Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Coincidence in Fact and Fiction

October 29, 2018

I went to see the doctor about my ankle (which is progressing as well as can be expected), and the universe handed me one of those coincidences that begs to be part of a story. The doctor I saw in the minor injury clinic was the same doctor who saw me seven years ago for a bad sprain of my other ankle. At that point, the clinic had only been open a month; now, the clinic will be consolidated with a another facility – in about a month.

Real life is full of these coincidences. Most of the time, they just make amusing stories. Fictional life is also full of coincidence, but requires the coincidence to have profound meaning. As soon as I left the clinic, I started wondering how I could turn these two chance appointments into something else. A thriller might cast the doctor as a sleeper spy, with the first meeting introducing the spy’s contact (the patient), and the second setting the story in motion. I write sci fi, so maybe I could have the doctor insert a device in the patient in the first meeting, and require the second meeting because the device is malfunctioning. What would your genre do with this coincidence?

My foot, SLOWLY healing

Luck and wisdom!

Tree Series – Experiment

October 24, 2018

Since one of my art quilt groups is exploring theme – and I had some scraps available – I decided to start that tree quilt series I’ve been talking myself out of doing for who knows how many years. I made small panels using improvisational piecing and quilted a tree on one. I showed the group my panels, and they thought I had a good beginning. They suggested floating the panels on an underquilt. Here’s what I have so far:

Better 1?

Better 2?

The big lesson in this experiment is that I am a lot more courageous when I don’t have a huge emotional investment in the fabric I use for art quilts. Of course, that means the lovely pieces I have collected are still languishing in the drawer, but at least I am using my scraps!

Luck and wisdom!

On To Africa

October 17, 2018

The expedition in my sewing room took another turn. I finished a simple pieced quilt, and now must start pulling random blocks, most with African-themed embroidery, into a coherent piece. This is the finished quilt:

These are the blocks that need organizing:

I appliqued the tree block and made most of the embroidered blocks, although a few were done by someone else. I don’t remember how I managed to acquire the patterns, thread, and partially completed blocks. Perhaps I bought them at a silent auction, perhaps they were given to me by someone who knows I like to embroider, perhaps they were left on the doorstep in the dead of night (no, I would probably remember that).

In any event, this is my next project, and On to Africa is the working title.

Luck and wisdom!

Our Story-Saturated World

October 15, 2018

We see stories every day. Movies, television, sometimes even advertising informs our potential readers. When there are so many stories floating in the air, how can we make our work stand out?

The short answer is write your best; the long answer is more complicated. Perhaps we start by losing our fear of the story that’s been told before. I’ve critiqued dozens of short stories and several novels. All of them had been told before. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the story in front of me.

When Ann Anastasio and I started on our first novel, Death By Chenille, we knew we would be following a familiar plot – unsuspecting heroines save the world from space aliens because they are the only ones who know about the invasion. Rather than worry about it, we reveled in it. We both love a good monster movie, and 1950s sci fi movies, so why not use the formula?

The essence of a good story is that it grabs the reader and propels her into another reality. She may recognize the thwarted love story, the unfair accusation plot point, even the journey of the villain-as-wounded-everyman. If the story is compelling (or even a little goofy), the reader will continue turning pages.

Luck and wisdom!

Coast to Coast with Confidence

October 10, 2018

In one of those moments when the universe says, “Just get on with it,” the quilt I absolutely, positively had to finish was the one with the heron. I’ve called the quilt Coast to Coast, and it was just the confidence boost I needed.

Quilted, bound, and labeled

My foot still doesn’t like to be down for any length of time, but I had to change threads often for this quilt. What under ordinary circumstances would have been discouraging turned out to be practical – thirty minutes with my foot down, ice and rest, repeat. Even with all the thread changes, the quilting went much faster than I expected.

The dreaded heron and the many quilting threads

I also made a feature out of a bug by using yellow thread around the center of the flowers. My original intent was merely to hide the little boo-boo when the yellow meandered over the black, but I like it better this way.

The pattern called for one tree and a house, but I made three trees representing the palm trees, deciduous trees, and pine trees that can be found together on every street in my town.

This quilt was years in the making, since I was afraid to make the appliqued heron, nervous about changing the pattern, and concerned that I really couldn’t put all three Row By Row kits together to make a coherent piece. Furthermore, I was truly terrified that my injury wouldn’t let me get back in the sewing room at all, much less in time to finish the quilt for the guild Unfinished Quilt Challenge. Because of my fears, once I got started Coast to Coast became a huge confidence builder.

Luck and wisdom!

The Time of Gratitude

October 8, 2018

It’s week 3 of The Great Ankle Recovery. I’m still hobbling, still not driving, and holiday season is approaching. While Thanksgiving starts the holiday season for most people, many writers I know consider November 1 to be the kick-off date. That is the beginning of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve never done it, but I’ve seen friends though the Time of Gratitude – and if you’ve completed NaNoWriMo you know what I mean. No matter how grudgingly, your friends and family had to give you the gift of time to write or you never would have achieved your goal. The same will be true in December, the King Kong of holiday months. If you get a chance to write, be grateful.

Were I a good motivational consultant, I would set out my list of “Seven simple things you can do to make time to write” or “Five sure-fire ways to get your family off your back” or even “Three words to ditch all your responsibilities so you can sit at the computer.” Good luck with that. There are no simple ways to create writing time, no sure-fire ways to get people to leave you alone, and no magic words to ditch responsibilities without massive consequences. If you can manage to edit a chapter between gift-buying and eggnog-slurping, be grateful.

My extended holiday wish for you, no matter what you celebrate, is confidence in your craft. Yes, your schedule will be disrupted this month. Yes, you may forget a few details about your plot or characters. Yes, those deadlines will be staring you in the face sooner than you would like. You are a writer. You will persevere. You will get back to work as soon and as often as you can. And when you do, be grateful.

Luck and wisdom!

Changing Direction

September 5, 2018

Two projects that I thought were clear in my mind wandered away from me this week. One changed direction radically, the other – my Challenge Group project – not so much. The Challenge assignment was to make one quilt with either two different colors and three different shapes or three different colors and two different shapes. I started with purple and black, because those were the first scraps I pulled out of the bin. I noticed that one of the black fabrics had pink flamingos on it. “Self,” I said, “you will have to decide if that pink is going to count as a third color.” By the time I finished, I realized that with clever embellishment, the flamingo could be both a color and a shape.

Here’s a better view of the flamingo pin:

The UFQ project with the heron was the one that really went off the rails. The last time I talked about this Row By Row collection, I was planning to use three kits to create one big quilt. When I started the second kit, however, I realized I didn’t really like one of the sections. I also realized I could have a cute wallhanging that held together better thematically if I adapted the kits. The work-in-progress name for this quilt is “Coast to Coast.”

The ocean is on the east side of the Maryland row, the west side of the California row

The painted square above the rows probably will not make the final cut for this project. I’ll show you more as the quilt tells me where it wants to go.

Luck and wisdom!

Battling To-Do List Anxiety

August 29, 2018

The Unfinished Quilt Challenge has been a blessing for me. I’m getting projects finished, and the deadlines keep me working as efficiently as I can. No blessing comes without a curse, however. For as much as I’m pathetic without a deadline, I’m also pathetic with them. I tend to get myself twisted inside-out worrying that I won’t meet them. I know the world isn’t going to end if I don’t get my projects done, because it has happened. Some of my best unpublished stories are the tales I spin to explain to my friendship groups why I came to the meeting empty-handed (and they always forgive me!). So, this month I snatched minutes here and there to get at least one project done. Despite the whimpering voice in my head telling me I’ll never finish a thing, I have three projects ready to bind.

Lani-Longshore-anxiety-flower-8-29-18

This one actually got finished!

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anxiety-squirrel-8-29-18

The lesson here? Listen to the voice of doom if it helps to get you in the studio, then tell it to hush. You’ll get the work done.

Luck and wisdom!

When Life Gets In The Way of Writing

August 13, 2018

getting-in-the-way-plant-8-13-18

There are days when I feel that the universe itself is reaching out to pull me off my path. Whether I’m being sucked into a thicket of daily tasks or surrounded by a hedge of small crises, the result is no creative activity that day. I can work myself into a full-blown pity party in no time, wailing that life is getting in the way of writing (or quilting). Then I come across someone who faced real thickets and real crises.

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This is what Chiura Obata wrote for the exhibit of art he created while in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans. This is the painting that went with the words.

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I’m not going to promise that I’ll never feel sorry for myself again when life gets in the way of writing, but at the very least I’ll try to make it a short whine.

Inspiration Prompt 2

July 2, 2018

Old school dictionary and encyclopedia

My book club discovered Dictionary Stories by Jez Burrows. It is literally that – stories made up entirely from example sentences in dictionaries. Some of the stories are so good I hope Burrows will someday pick up on them and write chapter 2. My prompt today is to take your dictionary off the shelf and find a word, example sentence, or bizarre secondary definition and see where it takes you. Please share your first lines or concepts!