Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Beautiful Convergence

The genre of images that make you wonder about their back story is one of the beautiful convergences of writing and photography. These images make your eye linger, make your mind wonder, and make your creative genie start imagining, writing, their back story. If you are a photographer, many times you strive to create these images since that bit of mystery and interest is the defining element of great images in this genre. If you are a writer, you can't help but linger on these images, feast your eyes, wonder and create a story for them.  The images tell a story, but more importantly, they let you tell a story.

These are but a few of the many wonderful images that have this magical quality. Feast your eyes and your creativity.

photo by Nelli

photo by Ed Spadoni

photo by John Loguk

photo by John Loguk

photo by Janet McQueen

photo by Duane Bender

photo by nightpixels

photo by sherstone

photo by Liquid Air

photo by Phil Pankov

photo by sherstone

photo by Kara Stewart

photo by Kara Stewart

Sunday, August 21, 2011

If You Want Something Done, Ask A Busy Person To Do It

I admit to being well over 40 when I first heard that phrase. I was in a meeting and so caught up in pondering the gross unfairness of the phrase that at first I didn’t realize I was the one being asked to take care of something – again. I can’t remember what it was I was being asked to do, and that wasn’t nearly as momentous to me as chewing on that audacious phrase.

I remember thinking, “So it is actually a known phrase that you should ask someone who has a hundred things to do to take on one more thing instead of asking someone who has 20 things to do?”  Ridiculous. Sniff. Unfair.  Sniff, sniff.  How about let’s spread the love (as long as we are into phrases)? How about let’s give everyone the same amount (basic kindergarten rule)? 

But last week, as I returned to work after an unplanned hiatus, I got more done (with my art and in household yucky chores) in the half hour after a very long day at work than I did in most days of my month-long enforced vacation. That’s not to say I was nibbling bon-bons and watching soap operas during my month off, oh no! I had the never-ending, continual Mega List of things to accomplish with my art, and I did accomplish a huge amount each day.

But I knew if it came down to it, I could get up and walk away from my laptop if I wanted to. The only thing forcing me to keep working was . . . me. No boss, nobody looking over my shoulder. And certainly nobody forcing me to do laundry, vacuum or pick up the mess in the living room!  Yes, I got lots done. And not nearly as much as I did after working a really long day for someone else, from which there is a boss and no walking away!

As contradictory and illogical as it sounds, I got more done when I had more to do and was being held accountable by someone else.  Not sure which part of that (more to do vs. being held accountable by someone other than myself) figures in to the equation more.  Either way, I was forced to manage my time very stringently, stick to a difficult and inflexible schedule, and work very quickly.

As unfair as it sounds, if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.

And if you are that busy person, and your list of things to do has literally a hundred things on it, which means that you are hugely stressed out and not enjoying life very much, take a break. Turn it off.  Everything on the list can wait and none of them are as important as your happiness. Not to mention that it is almost impossible to be creative when you are stressed out.

My happiness break that did my heart good last week was going with the kids and dogs up to the lake for a Last of Summer Hurrah:

  Which contributed to today’s creativity:

Cabin Quilt Greeting Card

Cabin Quilt Initials Bag

Stay busy, but not so busy that you can't create.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's Okay to Play

My gem for the day (and believe me, I don't always have one) is: It's okay to play.  Rhymes and everything.

Yesterday I put in a full day at work (I'm a teacher and back at it), came home and went into a mad flurry of cleaning the main living area after being met at the door with what surely must have been debris from the hurricane of life.  How is it that we get more done, faster, after a full day of work?  Hmm. Sensing future blog post there.

Flurry of cleaning over with, dinner over with, there still loomed my ever-present list (I have a spiral notebook of them) of things I *have* to do to keep moving forward with my creative desires.  There are some things on that list that are pretty monumental (to me) and time consuming (to me).  

Here's a sample:
  • Figure out how to create blog pages
  • Join Google+
  • Do the thing
  • Figure out why my Networked Blogs thingamabob isn't working and fix it
  • Create Rat Terrier dog breed mug, upload and design 4 images with it
  • Can I make polo shirts?
And so on. What was not on that list is something I have been dying to do since last Friday evening.  Last Friday, some friends and I saw an amazing performance by Paperhand Puppet Intervention.   I have no idea why it is called 'puppet intervention'.  Well, ok, if I want to think deeply, yes, I can figure that out.  But the smart aleck in me, and the first thing that sprang to mind was an image of Pinocchio's friends and family sitting around in a circle. In walks Pinocchio, and sits down, puzzled at their presence.  

     Gepetto starts, tears sliding down his face. "Pinocchio, son. You must stop this puppet nonsense! You are hurting all of us and you know you are killing yourself with it!"  

     Jiminy Cricket pipes up, wiping his tiny nose, "We love you, Pinocchio! We just want you to be happy without all this puppet stuff!"

Puppet Intervention.  

But back to the fabulous Paperhand Puppet Intervention show last Friday.  It was an awesome display of creativity and you should expect to see a blog post and photos at some point.  The point is, I have been dying to upload, view and maybe work on some of those photos.  

Why haven't I?  Well, because I have that honking huge Mega List of things I *have* to do with my photography and writing.  And fun stuff isn't on it!  I can't take time out to do fun stuff like that with that big old list to start working on ('start' is a misnomer - my list is continual, perpetual)!  

And so after a full day of work and then hurricane of life clean up, I decided that everything on my list was too big to tackle at that late hour and I may as well just go up to bed.

But hold on!  What if . . . 

. . . what if I just peeked at those photos?  What if I just played a minute or two with them? You know, since I'm not going to do anything on the list anyway......?

I did.  And yes, I messed with them for several hours and so technically I could have done something on my Mega List.  But I loved it!  Those hours flew by!  I had fun!  I played!  And that did more for my motivation to continue in my creative fields than crossing anything off the Mega List would have done.  It's okay to play.

Here is the image I produced from my 2 hour play session, taken at the Paperhand show:

Caveat for self:  set a time limit when you need to, focus on Mega List when you have to.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How Do You Balance Your Creative Time?

We’ve all read articles on how to squeeze enough hours into the day to do both what you have to do (regular, full time job that pays the bills), dreaded but necessary house stuff (tenth load of laundry, move son’s shoes for the umpteenth time, reacquaint yourself with the concept of grocery shopping, mow the lawn), and what you want to do (be a full time writer, photographer, painter, musician or guinea pig walker, for that matter). 

No two ways about it, these articles make us rethink our schedules and level of motivation. They say things like “Schedule 10 minutes a day to take a photograph” and “Wake up an hour early to write. We need these articles. They speak the truth and they are helpful. You do have to examine your motivation and priorities and carve out the time.

But what I want are cold hard facts on managing your time after you have decided that puppetry/writing/abstract photography/guinea pig walking really is a priority in your life and you have made precious time for it.

How do you manage that time in order to both create and to market/promote?  Do you create 4 days a week and promote 3 days per week?  Do you wake up an hour early to promote and then create in the evenings (not going to work for me since I can’t think after 6 p.m.)?  Do you bounce back and forth between the two, settling on a rough formula of about 70% creating, 30% promoting?  Write for an hour in the mornings when you wake up (clock set at 5 a.m.) and promote in the evenings? Create on Saturdays, promote on Sundays?

Or do you just do whatever seems the most important at the moment?

I have to admit to spending the last month doing the latter.  And it has not been pretty.  I function best when I can gear my mind up to what I am going to do and have a schedule for it (a flexible one, but one that also pins my nose to the creative grindstone).  Focus. Organization.

You were looking for answers here, weren’t you?  I don’t have the answers. But I do have the questions to start you thinking about how to balance the precious time that you have carved out of your life for your creativity of choice so that that time is the most productive it can be. And so you don’t become what I have been in the last month: a whirling dervish expending a lot of energy but not accomplishing nearly as much as I need to accomplish.

However, that being said, my dervishness today included the creation of:


Now you know that is one cute dog and worth a little derv.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

But I Just Want to Take Photographs!

Or write books. Or walk dogs. Or whatever is your particular passion. I know. Whine, whine, whine. We've all heard it a gajillion times before and we've all read others saying it and rolled our eyes.  C'mon, don't pretend you haven't.

But this time it's me! Do I want to figure out how to create a blog?  Do I want to figure out how to write a Squidoo lens?  Do I want to fight Facebook to get a photography page going on there?  No! No! No! A million times no! (like, really emphatically)

I just want to take photographs (she said meekly). Apparently if you are not independently wealthy or have mysterious automatic entry to endless buyers of your art or writing, you can't just take photographs/write/walk the dog and expect people to throw their millions at you. It's just a fact today. Apparently you have to go through this painful social networking process. And believe me, it is painful. Sooo painful. I actually cried with Facebook Frustration yesterday (stop laughing, it's a bona fide affliction that I made up this very minute).  I feel your pain.

But I'm here, living and breathing and over my Facebook Frustration, to tell you that if you are not one of those techno-whizzes who can whip up a Squidoo lens, a twitter account, a blog and a business Facebook page in a couple of hours, there is still hope. You can (after much gnashing of teeth and swearing at google) figure it out. Persevere. If I can do it, you can do it. It may not be perfect, but it's a start.

And here is what Samson has to say about that:

Yeah. Just throw the ball and get over it.