afraid to ask yourself the “Y” question. The one that gets to the nuts and bolts of what your are doing and what is truly resonating for you.

The “Loss” provides the Gain

Jonah

Jonah

I have not blogged in several days, as we have had wonderful guests staying with us. I got to spend 5 days with my family including my 5-year-old nephew who is so beautiful and adorable (and did I say he is also super smart 🙂 ).

I realized something during this time. I felt as if I had lost my mirror. I could not do art, as we were too busy, and my studio is in an area near our guest room.

I could not grasp the link so commonly used by me to not only know myself, but to see myself.

In the world of an artist, the making of art is the ever present grounding force. It is the conversation with the Heavens beyond all temporal/spatial limitations.

The art is the movie we comprise from the snapshots of moments. The art is the storyteller in which we recognize our selves.

During this time, I felt I lost a bit of me. It seems silly and self-serving to write this, as if not being able to do some art for 5 days is a burden. It is not.

But, sometimes meaning is most found in the absence of something. The “lack” provides the space for awareness.

And we are blessed with a recognition that never would have been present with continued presence.

I think this is very true in many aspects of life. The “loss” of something is actually the gaining of space to believe and understand.

I look forward to returning to my art (and me) in the coming days.

I wonder how many of you have also had this experience. The “loss” providing the space for growing awareness.

All Writers are Readers…

Reader

Reader

…of the Stars.

I like this little image. I believe it is what we do as artists and writers.

Lizards are often symbolic of dreams and transformation.

I believe writers pull our dreams from the stars and place them in the physical world.

The image can also be looked at that our writing influences the stars our lives. There is an interplay at work between the mind, our words, and our fates.

The “tail” of the lizard is the chakras, indicating this work requires the synthesis of every aspect of our Beings.

The strange part of this piece is when I drew the Lizard, I put a sailor type hat on him. I did not question putting a hat on the Lizard – this apparently seemed “normal” to me. HOwever, I could not figure out why it had to be a sailor hat.

Then, I realized the Lizard was to be sitting in water- the stream of consciousness in which all writers engage.

I like to envision this is what we do as writers. We travel in our dreams and the stream of consciousness, using our scope to view and see the world in a way unique to us.

We live the words “Written in the stars”.