My Hero — My Heroine — My Characters

Every story has a main character or two. A villain, a hero, a heroine. Good guys, bad guys, and gals. Even your short stories have girls and guys in various stages of love, hate, and madness. You have every nuance of their character figured out — their personality, their hair, their habits.

All of our characters are based on people we know: characters in movies, old paramours, cousins, those who have done us harm. Our characters — good and evil — all come from somewhere inside of us.

So tell me — who are your characters based on? How many famous people resemble your purely self-created stars? Sometimes I have exactly someone in mind. Other times, I find a weird resemblance to someone I’ve come across in my life.

My first novel. Heroine — some version of  me. But not visually. Characters based on some weird, maniacal version of me always are the hardest to visualize. The closest match is kinda like Susan Sarandon but 30 pounds heavier. In her mid-40s. The hero — he’s got to have dark hair and dark eyes, and a slight rough beard. Maybe Doctor Connor Rhodes from Chicago Med. Just the right amount of fuzz on the chin. The matriarch — definitely Maggie Smith. And the pompous ass son — Frank Kennedy from Gone With the Wind. Second novel –same main characters. Add a doctor — Michael Douglas with beard and glasses, and a snotty girlfriend — the latest Carol Markus of Star Trek — and you’ve got some attitude.

Second set of novels — heroine — again, some wacky, astral version of myself. This time with shorter red hair in the first novel and spikey purple hair in the second. I did see a pic of Susan Sarandon with both the red hair and glasses, so she’ll do. The hero — more of Derek Jacobi in Gladiator. The king, definitely Aragon from Lord of the Rings. Consul Tresarrio — definitely Jafar from Aladdin, and Consul Corvenius — Ian Holm, Father Vito Cornelius from the Fifth Element.

There you go. Barred my soul, gave away my secrets.

There’s not always an identifiable face in your stories, but there’s nothing wrong with it, either. Gives you something to focus on, if only briefly. The characters then take over, flowering and winding their vines into their own version of reality.

I’d love to hear if any of your characters resemble anyone real or pretend. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or if you write poetry or haikus — I’d just love to hear your interpretation of your people.

Tell me Tell me Tell me! Do you have a Rhett or an Angelina in your world?

 

Balancing the Best of Both Worlds

56179-cat-on-keyboard-typing-gif-hi43I’ve come to crossroads in my life. A strange, positive, yet confusing, conundrum.

I believe I told you I suffer from “be careful what you wish for” syndrome. All my life I’ve been a writer, but never for money. Never for a living. It’s always been mountains of stories, poetry, and rhymes, along with lists, ideas, and doodles.

But lately at work I’ve been doing a lot of writing. And, if things work out, I’ll be doing a lot more. I am enjoying the pace, the pressure, and the chance to see if I have what it takes to be a full-time writer.

One thing I notice, though, is that by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is be creative. I’m pretty well cashed for the night.

And that upsets me.

I have always had a laundry list of things I want to write, to edit, to play with. There is no cork on imagination. But spending 9 hours a day in front of a computer, most of the time bringing life to everyday words, makes for one mentally drained oldie-but-goodie boho chick. By the time I have dinner, do the dishes, and sit down in front of my own laptop, I find myself suffering from brain freeze. It’s like my thoughts are somewhere behind this lovely burled oak door with a leaded glass window that reveals gorgeous vistas, but the door is stuck closed.

This will not do.

I am a writer. A make-up-story kinda gal. I love to write about spirits and middle aged women and time travel and elves and occasional sex. The more creative the better.

But I also have dreamed about writing for a living. Something that, for me, comes easily. Having had grammar and structure and style as my bedfellows for like ever, the prospect of writing full-time is a chance I want to take. Even if I don’t make it, I have to take that chance.

For a long time my husband has been telling me to cut back on computer time. I spend all day in front of that dull light, squinting and studying and reading two computer screens. Then I come home and squint and study and read one laptop screen. I suffer from headaches, and all this extra squint time doesn’t help. So cutting back on the night time does makes sense.

But I still don’t like it.

How do you balance the two worlds? Especially if both of your worlds are places you enjoy being?

It’s not all disastrous — it’s actually a pleasant conundrum. This conflict is forcing me to schedule my time better — writing time is scheduled just like doing the laundry or paying bills.

But I tell you now — it won’t be as much fun.

Impulse and Inspiration

20161113_164639Impulse and Inspiration. Two different words.  Creative people miss a lot of creative moments because we don’t connect the two.

Creative people — in this case, writers — come across possible story lines all the time. The shopping mall, a city alley, butterflies on a flower, all are possible props for poetry or short stories or even novels. But just because they are possible props doesn’t mean they are probable props.

And that’s where inspiration and impulse comes in.

Impulsive thoughts hit you all the time. It’s like directly channeling spirits and stories and hot spots right when they come through you. It’s following through on an instinct, a desire that hits you out of nowhere. It’s the knowing that this is what you want to paint. To write. To sculpt.

Inspiration is taking that impulse and creating something from it. Fine tuning it.  Letting your mind and heart wrap around it until a truly unique creation emerges.

I drive the back roads to work every day through quiet farm country.  The road makes three 90 degree turns before hitting the main highway. Before making the last left turn, the road points towards a full cornfield with woods behind it. One year there were a few missing rows that acted like a pointer to a dark shadowed spot of the back woods.  I was hit by the impulse to write a story about where that “road” led. I’m so glad I let that view inspire me. Two novels came from that impulse. And the view is no more.

I’ve also written short stories about an abandoned patch of land where a house once stood, and of getting caught in a never-ending maze of 90 degree turns.The inspiration for these stories came from the impulse of a moment: an empty piece of land, driving home through fog and mist. Looking over a different cornfield at a tall building way in the distance (I must have a thing for cornfields), I was hit with the idea of walking through the corn, coming out the other end in a totally different world. I didn’t stand there, daydreaming about what I could write about what was before me — it just hit me.

You can’t always know when inspiration — impulse — will hit. It’s funny how we all sit on the beach watching the water hit the shore, or find a fallen tree in the woods and plop ourselves down on it, or sit and listen to a symphony, hoping to get inspired. We force the inspiration, rather than let it come to us. What we are lacking is the impulse. The lightning strike. The inner knowledge that this is what you were waiting for.

What I’m saying is that when the impulse hits you, act upon it. You see something that stands apart from the rest of the world, note it. Develop it. Sketch it. Plant that seed of creativity and let it grow. Those are the stories you will remember. Those are the stories you will enjoy writing.

Now — I wonder what kind of cornfields lie west of here….

 

 

 

Roots vs. Vines

newplantThere are books upon books written about men brains vs female brains. How they are wired, how they work. How they process. This is not a blog to debate the validity of such — I am mere more to prove that such assumptions are more or less true.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about creativity. I suggested her boyfriend (a really talented graphic artist) start a website or blog with his art and photography. Show off his work. He joined our conversation, and said he shows his work off on Facebook. To his friends. He said setting up and keeping a site going was too much like work.

I was fine with that. But I had to laugh. Because that’s all I seem to think about. Not just the webpage part — the writing/art/decorating/creative part.

It was like earlier today I called home. Hubby was putting up new pantry and laundry room doors. Very sharp. Very nice. After 15 years of dogs and kids and cats and abuse it is nice to finally start remodeling my house. I started talking about a new wine rack and hanging a new picture I found and maybe a rug under the table and cleaning out the buffet and giving most of the glasses to Good Will and there was nothing but silence on the other end of the phone. I waited for a reaction and could have filed my nails within the time gap.

When we resumed the conversation my hubby said he hadn’t thought of all that. That some of those things weren’t on his top 10 list of things to do. He was back on the door-thing and the sanding-the ceiling-in-the-bedroom thing. The mowing-the-lawn-thing tomorrow. He was nowhere in the creative atmosphere of the decorating-thing or the making-the-dining-room-feel-like-an-Italian-veranda-thing. My mind was twisting and twirling up the wall like a runaway vine while his was forming strong, sturdy roots in the ground.

I don’t know if my creative tendencies are a good thing or a bad thing. Or if they are a “thing” at all. I know we all have a creative streak in us, but some are able to keep it in perspective. Most times I behave myself, but other times I’m off and running without a thought as to time or materials or the end result.

It’s like I finally know what I want and I don’t want to be talked out of it. My Sunday Evening Art blog, my middle-age madness blog, my writing female fantasy fiction time travel novels, all may seem runaway madness to some, but they are life affirming to me. Every time I get creative it’s like reaching up to the sun and getting high on Vitamin D.

I know that that’s just where I am in life right now. Other friends of mine are in the whenever-its-convenient time. Or after-I-take-care-of-other-things time. I’ve been through those phases too. I’ve been responsible all my life. Raising kids, working, making ends meet. I’ve not always had the time to hang with my Creative Muse.

But now I make time. And the pigheaded person in me wonders why everyone else doesn’t make time, too. When my piggy feet touch the ground again, I realize that everybody IS making time in their own way. Not everyone needs a website or needs to get published in order to let their creativity soar. Some do it by just doing it. Period.

But as for me — I am having fun with the pick-out-paint-to-edge-the-new-rug thing and the heroine-travels-through-the-veil-to-another-world thing.

Why not?

 

Off To See the Wizard (of Biltmore)

6d3fa623e931a5471085ff1a8f7651afSagittarius personality traits

Sagittarius is a fun and exciting sign. The explorer and philosopher of the zodiac, they are typically interested in new experiences, new knowledge and new places.

As it is written, so it shall be.

This weekend I am taking an adventure I’ve not taken before. I am meeting my creative, crazy fun friend in the artsy city of Asheville, North Carolina — home of the Biltmore Estate.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids. No dogs. No cats. Just temporarily, you know.

Already I’m happy.

It has taken me 63 years to be able to go off and take a trip through the creative world with my bestie by my side. I can finally submerge myself in art of all kinds — painting, sculpture, jewelry, textiles. Something my hubby could not (in truthful conscience) enjoy.

It has taken me 63 years to get to this wide-eyed amazement point in my life. 40 years ago I was working downtown Chicago, too busy trying to make my way in the business world. 30 years ago I was busy being a newlywed and first-time mom, losing my downtown job and looking for a part-time one so I could be home with my son. 20 years ago I was busing being a full-time mom, trying to my hand at running a B&B while being a full-time soccer mom and baseball mom.  10 years ago I was busy working full-time again, trying to run from bankruptcy and dealing with one son’s college years and the other son’s high school years.

There wasn’t time for unique art galleries or writing blogs or going to live concerts. Guess I was just busy living.

But now the kids are working and raising their own kids and bankruptcy is nothing more than a bad dream as is the B&B experiment. Now is the time for me to reconnect to who I’ve always been. I’ve always been a painter, a writer, a stenciller. I have always had a love affair with the creative side of the world. From faeries to role-playing, from making my own jewelery to writing poetry. I’ve stuffed it into pockets of time and under the leaves on the wooded paths I’ve walked and in the drawers of dressing tables.

Now it’s my turn to play.

Now I get to discover and explore and dream and live the Bohemian life of an artist with someone who is as Bohemian as I am.

If only for 4 days.

I get to meet all kinds of people, people who heard the calling of the Art Muse and did something about it. I don’t need to live the dream to be a part of it.

If only for 4 days.

Make a point to take a side trip out of your reality too, now and then. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for the heart. It’s good for manifesting your creative future.

And it’s damn good for your friendship, too.

 

 

 

Fuzz Brain

thDo you ever have days where you feel…fuzzy?

Not cuddle fuzzy, not peach navel fuzzy, but cotton-candy-in-the-head fuzzy.

I suppose it’s best to count out major contributors, or at least fit them into the symphony’s score. Medication. check. A little, not much. Sleep. A little, not much. Stress. Much, not a little. Sugar. Cut way back. Alcohol. None. Smoking. Never. Other recreants. Not for 40 years. Blood Pressure. Surprisingly normal. Blood Sugar. Low as well. Cholesterol. Working on it.

So all second tier maladies accounted for. First tier…cancer, leukemia, dementia. All being watched.

So why the fuzzies?

I used to think that when I couldn’t quite focus it was because messages and stories were coming through from astral places. Not like direct alien vibrations, but, you know — inspiration from beyond. No matter what your belief system, there’s always someone from the beyond sending you positive vibes –Grandma, Jesus, Shakespeare. You can’t rationalize it — it just is.

So when the fuzzies used to come I had a hard time focusing on anything constructive. Like work. Or responsibilities. It’s like the fuzzies opened a hole to another dimension. One where logic is more like paper chains hung in the trees…pretty, but not practical.

It’s hard to think when your mind is full of cotton candy. You look one direction…it’s niiice. You turn around…it’s niiice. You look up in the sky, it’s…well, you get it. It’s like being high without drugs, religion, or the Patronus Charm.

During these  lost and found fuzzies inspiration is there for the taking. If you have the energy to take it. What I mean by that is that there are no rules in the fuzzies. Every design, every plot, every daydream has merit. Fireflies become faeries. High school teachers become drug dealers. The rosey pink of sunset becomes the daytime sky of an alien world.

I’ m not saying you can create the next Rembrandt masterpiece or write the Great American Novel while fuzzy. But when inspiration eludes you, there can be redemption in the clouds.

For example.

Tonight I was in the funky fuzzies. Spent 2 hours going through the same 6 folders looking for a piece of paper I knew I’d seen in one of them earlier this evening. I mean this is a big duh. How can you not find what you just saw? Fuzzies. After hours of curling one piece of paper after the other, I finally found what I was looking for in the folder with the receipts jammed into it.

So crabby as well as fuzzy, I posted such on Facebook. As I perused the mental states of all my friends, I came across a post about gorgeous blingy gladiator up-the-calf sparkle shoes. And I thought…Sunday Evening Art Blog! How cosmic was that?

Of course, cosmic can always be equated with chance, luck, calculation, physics, or a dozen other flow charts. The point is that even when you are wandering through the Cotton Candy Fuzzies you can get input for your creativity. Just pay attention. Know inspiration can drop in at any time and be ready to take note. Write it down, bookmark it, write it on your arm in eye liner. Just keep the message and come back when the fog has lifted.

The test, of course, is not to bring the Fuzzies into work tomorrow. If I’m not careful my whimsical nothingness will get lost in the stacks of data I’ve yet to enter.

Talk about the bottomless well…

 

Get Your Exotic On!

15 - 1Saw this picture on Google+ the other day, and it made me wonder — what’s your exotic?

Most of us are closet voyeurs at best. A peek here, a daydream there. Then back to work/family/football games, content with regular sunrises and sunsets and football fantasy pools.

But you know that somewhere deep inside you’ve got an exotic idea. An exotic dream. An exotic fantasy.

And most likely it will never see the light of day.

But I wonder — are exotics different when you’re younger?

I used to think it would be awesome to be dropped into the middle of Japan or China and find my way out. Oriental worlds are as foreign to me as the canals on Mars, so I thought getting a real fix on a world where their language is nothing but mixed up sticks would be quite exotic. The trip never materialized, but my curiosity continued.

I am the same person at 62 than I was at 22. And 42. But my idea of exotic has changed through the years. Octopus was high on the list, as was caviar and croissants. Now days, ate that, done that, so exotic has to be a little more … risky. Makeup? Nails? My fascination of those exotics have led to two SEAG blogs (Nails:  http://wp.me/s1pIBL-nails, and Tal Peleg, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-19M). How can you not love that devil-may-care look?

My dreams and my pocketbook are miles apart, but that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about the exotic. How about a weird, wild Ferrari 599 GTB to drive? A vacation to South Island, New Zealand or Tasmania, Australia? I looked up “exotic” in relation to clothes, and too many kinky selections popped up, so I will settle for BoHo for now. How about exotic flowers? I found a great website (http://www.psdeluxe.com/articles/photography/beautiful-exotic-flowers-pictures/) that blew my mind. Exotic for real.

Food is an easy slide into the world of Exotic. Spices like Grains of Paradise (also known as Melegueta pepper) from Western Africa or Furikake Wasabi from Japan.  How about pho from Vietnam or  pambazos from Mexico  or Tim Tam from Australia?  Our own American cuisine can be exotic, too, with turtle soup, grits, deep fried Coke, and alligator fritters. Who knew?

One cannot get hung up on words (unless you’re a writer). You have to explore words that dance on your dreams, words that make you say “Oh!” and “Wow!” and “Really?” It doesn’t matter if your version of a word is different than the next person’s. Who cares? Life is for us to explore. To dream about. To play with.

Exotic is just one of those play words. Like Unique. Adventurous. Surreal. Luscious. Savory. Words that make us want to explore more of what’s around us. To open our minds, our palates, our creative space.

What is your definition of exotic, anyway? Do you have fun with the word? With the imagery? Do you let yourself check out the extraordinary? The unique? The far away?

I like the word “exotic”. It makes me think of Mediterranean edibles and temples in Japan and punjambi’s in India. The exploration of words and worlds makes me feel like a kid again.

And there’s nothing wrong with that…