Writer’s Self Doubt

Am I good enough? It is the question that haunts our minds at one point or another, and if you have written for some time, you know what I mean. You might have 4,5,6 … 15 books under your belt, and that moment of weakness can take your breath away, and with it, chisel a bit of confidence. If you let it, it will keep chiseling until it creates a masterpiece of doubt, and at its worst, of fear. It is at that moment of balancing the writer-self with the ego when one wonders (or wanders), and even dares to question if it all makes sense. If you have been there (or are there), it is normal. Artists, whether writers, painters, sculptors … and any human that is passionate about something, passionate enough to doubt that is, will go through this act of balancing. The image of a circus clown crossed my mind.

Am I good enough? The only way to answer this is to keep going and find out. This is not the time to stop and wonder, but to keep pressing the dream, and regain your breath. At each breath of the pen, the air clears out, and with it any hints of fear that might try to creep up in the writer’s soul. After all, we are in a game of souls, and the mind chooses the setting, and the words flow.

Am I good enough? You’ll never know unless you press on.

 

*Sunrise Souls update – I am in the last revision phase, and almost ready for publication. This one has taken my breath away.

How to Tame a Multi-Creative Spirit

TameChanged from natural wilderness to a manageable state. (American Heritage Dictionary)

 

The above definition will serve the tone of this post. As creatives we have an abundance of inspiration flowing, and many times, this same flow overwhelms our creative spirit. A person who seems to have many talents, or ways in which this flow of inspiration is expressed may find it difficult to focus on one talent, thus making it challenging to grow or develop a talent further. A multi-creative spirit may find itself in creative chaos at a particular moment becoming a bit confused as where to focus the intention to create. A writer may feel the need to pursue painting or photography, or any other artistic interest, pulling himself/herself away from the writing career that he/she is following. Many times, this burst of creative passion leads to doubt as to what path to follow. A person may be talented in many areas, however as human beings we live within the constrictions of a material world ruled by time and space, making it difficult to create as much as we wish to, and leaving us in creative exhaustion, spreading ourselves too thin, and eventually opening a door to frustration. So, what is a multi-creative spirit to do?

Focus seems to be the answer. Whether you are great at writing or painting or many more creative venues is not the issue here, but how to manage your creative state in a way that leaves you feeling outside of creative chaos, more fulfilled, and with a clear vision. It is fine to love all your talents and feel equally passionate about them, however one of them will need to be placed first in your fulfillment scale. Prioritizing next the rest of your passions. You may want to dedicate more time developing and growing as a writer, while enjoying your painting as a hobby or as a secondary source of income or fulfillment and not necessarily tied to your income, to present an example. This will take the pressure of the need to be “great” at every talent or perform 100 percent in all, at all times. It brings to mind the adage, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

As we live, we evolve, and so do our interests and passions. Wanting to excel in all our creative passions/interests might feel natural; however, when we learn to tame our multi-creative spirit it might lead to a better use of our talents, less frustration, and peace of mind, thus a more relaxed state of being that becomes fertile ground for inspiration to flow without the natural constraints that we put on it. In the end, it may work to our advantage and facilitate a state of creativity that leads to mindful fulfillment and nourishing of the creator in us. In this way we respect our gifts, as well as our creative self, and ultimately, the Creator and Giver of it all.

Versatile

versatile-blogger-wordpress

I want to thank Oawritingspoemspaintings for The Versatile Blogger nomination. I’m honored because someone thought of this blog enough to nominate it. I don’t take these awards for granted.

If you enjoy poetry and art, as well as a bit of everything in good measure, stop by Oawritingspoemspaintings and enjoy what this blogger has to offer. You will find something to your liking. The blog is undergoing a bit of fixing the images, but be patient, it will get done; in the mean time, you can enjoy the many other sections this versatile blogger has.

Thanks again Oawritingpoemspaintings for nominating Inkspeare.

The Most Needed Break After a Novel – Emotional Exhaustion

English: Emotions Q-sort

English: Emotions Q-sort (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Emotionally exhausted – that is how I feel after writing the first draft of a novel. I find that the first draft takes a large chunk of energy out of me. Possibly because I find myself experiencing the moods and emotions of characters as I write them, and because most of the time I do not follow a rich or detailed outline, and many times the characters drive the novel. Sometimes, I do not know the ending. This is true for the novel I am writing now – The Book of Sharon. Unlike the other two, it has brought me to a new level of emotional exhaustion, and I have found myself needing to take a longer break from it during periods of writing. Part of it is because it takes a different format from the earlier novels, but also, because it is written in different voices, besides my voice as an author. It responds to the character’s individuality, but also to at least three different tones throughout, as part of the new format. It has proven to be a challenge.

After the first draft (hopefully the end of December for this one), I need to take a few weeks off from a novel before proceeding to a second draft and rewrites. I do that for every draft after. It helps me unplug not only from emotions, but also disconnect my brain from the novel, so I can approach it fresh for the next draft.  In order to go through rewrites, I need to disconnect from it as much as I can.  I have to leave the writer behind close doors, and become a reader, before it goes through other sets of eyes, and a last edit.

In general, I think writers and artists have a heightened sense of emotions, and awareness of environment. When we immerse ourselves in a fictional world, we end up experiencing a lot of it, at the same time we are creating, and it could be refreshing and exhausting. This is why sometimes, writers tend to see the editing process from outsiders with cautious eyes. The question seems to be, how can this person totally understand this world I have created, if he/she has not lived in and through it? The question is the answer. Precisely because of it; because a reader is not the writer, he/she comes to the story detached, and this enables him/her to view it with unbiased sight.

I have read that the first novel (published or not), the first story a writer creates, has a lot of the writer’s experiences/issues in it, camouflaged, and many times, it responds to an internal healing process, whether the writer becomes aware of it or not during the creative process. It is because of this closeness that a writer might not see what is missing in the pages, what is not clear to the reader; to the writer it is there, in his mind and heart, present at all times, but not necessarily clear enough for the reader.

Emotional exhaustion during writing may present itself as a total mind and heart fatigue, but also as a need to retreat for a while, as well as a resistance to go back to the story and keep on writing (not to be confused with writer’s block). One must be cautious to not overdo or over extend a much-needed break.

 

The Art of the Retablo

I have a passion for old religious pieces – large gesso or chalkware saint sculptures, old wood santos, nichos or retablos that represent folklore … There is something romantic about those pieces. Religious art has evolved since human started making art, till’ this day, and will continue to do so. One thing that I notice is how the expression on the faces of sculptures have change over the years – from a reverent and languid appeal to a more “normal” or “joyful” state.  Here is a picture of an antique italian chalkware statue of the Holy Family dating from the early 1900’s versus a contemporary statue depicting the same characters.

Antique sculpture of the Holy Family Antique sculpture of the Holy Family

Contemporary statue

Contemporary statue

If you notice the facial expressions, on the later sculpture the characters are looking up, almost in a happy state or “hello” demeanor, while in the older statue, the figures seem more solemn, reverent, and almost sad, or peaceful. There are many differences between these two statues, including the lack of detail of the base, feet, and clothing … .

One of the items that I love to recreate is the old retablo, an art that almost disappeared at one time. Retablos are supposed to be made of wood, hand painted, and with a rustic appeal, almost as if the artist worked with the “few materials at hand” reminiscent of the traditions of the populace, the people of faith who made them. Here is one of my Retablos or Nichos (niche) of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I created this sculpture using a variety of mixed materials. I am working on a few other retablos, and designs (I know, I should be writing – but sometimes I need a little break to recharge my batteries). In each of my religious sculptures, I hide a small gemstone, in this case,  a tiny opal. Can you spot it? You might need to use the zoom feature. Here is the photo.

Virgin of Guadalupe Retablo

Virgin of Guadalupe Retablo

Here is a closer look.

Guadalupe Virgin by Maria Antonia Diaz

Guadalupe Virgin by Maria Antonia Diaz

I enjoy making these. You can find more information about this piece at my online store – where I let go and just create.

In addition to retablos, another lost art is the one of the “Wood Santos” or “Santos de Palo” that is part of many Latin America cultures, as well as European folklore. You can see the same old vs. contemporary features in these. The old santos had live detail, as if the artist or devoted revered the piece while crafting it. Today pieces lack that, almost looking faceless, with no expression, or a cold demeanor. But these are the pieces that are mass-marketed that look like that. I’ve  seen some European artists who sculpt santos, many life-size, and their art becomes almost alive, rich in detail, even the rustic pieces that are simpler. But these artists are very proud of what they do, and put much soul in each piece.  A mass-marketed piece is produced with the purpose of creating volume, not art. However, I have to say that some mass-marketed pieces, the very old ones, had much detail, the molds were carefully made. With the pass of time, the attention to detail in these molds became less important, I guess, giving way to quantity/volume.

Next time you come across an older sculpture, take a good look at it and see how each little crevice tells a story.

Watercolors Friday – Artistic Pirate

As part of today’s celebration, I have a treat for you, a visual treat that is.  We are celebrating the art of CGPirate, a blog that will blow your senses. There is something mesmerizing about the artist’s work, as well as captivating, intriguing, and well, awesome. The art that you will find here is full of the unexpected, and I love that.

One of my favorite pieces on the blog is this one called Where is the Boat, and you can see it here . Oddly, the absent of color dominates this one, compared to other work on the website that explodes with color. I love many of the artist’s pieces; his work is full of energy, color, and “suspended movement,” because I have no other phrase to describe it.

I invite you to check out CGPirate for a CG visual feast. It is truly wonderful. Enjoy!

Happy Watercolors Friday!

A Writer’s Path – Twists and Turns Along the Way

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

A writer’s path is a long and quiet (I don’t like the word lonely or solitary) journey. There are long hours of creativity, learning, research, and more learning (especially new technology and tricks of the trade for indie authors). As if all of this is not challenging enough, there is the other part – the part when you are figuring out your writing-self, style, and if you are really cut out for all this. Passion is great, as is love for the craft; however, in these fast times, it might not come as a surprise that you will question your path, from time to time. You may have answered the why, the what, are figuring the how, and might have no clue about the when or where, depending on your goals and planning. Sometimes, the path less traveled seems to be the one that has all the thorns, the most challenging, and the less fast-rewarding. It may take you through twist and turns, up, down, and around, and leave you breathless. However breathless, more knowledgeable for walking the path, stronger for stepping on thorns, and satisfied, bled out but satisfied, even when there are no miraculous clues or tangible gratification for your efforts. What you do next, makes all the difference, and I will leave the next sentence to you -____________________________________fill the blank. It is your journey, and you decide.

I leave you with a small excerpt from Moonlit Valley.

“Loss changes your perception of things. It sweeps the hallways of your mind and dusts off your most precious memories. It forces you to open the doors of rooms closed for a long time and peer into your soul, looking for the last ray of hope, of faith. The hope you desperately need now, knowing that at one point, you had put it somewhere and forgotten about it. When you find it, you grab a hold of it, tight, fearing that when you wake up tomorrow, it could be gone. Tomorrow arrives and you realize that although in a faint state, it is still there, and you hold on to it again.” 

Doubting Your Path, Saving Your Step

In most cultures, education is important and regarded as primordial in obtaining a great job, and a better future/life. I agree that education is one of the greatest tools/steps a person can take to enrich his/her life, as well as to open doors to a good future (and present); however, at times, society blinds us to accept expectations that may not be our own. It is not unheard of the person who becomes a lawyer planning to earn a healthy income, when his/her heart is speaking art, and every cell of his/her body is aching to live creating art (whatever the form), but the mind is focusing on the material/monetary part of making a living, therefore he/she chooses the path of less resistance, a more secure path. Years later, despite a successful career and many achievements, there is a void that can be felt, despite futile attempts to fill it with —————– fill in the blank. What is that void, and why?

Most likely, it is the crevices of the creative self, drying out and opening up, longing for a fresh start, and a bit of creativity.  It is the soul that starved for art for so many years and the creative spirit that has not died because it still has not fulfilled its joy. Some answer the call, changing careers and accepting a joyful way of life, while others ignore the call, deciding to stay safe, and sacrificing the experience of a more fulfilling journey. They have their own reasons, all valid, however costly.

The myth of the starving artist continues to keep the creative spirit at bay, preventing some artists to use education as a great and valuable tool to perfect their craft and create a satisfying pathway when they embark on the journey of their lives – selecting a career they love, loving what they do, doing what they love. Education enriches the journey. When you doubt your path, you can save your step, or a lifetime of steps, by using education to enhance your passion.

What if you doubt your path, even when you know that it is what you should be doing? You have listened to your heart, took a few steps in the right direction, and now, you doubt. You may have come to a halt, saving your step, and puzzled, frustrated at the lack of results, enveloped in exhaustion, saturated with the sweat of your hard work, dedication, and tears … collapsing almost, with every heartbeat that becomes faint, as you fall into your knees, looking at the dirt on the road, the dust that surrounds your creative self, and you see the drops that seem to kiss it, as they fall, the tears, the sweat … . I am so tired, you think, because you cannot utter the words. The lack of results (whatever your measure) rendered you mute, numb to creativity, desolated, angry. Angry with you and the entire world. Why? you think. I have done everything I should, and more; why? you whisper, why? you cry out! In your hands, the dirt of frustration you hold tight, squeezing every grain, until you open them, and slowly release the sand into the breeze, watching it go, lifting your eyes up, up from the dirt of the pathway, and taking in the same breeze that carries the sand. Then you notice the sky, the clouds, the birds … as if for the first time.  Because you have looked at your steps for so long, focusing on the pathway, hurried in your journey, dying to get there fast, you forgot to look up and take in all the beauty that looking up held for you. It is a new perspective now, and all it took was to save your step. Now, somehow your path seems anew, the journey seems full of possibility, and your creative soul, refreshed. Doubt? You don’t seem to find it. You breathe, you dust yourself up, you smile, and feeling grateful you happen to find yourself standing up, ready to take the next step. It is a new perspective, and all it took was to save your step.

On Writers and Money

Question book

Question book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This may seem an odd topic, but it is one of the most annoying questions I get asked, directly or indirectly by people I know, and by strangers. It is asked as soon as the topic of my writing or books comes up. Besides annoying, I find it intrusive, and a lack of good manners. It comes in many forms, but the root of the question is the same. And the person’s goal is to know if I make money as a writer and how much. Here are some examples of the same question.

  • Are you making a living at it?
  • How much money you make?
  • Is it easy; do you sell a lot of books?
  • How are you doing with it?
  • I see a lot of people publishing books; how easy is that, is there money in it?
  • How long does it take to make it?
  • What else you do to pay the bills?
  • One can’t survive on that, right?
  • I hear the book business is not doing to well; all those book stores closing, right?
  • Oh, do you make good money?

I can go on an on giving you examples of the same question worded directly or indirectly.  When I think about it, the people who ask this question do not understand what writing entails, and most likely, they have a paycheck mentality.  I bet that for most writers who are serious and take their craft to heart, money is the last thing in their minds when they are writing.  Yes, we all want to make a living at doing the thing we love most; this is how it should be. We should all make a living this way, doing the things we love and are passionate about, but most people don’t. Most people don’t understand when someone’s passion goes beyond monetary compensation, or even fame/recognition. I bet that the majority of dedicated writers don’t care about money or fame; it is a byproduct of their love and effort while writing.  However, to be fair to all sides, there are those who write with the hopes of becoming e-book millionaires or gain fame and recognition in the field. Besides, there is nothing wrong about making lots of money and being blessed doing what you love and serving people. To me, writing goes beyond monetary compensation and fame (as a primary goal), and while I hope to one day do exponentially marvelous, that does not mean that I would love the craft more for it, or less if I don’t.

So by now, you are probably thinking what my answer is when I am asked. It usually goes along these lines –

  • I am very happy doing what I do, how about you?
  • I am lucky and blessed to work doing what I love.
  • I don’t price my passions; do you?
  • The day money becomes my story, that day I will stop writing.
  • I let the faeries worry about that part, while my Muse works on the most important one.
  • I am well.

And so along those lines it goes, usually the probing stops there.  So feel free to use those lines if like me, you get annoyed by the question. If you paint, are an artist, or live your passion, most likely, you will be asked the question many times. Some people don’t mind it, some people do, and it has nothing to do with how much money you make. Feel free to comment on the topic, how do you feel about the subject of money and writing?

Celebrating Anne Rymer BOOCRAFT – Watercolors Friday

Hello!

Today I am very happy to dedicate our celebration to a very special Artist – Anne Rymer.  Anne is also the owner of BOOCRAFT, and she resides in Cornwall, UK.  I love her paintings and I have acquired some of them.  Her watercolors are full of magic, happy days, and I totally love the unexpected whimsical details in them, as well as the colors she uses.  One of the things I love about her paintings is that there is always movement in her subjects and landscapes – from cats and witches, to country folk, to seaside and rivers … Her inspiration is the rich history of the lovely Cornwall, a place that seems magical.  Her favorite poem is “Warning” by Jenny Joseph.  Instead of me telling you her story, I will share with you what she has to say,

“Cornwall is my inspiration. Through my artist’s eye I try to portray the magical atmosphere of this beautiful part of England.  A lady from America wrote to me that she wished she could live in one of my paintings!  I suppose that is how I feel when I’m being creative, I go into the picture completely and It is an alternative world!

My home is so high up the buzzards fly past level with my window! This is where I paint, in my studio that overlooks the beautiful Tamar valley.  There is an old church in the middle distance and patchworks of fields and ancient woodlands that stretch across the valley. Through this the River Tamar winds its way past Morwellham Quay, this is where the “Edwardian Farm” was filmed last year.

I am forever bringing home hurt little creatures.  I even once had a large raven with a damaged wing, which eventually flew away.  It stayed with me quite happily while it recovered.  I think they must know they can trust folk like us.” Anne Rymer

I want to share with you pictures of some of the paintings I acquired from the Artist.  If you want to see more of her work, you may visit her shop BOOCRAFT.

AR1

AR2

AR3

010

misty2a

I thank Anne Rymer for her time, and for being my guest today.

Happy Watercolors Friday everyone! I hope that you enjoyed today’s celebration, and please, take a little time to view more of her awesome art. – it is mesmerizing 🙂

Note: Anne’s shop will be shut from next Sunday May 5th until Monday May 13th.