I’m so excited to share that the feature I wrote about biomimicry, Making Mother Nature Our Muse, has been published in The Henry Ford Magazine‘s latest issue which is all about sustainable design.
The Henry Ford is an innovation museum in Detroit, Michigan, that I’ve admired for years. I’m so pleased to be able to speak to their members through this piece.
Big hat tip to Lex Amore at the Biomimicry Institute, Jennifer LaForce, the wonderful editor of the magazine, and James Round for his beautiful illustrations.
You can find my stand alone feature here: Making Mother Nature Our Muse by Christa Avampato
The whole issue is fantastic and is available for free online here: The Henry Ford Magazine—June-Dec 2020
“When you write, you lay out a line of words…Soon you find yourself deep in new territory.” ~Annie Dillard
On Sunday I took an online nature writing class and we did an exercise I wanted to share with all of you. Not only is it helpful for science writing, but it can really help with any piece of writing—first draft to tenth draft! Here’s how it goes:
1.) Place a small item in the middle of a piece of paper. This can be anything – a leaf, an acorn, a shell, a coin, a photograph. Anything at all.
2.) Begin to map the ideas, associations, and memories that come to you observe and think about this item. Follow trains of thought for as long as you’d like, connecting the flow of ideas with arrows or lines to form a type of web or mind map if you’d like. There are no wrong answers. Take 10-15 minutes for this.
3.) Choose one point on the web that is outside of the center, a few steps removed from your item, and write for 5 minutes with that point as your starting place. (You don’t need to write directly about your item, but you certainly can!) Now choose a different point on the web and begin writing from there. (You can do this as many times as you’d like).
4.) Finally, spend 10-15 minutes writing a reflection that begins with the center of your web, with your natural item. Drawing both on your web and on your previous shorter writings, see where your imagination takes you.
“All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story.” ~Hannah Arendt
As a fiction writer, I create worlds and characters who are as real to me as anything and anyone outside my door. They’re my friends. They’re my lifeline right now. As always, they’re helping me write my way out. This doesn’t mean I’m not scared or worried or anxious. I am all those things. My writing gives those emotions and feelings and thoughts some place to go, it gives me a tool that helps bear the burden so my own heart and mind and shoulders don’t have to bear them alone.
I hope you’re all well and safe in these ever-changing times.
I have some good news in the midst of a lot of difficulty: I made it into the second round of the Sundance 2020 Episodic Lab program with a TV pilot that I wrote. I’ll know by August if I’ll be invited to their Lab in October. Just making it to the second round feels wonderful.With all the tough news in my city of New York, this is a bit of light and I’m so grateful.
Special thanks to John Bucher, Script Pipeline, Ruth Sabin, ScreenCraft, Ed Freeman, F.J. Lennon, and Ken Lacovara for their invaluable notes on my scripts and their endless stream of encouragement for my writing.
In the worst situations, I acknowledge how difficult things are and also try to find some kind of value. In New York City (where I live), coronavirus is a serious issue. We all take public transit and it’s a crowded place. A virus that has community spread is not an issue to be taken lightly here. My inbox is filling up with cancelled events, happenings that I was really looking forward to in the coming weeks and month. I understand—it’s for our safety and I know event organizers don’t take these decisions lightly. As a producer, I feel their pain.
To keep myself motivated, I’m reminding myself that coronavirus, for better or worse, is giving me a lot of dedicated time at home and that means I have a lot of time to write, read, and research. I set some very ambitious writing goals for myself this year to complete a number of large projects. I’m committed to making good use of this time. I’m reading a lot, writing a lot, and doing everything I can to keep up the spirits of others during this time.
Has the coronavirus impacted your daily life, work, and writing? How are you doing? Let me know in the comments.
This week I had an interesting turn of events: a publisher contacted me about the possibility of writing a new book. It’s a book I’ve been thinking about writing for a while so I already had a lot of thoughts about the topic and the book. It was one item on my very long to-do list of writing that shot to the top of the list because of this inquiry. The publisher asked me to pitch my idea for the book so I did and we’ll see what happens. Could be something. Could be nothing. It taught me a lot.
Many times, this is where the story ends and it may just seem like a wonderful stroke of luck to get an email like this from a publisher. It is and it isn’t. The serendipity springs from a lot of hard work over a very long time, much of it a labor of love. First, the book idea is based on my long career in product development that had had very high highs and very low lows. It’s also a result of my work as a writer (also with its peaks and valleys), and most recently in going back to graduate school (for the second time). The publisher’s note to me happened after they saw that I shared a post on LinkedIn with a relevant hashtag about some of my recent writing of a TV pilot script that was entirely unpaid and that I don’t even know will ever get off the ground.
This recent interaction taught me that we have to make our own luck, that we have to talk about the work we’re doing to find people who share our interests and passions. Many times, we talk into the void. Sometimes, that void ends and we find an audience. Working in secret and staying quiet about our work is a completely fine and personal decision. If we want our work to have impact, to inspire and reach other people, to build a better world, then sharing it (when we’re ready) is key. The creative world is weird. The publishing world is weird. Life and career is a wild ride, and I think it’s absolutely worth the price of admission.
Do you have a story about how sharing your work led to an unexpected opportunity? I’d love to hear it.
Take a ride through the underworld with me! I wrote a piece about Prohibition & organized crime in New York City for Inside History magazine’s latest issue called Crime and the Underworld. The piece is titled If Organized Crime Could Make It In New York…It Could Make It Anywhere! If you’d like to read just my article, click here.
The entire magazine is filled with juicy true crime stories throughout history so if you’d like to get a copy, here are the order links:
My heart’s pumping after hitting send on a consulting statement of work that significantly increases my client fee. It’s challenging to do that, especially for a client I love, and it’s absolutely necessary to price our work for the value it brings. Know your worth, writers, and don’t be afraid to price accordingly.
Are you in the messy middle, at the gateway of contemplation (which is my tattoo!), in the space between “no more” and “not yet”? Then listen to my brilliant and inspiring friend and writing mentor, John Bucher, on the Story Gatherings podcast. Link to podcast episode here: http://storygathering.libsyn.com/a-conversation-with-john-bucher-on-liminal-space
I’ve been a huge fan of Walt Disney’s tenacity ever since I first learned his story. Of all his marvelous quotes about creativity and creative work, this one is my favorite. May you sleep to dream.
“And just like that, after a long wait, a day like any other, I decided to triumph, to look for the opportunities, not to wait. I decided to see every problem as the opportunity to find a solution. I decided to see every desert as the opportunity to find an oasis. I decided to see every night as a mystery to solve. I decided to see every day as a new opportunity to be happy. I stopped caring about who was the winner and who was the loser. Now I care only about knowing more than yesterday. I learned that the best triumph that I can have is to have the right of calling someone ‘my friend’. I discovered that love is a philosophy of life. That day I stopped being a reflection of the few triumphs in my past, and I started to be my own tenuous light of the present. That day I learned that dreams only exist to be made to come true. Since that day I don’t sleep to rest. Now, I dream just for dreams.”