Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Thrift and Character Development

July 23, 2018

Noah Longshore, my dad’s father, supported a wife and four sons as a coal miner during the Depression. What he didn’t know about thrift from being the youngest of twelve children, he learned in the ’30s, and the lesson stuck. He journaled throughout his life, but would be mindful of the paper.

Lani Longshore Noah's diary

Noah’s diary

This page contains entries from four different years. Noah would use the same journal until most of the pages were full. Reading his diary was a completely new experience for me, since I am used to seeing only one year at a time. I wondered how much of what he wrote on any given day was shaped by what he had written the year before, or the year before that.

Then I wondered if this might not be a fabulous technique for character development. What does it tell you about your character if he saves paper as if it were a treasure (which, of course, it is)? What does it tell you about your character that he can review his life in chunks if he so chooses? What questions would it answer about your character if you put together three (or more) events spaced over several years on one page? Let me know if you find the idea intriguing.

Chiura Obata and My Fabric Stash

July 18, 2018

I have no problem choosing a book by its cover, such as Chiura Obata: An American Modern by ShiPu Wang. The cover is a watercolor of the Grand Canyon. It spoke to me because I have fabric in my stash that matches those colors and textures.

Art doesn’t have to match my fabric collection to intrigue me, but it certainly helps. Here is another watercolor that I adore.

This piece cries out to be translated into beads and embroidery.

Obata was born in Japan in 1885 and moved to California as a young man. He died in Berkeley in 1975, having lived through two world wars and the Japanese internment in this country. Neither his fame as a graphic artist nor his teaching position in Berkeley spared Obata from three years imprisonment in a camp in Utah. He set up art classes while in the camp, continuing to produce drawings and paintings despite the injustice of his circumstances. His art is poignant, soothing, and – when you know his story – incredibly optimistic. He is just the role model I could use when life becomes overwhelming.

Luck and wisdom!

Inspiration Prompt #4

July 16, 2018

Neither my computer nor any of my electronic devices are working today. I am writing on a borrowed device, which is always scary. My prompt today is to describe fear. When I was training for my first black belt test, I wrote terror haiku. If poetry doesn’t work for you, use what does (except for scribbling on the wall with permanent marker – that creates a whole other level of anxiety).

Lani Longshore nail file

When I finish chewing my nails, I will need this file.

Design Dilemma

July 11, 2018

As much as I love to quilt, I’m not great at coming up with quilting designs. I’ve got stacks of books, templates, and examples, but they don’t always answer the question, “What does this quilt need?”

What to do with the white space beyond the blue border?

This quilt has been sitting in a stack for years because I don’t know what I want to do with all that white space. Also, I don’t know how I want to mark it since (A) I hate marking and (B) I don’t want to discover I’ve made a mistake and have to try to erase whatever marks I’ve made. It’s real easy to push the quilt to the back of the closet when I have not only a design dilemma but a technical dilemma.

A Styrofoam cup makes a great canvas

One of my friends suggested I grab a pencil and let a quilt design flow from my fingers with a doodle. As the above photo demonstrates, I doodle on everything. Doodling is not the problem – choosing is the problem. So, I’m opening the floor to you. Any suggestions?

Luck and wisdom!

Inspiration Prompt #3

July 9, 2018

Gizmos are great

I love gizmos like the item pictured above. This one has a compass, magnifying glass, ruler, straight edge, curved edge, and long cord for hanging around your neck or on a pack. What kind of person would need such a multi-tasker? What kind of person would think of cramming so many tools into one small object? When I start building worlds for my science fiction stories, I have to create the tool as well as the society that makes it, and I often start with things available here, but not ones that I normally use. Your prompt is to imagine a tool your character would need, using the item above as a starting point, and build the world of your story around it.

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!

Inspiration Prompt 1

June 25, 2018

We inherited this clock from our daughter. We had been storing it (and some of her other possessions) ln case she decided she wanted it later, but she said she was ready to let it go, so we are using it now. The notion of inheriting things from your children has me wondering if I can write a story about a clock that travels backwards in time. That got me thinking about other visual prompts I could present. After I came up with a second idea, I said, “Self, use these for a blog series.” So, for as long as I can find something in or around the house, that’s what I’ll do. Share your first line if this inspires you!Lani Longshore clock

Collaborative Writing

April 30, 2018

My co-author for the Chenille series, Ann Anastasio, moved to another state years ago. That has made collaborative writing difficult, but not impossible. Last week we got together and talked about the plot for The Captain and Chenille. Within half an hour we had ironed out some nagging issues and added layers to the main characters. That is the benefit of bouncing ideas off other people. You may not want to write an entire novel with someone else, but do yourself a favor and find a person or group that will invest in you (as you, of course, will invest in that person or group). Record the session if you can’t take notes quickly enough. The ideas that start swimming around the room may not end up in your current project, but chances are you’ll find a way to use them somewhere, sometime.

I did some recording, not of our ideas, but of Ann reading from The Chenille Ultimatum. It’s under a minute – enjoy!

 

Small Quilts, Large Stacks

March 21, 2018

My quilt guild’s year-long challenge to get things done is working. I finished the project due next month. It’s a small quilt, but it was on a large stack of projects so making any kind of a dent in that pile is a victory.

Trees in my neighborhood – palm, pine, deciduous

In the interest of full disclosure, I will probably add more beads to the quilt at a later date, but for now I’m satisfied with this one embellishment.

While I was inspired, I made a few more small quilts. This one is called Equilibrium, in honor of spring, which is today.

Not pastels, but still a spring quilt

I also finished one of the blocks from the Peggy Martin workshop for the Display Block Committee of Amador Valley Quilters. The guild has a collection of 16-inch blocks that we can show at schools, libraries, or other events.

Seeing all the progress in my sewing room made me take another look at the stacks by my computer. I have almost as many writing projects as I do quilting projects. As with my quilting, I envisioned creating a body of work that I could submit for contests. That didn’t happen. As with quilting, when those Call For Entry emails arrive they are usually accompanied by guidelines. I’ve tried writing artist statements that would convince a panel the quilt I had really does fit the contest, but those statements rarely made sense even to me so I knew a judge wouldn’t buy it. There’s even less wiggle room with writing contests. That’s why I’m going to start posting twice a week now–once for quilting, once for writing. Wednesdays will still be quilting day. I’m not sure which day will be writing day, but I’m leaning toward Monday. Now that I’ve put my intentions out to the universe, I have to be accountable. I’m putting myself on the journey to finishing what I start in all aspects of my life.

Luck and wisdom!

Cityscape in Felt

February 28, 2018

The last Challenge Group project was to take a piece of art and mess with it. I pulled out my art books, looking for inspiration, and found it in a Howard Behrens cityscape of San Francisco. I messed with the concept by putting it on felt. This is what started my journey.

From a book of Behrens’ work – a street in San Francisco

This is what I got after stripping together some scraps that didn’t always match Behrens’ colors but suggested buildings to me.

A street, an ocean, a sky

I put the pieced work on felt because the felt was there and I thought I could see if I liked the idea of matting the pieced section. Then I thought, “Self, leave it on the felt and do some embroidery. Pretend it’s a crazy quilt and see where it leads you.” This is what I’ve done so far.

This may turn out to be one of those never-ending story quilts. I’ve added a few lines of embroidery, let it rest a day or two, added a few more. As I dig through my floss and specialty thread collection, I have been inspired to push the design in a different direction. Who knows what it will look like when it is closer to done?

Luck and wisdom!