The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘creative

I admit it. Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of Wonder Woman. I didn’t read DC comics and wasn’t in love with the television show. Some of this was due to the fact that my younger sister, Melissa, adored WW. And, of course, the unwritten rules are that older siblings can’t ever like what the younger ones do. It’s just not cool.

Plus, I saved all my girl crush energy for The Bionic Woman, who although is not a classic superhero, captured my imagination with her brute strength, grace, style and humor. And I enjoyed the show’s sci-fi theme. Plus, she wore real clothes while she kicked butt. I also always believed that in a fight, the Bionic Women could totally take Wonder Woman. I still have my first Bionic Woman doll, although she is missing a foot!

So, all this is to say that I was not expecting to completely fall head over heels for the new WW movie. Tim and I went to see it this week and we both really enjoyed it. As many critics have already pointed out, the film subverts some of the taken for granted superhero themes. It is a mother and daughter story, a collective empowerment story, an ensemble story and a female coming of age story, all rolled into one.

The action in the first twenty minutes of the movie is absolutely thrilling. It is thrilling to see women, strong women, stand up for what they believe in and defend themselves. Usually female viewers watching action adventure and/or superhero films have to contort themselves into identifying with the strength and perspective of the male lead characters. It was nice to not have to do that with WW. I could go again just to see the first fight scene, it is that well-choreographed! It’s not that we haven’t seen kick-ass heroines before, but WW feels different. The kick-ass heroines are usually singular, surrounded by a male team and often not the leaders of the team. And, they sometimes apologize or are ambivalent about being strong. Not the case for WW.

 

Diana isn’t an anti-hero, she is compassionate and becomes wise by the end of the film. Yes, she’s gorgeous (and at times I found myself wondering why all the Amazons were lacking any body hair), but the camera shots and visual cues about the actress’s body weren’t gratuitous.

Maybe WW is striking such a powerful chord in the US because as many of us believe, collectively women have recently suffered some pretty significant cultural, political and legal setbacks. Those of us fighting and advocating for gender equity need continued courage. And, of course, the fact that the film was directed by a woman is another milestone.

The Amazon theme also holds a special place in my heart as I have an anthology, titled Amazons edited by Jessica Salmonson in 1979, that a male friend gave to me in college. The writers in the collection reimagine an “amazon heritage” using some of the historical record to tell new stories. I was so inspired by this book that a few months later, I coaxed some to friends to help me make an Amazon costume for a Halloween party. That book turned me on to ‘feminist science fiction’ in college which led me to Ursula Le Guin, Marge Piercy, Octavia Butler, many others and then my own writing path.

I’m hopeful that with the release of WW, young girls and boys can find awe in and enthusiasm for a new superhero.

I hope someone I know will throw a Halloween party this year, so I can start working on an Amazon costume!

*this post was inspired by writer, P.K. Tyler’s Facebook post on WW.

Those are my thoughts. Have you seen the film? What’s your take on it?

 

This 248 word story appeared last year in Thing Magazine. Last year was a breakthrough one in that I felt much more ease writing flash pieces. Writing them was a great comfort when I needed a break from longer projects. I’ve always been fascinated by the character of Lady Luck. We can trace her origins back to Roman times and the concern over the idea of human fate. I borrowed some of this history and played with it. I love this little vignette and hope I get to return to find out how Lady Luck and her cousin fare.

 

What The Slots Hold

Lady Luck came to claim her own in Atlantic City. She stalked past the drunk, slack-mouthed men at the blackjack tables. A cocktail waitress holding a platter of drinks looked up, screamed and ran. Casino alarms blared and men that from her twenty-five foot height looked like children, ran toward her from every corner. They yelled and fired their guns at her. Annoyed, she plucked coins from her dress, dropped them and watched as the golden disks smashed the men’s heads.

With a magical ax given to her by Ares, she hacked at the row of the garish Greek Gods slot machines. As she worked, she remembered the handsome face of the mortal she had met so long ago. A secret visit from Olympus to see the earthly realm had tempted her. She, a daughter of Aphrodite, a natural lover, fell so easily for his charms. He said he would build palaces where men would whisper her name. She might never have known that her magic was stolen, corrupted, used to kidnap others, until she overheard a joke about casinos by Zeus. She would show both gods and humans what happens when Lady Luck is angry. The last blow split a slot machine in two. In a burst of orange light, her cousin, Fortuna appeared. They hugged. She threw more coins from her dress and watched as they sprouted legs, arms and hands holding daggers and chased the remaining humans.

Taking Fortuna’s hand, Lady Luck said, “Vegas next.”

Dianna L. Gunn – one of the other authors in The Novella Initiative by The Book Smugglers – is hosting me on her blog today! We chat about the inspiration behind Reenu-You, the rise of novellas, and how publishing must change to support diverse voices. https://goo.gl/zZmFmT

Dear Creatives,

Have you heard about my Imagined Futures: A Transformative Writing Workshop in Panama?
This workshop is your opportunity to leave everyday life behind and get away for a week to be fueled, renewed, focused and coached by me to WRITE* without ANY distractions!

It’s amazing to think of how much writing you could do, isn’t it?

Just imagine what this workshop in a retreat setting, and the extra resources, will do to help you make PROGRESS on the writing that is most important to you.

I am leading the Imagined Futures workshop from July 2-6. And, then I am staying another week to do my own writing!

You can come for my workshop specifically or just come to write (or create in another medium) through the Summer Artist Residency.

Imagined Futures will draw on speculative fiction ideas for its inspiration (in keeping with the broader them of the program). However, writing in any genre will be welcome.

Think about it…Meals are prepared for us, we’re right on the beach, there’s structured and unstructured time…and great exercises. We are going to Time Travel with our past, present and future Writing Selves!

This workshop is hosted by Creative Currents Artist Collaborative. Creative Currents Artist Collaborative is an Atlanta-based, internationally focused arts organization whose mission is to widen and deepen public engagement with the arts and cultures of Africa and the Black Diaspora.  They do this by connecting artists, scholars and arts enthusiasts with exciting and varied arts-based cultural experiences. They offer a year round roster of cultural trips and workshops, of which the 2017 Creative Currents Summer Artist Residency is one.

Join me in Panama, and make 2017 the year your creative work gets DONE!

Let’s do this together.

Check out the details here. Feel free to email me with questions: mtb@creativetickle.com

*the Summer Artist Residency encourages artists of all kinds to apply.

COVER REVEAL: I have been DYING to share this news with you. My new sci-fi novella, “Reenu-You” is being released this week. Last fall, I had the incredible good fortune of my novella being selected as one of the four to be published this year by the AWESOME Book Smugglers Publishing. They are a small (but mighty in spirit) press interested in all things speculative fiction and with a real commitment to diversity and feminism. Since December, I have been knee-deep in edits, proofs and marketing. Whew! I will post more about that process soon.

I am THRILLED that Black Girl Nerds is doing an exclusive cover reveal today!

Reenu-You is a sci-fi thriller that explores what happens when a mysterious virus is transmitted through a “natural” hair product. Set in the 1990s, the novella explores race, gender, the politics of beauty and corporate conspiracy. Female friendships, unlikely heroines and hair—what more could you want?

Would you consider visiting the Black Girl Nerds website and possibly leaving a comment? The more traffic they get, the more they are encouraged to promote this cover reveal. TY!

Watch this space for more Reenu-You news soon!

This is the way I feel today!

This year, I have not done right by National Poetry Month. I have not had an opportunity to feature a single poet. I’m correcting that today. I’m welcoming back Mary L. Barnard, a friend and fabulous poet. She’s been writing poetry for a long time and I’ve learned much from her. I love the commitment that she has had for many years of writing a poem during the weekend and sending it out to her community. The poem below was published in the 2012 collection, Hot Summer Nights: a Collection of Erotic Poetry & Prose.

I’m delighted to welcome back Mary L. Barnard to The Practice of Creativity.

SURE PITCH, TRUE ARC

Then, when he came to her, he was Broken Man,
told her the prophecy of the New Goddess
who foretold twelve women waiting for
a man, if he be good and constant, would sire
with them the New Disciples between moonrise
and moonset on the night of the winter solstice.

If a man be eaten by twin worms of lust and harm,
the Goddess will know and the women will turn
from the face of ill-placed trust.

The man who has spent himself on women who
cuckold him will have his powers taken away.

She, unaware of any goddess, played horseshoes
with men and learned their ways as sportsmen.
Her sure pitch, true arc admired, imitated.
It was rumored that the clink against the stake
of her bronze horseshoes resounded in mountains
beyond the pit.

She met Broken Man when relations were still
new to her.  As he told her about the New Goddess,
she mused on the sound of his voice, which entered
her ear as the sound of a bird foreign yet welcome
in her yard.

She dreamed of sitting alone in the cloud forest
of Ecuador where the club-winged manikin
ticks and tings on the bones of his wings
knocking together as bow on violin
to make a sound alluring to all females.

She mused, touched him with her finger
on a place he had hidden from everyone.  He did not
push her hand away.  The eyes that looked into his
were dark hazel, almost the same color as his own.

Then she spoke, How does one come to be so wounded?

He said Some day I will tell you how I came to be
so wounded. 
The words on his tongue tasted bitter
and sour in turns but when he kissed her the friction
of their tongues sparked an electrical charge
whose current surged deep in both their bodies.

With her he reclaimed his power – he did not know
his true power until then – and their nights
were mutual and long.  She waited, as twelve
women might, for the good and constant in him,
for the answer to her question.

The New Goddess knew how it would end.  Broken Man
caught her notice as he slipped his net of shimmering
he-promises over the horseshoe woman as she slept.

Goddess began to plan a place for him in a desert
where his life would be golden:  gold sun, red-gold sand,
solid gold money, golden reputation, horseshoes made
of gold – a metal too soft for the rigors of the stake.

Mary L. Barnard

 

Mary L. Barnard, a Chathamite forever, plans to write poems from her little acre as long as …
In May 2013 she received a Certificate in Creative Writing from Central Carolina Community College’s (CCCC) Creative Writing Program. She was part of the inaugural class.

 

 

Scratching can look like borrowing and appropriating, but it’s an essential part of creativity. It’s primal and very private. It’s a way of saying to the gods, “Oh, don’t mind me, I’ll just wander around in these back hallways…”and then grabbing that piece of fire and running like hell.
-Twyla Tharp, choreographer

Where do you get your ideas? How do you generate small ideas that lead to big writing projects? It’s springtime and as we put away our winter coats, boots and hats, we naturally desire to generate fresh ideas for our writing life. Twyla Tharp, world famous choreographer, in her understated, but powerful book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it For Life, uses the concept of ‘scratching’ as a method for finding and incubating new ideas.

‘Scratching’, she observes is what we do so we aren’t always waiting for the “thunderbolt” of inspiration to hit. Tharp says, “That’s what I’m doing when I begin a piece. I’m digging through everything to find something. It’s like clawing at the side of a mountain to get a toehold, a grip, some sort of traction to keep moving upward and onward.”

Twarp notes the importance of reading, as a place to scratch for ideas. Many writers reread the classics or work by mentors they love as a way to sharpen their senses and generate new perspectives. Tharp likes to read ‘archeologically’, backwards in time, working her way from a contemporary idea back to an ancient text.  When working on an idea for a dance she began with Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy which led her to Dionysus and then studies of Dionysus (worship of and symbols connected to), which led her to Euripides and his The Bacchae. These readings led to her choreograph ‘Bacchae’, a dance that explores hubris and is loosely based on the Euripides text.

Inspired by her strategy, years ago, I made a list of the subjects that I typically read about both as an academic and as a creative writer.

List:  self-help /’how to’ in yoga, health and wellness, women’s health, women’s empowerment, public speaking; craft of writing books; cookbooks; leadership; 18-20th century African American history, spirituality; creativity; women’s spirituality; African American women; black feminism; dreams; sociology of race; women’s and gender studies; elections and campaigns; feminist theory, history of the American university; genres: speculative fiction, thrillers, literary fiction

When finished with this list, I felt pretty impressed.

But then I asked myself, what are the subjects I rarely read in, have no working knowledge of, couldn’t put two sentences together about, or even avoid?

Here’s that list: general biographies, colonial American history, world history, geography, travel memoirs, animals, romance, celebrities, sailing, cars, history of language, math and science, sports, nature, children’s books, plays, poetry, Christian fiction, true crime, technical books

Doing this exercise motivated me to dig into many unexplored subjects.

What would your reading lists look like?

Here are three scratching strategies:

-Flirt with a different genre (or even subgenre)-It’s always fun to explore a different writing genre than the one that’s become your norm.  In a recent writing workshop, the instructor encouraged us to take a short piece that we were working on, keep the characters but rewrite it using a different genre. This exercise felt so liberating. I found myself exploring space opera with what had started out as a realistic story. I have little working knowledge of space operas, but it was fun to use my imagination to fill in the gaps.

-Visit a writer’s residence or historic site-Traveling to see a writer’s home is a kind of pilgrimage that can bring us fresh insights. A few years ago, I traveled to Edenton, NC to learn a bit more about Harriet Jacobs, a fugitive slave, writer and abolitionist who penned Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl under the pseudonym Linda Brent. My literary pilgrimage was so rejuvenating.

-Mine Magazines-Acquire ten magazines that you never read (you can buy some and collect others from friends, the doctor’s office, libraries, etc.) and read them from cover to cover. Keep a list about the trends, ideas and musings that spark your interest.

Where are you going to scratch for ideas this spring?

 


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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