Posts Tagged ‘Deena Metzger’
Posted September 16, 2012on:
Hi! My Sunday Surprise includes tidbits gathered from here and there. Soon I will return to my longer posts, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this interlude.
-I’m now on Twitter and loving every moment of it. I’m reconnecting with teachers and alums from 1996 Clarion East, a science fiction and fantasy writers’ summer intensive, that I attended! Come find me @MicheleTBerger
-Visual artists trick our brains all the time in how we perceive light and color. This article on CNN.com explores what neuroscience is teaching us about how we perceive art.
-I gave a workshop, ‘Are You a Wooer or Withholder? What’s Your Creative Relationship Style?’ a few weeks ago for the ‘Sisters In Crime’ writers’ group in Raleigh. One of the prompts I gave them was to imagine that an adoptions worker comes to interview them on their capacity to “adopt the creative”(based on Deena Metzger’s work). Judy Hogan, farmer, co-founder of Carolina Wren Press and newly minted mystery author attended the workshop and just posted a dialogue between her and the adoptions worker. You might want to try the exercise and then read Judy’s engaging response.
-Feel like you’ve lost that loving feeling with your Muse? Brenda Moquez’s quirky and funny dialogue with her Muse might give you some ideas about how to court yours!
-Very compelling post by Kate Elliot on the male gaze, the female gaze, and women’s sexualized portrayals in fantasy and science fiction novels.
-A thought about persistence. Yesterday, after an all-day faculty retreat I got to the gym as planned so that I could exercise as a reward. Well, I quickly realized that in my early morning haste, I had forgotten to pack my sneakers. I also had to be somewhere else within an hour and knew that if I didn’t work out during my allotted time, it wasn’t going to happen later. So, although I felt a bit silly, I changed into my workout clothes and grabbed my patent blue wedge shoes (the only shoes with me), and walked with my head held high, barefoot, into the gym’s workout area. I picked up a few magazines and sat down at one of the recumbent bike stations, put on my shoes and began my thirty minute workout. Yes, I felt a bit silly as people walked by and looked at me pedaling away in my nice shoes. However, it was more important for me to be true to my fitness goals then let a little thing like shoes stop me. This incident made me think of writing. It is so easy to get off our game if one little thing goes wrong during our scheduled writing time. It could be that we’re out our special tea, or the pen we love has just gone dry. Or, that we have an interruption that we have to attend to. And, we can feel silly and out of sorts that we have to make do with our sometimes ‘less than perfect’ writing life. But, if we remind ourselves that our larger goal of consistent writing practice is so much more important than fleeting frustration when things don’t go as planned, we just might find ourselves able to persevere and receive a greater payoff in the long run.
(Photo Credit: these shoes look a lot like the ones that I wore while pedaling. http://www.shopoloriswank.com/product/patent-blue-gucci-wedge)
Posted February 14, 2012on:
Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m delighted to welcome writer and She Writes friend Juliet Greenwood to the final installment in the ‘Love Your Creative Self’ series. My reflection and the follow-up to the exercise ‘Welcoming the Creative’ follow.
HOW DO I LOVE MY CREATIVE SELF?
By accepting her for what she is. Understanding there are times she needs to hide away on her own, in solitude and silence. Knowing this is the way she works, and is not an avoidance of the world. Having faith that she will return to enjoy the company of others, when she is ready.
By knowing that she cannot live without the food of beauty, good books, laughter and, at times, wine.
By loving her in all her moods: without makeup, her hair unbrushed, and just slightly fragile round the edges.
By loving her the way those who truly love, and would not have me any other way, love me.
Juliet Greenwood is the author of ‘Eden’s Garden’, published by Honno Press in March 2012. Check out Juliet’s website: www.julietgreenwood.co.uk
In the ‘LYCS’ series, I wanted us to asses our relationship to our creative self and creative projects. Juliet’s post reminds us that the creative self has its own needs and desires. Just like any other relationship that we value, we must make time for our creativity. And, just like any other relationship, feelings of pleasure, kindness and affection make us and others feel good. By starting off with feelings of love and friendship for our creative self and long term creative projects, we may discover that we can muster up the energy to find out what we want to do next and how to get support for it.
Getting your creative projects to migrate from the bottom to the top of your list is no easy feat. Ariel Gore makes this point in her witty book, How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead. She notes that most of us believe that making time for creative work is selfish, so we put it at the end of our to-do lists:
“And then we kick ourselves because the novel isn’t written. We look down at our laps and blush when our writing teacher asks us if we got a chance to write this week. Of course we didn’t get a chance to write—it was the last thing on our list. We had a glass of wine with dinner. We got sleepy .I’m going to tell you something, and it something I want you to remember: No one ever does the last thing on their to-do list.”
Gore’s hypothetical list looks like anyone’s and she makes a compelling case that we’ll always lose out if creativity ends up at the bottom of our to-do lists. I don’t think moving creativity up on our to-do lists is just a physical act though; it’s a psychological one, too. It’s about declaring, ‘I desire to create and I claim the time.’ And, the moment we do that, we’re bound to wake up some part of ourselves that is going to argue. So, sometimes we avoid making more space for creativity because we’re not psychologically prepared to deal with the inner critic, judge, or evaluator. That’s a thread for another blog post. Let’s say, for sake of argument, that you’ve had those conversations with the inner critic and have managed to come to some sort of temporary arrangement that allows you to create periodically without a lot of drama or shame.
How might you reorder your to-do list to move creativity up? I’ve adapted Gore’s to-do list example to include creative breaks and motivation throughout the day.
-Wake up (for a lot of people waking up a half hour earlier to work on their creative stuff is an important strategy)
-Stay in bed for at least 1 minute telling yourself one reason you’ve woken up is to create something new. (Or, you can use a positive statement, “I am filled with creative potential.”)
-Shower (showering or bathing is a perfect time to remind yourself of what creative thing you’re working on)
-Take kids to school/walk dogs/etc
-5-15 minute Creative Break—do a writing prompt; draw/sketch, assemble your packets of seeds for the beautiful garden you are planning (Creativity expert SARK uses the concept of micromovements to break tasks into manageable segments of 5 seconds to 5 minutes. Very effective!)
-Put a load in the laundry
-Dress and go to work
-On the way to work, instead of listening to the radio, take a few minutes and talk out loud about what else you’d like to get done on your creative project today.
-5-15 minute Creative Break during lunch-your lunch break is a perfect time to do some writing, surf the web for research that will help your creative project along, order needed supplies for a creative project, or take a book on creativity with you and read for 15 minutes while you eat. If you need a recommendation, I have chronicled some of the best creativity books of the decade here.
-On the way home from work, turn off the radio and enjoy some quiet time, this also feeds your intention to create more. Keep a small notebook and a pen handy so you can record your musings at a stoplight.
-Pick up kids/pay bills/feed dogs, etc
-Say hello to partner, spouse, etc
-Run out to store for forgotten ingredient for dinner
-Collapse in front of TV and eat dinner
-5-15 Minute Creative Break: Turn off TV and excuse yourself for this last creativity break (you’ll have to tell yourself, yes you have the energy for it)
-Put kids to bed/take dog for a walk/take shower, etc
-Sleep (and tell your subconscious you’d like it to supply you with ideas for your creative project tomorrow)
So this to-do list may not model yours exactly. Yours may not have kids or it might have an hour at the gym. What’s important for sustaining creativity is finding dedicated time throughout the day. There are of course times that we will have to get up an hour earlier or spend a chunk of time on the weekend to complete a creative project we’re working on. But, more often than not, we don’t do the daily work of keeping ourselves connected to what matters most—our creative lives—because we believe that either we’ll get to it later (after everything else), or that we need a BIG chunk of time. If those beliefs have worked well for your creative output, hats off. If not, experiment with moving creativity to the top of your to-do list by integrating smaller chunks of time throughout the day.
Welcoming the Creative-Part 2
I heard from many folks that they enjoyed Deena Metzger’s ‘Welcoming the Creative’ exercise posted last week. That exercise encourages us to think about the requirements of a creative life and what we must do to nurture it. Also the exercise reminds us that we can be gifted with the creative at any point in our lives. If you want more, you might want to try the next part of the exercise:
Yes, the creative has been assigned to your house. What must you do to prepare? Write the moment in which it arrives. Then write the first day. What are its needs and demands? How can you meet them? Do you meet them? What happens that is unexpected?
Now the creative has been with you for a year. How do the two of you live your daily life? What relationship have you established? Again, what is transpiring between you that is unexpected?
Adapted from Deena Metzger’s Writing for Your Life: A Guide and Companion to the Inner Worlds
Thanks to everyone who wrote for the LYCS series and for all the wonderful feedback.
Creativity is a gift. Too many of us refuse it unwittingly. Assaulted by self-doubt, we fail to believe that it has been put into our hands. We diminish it by insisting that we should have been child prodigies. We insist its only proof is commercial gain. But the creative is a gift to us from another realm, and it comes when it comes. Deena Metzger, Writing for Your Life
I’m delighted to welcome comedy writer Merrill Disney in the ‘Love Your Creative Self’ series. She’s created an inspiring story drawing on personal insight and observation. She’s a friend from the incredible online WINS program (Write It Now with SARK), that we’ve been enrolled in for the past six months. I’ve included a prompt based on her reflection.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF VALENTINE
Tovita knew she was different. Seemed all the other girls had straight hair when hers was naturally curly; plus, her skin was darker than most in her 4th grade class. American culture should have come more naturally because she was born in Seattle and fitting in should be a birthright. Well, those who wrote the rules didn’t attend George Washington elementary school–it was sometimes tough. The Samoan way of life was open and loving but so many times, she just didn’t feel that she fit in with others. With Valentine’s Day approaching, she stewed over the box of store bought cards that her mom had purchased so she could celebrate the candy-hearted day with classmates. Once she realized that everyone may give out the same pre-packaged cartoon character love notes with not so original sayings they were no longer appealing and pondered over her choice of expression. Instead she felt even though it might be considered weird, she would write a hand-written note on red and white papyrus paper from Western Samoa stating her favorite quality of each person in her class.
“Hillary, even when you don’t know the answer to Miss Allen’s question, you smile and raise your hand the next time. You encourage me to do the same.” and “Josh, my first day of school when you asked me to join your table for lunch, I thought to myself ‘now I would vote for him for the President of the United States one day.’” As she wrote, she smiled at how truly alike she really was; the differences seemed to disappear with genuine kindness toward others.
Oh, the store bought box of valentines did not go to waste, she wrote herself love notes to herself of self appreciation and kept them in her side desk drawer. The first one included “I like being different and writing my own Valentine’s cards”. However, she knew she had to come up with a clever response when her mom found all the cards addressed to her. But with her new found creative way, she knew it wouldn’t be a problem.
This comedy writer never passes up an opportunity to share our creative differences and similarities! You can get in touch with Merrill through her assistant: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love how Tovita uses her creativity to do something unique for her classmates (whom she feels estranged from), and also how she writes love notes to herself! That is one smart little girl! Self-appreciation and self-encouragement are skills that we often have to relearn as adults as we pursue a creative life. In the WINS class, SARK encourages us to write short love notes from the grounded wisest part of our self to our everyday self. For me this practice encourages a heightened appreciation for gentle self-regard and helps to chase away the writing blues and doubts.
Merrill’s story also reminds me that part of our journey as creative people is to learn what are our special gifts and how to share them. The following prompt encourages us to look at the idea of our gifts from a fresh perspective and is from one of my favorite writing books-Writing for Your Life:
The Gift of the Gift
One way of knowing who we are is by what we give and what we receive. Write two lists, one of gifts given, another of gifts received. Afterward, imagine that you have found both of these lists and that you know nothing about the person who wrote them. Develop a portrait of the person who emerges from this series of exchanges by examining the nature of the lists, the kinds and qualities of the gifts given and received, and their relationship to each other.
Reread the portrait. Who is this person? How does she or he resemble yourself? What new perspective does this focus offer you?
Write a piece about a particular gift you once received or you once gave. What did this gift mean? Tell a specific story that reveals the nature of the gift.
How does this story reflect on the portrait you wrote earlier?