creativity, inspirational, writing

Keep Calm and Write On

0b74b52e8bdf21cf6e421df734d42f03This is my new motto. This is a saying on a mug that I gave Jonas for Christmas. I love the saying, despite it being so cliché, because it speaks to me. These two things go hand-in-hand. You can’t be at your creative best if your mind isn’t calm. Stress dampens creativity. Jonas finds his ability to create is limited by the amount of stress he may be under at any given time. Stress is anti-creativity.

How do I keep calm? That’s a many-part answer. Keeping calm starts with my environment. Jonas and I both work from home and so our home is sacred, especially as it’s our creative working environment. We keep things quiet and peaceful and that includes us. We have a great relationship, so that helps to keep things calm, but we work hard at that, too. No relationship is without its bumps, but one thing we endeavour to do is talk things out before they escalate into a fight. It’s been a journey to get to this place, but I’m grateful we worked so hard at it. It helps to keep our life non-toxic.

I do yoga and meditation. I practiced for years and then life got in the way for a time, but I’m working my way back to a daily practice. For me, this is the most calming thing. For you it might be something very different. The most important thing is to find your happy place. I have several. Between the pages of a good book, on my yoga mat, cuddling with Jonas and talking, reading together, to name a few. Find a happy place and go there as often as possible, especially when feeling stressed.

The next stressor is our relationships outside the home. I endeavour to keep my relationships positive and if they aren’t I think carefully about how I can change them and if they can’t be changed, I have to consider letting them go. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, but it has made a huge difference in my life. The great news is that now I have wonderful relationships in my life both with family and friends.

My job/career. That has been a source of a lot of unease until recently. I realize now that I have to be organized (outline!) and have clearly defined goals. When I was writing for myself and publishing independently, I didn’t have a lot of focus. Jonas was doing so well that my contributions or non-contributions didn’t make a lot of difference to the finances, so I let myself off the hook. Bad idea. If I don’t take my writing seriously, who will? I’ve made the necessary changes and it’s going better than ever before and I certainly have a lot more respect for myself.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. What areas in your life are causing you stress and making it difficult to meet your goals? Do you have goals? Remember, what you’re experiencing in your life is because you chose it. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but I finally choked it down and started making some changes. Now I can take credit for the good things in my life, because I also chose them.

Keep Calm and be happy.

inspirational, writing

Facing Fear

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It’s difficult to expose one’s weaknesses to the world.  Fear and writing have long been wrapped up together for me. I love to write, have a passion to write and can’t imagine anything better as a career, and yet it’s terrifying. So terrifying that I’ve often quit writing, either for a small time or even for a couple of years. I always come back, though. I can’t stop writing because it’s in my soul. True writers know exactly what I’m talking about.

I once heard someone say if you can possibly do anything other than write, do it. I tried, believe me. There’s a lot of other things I love to do, such as paint and play the piano and knit. I’ll often fill my time with these things until I begin to feel restless again. I’ve learned what that means. It means my soul misses my true passion.

I used to think that if you were a “true” writer, then you’d find it easy to write. How wrong I was. It certainly doesn’t help that I’m married to Jonas Saul, one of the most prolific writers I’ve ever met. He makes it look easy. In the time we’ve been together–we met at a writer’s conference and got together two years later–he’s written over thirty novels. He’s a hard act to follow. What I’ve had to learn is that writing novels is a very personal journey. You can get inspiration from others, but you can’t expect your own journey to mirror anyone else’s.

My writing is intense. The stories I create are fraught with emotion and come from a very deep place. That place is my childhood. It was a traumatic and abusive time, which has given me a lot of material, but it’s like handling a very sharp sword. If I’m not careful, I just might cut myself while handling it. I’ve heard it said that some of the most gifted artists are tortured souls. I’ve got enough of that to qualify, but what they don’t say is how difficult it can be to draw from that well.

I’ve decided to face the fear of failure that has been holding me back. It hasn’t held me completely back as I’ve written three books and most of a fourth. I’ve tortured myself with feelings of inadequacy, which are a legacy of my childhood. No more. I will probably always feel that I’m not good enough, but my mind can override those feelings and realize that I have something to offer and besides, even if I don’t think the writing is good enough, I have to do it. It’s time to stop worrying about whether I should or not and just go ahead and write the words. I’m ready to face the fear.

 

art, creativity, painting, writing

New Art

I’ve been hard at work on my new novel so I haven’t had as much time for art. I try to fit it in around the writing as much as I can as it helps keep me balanced. I’ve done a few new pieces.

The individual pepper was done in watercolour and the three peppers in coloured pencil. It was fun to explore a similar subject in two different mediums. I can’t say which one was more enjoyable or easier, both were challenging in different ways and both took some time to complete in order to capture the realism of the peppers. I look forward to working on more projects in this vein, especially in coloured pencil.

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The project I’m working on at the moment is a lot of fun. It’s also a watercolour and it’s of a little field mouse. I’m doing a tutorial by Anna Mason. I love her tutorials and really enjoy the subjects she picks. I’m working on learning this style well, which includes the single pepper above, as I have a lot of images I’d like to paint on my own.

The little mouse was a challenge as all the character of the piece is in the eye, a very small portion of the painting. This is my second attempt and I feel like I’ve captured the character of the mouse in this attempt. Now I just need to paint the grasses and do a few finishing touches on the mouse to complete it.

I’ve been enjoying writing my new book. It’s challenging as I’m moving in a new direction with this story. It’s very different from what I’ve written before. I feel that I’ve found my voice with this one. I’ve been doing NanoWriMo this year in order to get a big jump into the novel. I’m over 35,000 words for the month so I’d say it’s going well. Just one week to go!

Archive, inspirational, travel

My Friend, the Blackbird

Post from Archive

fullsizeoutput_391I’m sitting outside listening to the melodious song of my new friend, a blackbird. He lands on our terrace each morning and sings me a wake-up song. I’ve never seen the common blackbird before as there aren’t any in, at least my part, of North America. I find them seriously cute with their inquisitive eyes and bright orange beaks. Their song is one of my favorite birdsongs.

Every time I see him, though, I think, “…four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie…” I definitely don’t want to see him baked into a pie, but it goes to show how things stay with us from childhood.

It’s interesting to see all the new kinds of wildlife here in Europe. It was one thing I hadn’t thought about when coming to a new continent. It has surprised me how many different kinds of birds there are in Denmark alone. I come from a country that is filled with wildlife of all kinds, but I’ve never heard as many birds all at once as in Denmark. Sometimes while walking, we have difficulty hearing each other, especially if we pass below a tree. The birds are very loud!

Right now, as I sit out on my terrace, there is a concert going on around me. I could never get sick of this.