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Which Pen?

I never realised how important it was choosing a pen to write with. I’d always been a little fussy, and I had a love for stationary, but I didn’t realise how deep this passion went, right down to the point of having to decide what pen I would write with for a particular story.

When I come to write with pen and paper I had developed a ritual on choosing the pen to use – without realising it until taking photos of my coffee and writing implements and noticing the different pens that featured. So it got me thinking about this process and what it might reflect about my approach to writing and creative expression.

The pen chosen depends on what I’m writing; poetry, journaling, first draft of a prose piece, or what pen happens to be in my handbag. But it’s more than what I’m writing.

When I started writing more seriously, I decided to treat myself and buy a modern fountain pen. I enjoyed writing in ink, more so when I was journaling or writing poems. The fountain pen was easy to move, and the ink flowed, helping the words to come into existence on the page forming their own type of imagery. I couldn’t help feeling like a scribe of old, and it provided some of the magical energy needed to create.

It’s not all romantic-like when writing, there’s also a practical side to consider. The ink cartridges for the fountain pens weren’t cheap and I would use them quickly. Also I had some cheaper journals and the ink would seep through making it difficult to read what was on the other side. At the time I was being mindful of money so I retired the fountain pen and returned to my cheap ball point biro. I can write quickly with this pen when I need to. When the images come, and the creativity flows, it’s important to catch the words, and not have to be concerned with a pen that’s not handling the heavy duty workout.

I’ve also discovered coloured ball point pens to mix it up, but I always return to my blue coloured pens. And black pens just don’t work for me. I like to see the blue ink on the white paper.

Thinking about the pen I use to write with gave me an insight to how I approach my writing and how choosing a pen is part of my creative expression, even if I’m the only person who reads rough draft. This process of pen selection revealed a hidden aspect of my creative expression that I hadn’t previously noticed.

The equipment you use to express your self is important. It’s not enough just to grab a pen and book. At least it’s not for me. I want to be using a pen that is like me; fits well in my hand, moves with my fast strokes to create word after word. After all it’s an extension of my arm, it’s the movement from neurone pathways directing the dance on the blank page, which in parts creates my story. And that’s why the pen used is important.

pen and journal

 

New Easter Traditions

Easter for me in the past has meant the time of year when Dad wanted the rain to fall so he could get the soil ready to sow the seeds for the crops. It also evolved around Christian meaning with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

At school when growing up there was the fun and mystery of the Easter bunny. The eating of hot crossed buns, and Easter eggs. This still remains! (I plan to go on a diet after Easter!)

Mum began a tradition of buying us all pyjamas for the winter. A tradition I’m now continuing with my son. I have his new pyjamas ready to give to him on Easter.

There was always a big family focus over Easter for me. This year, this has a new meaning, as my son turns one, and it is his first Easter.

first birthday.jpg

It’s a big milestone, for my son, and for me, making this time very special, and not in the tradition sense. I’ve planned his first little birthday party. Printed photos of him growing over the last year, to make the milestone. The fun of his first birthday and Easter, being a perfect mix for the weekend. The Easter bunny feet are ready to put out (my big of fun too!), and I’ve planned my son’s first Easter egg hunt. It’s a time of transformation, and this year for beginning new traditions for my family. And the creation of new memories.

Happy Easter, however you choose to mark this point of the year.

snoopy happy easter.jpg

Fox it is!

A while back I asked on my Cultivating Creativity FB page for people to say what I should paint next. A giraffe, a tiger or a fox. It was simply a fun exercise for me and a way for me to extend myself by painting out of my comfort zone. The fox was my least favourite choice to paint, it’s just not an animal I connect with. But I thought perhaps I could give it a go. I thought painting the giraffe could be fun, and the tiger something a little challenging.

Everyone who commented suggested the fox. So, I painted the fox. Twice.

The first attempt I wasn’t at all happy with. I’d grabbed the wrong colour, though crazy colours do work with this technique, I just don’t feel it came together in this instance. I couldn’t get the nose right. It was a warm day and the paint was drying quickly making it tricky to do adjustments. At the end of the session, I just felt that I could do ‘better’ but not that day. about to start

The image I used for inspiration was in colour. I remembered that it should be in black and white in order to see clearly the low, mid and high tones. I copied my print of the fox into black and white. Got together my three favourite colours I like to paint with and I attempted to paint the fox again.

first attempt

I also decided not to try and rush, and gave myself permission to take as long as I needed. This time, it took my half the time to paint the fox. Giving myself as much time as I needed took the pressure off, and helped. Having the image in black and white also made a big difference to see the different tones better. And I’d painted the fox before, so I had some experience to draw on.

This is the first time I’ve gone back and painted the same subject again because I wanted to ‘improve’ the outcome, and my skill set. Because of these benefits I’m even tempted to try to paint the fox for a third time. For now, I’ve got lots of other subjects to paint, so a third re-visit isn’t in the near future, but might happen one time. What I can do, is apply what I’ve learnt here not just to other animal paintings in this style (I’m sure I’ll do the giraffe and tiger at some stage). second attempt

second attempt finished

The painting of the fox serviced a bigger purpose, of also making me more aware of my process, so it has been a good exercise to do. And despite good intentions, creative projects don’t always work out well the first time, and that it all part of the process.

Now, onto the next project! (which is to re-paint a rose!)

foxes painted

My Creative Processes ~ Bob Goodwin

Today, I have guest writer Bob Goodwin, giving us some insights on how the creative process works for him. Thank you for sharing your writing journey Bob. And I agree, wine isn’t such a good influencer on writing, but coffee is!

 

My Creative Processes

by Bob Goodwin

Some writers have a regular highly organised routine. I know writers who cannot do anything between certain hours on certain days as this is exclusively their writing time. For me, I am disorganised – any day, anytime on different devices at any place I happen to be. I have lean periods when I write very little for weeks at a time, then I write every day for just as long.
I often like to walk around aimlessly when thinking about a plot twist or a new character. If anyone was watching they think I needed treatment!
I do have a few writing dislikes – no closed-up rooms – at the very least I want to see out a window. After 10 pm my creative brain wants to do some creative dreaming. TV must be off, but music can be on, not too loud, and this can at times be inspiring. While I enjoy a red wine from time to time, I know that alcohol and half-decent writing do not mix! On the other hand, a good coffee is always welcome.
My somewhat disturbed brain gets lots of ideas from different sources. My past 35 years in mental health has been a major contributor. People watching is something I find intriguing, and I find myself making up macabre stories as I look around. Looking at the ocean never tires me – this is uplifting and stimulating. As hinted to above, my dreams also aid my creativity. They can, at times, be very disturbed and gruesome – of nightmare quality. Yes, they do wake me up, which is good because I can then remember them. Over many years they have happened so much that I am now able to quickly reset my brain and settle back to sleep.

Bunya Mountains
This is my holiday house at the Bunya Mountains – great walks – amazing wildlife – wonderfully motivating

While I have written some drama and comedy, my main genre is suspense thriller fiction and I am currently editing novel number 5. The last are a trilogy. Finishing book 5 was quite an emotional experience, more so than any other. Farewelling characters that I have spent several years with was harder than expected!
I have also written many one act and short plays, screenplays and short stories. My website is http://storiesandplays.com/
A big thanks to Lilliana for inviting me to prattle along on her blog.

Bob Goodwin was born in Nottingham, England and moved to Australia when he was 7 years old. He has spent over 35 years working in various areas of mental health – including Psychiatric Institutions, Mental Health Inpatient Units, Community Mental Health Services, Mental Health Rehab & Residential facilities and Telephone services for Mental Health Triage.

Bob started writing in 1987 and, aside from his novels, he has written several One Act Plays, short plays, feature length screenplays and short stories. Bob is an independent author and has self-published 4 novels thus far – the 5th is just around the corner! Bob has an active family life with 7 children, 14 grand-children and one great granddaughter.

How Writing Nurtures Me

Today, I have children’s poet Kristin Martin giving an insight to how writing nurtures her. Thank you Kristin for giving a valuable insight to the creative process for yourself.

How Writing Nurtures Me

by Kristin Martin

I am a children’s poet. I write poems about nature, and about children’s wonder and awe at the natural world. I find it easy to put myself in the shoes of a child, because I still am that child. I still feel that wonder and awe.

On Monday Lilliana asked me to write a blog post. I typed the title on my laptop: How writing nurtures me, but I didn’t know what to write. So I closed the document and went back to writing poetry.

Today I spent the entire day writing children’s poetry. When I say ‘the entire day’, I mean that I dedicated today to writing poetry, rather than I sat at my computer and typed poems all day, because that is not possible, at least not for me.

In order to put myself in the right frame of mind this morning I looked out at my back garden. I saw something moving under a tree, and realised it was my turtle! I hurried outside because I rarely see her out of her pond, and watched as she rambled off into the bushes.

turtle hiding
Can you find the turtle?

And that was when I noticed the path. A smooth path under the rosemary bush, leading into the darkness. She obviously has wandered along this path regularly, as she has worn it smooth. I put my head down and peered along the path, under the jumble of branches and sweet smelling leaves, and her little face peered back at me.

And then I returned to my laptop and tried to capture my joy at discovering this mysterious path.

That poem is not finished yet, but the challenge of writing words, with perfect rhythm and rhyme, to tell a story about this path is one that I relish

Next, I opened a poem that I have been writing over the past week, but that still had a couple of lines I didn’t like. I read it, then left it open on my laptop while I went into the kitchen to make apple sauce. While I chopped apples I ran over the words in my head, and played with alternatives, and that is when I came up with the solution. I rushed back to my laptop and typed in the words. After finishing the apple sauce I re-read them, and they still sounded perfect.

I had solved the puzzle I had set myself. I had written a poem that tells the story I want and conveys the emotions I want it to, as well as having the correct rhythm, and rhymes that are true.

I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment.

After going for a walk, and then working on several other poems, all of which are unfinished, I realised that I felt happier and more fulfilled than I had in weeks. I felt nurtured. So I returned to the ‘How writing nurtures me’ blog post, and wrote this.

 

Kristin Martin writes poetry and short fiction for children and adults. She is the author of two poetry collections, To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? published by Glimmer Press in 2019 and Paint the Sky, published by Ginninderra Press in 2016. Her poems and short stories are published in numerous anthologies, including Tadpoles in the Torrens and Wild, in magazines, including Page Seventeen, Orbit, Count Down, Blast Off and The Caterpillar, on websites and in art exhibitions. You can read more of her children’s poetry on her website, Poems For Kids, at kristinmartin.net.

The Benefits of Creative Rest

I was in the flow of writing the first draft of a story, when I found that I had an influx of edits to be done which took priority. When doing these edits, it meant I didn’t have the brain space for creative writing. I knew the edits were coming, but I’d been struck with a new story idea and I wanted to get writing.

Timing is everything, but it’s a tricky beast when you’re creating. So, when I was inspired to write, I did. I got over half the story written. It meant that I had to then stop writing this story when I didn’t want to because of the editing that needed to be done. I don’t like doing this, especially when I’m inspired to write. This time I had to, otherwise I would’ve ended up doing neither of the jobs well.

After a few weeks break from the story, I finally had the time to go back to it. It took a day to get back into the story. Then I re-found the flow, and managed to finish writing the story in three days. Wow! I even surprised myself with this output.

I could only do this because I trusted myself.

I was connected to my writing process, and aware of what works for me and what doesn’t work.

And I had a creative break during the editing process.

While editing for a few weeks had been a disruption, on the flip side it meant that I had a break from creative writing. When editing I’m using more of the right side of my brain, and during this time my left side had a bit of a holiday. This meant that when I got back to the story with time to write, I could get it done. My creative muscles were ready to flex and do the heavy lifting required to finish the novel.

It was a win-win. I got the editing done and kept on track, while off track for a while with my writing, when I did get the chance to go back to it, I was back on track in a matter of days.

What could’ve happened was that I worried about whether or not I would get back into the flow. This could’ve then resulted in crippling my creativity, and effected both the editing jobs and the story I was writing, and potentially the next story. It didn’t. Because I trusted myself that when the time was right, I’d get back writing the story. It reminded me that sometimes a break or interruption can work in my favour. This time it did. This positive creation also extends out into other areas of my life, helping my general wellbeing.

Have you ever experienced a time when you had to take a break from a creative project, to go back to it later expecting that it would take ages to get back into it, but then managed to finish it quickly? Please share below in the comments.

Act of Kindness

An act of kindness to a stranger is a lost art. Recently, it’s something I spontaneously decided to do. By giving a jar of pickled onions to someone. Odd right. So how did this come around?

I don’t like pickled onions. At all. Seriously, I don’t know why anyone would. My dad would loved them, and so we would make them for him. He thought that they were pretty good because they were also made for him by his daughters. Pickled onions aren’t hard to make. I had an ex who loved them and so I made him some, because I wanted to see if I could, and why not make him something he’d enjoy right. Recently, when I was getting some work done in my bathrooms, the tiler mentioned he liked them, and the ones he was eating (straight out for the jar for his lunch that day) cost what he thought was a lot.

I don’t know why, but I thought you know what, I could make up some for him. It won’t cost much, and it won’t take long. And I was in a cooking mode, by doing some pickling it would mix things up. Plus, I would get to brush up my skills. It also gave me a chance to check in with my sisters about what recipe to use (Golden Wattle cook book wins again!).

When tears were running down my cheeks from peeling a kilo of pickling onions I did have a moment of why am I doing this? But when popping those little suckers into the jar, and jiggling them around to squeeze them in tight, there were a lot of reasons why, all of them good. And it was all reinforced when I gave the jar to the tiler, recipe written on the jar so he can make them in the future which he reckoned he would. He was very happy with the prospect of eating a kilo of pickled onions – in a month’s time! That’s why. There were no strings attached. I wasn’t hoping for anything, it was completely random. While my eyes stung with onion fumes, it was fun to see if I could still pickle onions, and to do it on a budget. If you’re going to pickle onions, especially for someone else, it becomes worth it as while I don’t like to eat them, the person receiving does, and it gives them a nice surprise. There’s something about pickled onions I never knew about! Those who like them love to get them as homemade gifts!

What act of kindness have you done when you might not have liked the gift but knew the person you were giving it to would?

New Recipes

I’m taking a break from writing so I can re-fill my creative well. With a little more time available I’ve turned to cooking. Cooking is a day to day chore, but does it have to be? How can I make this more interesting for me? Well I enjoy cooking for bubs so that helps. And I want to look after myself, so another helpful perspective to remember. I also like trying new recipes, bingo!

As I’m deciding on what recipe to try next, then how to change the recipe to suit my diet, and then the actual process of cooking, I realise this is another form of creativity, and it’s also helping to nurture me (and bubs) but also it nurtures my creativity too. So there’s lots of wins going on here.corn chowder

beef and vegetables
Beef and Veg for Bubs

By trying a new recipe I’m exploring the unknown, like I do when writing but I’m using different creative muscles. This means my writing muscles can have a break, and I work out a new set of muscles. And I’m still being creative, which is something I love to do.

While I’m expressing my creativity differently I feed my soul in a new way. This will then influence my writing when I get back to it, how I don’t know, but at least I’m setting myself up the best way I can. The only downside, is that I love baking cakes, which is not good for my waistline!

A simple but effective way to help with creative flow, at least for me. All from simply cooking, a day to day necessity.

Share below how cooking influences your creativity.

New Writing Spot

It might seem a usual place one might write – on your bed. But this is one place I don’t write. Maybe I might jot down a few notes at 3am when my mind thinks it has come up with some wonderful idea, which I usually consider lame at 7am. That doesn’t count as writing.

I’ve never written while on my bed. I never studied on my bed. Now, out of necessity I have. Bubs was sleeping and there was a lot of noise downstairs with the council work ripping up the path for some reason. I needed to be near bubs, so I could hear him when he woke. So, I set up to write on my bed, lap top on my lap, with a cup of tea (not the usual coffee), and got writing. The dog was on the floor near me (bed is out of bounds for him), and I’m comfortable and inspired, despite the jack-hammering noise outside.

cup of tea and writing.jpgInstead of allowing the noise, and the disruption to bother me, I adapted to my environment, and got on with the writing project I needed to do. Bubs slept. I wrote. The dog was happy. I even enjoyed drinking my cup of tea during the session.

Then when bubs woke, I had a little writing to finish, so he played on my bed while I wrote. Then my computer was packed up, and we played for a while.

This sounds easy, but I don’t really like writing on my bed. By allowing myself to adapt to the situation at hand, I got to write, bubs slept, and then we got time together.

I’ve often have had Charles Darwin’s quote in mind:

“It’s not the most intellectual of the species that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

While I might be still at home, my environment is constantly changing with bubs. It’s not always easy to adapt in the moment. I now know what this can be for me in a simple form. Which means I can do this again more easily in the future. And instead of coffee, I enjoyed a cup of tea, and reduced my caffeine intake. Lots of little wins all around!

Have you had a simple moment when you’ve adapted in order to create? Please share below in the comments.

A Project Finished~almost!

Doing up this old kitchen cabinet has been a creative project of persistence.

start-of-sanding.jpg

It’s taken three years to get to the point where the cabinet doors are now attached to the old-style kitchen cabinet which I had sanded and painted.

This has been a creative project of persistence. I bought the cabinet over four years ago, ended up moving, then I decided to get started. I bought an electric sander. Paint. Brushes. Wall paper. Sourced hinges, latches, and handles. It took over four weeks to sand it back, and remove the old paint over my summer break. Then painted it, not in enamel paint deliberately. This paint will flake off over time and that’s the look I want.

starting-to-paint.jpg

 

I planned. I took my time. I sourced hinges, and handles. I did this during summer, so some days it was just too hot to work in my garage. My dogs were by my side, laying on the floor (looking rather bored!) while I worked. It was a long-term project. But it wasn’t meant to have gone on for this long.

Kimba helping.jpg

For one reason or another, the step of attaching the doors and handles was being more of a hurdle than I had expected. I had a few false starts, where I tried to organise people to help. Life got in the way. It looked like I wasn’t doing anything about it, but I wanted to, and had tried, but there were other things were needed my attention, and were a priority. I was almost thinking that I might never get this step done. And this would be one of the many craft projects that I haven’t quiet finished.

painting-done.jpg

Finally, I cornered someone to help who delivered. I’m super excited that the doors are attached, and the handles are too. This kitchen cabinet is one step closer to being refurbished in my own unique design. This is the first time I’ve done a project so big – and the last. It’s been fun, but my attention needs to go elsewhere. There’s a limit to how many different crafts I can have on the go!

doors attached and handles

 

First, this projects still needs to be technically finished. The last step is to attach some chicken wire to the side – it’s cut out, and has been for the last three years, I just have to work out how best to attach it! Now, I can focus on this more easily now that the doors are on and so are the handles! Once the wire is secured then it will be finally finished. At least I can still use it in the meantime. And now when I walk past, I feel that little bit more content that it’s closer to being finished. And it’s been worth it.

 

Share a time below when you have taken a long time to finish a project ~ or almost finished a project, and while it might not look like it, you are planning on it, it’s just taking longer than expected.

Broken Pen

Starting my café writing session this morning, I reached in to my handbag and pulled out a pen, only to have part of a pen in my hand. It’s somehow in a number of pieces. I must be writing a lot! Or putting my pens under a demanding workout. Or ‘life’ in my handbag must be rather rough?!

Either way, I suspect this little pen has seen better days. So the repair isn’t going to happen today, and it will meet its death in the rubbish bin later. Instead, I’ll use another pen.

Despite writing for nearly ten years, I’ve discovered something else to think about when selecting a pen. This pen has numerous parts to screw together, which gives it a few weak points, perhaps the main reason why it has come apart. This is no good for me. I need a pen I can rely on, that’s ready to go when I am. So another type of pen gets crossed off my list as not suitable for writing use!

I really am fussy with my pens!