My muse is a tease

My muse has been distracting me this week. I have been teased with images of exotic locales that want to be settings in new stories. This happens to me every time I open my mind up to creating, which is what I have been doing this week. Suddenly I am teased by random pieces of inspiration whether they be, images, words, articles, media – you name it but the doors to inspiration are wide open.

I read an article today that says the average brain has 12 000 thoughts every day and it can run to having up to 60 000 thoughts a day. This does not come as a surprise. Our brains are always off on tangents even when and especially when we are supposed to be concentrating and working. I know mine is.

People always want to know where story ideas come from. It is the no. 1 question that readers like to ask writers and even writers like to ask other writers. My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, the ordinary, the mundane, the strange and the extraordinary. I have had ideas come to me in vivid dreams. I have heard something on the radio, watched something on television or read something and it has sparked an idea. But the main thing that always starts me on the scent of a new story is: What if? I love teasing out the answers to that mysterious question.

I am lucky enough that I am never short of story ideas. I have two huge lever arch files of story ideas and story inspirations. But the annoying part is that my story ideas come to me while I am working on another current story idea. They never wait their turn politely. Unfortunately too I have a low patience meter so the minute a new idea comes to me I really, really want to drop everything and play with the new idea.

Is this wrong? Should I rather ignore it?

No, ignoring it does not make it go away instead just the opposite. If I actively try to ignore the new story idea, I can think of nothing else. Believe me I know this from experience. Even if I fill my waking hours with work and distraction, the idea will enter my sleep. It tugs at me constantly.

So I have now learnt that the most effective way to deal with new story ideas, to quieten their cries of need just long enough to hear myself think is to write them down and then file them. This way they feel acknowledged and don’t take their creative anger out on me or my sleep. Instead after writing the idea down, I can get to work on the story I am meant to be working on and that new idea has a chance to percolate in the to-be-done file of my imagination.

  • Pinterest is a fantastic tool to accomplish this. I can pin an image from the post that caught my attention and that way I can go back to that article when I am ready to play with it. Pinterest is also fantastic if you are more a visual thinker than a verbal thinker.
  • Evernote is fantastic for quick note taking/idea filing. I have the application downloaded onto both my laptop and my iPod so that even if I get an idea from a dram I can roll over, pick up my iPod and without turning on the light type in the note.
  • Then I also have my trusty Moleskine notebooks: I have a bright green version for my new story ideas and a deep blue one for my current WIPs. (Any excuse to buy more stationery 😉 )

I am truly thankful for an abundance of story ideas but I need to teach my muse to be more disciplined and to wait his turn in bringing me the ideas. But it is a catch-22 because I would hate to get to the spot that I don’t get ideas any more. So for this week, I have shelved the new story idea (it is a very tantalizing one) to percolate and see what comes of it.

Now it is back to work on the stories that need to be written and worked on.

Do you find you have too many ideas clamoring for attention?

How do you handle the new ideas that you just don’t have the time for?

Where have your ideas come from?

Go wandering… Get lost a little…

Are you ready to lose the map?

I love road trips. Always have. It started when I was a babe in my mother’s arms and the minute the vehicle started I was in “happy-land”. I love road trips with no clear destination in mind. You know, those times when you get in the vehicle and just drive following the road as your only map. Travelling fuels my sense of adventure, exploration and discovering the great unknown. The best adventures don’t usually happen on the main highway. They usually happen when you take that pothole-ridden abandoned side-road. There’s a sense of risk maybe even danger. Your adrenaline is fizzing through your bloodstream. Anything can happen. It might not all be good but it will be an adventure.

So what’s road trips got to do with this post. Everything. To get very profound, life is a road trip: unpredictable, risky, mapless, pitstops unknown, destination murky and a complete adventure. But this is not a post on the profound meaning of life. That is for another day. This is a post about writing, story, creativity and inspiration.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost

Writing both as a vocation and the act of writing individual stories is a lot like a road trip. As a writer, words are my vehicle and inspiration is my driver and gritting-your-teeth-clenching-your-knuckles persistence is the fuel that makes this trip possible. With writing even if I start with a map, I usually tend to veer off the main road and take that tempting side-road. Sometimes these side-roads turn out to be dead ends or cliff tops but the beauty of a vehicle is that it reverses as well so I can always turn back. But more often than not these side-roads tend to give me nuggets of pure gold. They give me the little twist in the tail in my plot, they work out that ugly knot you may have written yourself into and sometimes they change your whole plot into something even better.

I am on just such an adventure right now with my two WIPs. One of them is in the final drafting stage and the other is new and shiny and keeps on catching my eye. I had a map with the first WIP, all neatly outlined. But something was not working, some magic was missing. So I figured the map was holding me back. I threw the map away, refueled with some gritty persistence and took the pitted side road. I am about 2/3 way through edits and the characters are driving it. I stopped thinking and directing so much and just let them take the wheel. It does mean that Book 2 is going to change a little from the original map but that is the beauty of a side-road: Change. When you edit a draft, you need to tear it apart, change it up, stretch it thin and then do it again. You have to get brutal with your plot and you have to get brutal with your ego. You have to buckle up and just keep going, hold on through the rocky patches and speed wobbles but stay in the driver’s seat.

As for my new and shiny WIP, this one is going to be a road-trip completely off the map and off the highway. My creative synapses are sparking off major electric sparks of excitement. The story is gritty, the characters are raw and I am ready for this road trip. I am also ready for a new adventure. I do love the final draft WIP but I know what happens on that road trip, I have seen the destination in the distance. This new WIP is a trip into the unknown but so far the landscape is stripped down to that raw and natural beauty you find in a vast desert where the horizon seems endless. It is just the beginning of this story’s road trip and I have already thrown the map away. I am ready for the adventures these characters are going to take me on. My adrenaline is buzzing.

So what about you?

Do you love road trips?

Are you one of those people who has to have a map and navigator?

Are you ready to lose the map and get lost?

Have you ever found you had to change up the whole plot of your story, you had to get muddled to get found?

Always extra room in my closet for some…Dress me Inspiration

“Fashion is as profound and critical a part of the social life of man as sex, and is made up of the same ambivalent mixture of irresistible urges and inevitable taboos.” – Rene Konig

I know that I have been lax in posting on the blogs but hopefully this post of inspiration will make up for it. Though I am a writer and should be more focused on words than anything else, I am also a very visual person. I have spoken before about how I create vision boards for each of my WIPs and even for future works. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but for me one picture can spark off a whole manuscript. One of my favourite forms of vision boards are when I find clothing for my characters. I never need an excuse to stroll through fashion magazines/sites but when I can mark it off as “work” in research, the satisfaction is doubled.

"Everything you own should have value, either because it's functional or beautiful or you just love it."-- Peter Walsh

A week ago I was invited to sign up to a new social network: Pinterest. I had heard about it for a while beforehand and had even had friends who signed up but I resisted the lure of another social network. The resistance proved futile and my curiosity finally won out. I wanted to know what all the cool “kids” were on about. I wanted to be in on the secret too. So a friend kindly invited me (like most deliciously secretive societies, Pinterest membership is by invite/request for the time being) to Pinterest and within a few moments I was in and had my own Pinterest boards.

 “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” – Yves Saint Laurent

Pinterest is fantastic for a person like me who is a vision board junkie. It is set up much like a regular cork board vision board you would set up at home. You create all these boards, title them, describe them and then you “pin” your interesting images, either your own from your computer’s drive or pinned/linked from other online sites. The great thing with Pinterest is that the original creator of the image is credited and you also have the original link from where you found the image in the first place. This cuts down on your web-browser bookmarks and keeps all your visual inspiration in one tidy place.

” ‘Style’ is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style.”           – John Fairchild

So here for example is my Pinterest board for my current WIP trilogy – The Curse`d. So on this board I have a few of the images that I have used for inspiration for my WIP, whether it be settings, culture types, clothing and characters.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” – Coco Chanel

Which brings me to CLOTHING and STYLE. Two of my favourite interests but also vital to a story. I don’t know about you, but if I can picture the characters the way they are dressed it really gives me a picture in my mind. The type of clothing worn by some characters can tell me much about who they are. It also tells me when and where the story is set. Clothing/Style of characters can tell me about whether the character is a businessman/woman, a lady/man of leisure, a woman/man of action and it can also tell me what the character wants me to know about them. Clothing can also be symbolic of a character’s emotions. Memorable outfits by literary characters/film characters come to mind at the drop of a hat and we can recall the stories behind these outfits. Think of the green dress in Atonement or the fire dress in The Hunger Games. Clothing can make a character stand out from all the others. In a sense the fashions in a novel are characters in and of themselves.

 “Fashion is born by small facts, trends, or even politics, never by trying to make little pleats and furbelows, by trinkets, by clothes easy to copy, or by the shortening or lengthening of a skirt.” – Elsa Schiaparelli

I love the societies that my current trilogy is set in: a mix of contemporary urban, early Victorian society and Romany Gypsies. The inspiration for the clothing is almost limitless. You have the exquisite formality of the Victorian era, the romanticism of the Romany Gypsy culture and the simplicity and understated sexiness of the urban-contemporary.

“What I really love about them… is the fact that they contain someone’s personal history…I find myself wondering about their lives. I can never look at a garment… without thinking about the woman who owned it. How old was she? Did she work? Was she married? Was she happy?… I look at these exquisite shoes, and I imagine the woman who owned them rising out of them or kissing someone…I look at a little hat like this, I lift up the veil, and I try to imagine the face beneath it… When you buy a piece of vintage clothing you’re not just buying the fabric and thread – you’re buying a piece of someone’s past.” – Isabel Wolff

So here for your pleasure are some style/clothing images that have been the inspiration behind my WIP.

This is the inspiration for one of my MCs.

This dress is the dress that my MC will mean in a key moment in her story.

This is another key piece worn by my MC later in her story.

The inspiration for the debonair man who catches my MC’s eye and heart.

This is inspiration for my second MC but later in the trilogy.

This is my inspiration for my hero.

This is inspiration for my second MC.

Writers: What do you use for fashion inspiration in your novels?

Readers: What are your favourite outfits from the pages of fiction?

 

What lies beneath the surface?

You are pulled from a deep sleep, your heart racing. What woke you? The night is dead with silence. Your eyes glance at the bedside clock: 3:oo am flashes at you in neon green. They call it the Witching Hour. I call it my hour of secret dread. Every tale ever heard about bogeymen, ghosts, poltergeists, knife wielding masked burglars rushes through my brain. What was that? Did I see a shadow or did my eyes just make that up? Why is the curtain moving when the windows are closed? That door is opening…

You are visiting a new friend. Something tugs at your thoughts as you knock on the front door. You wonder where this sense of memory stirs from. The door is answered. You know what she is going to say before she says it. You know what the entrance hallway is going to look like. You have been in this house. Before. The whole visit spins out before you echoing your memory. But this is the first time you have walked into this house. Isn’t it? De’ja`vu. Hindsight or foresight?

Footsteps in an empty house. Inexplicable sounds and smells. Shadows in doorways. Objects being moved. Someone watches you. You turn around, there is nobody there. Someone follows you. You feel a breath on the back of your neck that raises all the hairs on your neck. A terrible foreboding of danger.

What lies beneath the surface of your 5 senses?

Whether you are superstitious or cynical, we all have a 6th sense. This is the sense that warns you of dangers you cannot expect. This is the sense that makes sense of the impossible, the illogical, the supernatural. This is the sense on high alert at those eerie hours when the night is the most silent and it is the darkest and coldest hours before dawn. This is the sense that makes you turn around and look for the watcher, the stalker, the hunter when you know you are alone but someone or something is following you. This is the sense that you experience when “someone walks over your grave” and a shiver down the spine shakes the bones in your body. This is the sense that you tap into when something strange is suddenly inexplicably familiar. This is the sense you tap into when you walk into a house and know within your bones that though you are alone, you are not the only person in the house.

This is why I write the stories I write. I have always had a strong 6th sense. Those closest to me have been known to be freaked out by my 6th sense. I have seen ghosts. I have spoken to ghosts. I have warned ghosts away. I have dreams of future events that always spell danger or threats with an uncanny way of coming true. It has got to the point that loved ones do not want me to tell them if I dream of them. I have innumerable events of de’ja`vu. I can see through social masks of strangers and judge their characters accurately within minutes of meeting them. This strong 6th sense is something I have alternately loved and hated all my life. It saved a friend and I from the clutches of a serial paedophile/killer. It saved my father from being strangled by a vengeful ghost. When it comes now, I listen. It has never been wrong. But now I accept it as part of me. These are not stories. They are inexplicable events that have happened.

But this 6th sense, this sense of the eerie supernatural and inexplicable paranormal has always fascinated me. Whether one believes in ghosts or other supernatural/paranormal beings, there are many things in life that seem to lie “beneath the surface” of what we know or can explain. You may believe a house is just a house. But sometimes there are things left over, a sense of people and emotions that your rational brain just cannot explain. There are too many things/events that happen that overwhelm the rational brain but the evidence is too strong to be in complete denial.

I love exploring what “lies beneath the surface”. It is about digging beneath the layers of the inexplicable and allowing your 6th sense to guide your other 5 senses. These are the questions that fill my stories: What is the sense of de’ja`vu really? What is that 6th sense of danger, of knowing/feeling someone’s eyes on you even when you are alone? What is the meaning behind dreams? How can you tell whether a person has good or evil intentions with no known proof except a “feeling”?

As children this 6th sense is undisputed and accepted. But when people (usually adults we trust) start telling us we are just “imagining” it, we doubt ourselves. We start doubting the innate ability that we all have that taps into our survival skills. We start “growing up” and decide it was all just child’s play. But was it? Even the most cynical adults do get glimpses of this 6th sense throughout our lives and more often than not, this usually is re-activated by events/people/objects that put us in danger and we tap into our base survival skills. This is why I write the stories I do and even read the stories I do. Stories where someone’s life is put in danger through natural and/or supernatural means have a heightened sense of this 6th sense.

Adults have a lot to answer for. We tell a child they can do anything but they cannot think or feel what they think or feel if it does not fit into a rational acceptable explanation. Are we helping them grow up or are we stunting their innate abilities and gifts not to mention imagination?

What is imagination after all? What is so childish or illogical about imagination?

If a man had not imagined flying there would be no aeroplanes – something we now take for granted to get around this global community. If a man had not imagined there was land beyond the seas he could see in all direction, most of this planet would be undiscovered.

Talking to the cynic in those of us over the age of five…

  • Are you willing to suspend your rational beliefs when faced with something you can’t explain? 
  • Are you willing to admit that life is full of inexplicable matter “beneath the surface”? 
  • Does everything have to be tied up in a tight, neat box of explanation wrapped in a tidy bow of rationality? 
  • Are you willing to ask: What if? 
  • Are you willing to admit you cannot explain everything? 
  • Should you want to explain everything? 
  • Isn’t that the beauty of life: it’s mystery and unpredictability?

Trust that 6th sense. Explore the de’ja`vu. Trust yourself. Open your mind and open your eyes. Unleash the childlike belief you were born with. Life is full of inexplicable mystery.

The joy is not in having all the right answers but in discovering the right questions.

 

I can sleep when I am dead…

…this…according to my internal clock (life of an insomniac) and the alarm clock that is my Muse (life of a writer)…motto of story = Drink more coffee!

Sleep is over-rated anyway…No seriously, before you lecture me on the importance of sleep, I rate sleep highly especially because it tends to elude me. Main reason # 1: I am an insomniac, irrefutable, incurable. Believe me I have tried everything from acupuncture to sleeping pills to sleeping herbs to lavender sachets on pillows to silk eye masks to white noise machines. I have just learned to accept that about myself. Reason # 2: My mind does not switch off…I can lie in bed for hours with my eyes closed and still sleep does not arrive. I think I need to send a “redirect all mail” to the Sandman as he has obvious issues with getting to me in time each night. Reason # 3: (and the reason that led me to writing this post) My muse drags me out from my sleep-starved state, usually just as I have finally fallen asleep, at the craziest hours with the best ideas and sometimes if I am lucky enough with the best scenes.

Funnily enough I can be sitting in front of the computer all day waiting for inspiration to strike and nothing happens. But come the hour between 3 -4 am and he won’t shut up. But don’t get me wrong I am not complaining. Thank goodness my Muse won’t shut up. But just once it would be nice if he kept human hours not cat hours. Now you can see why this blog is called “Wrestling the Muse”: He is usually trying to drag me kicking and screaming from a very sleep-starved state and I am usually wrestling to get back to sleep. Who wins? The Muse. Sorry Sandman. But my writerly Muse trumps you every time and kicks your butt to the curb…sleeping dust or no sleeping dust.

This was the scene in my bedroom this morning at about 4.45am. I know this was the time because when I was dragged from my sleep (which had only arrived at 3.15am) I looked at the clock to see if I had actually made it to past sunrise which my aching mental muscles prodded me into denying. What dragged me from sleep? My Muse and the first scene of my new WIP. I saw the scene as clear as if I watching it on a high-definition 3d cinematic screen. For about a minute I wrestled with my Muse and gambled whether if I rolled over and ignored it, I would be able to remember it when I woke up after sunrise. But the wrestling did not last long as I knew the gamble would come with the higher risk of me not remembering what I had seen. So without switching on the light, I grabbed my iPod touch and logged into my Evernote app (Not just a name-dropping plug…This app is amazing! My favourite note-taking/note-syncing app – seriously you should try it out!) and wrote exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye. I barely knew what I was writing as I was still in a 1/2 sleep/wake state. Then I rolled over and fell exhaustedly into sleep again. When I woke the second time this morning (this time after sunrise) I had the next 2 scenes ready to write as well. The Muse’s prodding was so strong that instead of my usual dreamless sleep I fell straight back into the scenes of my WIP.

So now I sit with the first three scenes, two new characters and very little sleep. But I am not tired. Instead I am high on adrenaline. The exact same way I get when watching a scary movie or after rigorous exercise is how I am feeling right now. It is early afternoon now and I am buzzing with adrenaline, excitement and anticipation. To be honest, the scenes that I dreamt were not how I was planning on starting the WIP. I had a total other beginning in mind or rather my conscious mind had another plan entirely. But my Muse / my Sub-conscious knew better this time. This beginning, coming from the depths of a sleep-starved mind is much stronger and more visceral in intensity than what I had planned in my conscious awake state.

Perhaps there is something to that scientifically speaking…Perhaps because our subconscious mind knows no inhibitions nor any doubts, what comes from these sleep-starved states is more pure and real than what we can plan in our wake states. Perhaps also it is because our conscious editor is not active in our sub-conscious self. We are only creative and instinctual creatures in this raw, sub-conscious state. Perhaps writers are all just lucid dreamers more in touch with listening to our subconscious selves. Perhaps we need to not fight our subconscious creative instincts with our conscious plans.

For me, as much as I can plan a story or plot a pathway on a map for my characters, rarely does my story or my characters stay on the path. I tend to always “colour outside the lines” and my best writing comes from these early morning wrestlings with my Muse. Funnily enough new stories always arrive when I am busy with another story. They never wait their turn. But then again I will take that over “searching and not finding” inspiration any day.

So on second thought I won’t send a complaint to the Sandman for missing my address yet again. Instead I am thankful for wrestling with my muse whether it be at pre-dawn or post-sunrise. I know the real problems will start when I am no longer being dragged from my sleep to write down that fleeting piece of inspiration, that one of a kind sentence or that crucial scene.

>>What about you? Are you often dragged out of sleep to write down that idea? How many ideas have you lost the tail end of because you rolled over and chose sleep over inspiration? Do your ideas for new stories wait their turns for you to finish the current WIP? Are we just slaves to our inspiration and creativity? Well as long as my inspiration / creativity / imagination/ sub-conscious / Muse keeps my notepad full of ideas and my stories full of new scenes than I am happy to be a slave to it. Anyway…I can sleep when I am dead.<<

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
― Ray Bradbury

2012 ~ I CHOOSE to DANCE for JOY…What do you choose for 2012?

For the last 2 years I have made a resolution not to make new year’s resolutions that I would end up breaking…

But…

Instead I find a New Word of the Year that I set about to define my year…

Elizabeth is living her lifelong dream –adventuring in Italy, India and Bali.  As the scene opens, she is engaged in a conversation with her Italian friend, Giulio:  “Giulio asked me what I thought of Rome.  I told him I really loved the place, of course, but somehow knew it was not my city, not where I’d end up living for the rest of my life.  There was something about Rome that didn’t belong to me, and I couldn’t quite figure out what it was…”  “Giulio said, ‘Maybe you and Rome just have different words.’  “What do you mean?”  Then he went on to explain, that every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there…”  “Giulio asked, ‘What’s the word in New York City?’  I thought about this for a moment, then decided.  “It’s a verb, of course.  I think it’s ACHIEVE.  (Which is subtly but significantly different from the word in LA which is also a verb:  SUCCEED.  ….”  Giulio asked, ‘What’s your word?’ “ – Eat,Pray,Love > Elizabeth Gilbert

So here I am…third year into the Word Resolution and welcoming 2012…

So if you battle to keep New Year’s Resolutions…

Try to focus in on one word that you want to define your year in 2012…

What’s your Word?

These were my words for the last 2 years…

My word of 2011

My word of 2010 was Renew

So…What’s the next word?

Click on Joy to find out why Joy is a Choice…

In 2012 I CHOOSE to DANCE for JOY

Dancing for Joy ~ Dance when you’re broken open… Dance when you’re perfectly free. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding. -Rumi, trans. by Coleman Barks

I am interviewed for #SunStoppedShining Blog Tour

I am featured on Johanna K Pitcairn’s “The Manicheans” Blog

Click the above  to find out what we talk about.

 

 

Liebster Blog Award | All loved up

Feeling all Loved up today with “That loving feeling”…

It has been a miserable week this week as I have been bearing up through a 3day migraine attack…so it was a lovely and welcome surprise to be nominated for a blog award this morning. A message came through on my iPod touch from StrawberryIndigo (the nomination post) nominating me for a blog award. I will aspire to uphold this award as I continue “Wrestling the Muse”.

The award is given to blogs with followers of less than 200 who are deemed worthy of nomination because their blog has wowed the award nominator. Here is what StrawberryIndigo had to say about this blog:

Wrestling the muse

A well-written blog, professional looking and pleasing to the eye.

StrawberryIndigo is a blogger who believes in living Life in Colour, so much so that she has titled her blog with that beautiful sentiment. This is a sentiment that really rings true to me and one that every person should aspire to. We should be using all the colours of emotion to truly LIVE our life. If you have not checked out her blog yet, do yourself a favour and check it out. These are some of her posts that I found inspiring…
So these are the 5 bloggers I am going to pass on that Loving feeling to today…
StrawberryIndigo’s Pictures in living colour
This is a new photo blog but the colours of these images will fill you with joy…there is nothing more inspiring than nature and StrawberryIndigo has captured this inspiration beautifully.
Lisa Stull’s Lisa’s Liberation
Lisa has been blogging for a while but just recently she started this new blog where she journals her liberation in the journey to find her true self…this is one journey you will find inspiring and uplifting…her goal is to be “Awakened”…something that we can all aspire to.
Clicking on this link will take you to a world of free verse poetry…the words are simple and raw and will touch a chord in your spirit that will sing out in joy…this is a beautiful blog and one that is new to me but one that I will continue to visit.
Angela is a screenwriter and a filmmaker. Her blog is about her journey to learn to love life more wisely. She is also planning on this being a start of her novel on living life more wisely.
“Faith, Hope, Gratitude and the Creative Life” This is a blog that resounds with its catch-phrase. This blogger chooses to (in her words) “to have a positive outlook, to see the best in people, and to cultivate hope and optimism wherever possible.” This blog is all about her sharing her everyday miracles, facing life with optimism and tackling it with faith and gratitude. 
Follow these 5 bloggers I have mentioned and let their fresh and unique outlook touch a chord of inspiration in you. Your daily inbox reading will be uplifted by these bloggers.
A writer -- and, I believe, generally all persons -- must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art. -Jorge Luis Borges
It is important to recommend and appreciate people who live to fill their pages with inspiration, optimism and a search for a deeper truth and a more lasting beauty. This is what I believe The Liebster Award symbolizes. I am honoured to be a recipient and have thought carefully about which blogs uplift me with each post. For the bloggers who have been awarded this award – wear the award proudly because today you each uplift my spirits – even when my physical body is being assailed with an attack from migraine monsters.
Optimism is the foundation of courage. ~ Nicholas Murray Butler
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Thanksgiving | Create-Spirational People

It is Thanksgiving in the USA. I am not in the USA nor am I American but I have many American friends. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful and appreciate people that you care about in life. I have been blogging now for 18months and in that time my friendship circle has grown to include inspirational people – writers, poets and artists from all around the globe. I am continuously inspired by the creativity and imagination of these people. So in honour of Thanksgiving I am going to create a new Blog Award which will be given out annually to mark my gratitude and to honour the most Create-Spirational Blogs that add to my Inspirations…

Announcing The Annual…

The Annual “CreateSpiration” Blog Award ~ Awarded by Dragonfly Scrolls

There are rules and requirements for this blog award to be passed on…

  • Pick 20 Blogs that have truly inspired you in the year
  • Write an acceptance blog post
  1. Choose a quote on Inspiration.
  2. Choose a quote on Creativity.
  3. Choose and post a song-video that has inspired you this year. (After all what is life without music.)
  4. Write down a list of 5 things that inspired you in the year.
  5. Write down 5 ways that you plan on being inspirational in the coming year.
  6. Pass on the award to the 20 blogs you have chosen.
  7. Each year you must choose 20 new blogs, you can only give out this award once to someone.
  8. Link back to the post where you were awarded.
  9. Link to this rules & requirements page  – The Annual CreateSpiration Blog Award
  10. Awarded every Thanksgiving. (The last weekend in November)

_______________________________

The 20 Blogs who are my Favourite Create-Spiration Blogs for 2011

For the above Awardees, grab the following award widget                                                                                      (by clicking on the image) to feature on your blog:

© Dragonfly Scrolls 2011-2012 Blog Award

Favourite quote on Inspiration:

I dwell in Possibility | Emily Dickinson

Favourite quote on Creativity:

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. | Mark Twain

My 2011 Song of Inspiration:

This song inspires me in both its lyrics and because it is a celebration of New York – a city that truly is an inspiration in looking for the silver lining in a heavy storm cloud – and because it is a song about having a “pocketful of dreams” and going out into the big wide world to chase those dreams and make them a reality. 

Five things/people that Inspired me this year:

  1. My family – who supported me in my dream to become a full-time writer
  2. My friends – who always cheer for me in all my endeavors and who always believe in me – also counted on to give me a good butt-kicking every now and again. Special mention to: Alethea Dantes, Vasiliqui Galanopoulous, Jay Smith, Jane Webb Olivier, Desre Tate, Emma Mees, Colin Nel, Leigh K Hunt, Rachna Chhabria, Drew Cross, Al Boudreau, Judith Van Praag, Penny Epel, Danielle Beith Ruschena. (Each of you have a trail of footprints in my heart. I am honoured that you are in my life. Thank you for your love, support, encouragement and the constant source of inspiration through friendship that you gift to me just by being you. x)
  3. Eat,Pray,Love – This book and this movie have inspired so much in my life
  4. Social Networks – All those I follow and connect with through blogging, twitter,Facebook ect.
  5. PostaDay 2011 and PostaWeek2011 – These helped me get into a regular blogging schedule.

Five Ways I plan on being inspirational in 2012

  1. Through my Amazon Wanderings where I take off into the wild yonders of South America and write about it.
  2. Through this creativity & inspiration blog @ Dragonfly Scrolls
  3. Posting a photo at least once a week in a new photo-blog starting 01.01.12…link coming soon
  4. Posting a poem at least once a week in my poetry portfolio @ Soul Photographs
  5. Creating a gratitude journal that will work in combo with the new photo-blog.

The Moon Calls me | No point fighting it

Call me Nokomis

Nokomis is the daughter that fell from the Moon in the Ojibwe legends. I don’t know what is about the allure of the night sky and the moon & stars that holds me enthralled. But for as long as I have known, I have been a child of the night. I come alive and my energy becomes reanimated just as the sun starts waning in that magical part of the day called Dusk.

For the past few months I have been trying to retrain my clock into working creatively in the morning. It has not worked. Instead whenever the alarm goes off in the morning I wake up resentful and definitely without any creative inclination. I do practice my Morning Pages but my brain still feels asleep. I also find that I tend to procrastinate when I write – or should that be attempt to – in the mornings.

So in the past few weeks I have decided there is just no fighting genetic disposition. I am a night owl. I do not understand morning larks and have no desire to. When I hear someone tell me they are able to get up at 5am and work, my mouth drops open and I wonder how??? Likewise I know that morning larks in my own circle think me totally barking-mad to be able to work at 2am in the morning.

No…I am a daughter of the moon and the night sky. There is no point in even trying to go to bed early to wake earlier because invariably my muse drags me out of dreamland at 3am every morning without fail. Between 12am and 2am is when I get most of my inspiration.  I have tried changing this but not even sleeping tablets quietens my imagination in the early hours of the morning/late hours of night.

There is something mystical and magical about the night. The air holds a pensive aura of anticipation. Creatures with bright eyes come out to hunt or play. The night has an air of possibility that is ripe for imagination. It is possible to believe that everything and anything can exist at night. That is what stirs my imagination when the sky is dark and the stars are bright. It is as if a deeper part of my brain is awakened at night. 

Perhaps it is because everyone else is usually asleep at this time of night and there are fewer distractions. Perhaps it is a strange magic of the moon’s influence. But there is definitely something that awakens the creativity in me in the middle of the night. Perhaps this is also why I am drawn to writing in the genre / style that I do. My style of writing is definitely darker and I am drawn to the surreal. Perhaps this is also determined by one’s natural body clock. It is an interesting concept. One that I will have to ponder on some more.

Have you ever tried actively changing yourself from a night owl into a morning lark or vice versa?

Many psychologists believe that you are either a night owl or morning lark and that this is determined by your natural circadian rhythms or internal body clock. So apparently though you may be able to retrain your system, if you choose a complete opposite you will find your life to be more stressful.

Identify your internal body clock via Psychology Today. Interestingly enough, I took this test and scored an 8 which makes me a very definite owl.

So I am proudly standing up for the rights of Night Owls everywhere. No point in fighting your inherent nature. I will answer the call of the moon. My muse and characters should be happy with that.

What’s your best time of day for creativity?

My Animal Muse | Creative Creature | Furry Friend

Four Muses, by Caesar van Everdingen

Famous writers and their dogs  – Pictures of the Canine Muse

Famous writers and their cats  – Pictures of the Feline Muse

Cats and Dogs as Artists and Writers – A Humorous article with a spin on our canine         and feline muses.

A couple of weeks ago I ran two informal polls in my online writing groups. I had read two blog posts about creative animal companions. The two major contenders were pups versus kittens, pooches versus moggies. It led me to wonder whether one of them was better than the other as a creative animal companion. So I ran a poll asking my writer friends to tell me which was their choice of writer companion and why that choice may outweigh any other.

Although cats got a fair number of the votes, the  majority results in both polls were that the favoured creative animal companions were “man’s best friend” = dogs. Other creative animal companions listed were goats, rabbits and fish.

When I asked why dogs, the answers were as follows:

  • They needed daily walks so the human companion gets some time away from being cooped up in their writing cave as well as getting some good rumination time going well out on said walk.
  • The dogs also came out tops in that most dogs don’t tend to like lying on their human writer’s keyboard / laptop making it difficult for the writer to write.
  • The dogs also needed less physical affection from the writer human meaning that the dog would wait faithfully while its human got some much needed words down.
  • For those who chose cats as their creative companion, they liked the independence of the cat personality.
  • Also cats are the obvious choice due to necessity of the environment space – if you live in a city apartment, cats are easier to keep as companions.
  • Cats were a choice for those who want a lot of physical affection and want a “lap” companion. (Although small dogs are a winner in this category and the above one.)

So this brings me to who my choice of creative companion is…

He is just over 1 year old, white and black, has a face that resembles a butterfly, is full of energy, does not believe he is small but only short…His name is Jazz and he is a Papillon. Jazz adopted me in August 2010. I had no choice in the matter. I took a walk into the local Animates pet store and while browsing heard this mad barking. I went across for a closer inspection and there in front of me was this dancing ball of black and white fluff that was trying desperately to get my attention. It worked. Within a heartbeat, my heart belonged to him. I called him Jazz because ever since the first day, he loves to dance and although his style is more “disco”, Jazz suited him better because he has the eyes of an “old wise soul”.

Since that first day he has been my companion and shadow. He is the happiest little dog you will ever meet. Although he likes his dog friends that he knows from his beach walks, he is very much a human-dog and loves the company of his favourite people around. Papillons are incredibly smart and range no.9 in intelligence of all the dog breeds in the world. Although small dogs, they are not known for a lack of courage or confidence..they are very much Alpha-dogs. Jazz has no tolerance for other small dogs (except for other Papillons) but loves the company of much larger dogs. He even has a Husky girlfriend who is quite taken by his french charm.

Papillons are a very old European dog breed named after the French word for butterfly because their faces resemble a butterfly. The informal name for Papillons is: “Dog of Kings“. They were featured in many famous aristocratic and royal portraits during the Renaissance era by painters like Rubens, Titian, Largilere, Magrid, Fragonard, and Boucher.
They were companions in the french Royal families for generations and were a favourite companion of Marie Antoinette. Jazz reminds me every now and again that his ancestors were royal companions and therefore he expects nothing less than royal treatment. A good thing for me about Papillons are that although they love talking or singing, Jazz often has conversations with me, they are not “yappers” like a lot of other small toy breed dogs.

Famous Papillon Owners:

  • Marie Antoinette
  • Madame de Pompadour
  • King Henry II & King Henry III
  • Lauren Bacall
  • George Takei
  • Christina Aguilera
  • Yuga Tegoshi
  • Justin Bieber

Meet Jazz – My dancing Papillon aka Creative Companion aka My best friend and furry shadow

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 “Mom, can we please go for a walk once this photo is taken.”

“Mom, can we please play…photos make me mischievous.” 

 “Ssshh…don’t tell Mom, I am borrowing her laptop to surf the web for some animal stuff.”

 “Phew…this writing stuff makes me tired…”

 “Time for a nap I think…every pup needs a nap after helping Mom write.”

“I know I am very handsome…My Mom thinks that I am the most handsome little man in the neighbourhood.” 

 “Now tell me you would not pick me as the perfect creative companion.”

“Ah…playtime….always have time for playtime. Mom gave me a new toy today because I was so good with photo-posing.”