A review of my week in no particular order.
I ran into a colleague outside Shoppers Drug Mart.
“I need to rake this weekend,” she said.
I imagined the prongs of the rake crawling along the drowsy grass, gently inviting… Continue reading
Inevitably I get bored in every creative project. From singing for an audience to painting with watercolours to acting in a community production to writing a novel or play, I get bored. The work loses its energy and zoom. Distractions appeal to me. I start to lose faith in the work and the process. This is not writer’s block, but a general malaise toward the work.
I have a box of unfinished projects. I started my first novel in the fall of 1998. I was a student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I spent hours researching and writing the story of Tess, a modern rendering of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I was fascinated by the idea of a “fallen” protagonist, a hero who is also a victim. I rewrote the first eighty pages for five years and then I put the project in a box. Continue reading
It is a typical Friday night. I get home from work just before six. The house is empty at first. I turn on the television or the radio to fill the space. I look out the window. I notice the way the last ray of sun reflects off the house across the street. I feel relieved and worried that I have not made any plans. Lately, the weekends I enjoy most are the ones when I am alone.
It is comforting to sit in a quiet house, but not at first. Entering solitude is not as simple as walking through a doorway. It is more like waiting at the station for a train that does not keep to a schedule.
Saturday morning I awake saddened that my home is still empty, overwhelmed by the vastness of a blank day after a busy week. I watch television while I eat breakfast. Around 9:00 am I check in with family via phone or email. Then I tidy the house, make the bed, have a shower, and start the laundry. The idea of writing trails me like a kid sister from room to room.
It is lunch time. The need to write begins to hum a gentle tune as I prepare a salad. After I eat I turn on the kettle. Before the water is boiled my laptop is ready, the writing song is stronger. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, glance at the page, and type.
The words are slow at first, forced. Long pauses sit between words and sentences and paragraphs. I wait patiently for my train of thought to move forward. I breathe into the pauses. I let the words rise onto the page as if they are emerging buds in springtime.
Each pause is like stepping onto a new stone toward solitude. The words do not scroll across my mind’s eye as they do when I am walking. The words bubble up from a place deep within my creative spirit.
As I write this post I am trying to be aware of the meditative journey to solitude through the writing process. I am surprised that when I write from this place I am not aware of logic. I am not conscious of what I have written in the previous sentence or what I will write in the next sentence.
I spend hours writing in solitude. Suddenly, it is night. The afternoon’s sun has faded, dusk has turned to darkness. It is time to prepare dinner. Once I arrive at a state of solitude it is with me until I leave the house for work on Monday morning. I feel peace. It is in this place that I do my best work. Continue reading
This morning I woke up in the middle of a sneeze. Once I recovered from the shock I tried to go back to sleep. Within thirty seconds I was sitting up in bed, iPad in hand, editing a piece of writing I had started the night before. My eyes struggled to adjust. I had not taken the time to even turn on a light.
For the last couple weeks I have slept poorly. I dreamed of mishaps, accidents, travelling, and writing. Some days I awake to find paragraphs composed and ready to meet the page. Last week I woke up in the middle of the night to use the washroom. As I slowly walked half asleep down the darkened hallway an idea for a play nearly made me trip with surprise and crash into the wall. The story, characters, setting, and the finished production exploded in my mind like fireworks.
As I shoveled snow on the weekend I wrote poetry in my mind, moving the words around like magnets with the rhythm of the shovel. When I made a cup of tea five potential collage themes flushed me as the steam warmed my face. Creativity begets creativity. Once we open ourselves to listening to our creative spirits possibilities arrive at an unpredictable rate.
For five months I have listened to audio books during my thirty minute drive to and from work. Since starting The Creative Mind I have had to drive in silence. I look out at the rolling hills of Northumberland and somehow arrive on time and without harm. My mind wanders from planning my day to starting the next blog post to contemplating the way the sunlight reflects on the snow.
The dust seems thicker on my television. The laundry sits neglected in the washer and dryer, on the floor in my bedroom. The mail rests unopened on my front hall table. The piles of books appear in new places, on the kitchen table, on the bathroom shelf, on the floor by my desk, on one side of the couch.
The idea to begin The Creative Mind Online Workshop for Writers appeared fully formed like a Greek god one Saturday afternoon. Within hours of a flash of insight as to how the project could unfold I had begun mapping out the course. However, I do not believe the idea came out of nowhere.
For years I have dreamed of opening a creative writing school. For years I have taught creative writing to high school students and I have facilitated writing workshops for adult learners. For years I have thought about the phrase “sunshine in a jar” and how it relates to this site, to my work, to how I would like to contribute to my art and communities. For months leading up to the flash of insight that led me to start The Creative Mind, I reflected on my next steps. I rested between projects. I prayed for direction. I whispered gentle requests to the universe to provide me with the right idea at the right time. When the idea arrived I gave myself permission to run with it. Continue reading
It is the late 1970s. I am a toddler. I stand in my playpen holding the rail with both hands. Using my head as a guide I allow my whole upper body to move up and down with the beat. I am watching my favourite show: Hee Haw.
It is 1980. I stand in the downstairs hallway with a pink blanket tied around my neck. I hold a microphone. I belt out “Hey daddy there’s a dragon in the driveway” with Anne Murray as her record spins on my Fisher Price player.
It is 1982. I act out every song from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album–for Michael. His poster hangs on my closet door. Every night I take it down, stowing it safely in the closet, just in case he decides to become a werewolf while I am sleeping.
It is 1984. Santa gives me a red Sony walkman and a Kool and the Gang cassette. “Emergency, emergency. Emergency, urgent!” I sing as I slide across the floor.
It is 1985. I lie on my bed, on my back, holding the jacket for Corey Hart’s “Boy in the Box” album up over my head, singing along and thinking dreamy thoughts. I still prefer records.
It is 1986. We are at the arena. My brother is at hockey practice. My red Sony walkman is clipped to my hip. I perform full dance routines in the downstairs changeroom area hallway. My moves are as large as my voice is loud. Madonna and I sing, “True blue, baby, I love you!” Continue reading
Where do you feel most inspired? Is inspiration connected to place?
Here is today’s audio clip:
The Creative Mind, Lesson 6
How do the spaces we use for creative work affect us? Do our environments inspire us? Or is inspiration a state of mind that is not grounded in place? Where do you do your best writing? Continue reading
Here is today’s audio introduction:
The Creative Mind, Lesson 5
Following the success of her novel “Ladykiller,” Charlotte Gill turned to non-fiction, to writing about her life, to re-engage her creative energy. Emily Dickinson reveals her own inner world through her poems. The speakers, although distinct, open the windows to Dickinson’s seclusion and understanding of social relations. Alice Munro’s short stories and novels offer glimpses of small towns in Canada that Munro has lived in or visited. Natalie Goldberg and Anne Lamott weave personal moments of insight with writing advice. Who we are and what we write are closely related. Continue reading
Overview of Workshop
Writers and artists are creators. The most common interview question posed to any writer or artist is where do your ideas come from? Ideas seem mysterious and selective. At the core of good writing is a good idea. Before we write we must determine what we will write about. Before we spend hours committed to improving our craft we must show up to the page and write. Natalie Goldberg describes this as “free-writing.” W.O. Mitchell calls it “freefall.” Julia Cameron says “writing is like breathing.”
By letting go of the inner critic and the hunger for success, we focus on the page. We focus on flow, entering a state of being where time and place melts away. The ideas rise and splash and play like whales.
This online workshop for writers focuses on The Creative Mind.
- To form an online learning community of writers
- To use free writing as an entry point to flow through daily writing practice
- To gain awareness of the nature of creativity
- To understand and utilize the muse Continue reading