• Home
  • Posts Tagged'creativity'
  • Page 2

Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

The Shameless Selfie!

Me and the Battle Rope bondingI love taking selfies, don’t you? I’ve taken tons of them during our trip to Scotland and since. I have an iPhone 6 Plus, so my screen is big enough I can take a really good, really shameless, shameless selfie. Though I do find that with group selfies my arm’s not quite long enough, so whoever has the longest arm – usually Hubby, gets the honours. I’m still not up for carrying around that extra piece of kit, the selfie stick – and really, doesn’t that sound just a little bit rude? Come to think of it ‘taking a selfie’ doesn’t sound much better, though I suppose it’s better than asking the person with the longest arms to do a selfie for you.

Let’s face it, we all want to see ourselves and, as cool as photos are, 2015-09-19 15.22.31they’re either a good view of ourselves, in our opinion, or not, and then … well that’s just too damn bad because they’re a done deal and they’re out the for the world to see. But with selfies we’re in control of the view. We can take piccies of ourselves doing interesting things with interesting people in interesting places whenever we want. And if we don’t like the way they make our ears stick out or our teeth look big, we can simply press delete and try again. In writerly terms, we get to edit ourselves!

2015-08-26 15.57.48I’m not even talking about sexy selfies! That’s another matter entirely, although I seriously think my selfie with the battle ropes is pretty sizzlin’. J Did you check out those guns??? Me with the sea, me with an ancient yew tree, me with my sister, me with Hubby, me at Glen Coe with the icy breeze tossing my hair. You get the picture. In fact, if you’re my friend on Facebook or a follower on Twitter, you quite literally get the picture! Everyone gets the picture. That’s the point! Selfies give us all a chance to put our best face forward for the whole social media world to see. It is a bit exhibitionist, sharing selfies with the world, but it’s easier than a trench coat and the iPhone is considerably easier to stuff in my bag when I’m done with it. Plus the self-editing capabilities with a trench coat are pretty much non-existing.

I take most of my pictures – selfies or otherwise – on my iPhone now 2015-06-30 10.33.06because it takes such great shots, and because it’s always handy. I find that being able to take a photo in an instant is a great way to ‘collect’ story inspiration. I just snap the shot that inspires, bring it back home with me and file it away until I need it. But the selfie is the best bit. I now have an amazing tool that always puts me in context wherever I am and no matter what that context may be. Everyone needs to be reminded of their context from time to time and, frankly, I think it’s even more essential to writers, who are so often living in their heads in another context entirely.

There surely has to be some serious psychological implications about
the urge to snap a selfie, especially when you consider that everything a writer writes and shares publically is, at least to some degree, a selfie. As I said, the advent of the smartphone making the selfie possible has Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777allowed us all to nurture that little bit of exhibitionist inside each of us, but I think there’s more to it than that. I think the selfie allows us a more effective navel gaze into ourselves, into the lives we live, what we like, what makes us laughs, what we especially want the rest of the world to know about us. A selfie is a way of telling a story about ourselves in an instant. But even with the exhibitionist factor and the
immediacy of the medium, I still get to choose whether or not to share the shot in which my nose looks like Mount Blanc or whether or not to delete the shot in which the hips look like tug boats or, more importantly, whether or not to share the shot that’s, quite frankly, just too raw, just a little too much context.

How amazing is that? The selfie! We can tell an instant story about ourselves in an instant, but we get a little psycho-analysis in the process in seeing what we choose to share and what we choose to delete. Selfies! Good for the creative process, good for socializing and good for our mental health too!

 

The Scribe: Letting the Characters Tell the Story

Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777We writers of fiction often play god creating both characters and plot and setting that created world in motion to see what happens, to even control what happens. We actually get to look inside the heads of our characters and see what’s going on there, what motivates, what inspires, what frightens, what excites. In a lot of ways that’s the norm. That’s what the writing life is supposed to be like, that’s supposed to be our experience as we plot the story and shape our characters.

But in every good writing experience I’ve ever had, in almost every novel I’ve ever written, there comes a point when I stop being the creator, when I stop telling the characters what’s going to happen and how they’ll react to it. There comes a point, a certain threshold – usually when I’m most deeply into the world I’ve created, when the characters rise up and rebel. They stop being my puppets and they start telling me exactly how it’s going to be. They make it very clear to me that I have been demoted from god, creator of the fictional world and all who live in it to … well … to a glorified secretary and little more. They tell me what to write and I don’t argue. I just write, because at that point, they know what’s best.

OK, the position is actually a bit more glamorous than that of a secretary because my characters now drag me along, whether my bag is packed or not, to wherever the plot takes them and through whatever twists and turns unfold in the process. I become the war correspondent reporting the action on the front. I become the Scribe, responsible for recording the facts, responsible for writing the truth as my characters see it. I also become their advocate. It becomes my job to speak for the character to the readers, to make sure the readers ‘get them’ and their plight.

The Scribe! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what that means, especially as I work on a new series in which the roll of the scribe becomes a lot more important. I’ve been trying out that position, opening myself to the idea of being prepared for anything. The result has been several stories I’ve shared with you on this blog, as well as some highly imaginative incidents that may or may not have involved strong drink, too little sleep, and a sense of humor that is most active when the imagination is stimulated. The story of the storyteller is another story within itself. The storyteller, the novelist, the war correspondent, the reporter, are all quite often used as plot devices that frame the story. In fact the story within a story, the plot within a plot, the play within a play is as old as Shakespeare and probably older. It’s old because it works. It works because it give more dimension and also allows the Scribe a little bit of distance, a little bit of space to say, while pointing the finger, ‘Hey, it wasn’t my idea! They told me to say it! It’s their fault, not mine!’ If ever there was license for a writer to misbehave with abandon, I’d say the Scribe is it. So, I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. In The Flesh is another of the Scribe stories as is Encounter in a Dry Canyon and the encounters with Alonso Darlington as well as the lady in the sunglasses, who’ll be putting me through my paces for Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020a long time to come.

Being a Scribe for the characters and events of an intriguing story means that I, the writer, gets the hell out of the way
and let the characters tell the story, let them guide me through the events as they unfold. If I’m not in the way, the story is one step closer to its purest form, coloured by the characters views of events and experiences rather than my own, and that has to be the difference between Nescafe and a freshly made, triple espresso with whipped cream on top!

I hope to spend a lot more time getting out of the way and letting the characters dictate the story to me while they drag me right on into the middle of the action. I think that’s the very best place for a writer to be, and when it happens, it’s a heady experience! It’s also an experience that affects the writer in ways too much control over a story never could. So, bring it on, I say! But I don’t say that without a certain amount of fear and trepidation as I settle my sweaty fingers onto the keyboard and take a deep breath.

 

Rescuing Cinderella

I’m thinking about Cinderella today, oh I know there’ve been lots of face-lifts to the story to make it more modern, andCinderella dorecind I know the original fairy tale had some seriously dark stuff in it. The old Russian version has the evil step sisters cutting off their toes to try and fit their enormous feet into the dainty glass slipper! And the evil toe-cutters are exactly my point.

I’m thinking about how often women are portrayed in pop-culture as either wanting to or NEEDING to be willing to cut off their toes to spite their feet in order to be worthy of a Prince Charming to come and rescue them. I’m also thinking about how often that perfect beauty of tiny feet, tiny waists, big tits and gorgeous face are the main characteristics of the damsel Prince Charming rescues. In fact, they’re quite often the ONLY characteristics of the damsel in need of a romantic rescue. Sadly, we’re encouraged not only to read about that vacuous blank canvas of a damsel, but we’re expected, likewise, to want to BE her. That dream of being rescued by the prince on the white horse will surely become our reality if we can only cut off out toes and be Cinderella!

Okay, if I’m honest, at every single one of the difficult points in my life I would have been more than willing to be rescued from the struggles, or even at times I would love to be rescued from my ordinary life and brought into something more exciting. (That’s always a very dangerous thing to wish for!) And who hasn’t spent serious time ‘looking for a hero,’ even if it’s just in a really juicy fantasy.

Most of the time, though, we don’t get rescued. We have to do that ourselves, and we’re all the better for it. In the best situations, and in the best stories I’ve read, the hero and the heroine rescue each other, and they’re both worthy of the rescue.

I suppose the need to be rescued is archetypal, just as is the need to go on a quest, which is often only an elaborate way of rescuing ourselves. But the makings of a fictional hero and a heroine these days seem to have more to do with fat bank accounts and chaining virgins to the bed in an expensive dungeon and less about the journey that risks everything.

Oh, did I mention the journey? Right! The rescue, the quest, they always go hand in hand with the journey. And this is why, for me, Cinderella is one of the weakest tales. The journey is the leaving of our comfort zone – quite often screaming and kicking every step of the way. In that respect, no doubt Cinderella was outside her comfort zone at the ball, but in most journeys, there’s no glass slipper, no prince charming, and no fairy godmother dashing to the rescue. There’s much fear and trembling and digging deep. THAT’S what makes a book nail-biting and un-put-downable (there! A new word) It’s when chaos springs from the mundanity of order that heroes are made. And the resulting Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020quest, the resulting journey is usually at least as painful as having toes severed to fit into glass slippers.

We rescue ourselves on a daily basis. We find within ourselves the makings of the hero, and we push forward. That little seed of the hero’s journey exists in all of us, and it’s never a matter of sitting in the ashes by the fireplace and waiting to be rescued. It’s a matter of getting muddy and mucky and taking risks and moving into the places inside us that terrify us, but that pull us like magnates, nonetheless. We are our own heroes, and our stories – those of us who write stories, come from the deeper places in our selves – or at least they should if they’re ever to matter much.

Am I being judgmental? Quite possibly. I never claimed not to be. But I know my own journey, and I know when I sit in front of the computer and break into a cold sweat because I fear the place I see myself heading, because I know I have no choice but to go there if this story is to be born, then I know that no one will rescue me but me, and I have to go deep into chaos to come out the other side as my own hero.

 

Sleepwalking the Dog: More Morphine Dreams

S6302679Drugs, hospital stays, going under the knife. I’ve only ever had that experience three times in my life, and once was when I had my tonsils taken out as a very young child. Frankly it was a lot scarier as an adult. Things go wrong. People go under anesthesia for a simple surgery and there are complications. I’m a horrible patient under the best of times, but when control, everything, ALL OF IT, is taken out of my hands by anesthetists and surgeons, even when it’s for my own good, I wonder how I’ll come out on the other side. I wonder IF I’ll come out on the other side. I distinctly remember waking up in the recovery room after both my surgeries as an adult and my first feeling being an incredible sense of joy. Maybe that was just the drugs, but my first real thought, both times was, ‘I made it!’

There are no dreams under anesthesia or at least I’ve never dreamed. It’s like I’m conscious one second and then for however long the surgeon works on my, I no longer exist. I’m just not there. And frankly recovery afterwards demands too much attention to really consider the thought of where I went while I was somewhere else. Perhaps the anesthetist took ME out of my body and put me in a Mason jar by the side of the operating table until the surgeon was done, and then she stuffed ME back into my flesh.

But if I really was somewhere else, and it wasn’t a Mason jar by the operating table, then where was I? Surely I had to be somewhere. And that begs the next question. Wherever I was, was I there alone? And if not, is it possible that just maybe I didn’t come back alone? Sorry! I’m having a goose bumps moment here. Both times following surgery, I’ve come back to myself wondering if I’m still the same me. There are parts missing, parts repaired, parts bruised and stitched and stapled, BUT that’s just flesh. The first surgery, there was blood – someone else’s blood, transfused into
my body, but surely that’s just flesh too. I was just as gone then as I was this last time, and for a whole lot longer. And it only now occurs to me that it was after that first surgery that the stories began to flow fast and furious, and I couldn’t write them down fast enough. Oh I’d always written, always been good at it, but everything I wrote up until that point felt more like stuff I’d just made up. After … well after that first surgery it was different. Afterwards, wherever the stories came from, more often than not it felt like it wasn’t from me. It felt like someone opened up a place in my unconscious and dumped them into me, and I became the conduit, the scribe, nothing more. Sometimes I was a good scribe. Sometimes I could have been better because the material dumped into the conduit made me uncomfortable, made me squirm, and I didn’t want to write it. But if I didn’t write it, if I didn’t get it right, well the characters haunted my dreams, and they weren’t always very nice about it either.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-abstract-black-white-writing-pen-image20156020Strange that it took a simple knee surgery to bring all this stuff back to me, to make me think about where I go, where I’ve been, and what that has to do with how the ideas get in my head. But maybe it’s not so strange at all, since the first surgery was major and all of me was much more taken up with recovery. But so many of the pieces fit together now. Where do I go when I’m not there in my body? Well at least this time, I went to Vegas, where I communed with a big-ass dog, a dark man who was brooding and beautiful in a scary as hell way; and a woman with the most incredible hair I’ve ever seen. Surgery, jet-lag, pain meds, and I find myself sleepwalking that big-ass dog through the streets of Vegas.

Well, actually it’s more like the dog is sleepwalking me. I wake up in the Elara, where I always wake up, and it’s late. It must be long toward morning because some of the brighter lights on the strip have been dimmed, and Vegas is as quiet as it ever gets. It’s the dog licking my face that wakes me. And the next thing I know I’m wrapped in a sheet toga-style and I’m following the dog down the Strip heading toward Caesar’s Palace. I don’t know why I keep following the dog. He’s not my dog, and he clearly doesn’t need me to look out for him. He clearly outweighs me, and his teeth are a lot bigger than mine. But I keep following him. It seems essential that I follow him. The Strip is strangely quiet, and dark, and then I realize it’s because I’m not actually on the Strip any more, but I’m down below it, in some strange tunnel.

I dream of tunnels a lot, so that doesn’t surprise me, and neither does it surprise me that though it’s pitch dark, I can see enough to follow the dog. I notice the smell of ozone, like you smell just before a coming lightening storm, and the fine hairs on my arms bristle. The dog stops, and I’m standing next to him peering out into what looks like a large ballroom. People are dancing to strange music, slow dancing, close and sensual, and my skin prickles all over. Then I realize I’m standing right behind the dark man and the woman with the hair, who are watching the goings on of the dance floor. I’m standing there, and I’m listening.

‘You promised me anonymity when I came here,’ the man says to the woman. There seems to be some sort of breeze coming from somewhere, teasing and caressing her hair and making it dance and sway against her back.

She laughs softly. ‘Surely you don’t think it’s your story I want to her to tell. Your story has been told ad nauseum.’

I can see the man bristle with her words, and I know his pride has just been stung. His response is soft, and I feel it more than hear it. ‘They’ll be telling my story long after you’re gone.’

She laughs again, and I find myself fascinated by the sway and shift of her hair with the movement of her body. I find myself wanting to reach out and touch it. ‘No doubt,’ she says, ‘but nonetheless, it’s not your story I want her to tell.’

At first I think it’s the dog growling, then with a shiver, I realize it’s the man. ‘You bring her here to my realm, where you know damn good and well she doesn’t belong and then you tell me it’s not about me?’

‘She’s a scribe,’ the woman says unperturbed. ‘That means there’s no place that she doesn’t belong, no boundary she can’t cross, and right now she works for me. If I want her to tell your story or the story of your mangy dog, or the story of some reclusive blood sucker across the pond, it’s not your business. You’d do well to remember that.’

I work for her? It is at that moment I realize the woman is talking about me! Suddenly I have the overwhelming urge to turn and run, though I’m not sure my legs will support me any longer. Besides I realize I can’t begin to find my way back. I followed the dog. I feel like my whole body has turned to ice, and I can’t move. I literally can’t move!

For a moment there’s silence. The music stops, but the people on the dance floor don’t seem to notice. They keep swaying and undulating as though they still hear the melody in their heads, and the rising wind I think I hear in the tunnel is only my own efforts to breathe.

‘Who then?’ The man asks at last. ‘Whose story do you want her to write?’

She leans forward and whispers in his ear, and I see his shoulders stiffen and his whole body convulses.

‘Who?’ I ask. ‘How can I know whose story you want me to write if you don’t tell me?’ But the woman doesn’t hear me. Neither of them do. And I’m shocked at the sound of my own voice. I haven’t agreed to write any story for her. Why would I? Why would I do anything for either of them? And yet I have to know! I have to.

‘Goddamn it, if you want me to write a story then tell me who it’s about,’ I shout.

And then I jerk awake as though I’ve just fallen from a great height. My knees hurt like crazy, and I’m trembling and Sleeping woman reading181340322466666994_IswNAb85_bsweating in the hospital bed. My husband is gripping my hand. The look on his face tells me that he’s concerned, that my dreams have bled into the waking world. He’s called the nurse. She takes my temperature and blood pressure, gives
me more pain meds and tells me to get some rest.

After she’s gone, my husband says, ‘you weren’t dreaming about a waterslide that time.’

I shake my head.

‘Was it bad?’ he asks.

‘Just strange. I was sleepwalking the dog,’ I manage just before I plunge back into drugged oblivion.

 

New Years Resolutions Through the Back Door

Well what do you know? Here it is the 7th of January already! 2015 is well and truly under way, and I’ve revamped this P1030134post from the archives because it’s a post that I need to re-read for my own benefit every year, and I hope it will be something to encourage readers as well.

The gym was overflowing with New Years Resolutioners yesterday when I went to Kettle Bells class; all around the world new diets have been begun as soon as the New Year hangover wears off; people stop drinking, stop smoking, begin learning Spanish or French, people promise to take better care of themselves, spend more time with good friends, waste less time in front of the telly, read more, exercise more, write more, and the list goes on. On January 7th the universal urge to be ‘better’ in the New Year is nearly palpable in the soggy English air.

And I’m behind somehow, as I have been for the last few years. New Years Eve passes me by in a daze and so does New Years Day, and in the midst of it all I have this vague notion that I should do something, or at least think something profound. That urge to reflect on what has been and plan how the New Year will be better is always there, but somehow ends up subsumed in the immediacy of everything else going on as the old year hear hammers down to the wire and the new one barrels down on me. Hope and excitement at new beginnings is so much a part of our human nature that the end of a year and the beginning of another one can’t help but be the time when we anticipate, plan change, and dare to dream of what wonderful things we can bring about in the next year. In fact there’s a heady sense of power in the New Year. I think it’s the time when we’re most confident that we can make changes, that we really do have power over our own lives. It’s the time when we’re most proactive toward those changes, those visions of the people we want to be. I think that’s because it’s the one time of the year when there is a clear delineation between what has been and what will be – even if it is really rather arbitrary.

Before I actually began to sell my writing, back when I dreamed of that first publication, back when there seemed to be a lot more time for navel gazing than is now, I was a consummate journaler. I filled pages and pages, notebooks and notebooks full of my reflections, ruminations and navel gazes. And nothing took more time and energy than the end of Sleeping woman reading181340322466666994_IswNAb85_bthe year entry, in which I reflected on how I did on the year’s resolutions and planned my resolutions for the next. This was a process that often began late in November with me reading back through journals, taking notes, tracing down some of what I’d been reading during that year and reflecting on it. Yeah, I know. I needed to get a life!

By the time New Years Day rolled around, I had an extensive list of resolutions, each with a detailed outline of action as to how I was going to achieve it. I found that some of those resolutions simply fell by the wayside almost before the year began — those things that if I’m honest with myself, I know I’m never gonna do, no matter how much I wish I would. Others I achieved in varying degrees-ish. But sadly, for the most part, a month or maybe two into the year, that hard core maniacal urge to be a better me no matter what cooled to tepid indifference as every-day life took the shine off the New Year.

It was only when there stopped being time for such ginormous navel-gazes and micro-planning that I discovered I actually had achieved a lot of those goals that were my resolutions simply by just getting on with it. As I began to think more about how different my approach to all things new in the New Year had become the busier I became, I realised that I had, through no planning on my part, perfected the sneak-in-through-the-back-door method of dealing with the New Year. The big, bright New Year changes I used to spend days plotting and planning no longer got written down, no longer got planned out. Instead, they sort of implemented themselves in a totally unorganised way somewhere between the middle of January and the middle of February. They were easy on me, sort of whispering and smiling unobtrusively from the corners of my life. They came upon me, not in a sneak attack so much as a passing brush with someone who would somehow become my best friend.

All together, I’ve written more that a half a million words this year. Needless to say, I’m my own harsh taskmaster. I’m driven, I’m tunnel-visioned, I’m a pit bull when I grab on to what I want to achieve with my writing. No one is harder on me than I am – no one is even close. And yet from somewhere there’s a gentler voice that sneaks in through the back door of the New Year and through the back doors of my life and reminds me to be kinder to me, to be easier on me, to find ways to rest and recreate and feed my creative self. I’ll never stop being driven. The time I’ve been given, the time we’ve all been given, is finite. And that gentler part of ourselves must somehow be a constant reminder of comfort and forgiveness, of self-betterment that comes, not from brow-beating and berating ourselves, not from forced regimentation, but from easing into it, making ourselves comfortable with it. We, all of us, live in a time when life is http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-abstract-black-white-writing-pen-image20156020snatched away from us one sound-bite, one reality TV show, one advert at a time. Often our time, our precious time is bargained away from us by harsher forces, by ideals and scripts that aren’t our own, and the less time we have to dwell
on the still small voice, the deeper the loss.

So my resolution, my only resolution every year is to listen more carefully to that gentler, quieter part of me, to forgive myself for not being able to be the super-human I think I should be, to settle into the arms of and be comfortable with the quieter me, the wiser me who knows how far I’ve really come, who knows that the shaping of a human being goes way deeper than what’s achieved in the outer world, and every heart that beats needs to find its own refuge in the value of just being who we are, of living in the present and coming quietly and gently and hopefully into 2015.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

Site created and maintained by Writer Marketing Services | Sitemap
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial