Writing is never an easy endeavor. It is usually pushed to a more “convenient time.” Yet, the most interesting consideration within this framework is that there is never a time where everything slows down to a complete stop. Admittedly, I have placed many excuses in this space over the past many months. There have been assignments, bills, and must-dos taking precedence. I have started to write something and deleted it.
At the outset of this pandemic, I wrote a rough first draft of a new novel and never revisited it. (It was too tender, too close to my heart to explore further.) While my aim is to give it priority in the future, I admit this also needs a due date. Like anything in life, it requires focus, preparation, and attention.
Have you felt this way about things in your “remote” existence? Are there things that keep getting pushed to the back burner?
If so, I recommend putting it back in your line of sight. It is not going away. If anything, seeing it will help you grapple with what is going on in your life today. If you face reality, it will become apparent what needs to be done next. Often, it is as simple as tackling it and discovering some new chapter. When we do this, we realize there is more and more and more. It can become a new leaf we all so desperately need.
Looking for a ‘beach read’? How about several? Right now all of my books are on discount as e-books! You can take them to the water’s edge, sink your toes into the sand, and read until that next sunscreen application. Get all 7 of them for around $25 bucks. They’re on Amazon and other retailers. As always, I’m happy to sign paper copies. Just send me a message on Facebook or Instagram. Thanks for reading!
The middle grade basketball story I’ve been working on is underway, and I wanted to share this first image. It’s a story written in verse and will feature illustrations throughout. I’m using a new illustrator this time around, and I’d love your thoughts on this ‘first look.’ We’re still a long way from the finish line, but it’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for quite some time. Hope you like it. Feel free to comment below!
When some people talk about money They speak as if it were a mysterious lover Who went out to buy milk and never Came back, and it makes me nostalgic For the years I lived on coffee and bread, Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday Like a woman journeying for water From a village without a well, then living One or two nights like everyone else On roast chicken and red wine.
On January 2nd, my newest work [and first children’s book] will be released with Black Rose Writing! It’s titled The Scary, Gray Shark. This book is a culmination of being a first-time parent, seeing our family change and grow, and moving to Charleston, SC in 2019. It’s protagonist, a bull shark called Zella, is given my daughter’s namesake, and it covers topics such as bullying and isolation in the ocean. The artwork is done by Katerina Dotneboya of Finland. [Earlier press release for the book here and here.] I’m more than willing to sign copies sent to me and will ship back. Also, when the first box arrives from the publisher, I will gladly sign copies and mail them direct. Just let me know your reading needs and address!
The pre-order discount is still being accepted (PREORDER2019) at Black Rose’s website until January 1st. Get copies of this book for your family and friends and share the gift of ‘story time’ with others.
Also, stay tuned for reading events to be shared soon [both locally in Charleston and outside of South Carolina]. I do readings and am happy to talk about writing topics with your English classroom/group/church/business.
“Such beautiful artwork on each and every page. I love sharks – and it’s wonderful to see Zella make friends…find respect instead of fear in our ocean ecosystems. It is wonderful to see people speaking up for sharks.”
Ocean Ramsey operates One Ocean Diving, LLC in Hawaii, a company which facilitates dives with marine life. She gained international media attention for free diving with sharks, including great white sharks, to bring attention to shark conservation. Ramsey is based in Hawaii, and has dived with 32 species of sharks around the world as of 2013.
This newest work by Austin Kleon really hit me – at a time I needed it most.
2019 – Move to a new city
2019 – Renting in said city
2019 – Baby turns 1 year old
2019 – New job in city
2019 – New church
2019 – New routine
In the busiest season of our lives, this is a book that can help us grapple with the need to live, grow, and continue in the creative pursuits we started.
If you have a project, a non-profit, a mission, a manuscript, a quilt, whatever it is – let this be an encouragement to finish it.
When you feel stuck in a rut simply ask: What’s next?
Joseph Campbell encouraged what he called “creative incubation” in a safe place. Where is yours?
Kleon talks about the importance of action and says it’s not about being a writer (noun) but following the influence to write (verb).
He also states the importance of making gifts (as play). In a world where we’re trained to heap marketing phrases [even on our friends], our hobbies have been replaced by side hustles. This is never ideal. Remember fun things you did as a kid and revisit those.
Kleon points out Corita Kent’s life as a nun/artist as someone who found joy in everyday life.
There will inevitably be push back from what Jenny Offill calls ‘art monsters.’ And we’re encouraged to slay those monsters and never become one!
Kleon goes on to express the importance of changing our mindset as needed, and if the creative life becomes too cumbersome, to pause and tidy up, as tidying can be a form of exploration.
If the world inside your creative shell is too cramped (and demons are pushing in), he says “to exercise is to exorcise.” The solution: take a walk and get some fresh air. The stuff will be there when you get back to it.
Kleon relates a really interesting story of how gardening is a great example of his final point (Spend Time on Something that Will Outlast Them(meaning those demons). He describes how during the impending conflict of WWII, Leonard Woolf was planting flowers and his wife Virginia Woolf calls out to him (from his book Downhill All the Way) –
“Suddenly I heard Virginia’s voice calling to me from the sitting room window: “Hitler is making a speech.” I shouted back, “I shan’t come. I’m planting iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead.”
Last March, twenty-one years after Hitler committed suicide in the bunker, a few of those violet flowers still flowered under the apple-tree in the orchard.”
It’s vital that we have things that will long outlast the hate, the violence that fuels this consumer-driven world.
My question(s): what is your iris? have you planted it yet?
Our math teachers (I’m looking at you Allyson Upchurch Tucker, Teresa Rankin, and Michael Whittenburg) taught us to “show your work” in each step to solving a mathematical equation. It permitted us to see the process from beginning to end.
It also helped us prepare for scary acronyms like the ACTs & SATs.
Sure the graphing calculator could do a lot of the work for us, but it didn’t necessarily teach us how we arrived at the final number on our screen.
They (our teachers) encouraged us to write it out by hand.
The hand is tied to memory formation. When we scribbled down an idea in our notebook, it connected to our brain in a way the keyboard could not.
Much like Austin Kleon’s previous book, Steal Like an Artist, his Show Your Work manuscript expressed the importance of sharing, too.
It’s when we give away something, collaborate, take a trip together, that memories are shaped in ways that really stick (sometimes for life).
Much like in mathematics class, we don’t need to be a genius to:
This is information I’d have loved to hear in my collegiate years. It is all helpful (even beyond the creative process).
And what’s best of all?
He practices what he preaches. In reference to #6 on his list – The Secret: Do good work and share it with people – he practices what he preaches and does just that by making all these things available online – www.steallikeanartist.com.