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 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.

Welcome 2019!

Happy New Year!

May 2019 shine bright for you.

To welcome in the New Year, I’ve made my own little decoration. The other week I did some marbling with my niece and so decided to use that as a background for 2019. A little bit of fun! Let the adventure begin…

This year, I’ve come up with my usual word to guide me through the year. The word for 2019 is Adventure. I’m sure there are many adventures ahead for me this year, which I hope to embrace with confidence, curiosity and an open mind.

I’m excited with the adventures that have already begun, and those that are continuing in to the New Year. Who knows what unexpected ones will start, and I look forward to them. I’m putting on my adventurer’s hat, and heading off into the unknown of the new year of 2019!

Lilliana

Freestyle

When painting to date I’ve had an image to use as a guide. This time, when painting a seascape, while I did have an image to work with, the muse led me and I went freestyle. I think this is what I like to do the most when creating, ‘fly by the seat of my pants,’ or ‘go with the flow’. It’s risky, as maybe the painting produced won’t be any good. Or maybe it will. Reward comes with a little risk.

This is the first time I’ve managed to do that with my painting.

Because I can’t track this process visually with my writing, I find it fascinating to look at the image I was working on and compare it to the final painting.

I don’t think I could’ve planed this if I tried.

And I have no idea where the inspiration came from. Perhaps my muse was guiding me. Or my intuition. Or because I was relaxed and having fun, I just went with the creative flow, and suspended all of my expectations of having a finished piece of a certain standard. Maybe all of the above.

Anyway, below the image that I worked from. And a photo of the final painting. Very different.

This is the magic of creating.

Cp1Kn+r0TXCLQSfpltnzWw      NVjRY9YWRom00OJYtfCPVg

Signature

I’ve taken the step and have signed my painting. Seascape is the first painting I’ve signed! (I’m disregarding the paintings done at school)

It’s long overdue, I have finally signed my most recent painting. It is a big deal. For one, I never felt a painting was feeling finished enough to sign. And two, how was I going to sign my name?

Isn’t it interesting what I was hung up on? What did it matter how I signed my name? As long as I signed it. I thought about writing my initials, or my full name, or a shortened version of my name. Then I realised it didn’t matter.

What mattered was that I took the step to sign my artwork. Because in doing so, I was saying to the world, but more importantly to myself, that I am happy, proud, and content with what I’ve created. And I am just that with this seascape. My signature might change with time, but of course that won’t matter. It’s all part of my development as an artist.

Driven to finally take the step of signing my name on my painting I realised I didn’t know what brush to use. Or what colour. These details do sort of matter. I asked my teacher. The colour didn’t have to be black, but a colour used in the painting. So I used a blue tone. I borrowed the teachers brush. I didn’t have a brush that was thin enough. Then I jumped in. I didn’t practise. I simply signed my name. And I think that it’s the best part of this painting.

I look forward to signing many more paintings.

 

Tinkering

I’ve painted enough to know to try and be mindful of overworking the image. It can be difficult to know when to stop, and consider if the painting is finished or needs to be left for a while. This also applies to tinkering.

When tinkering too much the painting can be changed in way that wasn’t wanted. A bit different to overworking. Tinkering is the adding another bird in the sky, or flower in the field, or apple on the tree, when the painting may well have not needed these extra additions.

The same can happen when writing, and editing. The life of the story can be altered in a way that was unintended. Not a big deal if the result is liked, but it’s a problem if the new direction ends up in a dead-end, or the wrong way. Then it’s a lot more work to get the manuscript back on track.

But when to stop? This is when it’s helpful to check in with yourself and ask question like; is what I’m doing improving the work?

I didn’t do so much tinkering when doing my last painting of a seascape, but it was something the teacher kept mentioning during the class. Stop tinkering! And I got what he was saying. Maybe that’s why I didn’t tinker so much. It’s another tool I can have ready to use when I’m painting. I can even extend this to editing a manuscript. There becomes a point when words are being changed but not necessarily adding to the story. At this point I need to stop tinkering. Leave the project, and either come back later, or consider that it may be as good as it’s going to be and release it into the world.

Stop tinkering! Is now something I’ll have in mind to help guide me through the painting of my next canvas and other creative projects.

Lilliana

Quick Study of Seascape

To start a recent workshop on seascapes, the teacher had participants do a quick study. With only 20 minutes to do the painting, I had no choice but to go with the flow. And to keep it simple.

I learnt that this was a fun way to experiment, and learn. And it will be something I’ll try again at home. This is always a good sign as I’m inspired. Often I don’t get to paint in short time frames like this, normally it’s much longer, and can take months. So it’s also refreshing to do a smaller image in a short time.

Sometimes writing is a long drawn out process. And I can’t map the process like I can when painting a canvas. So to be able to see the stages from start to finish in a short time is exciting. It’s a different creative process for me, which helps to keep me inspired, and ready to try new things, and to experiment. Because it’s also a quick study, if things don’t turn out, then because it’s not taken a huge investment of time, I don’t get hung up on that. I can take what I’ve learnt, and apply it to another study or if I’m happy with my skill set then a canvas.

With this new level of inspiration, and off to get creating. Who knows what I’ll create and learn!

start quick painting  step 2 quick painting.jpg finish quick painting.jpg