How Do You Satisfy Your Creative Cravings?

I am of the belief that writing is as much fun as painting or photography or sculpture or any other Creative Art. Yes, it’s frustrating, time-consuming, methodical, stressful, and more.

It’s also inspirational, spiritual, cosmic, and thrilling.

My problem lately is that I’ve gotten in the driver’s seat of my fourth novel, and although I’ve worked out the story line and am loving writing about my space traveler, I miss writing a short story now and then. I have been perusing various contests and publication opportunities, and I find areas I’d love to try. This one wants a creature story. This one wants supernatural fiction. This one wants pirates and ghosts.

What fun! What adventure!  But what do I write about?

I think I hang out in novel land because the writing is long and real and I can keep the same idea throughout the pages. Short stories require separate thought, separate ideas. Unique ideas. And eventually my love of writing starts slipping on the confusing bed of ideas and plots and endings.

Do you hide in one genre over another? Do you have a desire to paint something totally different yet stay within your safe and more experienced area? Or draw something totally out of your comfort zone?

I have a folder of stories, some finished, some barely started. Few would fit into the guidelines I so fawningly follow. Most of my good pieces are written more on a whim of the moment — an impression on the drive home, an interlude between two or more people at the bus stop. My short stories are based on a bolt of lightning that directly hits me. It’s a lot harder if I’m out searching for that bolt.

I often encourage my blog readers to break through your self-imposed sanctions and to go for it. Reach for the sky — or dig deep into the cavern.

I still believe in that.

But I sometimes think it’s getting harder and harder to dig into that fertile creative ground and come up with something new. Something that will fit within someone else’s parameters.

How do you juggle all your cravings? Do you stick with what works or do you find time to experiment and go off in left field now and then? I’d love to know that there are other seasoned and non-seasoned writers who are as confused and excited as me.

Let’s see now…as the website says…think adventures and hauntings at sea, shipwrecks and buried treasure, treacherous waters, sea spirits, ghostly galleons, giant squid, kraken and sailors gone mad.

I can do that…can’t I?

What Is True Success?

So many things make us happy; so many things make us sad. So many times we wished we  had turned left instead of right; so many times we are soooo glad we did turn right instead of left. Sometimes I get really sad that I’m soon going to turn 60 — where has my life gone? Other times I look back and am sorry my mother never made 54. I’m sad that I had breast cancer; other times I’m so glad they found it when they did.

Life is packed with highs and lows, yellow and blacks, snow and scorching heat. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about. For us, for our grandparents, for George Washington and Kublai Khan and St. Joseph. I’m sure they all had a hundred things they wanted to do at one time, too.  Just like us. We all want to be appreciated for what we’ve done. What we’ve become. We all would like to think that our time here on Earth has been for the Greater Good.

This is not a confessional blog; this isn’t a tell-all or a bad news bomb.  I’m sitting on my sofa this cold Sunday afternoon, looking at the bare treetops in my front yard. Of course, you know me — I’m also watching football, eating lunch, doing laundry, getting ready to write some in  my latest novel, wondering what I’m gonna wear to work tomorrow. I’m also thinking about the fun I had with my grandbaby this weekend, thinking of taking some drugs for my achy legs, and feeling guilty I haven’t played fetchie with my dog today.

That’s really what this blog is about. Sometimes I feel I should be pushing this blog harder, trying to share the Word with more readers. Other times I think I’ve run this horse to the finish line, and should start a new creative venture.  Yet more often I think  I’ve let my writing simmer on the back burner for so long it’s started to dry up and stick to the pan.

How do you know if you’ve succeeded at what you tried to do? What is the measure of success? Big paychecks often are an indicator;  good health, always. Waking up every morning is a success all on its own. Family? Kids? Making the perfect apple pie? All of the above are successes if never done it before. Success has always been measured from the heart first, from the masses second. And often it takes on a meaning more cosmic than one thinks. I think I make the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Mississippi. If you don’t agree, does that mean it’s not good? Of course not. All it means is that I can eat it all myself.

Writing is the same thing for me. What is being a successful writer? Have I ever been published? A short  story here or there in the past 10 years. Have I won awards for my creativity? No. Have I ever I gotten a call or email from a publisher? No. Do I think I’m a successful writer? Yes. Definitely.  I’ve had people say positive things about my stories; I’ve brought smiles and tears to readers.  I’ve written 4 novels, 1 novella, 32 short stories, 42 poems, 84 blogs, and 3 novels in-progress. I think that’s being successful. Why? Because Ive continued to do what I love, no matter what the  result. I’ve had fun making friends, creating worlds, and trying things that make me uncomfortable. I encouraged people to believe in themselves, given life to middle-age heroines, and never killed off  the main character.

There are still so many paths to follow, worlds to explore. And that’s only after I play with my grandbaby, fetch my dogs, pet my cats, cuddle my husband, go to work 40 hours a week, clean my house, grocery shop, get together with family and/or friends, and dozens of other responsibilities. Life has only so many hours, and I’m still struggling on squeezing a few more out of every week.

So what this all boils down to is that I’ve driven the Humoring the Goddess train long enough. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to believe in yourself, have fun with your life, and laugh as much as you can. There are so many things you can’t change, so why not toss your hands up and laugh and move on? You’ll know the things you CAN change..that little voice in your heart/head/soul is always there to remind you. Your job is to listen.

I have enjoyed entertaining you all these years more than you know. I have learned so much from you. I might try another blog, or finish one of my novels, or sit and spew poetry until I feel nauseated. I’m sure I’ll be back and visit sometime. If I start something new I’ll post it. I will look foward to hearing from you and YOUR projects. You will always find me at my email world…  humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com.

There is always a path ahead of you. Always. It’s up to you which one you take, or how often you turn left or right. In the end, none of that matters — the only thing that matters is that you keep walking.

Keep Humoring the Goddess…and Loving your Life…

Claudia Anderson

Frivolous Facts and Faldaral Part II

In Star Wars, The Millennium Falcon was originally modeled after a hamburger with an olive next to it. Because the name of the ship had not been finalized at this time, storyboards refer to as the pirate ship. Some boards indicate for the first version of the pirate ship (which became the Blockade Runner) to be changed into the ‘Hamburger Boogie’ version.  Hans Solo rides off into the galaxy sunset aboard the quarter pounder.

In the movie Carrie, the slow motion scene at the end of the movie was filmed in reverse to simulate ghostlike movement effects. If watched vigilantly, cars can be seen driving backwards in the upper left hand corner of the screen. When I was younger, playing “Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles backwards revealed Paul was dead, too. Alas, I could never get the turntable to turn backwards fast enough to prove anything.

For the movie the Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland was paid $35 a week while Toto received $125 a week. That renubds me of one of my earlier blogs, Diamonds Are A Dog’s Best Friend.

To achieve the sound of thousands of snakes slithering in the movie Indiana Jones and the Raider’s Ark, sound designer Ben Burtt stuck his fingers into a cheese casserole. This was augmented by applying wet sponges to the rubber on a skateboard. Eww. Clever — but eww.

Basil (the herb) was once believed to have the power to breed scorpions. According to one recipe, “three crushed leaves are put under a clay pot. After a few days a tiny scorpion will be born”.  With the help of basil one could also summon scorpions. Pliny, a Roman writer, claimed that a handful of basil pounded with 10 sea crabs would do the trick. What the real connection between basil and scorpions was we will never know. Nor do we want to.

Average number of eggs laid by the female American Oysterer year: 500 million. Usually only one oyster out of the bunch reaches maturity. Those numbers make me itch.

Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour – about 1.5 pounds a year. By 70 years of age, an average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin. I wonder why that never equates as pounds lost on a diet.

Chocolate syrup was used for blood in the famous 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, Psycho, which actually took 7 days to shoot. The article never said how much chocolate syrup was used. A lot of sundaes went topless that week.

 Jethro Tull is not the name of the rock singer responsible for such songs as “Aqualung” and “Thick as a Brick.” Jethro Tull is the name of the band. The singer is Ian Anderson. The original Jethro Tull was an English horticulturalist who invented the seed drill. Reminds me of the movie Armageddon. Oscar: I tell you one thing that really drives me nuts, is people who think that Jethro Tull is just a person in a band. Psychologist: Who is Jethro Tull?

 During World War II, bakers in the United States were ordered to stop selling sliced bread for the duration of the war on January 18, 1943. Only whole loaves were made available to the public. It was never explained how this action helped the war effort.

 The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. It was the fashion in Renaissance Florence to shave them off. I wonder if they wore underwear that peeked out of their pants, too. No one would ever know.

When the Mother Ship passes over Devil’s Tower near the end of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, R2-D2 can be seen hanging from the bottom of the ship.

The carpet designs seen in Sid’s hallway in Toy Story are the same carpet designs seen in The Shining. That’s the creepy side of recycling.

Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. Yum. Or is is it Yuk?

The strawberry flavor in your ice cream contains 50 different chemicals. Nature cannot be imitated, and this is the best example. Just to recreate the flavor of “strawberry”, some fast food companies add 50 different chemicals including benzyl isobutyrate, phenythyl alcohol, amyl acetate, mint and cognac. So, the next time you consume strawberry flavored ice creams, milkshakes or desserts, do remember the recipe. Now that’s not Yum OR Yuk. That’s Ick. Vanilla, please.

A quarter of raw potato placed in each shoe at night will keep the leather soft and the shoes smelling fresh and clean. They forgot to add that if you don’t take the potato out it turns into potato toe jam.
In 1939, the Hollywood Production Code dictated what could and could not be shown or said on screen, and Rhett Butler’s memorable last line in the famous Gone With the Wind, presented a serious problem. A few of the suggested alternatives were “Frankly my dear… I just don’t care,” “… it makes my gorge rise,” “… my indifference is boundless,”  “… I don’t give a hoot,” and “… nothing could interest me less.” Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined Selznick $5,000 for using the word “damn”, in fact the Motion Picture Association board passed an amendment to the Production Code on November 1, 1939, to insure that Selznick would be in compliance with the code. Henceforth, the words “hell” and “damn” would be banned except when their use “shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste.” With that
amendment, the Production Code Administration had no further objection to Rhett’s closing line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  Which is a damn good thing.

And, finally…..for those of you with time on your hands….

 If you counted 24 hours a day, it would take 31,688 years to reach one trillion!

Middle Magic

Surfing the television the other night, I came across a quite entertaining program — one of those behind-the-scenes pieces on the making of a current hit movie. I snuggled in my oversized chair and listened as cast and crew glowed about the setting, the camaraderie, and the overwhelming feeling of family that pervaded the movie set for those two years. Envy tinted with wanderlust began to fill my mind. After it was over, I found myself thinking, “Wouldn’t that be great? Escape the drudgery of my everyday, boring  office job and go off with wildly artistic people to exotic locations and be a part of something big and exciting and creative — like making a movie.” Flashes of famous people danced in my head: cast parties, flights to locations I’ve never seen, working in thunderstorms and desert heat side by side with fellow creative spirits…

I was eventually knocked back into reality through a number of obnoxious commercials, and came to the realization that my exotic movie set was right there before me. Middle Magic. Middle Age.

Middle Age. A word that is still hard to identify with. A word that gives most of us the willies. What does it mean?  It used to mean one’s half-life — half way between the cradle and the grave. Near the turn of the century middle age was 30; decades earlier it was as young as 20. My parents’ generation viewed middle age somewhere in their 40s; my own personal interpretation pushes it to at least somewhere in the mid-60s. But magic? At this point in my life, how could my life cycle resonate with the energy of  Merlin or Dumbledore?

As I dreamt about life as an actress or a jet-setting hotel heiress, it became obvious to me that we are all a result of our choices. I could have chosen a different path. If I had truly wanted to be a part of the acting community I could have gone the way of high school plays, summer theater, or politics. But my choices took me along a different path: family, children, a place to call home. I came to understand that we all hear the call of destiny, but it’s up to us what we do with that calling. Middle Magic goes beyond those initial choices. This sort of magic is a whirlwind of the past and the present, the switching of life’s gears, so to speak. It is a tugging of our soul, asking to finally be set free to wander and explore the world in its own way. You know ― living the “stepping out of the box” cliché way of life. This sort of magic is an empowerment that breaks us from the monotony of routine and propels us into the world of extraordinary. Middle Magic is experience tinted with awe, reality mingled with fantasy. It is part who knows, part who cares. After all, isn’t that what we’ve spent all this time wanting?

Middle age is merely a threshold ― let’s not be afraid to cross it. We’ve got nothing to lose except our inhibitions.  Who needs those, anyway?  The wonderful thing is that we have this power in every thought we have, every moment we live. It starts with an acknowledgement of where we are, and opens doors to a future we only now can  reach.  It is through this energy that we finally connect with our self. Only at this point do the gates of the palace open before us.

Perhaps Middle Magic is nothing more than coming to grips with our own mortality. The Reaper has no discretion with its scythe; it strikes down the young and old, dashing dreams and breaking hearts without discretion. But it is precisely because of the Reaper’s indiscretion that we understand how important it is to live life to its fullest day to day. How important it is to open doors to new worlds, encouraging others to do so as well.  To continue to learn, to continue to share what we’ve learned, to know that our ability to learn is as vast as the stars above.

As I turned off the television, there was still a part of me that wished I had been a part of making that movie: the friendship, the excitement, the stress and the secrets. But I realized I have all the above with me every day — friendship, stress, and secrets   With a flick of the pen I can live in 1880 or 2050, on a space station near Jupiter or in an apartment in Manhattan. Pick up a book and I can walk with hobbits or Sioux Indians or Japanese Shoguns. I have music and movies and my own imagination to take me wherever I want to go. And when I run low on imagination, I have my friends’ imaginations to fuel me.

True magic is the magic of the moment; the feeling that you are making a difference, a riff, in the routine of reality. Magic is realizing that you can be a creator and a dreamer along with doing dishes or being a catalog coordinator or taking care of kids or grandkids. Everywhere there is a story to be told, and every story has a bit of a smile in it. All you have to do is stop and share it. That is what Middle Magic is about. Chuckling at the absurdity of the world around us, taking what we have learned through the years with a grain of salt and a cup of schmaltz and sharing it with everyone.

We can only go one way on this road of life; we should make a point to share a smile or two or a thousand with as many souls as we can. Don’t you know? We are all magicians. We are all whimsical, swirling motes of dust in the sunshine of life. Powerful, crazy, magical motes.

Gandalf would be proud.

 

Dinner With the Queen

In the mundane throng of your very predictable life, don’t you now and then want to just break out of the box and do something different? Now that you have the experience of all those years behind you, don’t you want to make that experience mean something? Don’t you ever want to be bigger than life? Just for a day?

Oh, you say, I am happy being just who I am. Of course you are. We all try and walk that fence between selfish and selfless; between modesty and bravado. But admit it. There are many times in our very predictable life that we’d like to do something unpredictable. Of course, unpredictable varies from person to person. Bungee jumping is one way, as is impulse buying a Hummer. More low key, there are times when we want to guffaw aloud instead of snickering quietly. We want to dance naked in the living room and wear chuggy boots with a sundress. But most times we settle for eating Thai as a means of excitement. While that sounds fairly adventurous, I assure you, the dreams of the experienced are filled with possibilities never imagined by the inexperienced. In other words, the older we get, the looser the parameters of our dreams become.

There was a time in my life that I worried about what others thought of me and my opinions. A time when I tried to fit in, vaporously reflecting their ideas on religion, child rearing, and employment. It was important that I pulled my own weight, never rocked the boat, nor raise the hackles on someone’s neck. I was (and still am) respectful of others.

But eventually I got to a point in life where I wanted the river to flow where I wanted it to flow. I wanted my own boat, my own crew, and my own destination. I found that the further I wander down the road, the less I’m concerned about what I have done and more about what I can do. The thought of being no more than a passing blush in the cosmos makes my selfishness bubble to the surface. So I find myself wanting to be bigger than life: a heroine to all, someone who makes a mark and leaves it for others to decipher. That doesn’t mean I want to be an assassin or a movie star or a nuclear physicist. But a motivational speaker, a middle-aged trend setter, a famous author — what’s wrong with that?

Maybe that’s not really “out of the box,” but for me, it’s peeking out from under the lid. I’ve been a loving mother, a great wife, a dedicated friend, and all-around good person. I have dotted all of my i’s, crossed my t’s, and given to the United Way.

But now and then I feel this little quiver in my reality that makes me wonder what it would be like to leave the cookie baking and office typing to someone else and find something different to do with my time. How cool it would be to become a fashion maven or a world traveler. To stand before a crowd and sing like an angel. To be the next Food Network Star. To be asked to be on the next “Tour of Homes” because my house and garden are so incredibly fantastic that the world ― or at least the citizens of Whitewater ― have to experience them. To nosh with Stephen King at lunch and have dinner with Queen Elizabeth. To design a line of clothes that would knock the socks off Calvin Klein or raise enough donations to build a new wing on the local hospital.

All right — maybe not the “Queen Elizabeth” part or the “wing on the hospital” part ― but to create something new, something eye-catching, something memorable, would be a trip I would never forget.

We love and appreciate the little things in our life. Our friends, our family, all are a part of who we are. We work hard and, if we are lucky, play hard. Being famous would take us away from all that we worked so hard to create. And, after all, celebrity does have its price, privacy and anonymity being the first two privileges to go.

But while those platitudes make perfect sense, every now and then my daydreams take a cosmic swing to worlds just past my fingertips. Writing a best seller that becomes a movie lover’s dream, people paying $200 a ticket just to have lunch with me, opening a boutique that splashed between the covers of famous magazines ― what a thrill that would be! Who wouldn’t like to be a travel reporter visiting small European towns or American homesteads and talk about their cuisines and cultures? Who wouldn’t want to have their art on display at at the Art Institute or the Milwaukee Art Museum? Who wouldn’t want to be the one person the President could come to for advice?

Aspirations breed inspiration. Not being afraid to follow the muse within your heart brings freedom to your soul. Feeling positive about who you are enables the world to mold itself around you. Most ― if not all of us ― will never get a chance to live out those kinds of dreams. Not on that grand of a scale. But that doesn’t mean our inspirations can’t be grand. That our forward movement can’t be grand. Understand that grand is all in one’s point of view. Don’t worry what any other point of view is but yours. Dress up for any or all occasions. Paint a mural on a wall. Start blogging your most outrageous ― and delicious ― recipes. Grow an exotic garden, take pictures of it and enter them into photography contests. Design jewelry. Show horses or dogs. Enter your prized whatevers at the State Fair.

Don’t be afraid to break out now and then and have a good time. What others think of you is not nearly as important as what you think about yourself.

Besides ― I’m sure the queen made other dinner plans anyway.