Where do your ideas come from?

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“Writing is like meditation or going into an ESP trance, or prayer.  Like dreaming.  You are tapping into your unconscious.  To be fully conscious and alert, with life banging and popping and cuckooing all around, you are not going to find your way to your subconscious, which is a place of complete submission.” – Carolyn Chute

Have you ever had a dream, and thought why don’t I have these same ideas when I’m awake?

I do all the time, but Carolyn Chute summed up why these same creative ingredients are available to me when I’m awake.  The idea is that you need to be free of all distractions when you write, find an isolated area, don’t be baking cookies and trying to write at the same time.  For most people, that’s difficult to do once a week – let alone every day.  I find that my dreams are a great way to keep my creative juices going.  I even keep a dream journal.  I find that I have the most aesthetically pleasing landscapes in my dreams.  There’s dialogue, but I never remember the conversations after I wake up.  I look for the vividness of my dreams, and I want to add the same depth into my writing.

If I can get my husband to watch our son, put on some instrumental music, and write for three hours straight, I can get to these vivid ideas without being asleep.  For me, dreaming is as entertaining as reading a book.  Just wish I could remember the dreams more often.  From the landscapes that I dream, I can use them as scenery in my writings, even if the story I write isn’t related to dream.  I had this wintry dream a few weeks ago, and while dreaming I even felt like I was walking in this landscape outside.  Everything from chilly temperatures, howl of the wind, and the numb feeling on my nose as I remained outside.  They all existed in this dream.

“The colors are all neutral, even clothes and skin.  No one has rosy cheeks.  The skin is a perfect medium grey.  The road I’m traveling is made of dirt and pebbles.  Most of the gravel has been divided into stripes, leaving exposed Earth where the tires usually rut.  The road is covered in an invisible ice, but is extremely treacherous.  To the right of the road is a foggy grassland.  The grass is brown and quickly falls out of purview.  To the left, is a stone wall, made of many organic stones of various grey.  It’s unclear if the wall is mam-made or organic.  Above the wall, bare trees grow and cling to a hill that appears too dangerous.  The Earth may loose hold and avalanche at any moment.  The Earth lacks detail, color and form.  However, there is always a house above the land.  It’s unclear if it’s on top of a hill or farther off in the distant.  The house is white with black details.  The window panes are black, yet the house seems friendly. “

So what kind of inspiration do you draw from your dreams?  Or maybe nightmares?

Have a great week everyone,

Biz Boston

Editing is Wonderful

f0c349f11c2287c55fb796d9740ac0eb   “I can’t write five words, but I can change seven.”-Dorthy Parker

How much editing should an writer do?  How many layers should an artist add to their painting?  No idea – seriously, I have no idea.  I edit, delete, edit some more, delete some more, and edit again.  Then, I like to ask for my husband’s opinion.  He always says he likes it.  Then, I find a third party source to edit the work and get some honest, reader-perspective feedback.  Then, I delete and edit some more.  Then, hand it over again.  I’ve rarely hung up my art, and said to myself “It’s complete.”  I even go back and edit work after sharing it on Instagram or Facebook.  This usually happens after several weeks of having the piece out of sight.

I can tell you that I am beginning to love editing.  Since I finally finished a novel, I’m forcing myself to edit, so I can move onto the next step; consequently, I spend less time creating new art.  Creation mode is addictive; however, sometimes what’s typed – sketched – in creative mode shouldn’t be read –  viewed – by other people.  I laugh at a lot of the things I write – and nearly vomit at others, but after editing, I create paintings and works that I want to share with others.  That’s why I’m beginning to love editing mode too.

I try to remember that editing isn’t a waste of time, but a form of self-assessment.  The more I am able to see my own mistakes, the more I am able to allow others to critique my work without feeling like a need to take sick day.  One of my favorite sayings my students have latched onto is “don’t be afraid to use the eraser because he’s your friend.”  I find it hard to remember this myself, but I’m beginning to edit and erase with little hesitation.

Editing, or rewriting, or painting over that area that took five hours to finish, is not a bad thing.  It’s essential to the creative process.  I actually had a paint teacher that said “fifteen to twenty layers,” or it’s not done yet.  I use to take him seriously, but I now know he meant: a painter doesn’t paint one layer on a canvas and call it done, a painter doesn’t receive feedback and not change anything, and a painter doesn’t quit just to call it done.  Paintings aren’t done after one layer, and stories aren’t complete after one draft.

How about you, do you enjoy editing?  Do you have a system or just keep at it until your satisfied?

Have a great night everyone and make some art!

Biz Boston

Interruptions

do not disturb

Writing is a way of talking without begin interrupted. – Jules Renard 

Is it possible to completely remove distractions and interruptions when making art?  I love what Jules Renard said here; the first time I heard it, I laughed.  However, I don’t feel so isolated with I’m writing, drawing or painting.  Maybe Renard referred to the fact that I can start a thought and finish that same thought, edit it, and be forgiven for any blunders (because no one will ever see them).  I’ve read in so many different places that’s it’s important to have a distraction free zone when you write or create anything.

Well . . . after the rest of the house, husband, toddler and two dogs, go to bed, I do have the house to myself.  I can stay up and write freely, if the toddler decides to go to bed and stay in bed.  Ever read Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach?  I have one of those toddlers.  Last night, after singing half a dozen song, milk, water, and three books, he looked at me and said, “I don’t sleep here anymore, Mama.”

“Oh,” I said, “where do you sleep?”

“I’m trying to sleep out there,” and he pointed to the TV and counch.

More or less, concentration is important to craft and art, any form of art.  I tell my students all the time that if you’re using your brain for talking, then you’re using less of it for drawing.  That’s actually true.  According to Merriam-Webster, “distraction” means “mental confusion.”  If you look at the etymology of the word, the mid 15th century defined it as “a drawing away of the mind.”  As if, there’s no use of the mind during a distraction.  Weird, huh?  So how does an artisan get to a distraction free zone?  For now, I will have to settle with late night writing and drawing.

What about you?  Are you able to have a distraction free zone to make your art?

Have a good evening everyone and happy reading,

Biz Boston

Critiques

image Confronted by an absolutely infuriating review, it is sometimes helpful for the victim to do a little personal research on the critic.  Is there any truth to the rumor that he had no formal education beyond the age of eleven?  Was he ever arrested for burglary? – Jean Kerr

On February 12, 2016, I wrote myself a note that said I was going to be a writer and never mind the madness I endure to get there.  I had given up on my childhood dream for a decade, and I couldn’t remember why.  I decided then that I am a writer at that moment, and I will write.  It may not work out, but it’s going to be one hell of a ride.  It has been, and I’ve discovered myself, my family, and my voice buried under a decade of neglect.  The hardest lesson since February 2016 was how to handle critiques.  I joined an online critique group, and man people were honest but mean.  They gave no helpful advice; they just said everything was wrong.  For a novice writer, where do you turn?  I turned to more formal creative writing classes and reading up on craft, tons of reading on craft actually.  It paid off, and the criticism I received my teacher and other students helped my craft and confidence.  I’m glad I didn’t give up after those first critiques, and I learned that many online critiques by other writers, are the writers trying to rewrite my story the way they would write it – not all writers but many.

As an painter and drawer, I want criticism.  It helps me grow, and I know what criticism to take and use when it comes to painting and drawing.  However, with writing, I’m still learning the craft, and the critiques leave me flustered.  Right now, I try to leave questions for my critics, and please always feel free to answer them.  Was there any moment that wasn’t clear or understandable?  Are the characters interesting?  Are you relating to any of the characters?  Was there any moment when the perspective didn’t make sense or changed suddenly?  I’m beginning to learn what to use from critiques and what not to use, but it’s an area where I’m still growing.  Often, like Jean Kerr, I wonder about my critic’s background check would yield?  When I leave a critique, I stick to three basic rules: one positive comment for every negative – keep it balanced, talk about the writing and not the writer (don’t use “you”), and leave a suggestion for every problem I point out (help them grow).  It’s what I teach my art students, and it’s what I try to do as a painter, drawer and writer.

What other writer’s and artists, do you like receiving critiques?  When did critiques help you grow the most?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone, Biz Boston.

http://www.bizbostonart.com

Am I showing what it means to be human through my characters?

i-and-the-village-by-marc-chagall Am I showing what it means to be human through my characters?

What does it mean to be human? Whoa!  That’s a huge question, and it’s a question that writing and all other art forms seek to answer in their own way.  The first time I saw Marc Chagall’s I and the Village, I wondered about Chagall’s view on humanity.  I wanted to know what that green man was thinking in his painting and what the people in his village were like.  The same year, I remember a teacher asked us to answer “what does it mean to be human?” in a class journal.  The answers were  . . . well . . . thoughtless.  My classmates and I said we’re here to love and be loved, to make a living, to serve God, to help each other, to be happy, to learn, to create peace, to make the world a better place, etc. etc.  It sounded like a Miss America pageant; we answered the question in a way that would make our teacher comfortable and not think less of us.  The truth is, humans are so complex.  We hate and love.  Humans have the ability to feel many positive and negative emotions.

So what does any of that have to do with writing and art?  I’m examining what it means to be human for my writing and my characters.  My characters need to be real people.  How do I show how humans experience life through my writing and characters?  Well, there’s no better human I know than myself.  I believe I have dozens of emotions, even some that are only named in art, and I can feel them simultaneously throughout my life.  They seep into my choices every day and week.  Sometimes, this leads to obstacles in my life, but life goes on.

I want my characters to seem like they have both love and hate in them, and they could at any moment feel any emotion.  I don’t want my characters to be “grumpy,” “bashful,” “sleepy,” etc.  I want there to have a constant struggle between emotions inside of their souls that slips out into their choices.  I want my character’s thoughts to be a battle between two giants destroying the landscape of their eternal being.  It’s my goal for every character.  Sounds terrible doesn’t it?  It makes for great story goals and disasters.  Through writing and reading fiction, I hope to understand myself more and all of these emotions spiraling and colliding with each other.  I know not everyone is like me, so I don’t know if I’ll understand humanity in depth.  However, I am hoping to better understand others situations through my characters.

What about you, how do you show what it means to be human through your writings?  How do you create real characters that others can identify with or better understand themselves through?

Have a great week everyone, Biz Boston.

Some Illustration . . .

shaman_cover artI’m still editing my story “The Soul Shaman” which I’m finally happy with the first two chapters.  The rest of it is still on the chop block waiting to be dissected.

In the meantime, I drew this – a doodle, ink sketch, what-have-you as an illustration to keep me motivated.  Owls are beautiful animals, and Celtic knots are a passion.  The two fit together well for my shaman character.  Hope you like it!

Have a great night, Biz Boston.

 

Voice

At this point, as a raw and fresh writer still learning craft, I would have to say – I hope my own voice resonates with others eventually.

“The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say but what we are unable to say.” – Anis Nin

Am I giving a voice to someone or others in my writings?

That’s a good question.  At this point,  as a raw and fresh writer still learning craft, I would have to say – I hope my own voice resonates with others eventually.  My own voice seems so weak at times, and if someone else draws inspiration from my voice anytime within the following months, well, that would make my year.  That was actually my New Year Resolution, to find my own voice, and through writing, I’ve heard it.  That’s why I love the quote by Anis Nin.  I can say things through my writing my blubbering mouth couldn’t get out in a week.  I feel this way about art in general.  There’s a lot in my head, and I’m glad there’s more than one way of communicating with the world, other than, a physical voice.  Georgia O’Keeffe said something similiar about creating visual art, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”

The whole question about voice makes me think of one of my favorite authors, Shirley Jackson.  Yes, she writes literary horror, but her heroines have these voices that sound like echoes of my own thoughts.  I’m drawn to their word choices, and how they perceive themselves.  When I read We Have Always Lived in The Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, I thought I was meeting people like myself.  It was almost eerie hearing my own thoughts projected from a fictional character, not the violent thoughts though, thankfully.

I don’t ever imagine I’ll speak for those whom believe they have no voices like Harriet Beecher Stowe.  However, it would be wonderful to have someone meet themselves through one of my characters like I did through Jackson’s characters.  My voice and I have a lot of strength building to do until then.  One word, one line, and one day, I really hope I get there.

How about you, are you giving a voice to someone or others in your writings?  Or, are you still trying to find your own voice?

Have a wonderful night, Biz Boston.