creativity

My first collage art publication in a journal

I submitted some of my collage art to Stone Canoe, an award-winning literary and art journal in July. On Friday I found out that one of my pieces was accepted—the first time a piece of my art will be published!

It will be part of Stone Canoe’s 2023 annual journal that is released in March 2023. The mission of Stone Canoe is “to make the work of writers and artists with ties to Upstate New York available to a national audience.” (I grew up in the Hudson Valley on an apple farm.)

This wonderful surprise has inspired me to make more work and submit it more often. I’ll make sure to share the published piece when it’s out in the world. Thanks to Amy and all of you who encourage me and inspire me to keep creating. You can take a look at my collage work here.

creativity

Why we create art—inspired by the words of Scottish actor, Robbie Coltrane

“50 years on, my children’s children will sit down to watch these [Harry Potter] films. Sadly, I won’t be here. But Hagrid will.” -Robbie Coltrane, Scottish actor

This is the most true thing I’ve ever read about art and the motivation of artists. It’s our chance to be immortal, to get down stories and put them out into the world. They will be here long after we’re gone. Someone will see them or read them or hear them and a part of us will be there. Our energy, our hopes, our dreams, our fears, our disappointments, our joy.

It will mean something to someone across space and time who we never had the honor to meet on this plane. And maybe they will feel less alone.

They will find in our art someone like them, someone who validates everything they’re feeling, someone who makes them feel seen and heard, who helps them see that they matter. Art is the gift that never stops giving. It becomes our home, in the truest sense of the word, the place where we will always belong.

This week we lost Robbie Coltrane, the actor who immortalized Hagrid, a character who is dear to so many of us. His memory lives on in his work and his art.

creativity

Start at the ending, in writing and life

Photo by Monty Allen on Unsplash

“Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” Julie Andrews, Do-Re-Mi in The Sound of Music

As writers, sometimes we have to start at the end. In my previous books, I started at the beginning and wrote all the way through to the end. It’s how I outline, too. But with this third Emerson Page book, I have to take a different approach.

I started to write the beginning with my trusty outline in-hand and quickly found myself in murky waters. So murky that I was procrastinating, which I never do. I was afraid to sit down and write, and that fear was getting in the way of delivering my draft manuscript to my publisher under a tight deadline.

I have to find another way in. I stopped writing in my usual progression of beginning to end, and flipped it on its head. Today, I’m writing the last chapter of the book, the end of Emerson’s story arc. I know where it needs to take place and what needs to happen there. With that confidence, I’ll walk backward one step, one chapter, at a time.

To be honest, I don’t like that I have to do this. I’m a creature of habit and I like my writing habits. But this leg of Emerson’s journey is the most complicated of the three books. It has many more twists, turns, and surprises. The stakes are higher, and I have to give readers an ending that’s satisfying and true to Emerson’s spirit. To do that, I have to adjust my process.

Maybe you’re facing something similar, in your writing or in your life. Something isn’t progressing as you hoped. A surprise popped up that has thrown you off-track. You’re stuck, disappointed, frustrated, or maybe you’re all of those things.

Back up and look for a different path. How can you adjust what you’re doing? Is there another way forward, even it requires you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable? Maybe like me, you have to put things in reverse. Start with the goal. Then instead of asking, “and then what happened?”, ask “how did I get here? And here? And here?”

It may turn out that the ending is the very best place to start.

creativity

Research is a writer’s best friend

Art by CJ Bown of the Arcade in Central Park that hangs in my apartment

I’m under contract to write the third novel in my Emerson Page trilogy. I’ve struggled to find my footing with this one. I’ve written out over half a dozen concepts and nothing felt genuine. It all felt like a forced narrative. This has been going on for months.

I had a hunch that the book should begin in the Arcade near Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain. I wasn’t sure how or why, but that space has called to me for years. I have a huge photograph of it hanging in my apartment, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of art. For months I’ve been looking for interesting aspects of the arcade and the fountain, hoping to find some link to Emerson’s story. Nothing.

So I went back to the primary source—Greensward, the original plan for Central Park written by Olmsted and Vaux in 1858. Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, along with the Arcade, are considered the heart of the Park. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Nature had an enormous influence on the design of Central Park. Both Olmsted and Vaux admired him. My protagonist, Emerson Page, is named after Emerson.

From there, I did more research on Emerson, Olmsted, and Vaux and found a number of links to the muses of Greek mythology who figure prominently in Emerson Page’s story. All the pieces I’d been struggling to find fell into place one by one and before I knew it, my outline of the third book was humming after so many false starts.

If you find yourself stuck in your writing, I highly encourage a detour into research and into primary sources. The answers to our present challenges often have roots in the past. Our job as writers is to uncover them and bring them into the light.

creativity

Write every day: 2 ways to give help and 2 ways to get help

Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 8.24.43 AMThis morning here are two easy ways to give help and two ways to get help if you need it:

Give help:
1.) Buy and donate cookies from the Girl Scouts for yourself, loved ones, and our brave healthcare workers!

This year the Girl Scouts had to cancel all of their in-person cookie drives which go to fund a lot of their activities and help girls around the world. So they moved the whole operation online with delivery. Online you can buy cookies for yourself, send cookies to others, or donate them to our brave healthcare workers!

Link: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/cookie-care.html

2.) #Chalk4Joy
Share JOY on the Sidewalks of the World today! A global chalk painting celebration for you to do at home. Share what JOY looks like to YOU by:
– Doing a chalk drawing on your sidewalk outside (at a safe social distance from others) or on paper at home with anything you have.
– Share photos of your work on social media with the hashtags #ChalkTheWalk #Chalk4Joy
– Send pictures of your art to chalk4peace@gmail.com

Get help:
1.) Free food for all New Yorkers in need
If you or anyone you know in NYC needs food, 3 free meals will be available for ALL New Yorkers at more than 400 Meal Hubs, Monday – Friday: http://schools.nyc.gov/freemeals. No questions asked. Please help spread the world about this.

2.) Call your financial institutions if you need help
A lot of people are struggling financially right now and that’s causing a tremendous amount of stress. Many banks and financial institutions like Bank of America (which has been my bank for many years) have stepped up to say that they will work with customers, cancel certain fees, and offer extra assistance. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to call them to ask for help. They have the means and they want to help you get through this. Call the toll-free number on the back of your card or contact them via their website to explore your options. Please tell your neighbors, friends, and family about this.

creativity

Joy today: The camera doesn’t make the film

Today’s filmmaking lesson: the quality of the camera only gets you so far. What matters more is the filmmaker’s taste and ability to tell a story. A film with a lower grade camera and an A+ filmmaker will create a far better film than a high-end camera and a mediocre filmmaker. A class can teach you about techniques and the technology. It cannot give you taste. It cannot give you the story. That is up to you. Yes, a camera will give you the settings you need, the resolution, etc. But what matters most is what you put in the frame and how that frame drives the audience to keep asking, “And then what happened?” Without that emotional need-to-know, the greatest camera in the world will do nothing for a filmmaker.

creativity

Joy Today: Jewelry exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I love to learn about objects of beauty that have personal and / or historical significance. Yesterday I walked around the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s jewelry exhibit with my mouth agape because every piece is just so beautiful. I was awestruck and joy-filled by beauty and it’s exactly what I needed. If you can get there, go. And if you can’t, you can see some of the exhibit online. I snapped these pictures of some of the items with their perfectly cast shadows.

creativity

A Year of Yes: Cross-polliNation podcast about everything I love about my career

8df410eb-5004-4241-b7de-8fdbd820fdff-originalExcited to share this podcast episode where I talk about everything I love in my career: product development, science, biomimicry, the arts, writing, my book, storytelling, technology, and the power of our imagination coupled with curiosity. Thank you to host N.B., and to Carolyn Kiel for recommending me! You can listen at this link (www.crosspollination.co) and wherever you get your podcast feeds!

creativity

A Year of Yes: Excited to welcome Julie Gaines of Fishs Eddy to NYC’s Secrets and Lies at Caveat on Oct 9th at 7pm

43109636_10104575925001426_3294082999401840640_nThrilled that the talented, funny, and feisty Julie Gaines, founder of Fishs Eddy, will be our special guest at New York City’s Secrets & Lies storytelling show at Caveat on October 9th at 7pm. We’ll talk about design, activism, entrepreneurship, and her new book. She rarely speaks publicly so this will be a real treat for all of us. Grab your tickets at https://www.caveat.nyc/event/new-york-city’s-secrets-and-lies-10-9-2018

creativity

A Year of Yes: My first tattoo!

No one told me about the rush I would feel after getting my 1st tattoo tonight. I literally feel like I could take over the world right now & do a damn fine job running it. With this tattoo of Thor’s hammer, I feel like Daenerys, Queen of the Dragons on Game of Thrones. Ink is powerful. Thanks to the amazing artist, Mehai Bakaty of Fineline Tattoo, all of our fantastic speakers: Stephanie Tamez, John Wyatt, and Efrain John Gonzalez, New York Hardcore Tattoo’s Sweety & Dean for being our flash artists, Caveat for letting me set this stage, and to the incredible audience. What a night! There are MANY more pics and video of the entire event that I’ll post once I get them all. I love you all and our city.