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

Thoughts on the Ten of Pentacles

Hey all, welcome to Exploringly Yours for International Tarot Day Blog Hop.  I’m giving you a peak into the ten of pentacles, and I hope you enjoy.  Keep scrolling for three perspectives, a spread, and a recipe.  At the end, you’ll find the links to the previous and next cards in the tarot!

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If I had to pick one word for the ten of pentacles, it would be “cozy.”  This card is a promise of fulfillment, of comfort — and for creatures of comfort like myself, I can fully appreciate it.  You know that feeling of coming home to loved ones — be it cat, dog, parents, partner, children — to a warm meal, putting on your pajamas and chilling on the couch?  Yeah that’s this card.

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Different interpretations tease out different elements of this card.  The traditional Rider-Waite-Smith card portrays the promise, while showing what is inside and what is outside.  You get both perspectives in this card.  Which are you?  Are you the seeker, looking for your comfort, or are you in it and you need the reminder to look around and appreciate it?  This version leaves the message up to the reader, and what fits at the time.

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Two of my favorite versions of this card are from the Slow Holler Tarot and the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot.  The ten of stones in the Slow Holler Tarot capitalizes on lineage and survival.  It’s obvious in this version that extreme comfort is paramount, and I don’t mean this in a superficial way.  I mean comfort in the sense that you soul feels right at home and delights in the family that you land in, either the one that you were born into, or the one that you have created for yourself.  This card is like a lemniscate: it encourages us to remember that this isn’t a one way street — what we nourish, nourishes others, and in turn comes back to us.

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The ten of pentacles from the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot focuses on the familial unit.  This card calls to mind the collective, as opposed to the individual.  It asks us to imagine future generations, to see, in our mind’s eye, our legacy, our bloodline, extending out before us.  We aren’t alone in this earth journey.  What we do each day creates ripples, and to feel at home requires us to acknowledge that we do not exist in a vacuum.

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Do you want to further explore the ten of pentacles energy?  Try this straight forward spread in order to begin that exploration.

  1. How can I bring more of the ten of pentacles energy into my life?
  2. What promise does the ten of pentacles hold?
  3. What do I need to release to fully embrace the ten of pentacles?

Finally, one of my favorite recipes for coming home to and consuming with a loved one.  It’s adapted from The Muffin Myth, but I make it in the crock pot and it’s super easy.  It’s called mung bean coconut curry, and it’s deliciously spicy and chunky.  I make a huge double batch and have leftovers for the week and for the freezer.  I mostly cook by eyeballing spices, but I can tell you the more the better with this, and be generous with the salt otherwise it’ll all be too astringent.  Mix all the ingredients together in the crockpot, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Keep an eye on it in the first two hours to add more water as needed, or just go ahead and add more water to begin with.  I like mine chunky so I prefer to add water as I go.  Serve over white rice with sriracha and you’ll be in heaven.

  • Some oil
  • Cumin powder, freshly grated ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, sea salt, cayenne pepper
  • approximately 9 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2- 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 2-3 cups dry mung beans, picked over for stones and well rinsed
  • 2 can coconut milk (I prefer full fat, but light will work too)
  • Juice of 1-2 limes

Click here to go back and read about the nine of pentacles on Charlotte Eléa’s blog, and click here to read Nicholas Dewart’s thoughts on the page of pentacles.

What do you think about the ten of pentacles?  Do you have any strong connections with this card?  No connections with this card?  Let me know in the comments!

exploringly yours,
Alaina xx

Tarot Thursday Three: March 16, 2017

Another week, another….Friday?  Seems I’m in a pattern to miss #tarotthursdaythree on actual Thursdays…  But that’s ok, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, so this is a holiday edition as well.  Enjoy!

1.  Classic deserted island scenario: You’re stranded for a year on an island, but can bring along one companion.  Who from the court family keeps you company?

Oh snap — reading other’s answers, the Fool kind of popped in to my mind.  Like, he has this wild, free, careless energy that would keep me motivated and entertained (and, intermittently, completely annoyed) during our year of exile.  BUT then I read the question again and it said court family *duh*.  Hmm.  Who makes a good friend to the Queen of Swords (me)?  The most similar energy, I believe, to the Fool in the court is the Page of Wands.  So now I’m thinking about Lost; have you seen the show?  It was the first TV show that I was totally obsessed with in high school and college.  It’s about an airplane that goes down on an island and the survivor’s existence there.  Of course, that’s not all it’s about but that’s a decent one sentence summary.  Kate, similar to the Queen of Swords, is the character that I identify with, and she has two men that keep her entertained (heh) and fuel her will to survive.  One, Jack, is kind of the King of Pentacles: he’s got his shit together (kinda) and is the classic leader figure.  The other, Sawyer, is the “bad boy,” full of kinetic, crazy energy (that he eventually tempers, to a point), but he is similar to the Page of Wands.  I think the Page of Wands/Sawyer would be able to help me not murder myself (literally) while stranded on a desert island and would be resourceful enough to keep us alive for a year.  As long as it’s ONLY a year…….

2.  What are off-limit topics for you; inquiries that make you say “I won’t go there”?  Or is anything fair game?

Hmmm.  I haven’t specifically outlined topics I “won’t touch” but others’ answers were really good here (and that’s probably because most seekers have asked me for general guidance, nothing too specific or crazy).  In my “terms of service,” I’ve outlined clearly that the insight and inspiration my readings afford do not replace the advice of a professional in any field.  If someone comes to me for a reading and doesn’t know how to formulate a good tarot question, I’ll help them form a good open ended question that will get the energetic read of a situation and that I feel comfortable answering with the cards.

3.  How do you get “in the mood” or mind-frame to read?

In the mood, awww yeah.  It kinda depends.  I love to light incense, meditate for about 5-10 minutes before a session (lately, while listening to classical music), cleanse with palo santo or sage and Florida Water; this is my general routine.  But, sometimes that just feels like too much and too formal so I just grab a beer and shuffle.  Really, shuffling is the primary activity that focuses me and gets me in the groove.  As described before, my standard shuffling ritual is somewhat in depth — I shuffle the whole deck nine times, then split into three piles, shuffle each pile nine times, then shuffle the whole deck nine times, and shuffling the whole deck nine times between each card position.  I perform this shuffling ritual always between clients (the only thing I consistently do for each client) because it helps to center me on the querent/query and reset the deck (in my opinion).  So I guess my final answers is: I shuffle.

Here are other posts from this week that I’ve seen…

Ania

Julia

Jill

Rachel

Who would you bring on a desert island that wouldn’t make you go crazy?  What topics make you cringe?  What gets you in the mood, baby?  Let me know your answers in the comments below, or link me to your post!

exploringly yours,
Alaina x