The Muse Works When You Do

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Hilma af Klint

I just spent the weekend in New York City.  Kara, one of my best friends/travel buddies, and I explored the shit outta that town.  We traipsed and Lyfted our way from Spanish-Italian cafe to French bistro to Korean small plates through Central Park, to the MoMa and Guggenheim, in search of great food, beer, coffee, art, ice cream, and pizza.

What always blows my mind about travel, beyond the obvious benefit of ‘seeing the world,’ is the doors it breaks down surrounding my creativity.  Which is an easier sentiment to have while listening to the Dark Side of the Moon and contemplating Hilma af Klint than sitting in my robe in my bed back home.  It’s a fleeting feeling I’m constantly yearning for, yet what I learned on this trip is creativity is not actually one fleeting moment.

Continue reading “The Muse Works When You Do”

Cry, Babe, Cry

At our last session with our therapist, my partner and I were challenged to cry with one another.  The therapist suggested we put on a sad film, and (1) feel in our body where the emotion of “sadness” starts, and (2) shed tears with one another.  We decided to watch This Is Us, a family drama tv show, one I had already watched before, and cried at on my own.  A tv show works well for us because we don’t have much relaxing time together.  Andy liked the first episode, and we both had a little tears, so we’re sticking with it and we’ll see where it goes from here…

But the day after that therapy session, I did a tarot spread for myself that I had found on Sammy’s blog, Spirit and Saga.  Her post talks about how her inability to cry led her to feeling stagnant creatively, and vice versa.  This peaked my interest, as while I am not feeling particularly stagnant creatively, I wondered how the release of my emotions could contribute to my creative productivity, and help me to write my novel.  She provided the following spread.

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The positions are:

  1. Block.  What’s in your flow’s way?  What is the root issue that blocks you from feeling?
  2. Action.  What action can you take to overcome this block?  What release work can you try now?
  3. Affirmation.  What advice does the Universe have for you?  What can you keep in mind while feeling and releasing?

My responses were pretty interesting, and are shown below.

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  1. Block.  Eight of Wands.  Well, this card isn’t one I would traditionally think as a blocking card.  This card is about forward action, it’s about movement, inertia, results.  And perhaps that is my exact downfall at this time.  I’m concerned with moving from place to place, solving the problem and moving on to the next.  I’m working on writing my novel, and sometimes that takes precedence over all things.  The warning inherent is this card is of being too aggressive, of ignoring the need for balance, of not sitting and settling with the emotional experience.  And I feel that is exactly the answer to this question.  As an Aquarius/swords-y person, I tend to brush over emotions.  A lesson that came in the next week after pulling this spread, is that it’s ok to sit with the hurting emotions, it’s ok for things to not be immediately perfect.  And I think this card here reflects that.
  2. Action.  Three of Wands.  This is kind of a weird card to me.  I almost feel as if it’s unnecessary, but when looking at in within the context of the two of wands and four of wands, it’s meaning is more clear.  Quite simply, this card is about growth and perspective.  It is the leverage that takes the dreams of the two of wands to the stable positioning of the four of wands.  Here, it tells me to take a step back, to look at the larger context of my emotional experience.  That larger context is, perhaps, how my emotional tides can affect my creative productivity.  In the Hudes Tarot (which is the deck I used here), the three of wands talks of looking inward for strength.  The woman pictured appears lost in thought, as she picks up the fallen wand.  While I believe inward contemplation is necessary, the three of wands in general has an expansive meaning, growing in potential and perspective so that I can contextualize my emotional experience.
  3. Affirmation.  Eight of Swords.  Another eight.  This card does not feel like an affirmation from the universe, it feels like a warning of what could happen if I don’t reel in the eight of wands energy from card one.  Though the eight of swords is basically a prison, it reaffirms to me that I can break out of it.  My emotions need not be a prison, my emotions need find a flow, a flow between emotion and expression, creatively and emotionally.

As if this spread didn’t give me enough food for thought, the same day I did this spread, I received a reading from Ashley over at Moon & Lioness, shown below.

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I asked her to read on my creative endeavor, my in-progress novel.  What struck me most about Ashley’s reading for me was the connection she drew between my relationship and my creative work (from the two of vessels mostly).  She wrote of finding a balance, of taking inspiration from my relationship.  She emphasized participation with my full heart in my life, and thus, in my novel.

That all of the fiery imagery in Ashley’s reading for me, and my own reading with the fiery wands, happened on the same day tells me that my creativity, my relationship, my emotions, my tears are inherently linked.  It tells me that what happens in one part of my life is inexorably linked to another part.  My emotions are not a prison, my emotions are part of the flow of creativity.  Such a big, morphing message to integrate into my practice!

What a day for all of these thoughts to ruminate!  Happy full moon and lunar eclipse in Aquarius, my friends.

Do you have any problems embracing your emotional flow?  What happened *when* you embraced your emotional flow?  How do you relate your emotions and creativity?  Have you every used Sammy’s spread (highly recommend!)?  Let me know in the comments.

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

 

The Conundrum of Creativity

I told myself the weekend would be for writing.  I told myself I’d find some time to actually put more than a couple hundred words on the page.  And, well, I certainly wish it was easy as declaring it so.  I wish this nurse knew what the heck a weekend is.  When you work nights, and get off of working three in a row, it can be a struggle to balance the free time…because I mostly just want to sleep, and my immediate waking hours are spent eating.

*sigh* anyway, my writing over the weekend was mostly in stolen moments.  But today I have a couple hours free for writing, and afterward I’ll do more research (meaning: reading and watching television, ha!).

If you Google “how to be a writer” (which, I must admit, I’ve done more times that I can count…), it comes up with lists and lists of tips.  Consistently, one such tip is to commit to writing each day.  Treat writing like a day job.  Set aside a space and time for writing.  That sounds easy enough!  And, that’s what I’ve based my writing rules for this project around (writing, a minimum, five minutes per day).

I do view writing as a day job in theory, but I also severely romanticize the idea of writing a novel.  This creates quite a conundrum in my head.  How am I supposed to sit down and dutifully write each day, inspired or not?  This very question is what has stopped me from expressing these characters on page, the characters that live and breathe and have a whole life in my mind.  The muse has come by, the idea has flourished, but the words are still inside.

The struggle that I’ve found in writing this novel in the past is that my momentum ebbs and flows.  That’s the conundrum of creativity, I keep telling myself.  Creativity is not always a present force.  It’s not always whispered plot points or the next line of dialogue.  And why should I expect it to be so?  Just as almost anything worth it’s salt requires commitment, so to does writing a novel.  A dull, time consuming, not very romantic commitment.

Another tip on such lists is that the beautiful writing comes in the revision process.  Some writers state that they’ve completely re-written a novel a number of times before it’s in it’s finalized state.  And I’m holding this tip close, because as I dutifully fulfill my commitment each day to this novel, I can’t help but groan in my heart about how shitty it is.  I feel like every other word is “said” and I can’t connect scene to scene in any inspiring way.

I felt the same way when I finished my NaNoWriMo novel in 2010.  Make no mistake, that novel was a piece of shit.  The idea was interesting, and I wrote 50,000+ words about it, but damn, when I re-read it that one time, I groaned the whole way through.  And I haven’t touched it since.  But, the encouraging point here is that, shitty or not, I wrote the whole damn thing.  And that’s really all I’m aiming for here.  Who knows what is going to happen when this story is finished.

Right now, it’s just getting the words on paper.  Right now, I need to continue to show up.  Later, it’ll be a pretty and nice story.

(I can already tell y’all I’ll be writing so much more on this idea as the writing progresses.  So stick with me!  And maybe groan along with me as this thing unfolds.)

What do you do when your creativity feels stagnant?  How do you talk yourself around, or into, the mundane side of creation?  Let me know in the comments.

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Making Time to Write

Welcome to a most mundane post!  But, as I want to plot and track this whole writing a novel journey, there will be mundane posts regarding organization and scheduling and all that great stuff!  I’m just hoping to keep all my thoughts in one place, for myself and, you know, posterity…

And so last night was my first day back to work after my trip.  For those of you who don’t know, I work nights (7 pm to 7 am) as a labor and delivery nurse.  The shifts are typically emotionally and physically exhausting, but I only work three shifts in a seven day stretch.  My unit tends to schedule us all three 12-hour shifts back to back, which is fine because it means I get more days off afterward.  When I work three 12s in a row, it’s work-sleep-eat-repeat.  And when I’m off those three in a row, I’m livin on a weird combo of night shift hours, attempting to adjust back to real people hours, and having no clue what day it is.  And, well, I can already tell you it’s going to be hard to find writing time between my twelve hour shifts.

Today, I’m in between two twelves.  I worked last night, got home this morning, hung out with my partner for a bit (won’t see him much in the next 24 hours because our schedules are so opposite and busy!), then went to sleep by 10 AM.  I slept until about 3 PM because, naturally, they are doing some major construction outside my apartment.  Still, I try to wake up a little early before a shift so that I can feel like an actual human being.  I walked to the local coffee shop and got an iced coffee, meditated, ate some food, and here I am.  Instead of writing my novel, I’m writing this blog post….hmm.

I can already tell this is going to be tough because my “creative process” isn’t the kind to just get down to business and produce something.  I like to go out to a coffee shop, browse Instagram, doodle, pay bills, organize, and, umm, not write immediately.  I was talking with my partner, and he suggested just getting in five good minutes of writing each day.  I love that idea!, even if it goes against my “process.”  But it requires a bit of planning, too.  In order to get in five good minutes of writing, I need to have a pre-meditated idea of where I want the story to go.

So here’s the plan… ten minutes of good writing time each day, in which I actually write for five minutes, and then plan for tomorrow’s writing for five minutes.  Sound fair?  That’s the plan for now.  Today is day three of this whole process, so let’s see how it goes.  Also — shoutout to Jessi Huntenburg for today’s Instagram post, shared below, on this conundrum.

💗This one’s for the #girlbosses , for the badass mamas who bust out their hustle to a chorus of requests to meet others’ needs. This is for ladies who work a full day only to come home and pursue their dreams into the wee hours of the night. This is for moms who work part time to save money on childcare, who work full-time because they have to or want to or who work from home while cooking, cleaning, and child-minding in between. This is for women who don’t let a sexist job market stop them from going after their due and who choose to stay home and raise their kids regardless of what the world might say about them. This is for any woman who’s doing her best to be her best self in this world–I salute you💗

It’s time to go after what I’m due.

What are you working on?  How do you schedule in creative time for yourself?  Let me know in the comments!

exploringly yours,
Alaina xx

Fertilization of Inspiration

I spent this last weekend with my mom in Denver, Colorado, visiting my sister who has lived out there for a couple of years.  The weather is hot and dry, and in Denver proper there aren’t any mountains — it’s basically a desert.  It’s a trendy city, with lots of healthy mid-thirty year olds and lots of gentrification.  We ate a ton of great food, and explored the area, and went to Red Rocks to see The Avett Brothers under the full moon.  That night was so hot and so clear, perfect for outdoor music.  We had a couple freak accidents and pitfalls and arguments — but, hey, family vacations am I right?  Overall, a great weekend away.  And, I don’t know what it was, but the whole time I was there I felt electrified with inspiration…

So, there are these characters and this story that I’ve been fleshed out in my head for literal years.  Like, since 2011, when I was in Austria and had nothing better to do than write and read and drink all day…with some occasional English teaching, I guess.  The story is in part inspired by a dream I had (that part I don’t remember too much any more), and I outlined and made notes and tried to write the whole thing a couple times, but no manuscript ever got finished.  In part, I blame the outlining and the planning because in November 2010, I did complete a novel, by the seat of my pants, for National Novel Writing Month so we know this is possible.

These scenes from this story are so planned out that I have them in my mind like memories.  These characters become more nuanced as I grow and change myself.  If you’re a writer, or daydreamer, or creative of any kind, I think you will know what I mean.  They are aching for their story, their year that I have in my mind, to be told.

What’s a girl to do?  In my year ahead forecast that I got from Benebell back in December 2016, she encouraged me repeatedly to manifest a writing project.  Hmm, I thought.  I wasn’t sure if this would be an old idea come back around, a fresh idea, or my tarot reading business (which certainly requires tons of writing!).  For a long time, I tormented myself with the idea of a fresh idea (yikes, just the ideas of ideas freak me out…), and, again, if you’re a creative of any kind I think you’ll know what I mean.  Benebell’s July card for me is the Tower, while my own card for myself is Death (in August followed, respectively, by the King of Wands reversed and Emperor, a stalker lately).  And while I find that predictive month-by-month cards don’t do much for me, to be honest, I feel these all mesh together so well when surrendering to a creative project, which may have to be explored in a separate blog post…

Now I feel I know what my writing project is, and I feel I know that I can complete this.  I feel like I have the first fertilization of inspiration to actually complete this story.  I don’t want to plan too much, or make strict rules for myself, but I do know I want to write, at least a little, each day.  And I want to share my progress with you all, here.  Probably not everyday, but more often than I’m blogging now (which…it’s been a while since I’ve been regular).  I’m not sure how much of the actual story details I’ll share, but I’m going to need all the continuing inspiration and support and ideas that I can handle to get this story out.

Day One | I need to water this little sprout of inspiration; it’s here, it’s seeded, now I need to do my part.  So, today, I went to the coffee shop and wrote this post.  I’ve written a couple hundred words for my story and intend to write, at least, a couple hundred more before my ukulele lesson this evening.  I write on my computer, because that is fastest for me, and I like watching my word count go up (it’s the little things).  As it stands, I’m starting from the same point that I’ve always started this story, but who knows if that’s how it’ll stay.

Are you a writer, daydreamer, or some kind of creative?  Have you ever written fiction?  A short story?  A long story?  What about non-fiction?  Do you write with pen and paper or the computer?  Tell me allll about it in the comments!

exploringly yours,
Alaina xx