When Patricia Saxton, art, design and writing diva of Saxton Studio asked me to join her in this Writer’s Blog Hop my first impulse was to hop back with an “I already have too many tabs open thanks but no thanks” response. I didn’t for two reasons: 1) I respect and admire her work and passion so to hop in her circle was an opportunity I did not want to miss. 2) I had just made a decision to better balance my blog time with other social media time when Patricia approached me. (Ask and you shall receive.) In my experience, when Divine Order answers a call this is not the time to become a cherry picker.
The participants in this hop get to answer these four questions about their writing/work. (Links to my fellow hoppers, Juliette Mansour, J.V. Manning and Jill Alman-Berstein are below.) Here’s my musings.
Why do I write what I do?
When I was little, I was gangly and clumsy, always skinning my knees and bumping my elbows. My mother signed me up for ballet in the hope that it would improve my coordination. It did. I fall much more gracefully – but I still fall.
Life is messy. Creativity is messy. And, sometimes we get lost. And, in the lost, a whole myriad of not so great stories start to evolve. Stories we breathe life into as we journey along comparing others seemingly neat and tidy outsides to our incredibly messy insides.
I write to uncover and share the stories that allow us to be less than perfect so we can claim the goodness in the mess. Some challenges are pearls waiting for us to dive deep. Others are simply creative chaos waiting for a medium through which to express.
There’s an art to a life well lived and writing invites us to witness and experience the exquisite nature hidden in its many layers. Words, in themselves, have no power of their own but point the way to what does. Thus, I write for my life not my livelihood.
How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
Unless messy is a genre, I don’t think I have one anymore. It was self-help. (Relationship. Spirituality. Creativity.) But, when those aspects of my life turned upside down, then right side up, then upside down – again – I threw my genre map into the recycling bin.
I have more questions than answers these days. I figure others might, too. That’s why I like to muse about the messes we find ourselves in. In my writing, I stretch beyond comfort zones and give words to situations, feelings and ultimate storylines folks find hard to articulate and share.
I am comfortable with claiming the messy room in my writing. Am actually having a lot more fun these days. My posts are kind of like cloths lines where I hang out my laundry and talk to the neighbors. Yep. That’s mine. Right out there, waving in the breeze for all to see. And you can pretty much tell what I’ve been up to or the week I’ve had by the size of the freshly laundered panties.
What am I working on/writing?
My latest passion is to create a forum where the writer-me and artist-me can play together with my project, 121 Ways to Tear Up that Book and Make Art. They are literally tearing pages out of my book, Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad, and making art that visually depicts the messages found within them.
As a writer and artist, combining words and books with art is an adventure. Mixed-media layers and visual journals fascinate me in the same way words in my morning pages do. Whether caressed by pen or brush, paper is a juicy muse that I always enjoy dancing with.
I love it when writer-artists (or artist-writers) share the stories that inspire their pieces and want to do more storytelling in my messy room using both mediums. Not sure how all this is going to come together but then, this is a messy room so what better place to explore. (Any artists/writers out there that blog and would like to join my “121 Ways to Tear Up That Book and Make Art” project? Contact me for details.)
How does my writing process work?
My process is a selfish one, in that it responds to me first with my most intimate need for maintaining center, balance and focus in my multi-tabbed messy room of a life. Its origin is organic and finds its best expression in the first quiet moments in the morning, starting with the texture of my journal as I turn to the next blank page. Next comes the pen ritual. Color and tip reflect the mood. Purple fine point is my staple but sometimes I go for green, brown, burgundy or red fine point or ultra fine markers. (I used to love pink but my more mature eyes rebel against its now invisible ink effect.)
My favorite spot is the loveseat in the living room where I can curl up and look out the big picture window between thoughts. Always there is a cup of coffee and at least one of my three kitties in attendance. Highlighters and post-it page markers are within reach to mark special passages I want to come back to because this is often where my best blogging or art ideas pop up. I don’t like to break the flow – ala The Artist’s Way morning pages technique – and I never censor. Afterward, if one of my muses snatches up an idea and runs with it, I grab my spiral bound notebook for writing or my leather bound journal for art. Time permitting, I go to my computer station in the neighboring room to capture and expand the writing idea or my studio to start pulling out eye candy for the art piece. If I have time for neither, then my morning writing ritual keeps a better me flowing through what might become a messy day and my idea journals become a treasure trove that I can draw on when the mood hits to be creative!
I hope you enjoyed your hop here and give yourself the gift of hopping back and hopping forward to find your muse. Visit my fellow hoppers sites below and be sure and say “Hi!” And, as ALWAYS in the messy room, I love to hear your thoughts and musings!
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Who Is Patricia Saxton?
Somewhere around the age of 3, Patricia Saxton picked up a pencil and never quite put it down. A multi-disciplined artist, Patricia is an award-winning graphic designer, illustrator, writer, and fine artist. Creative Director of design firm Saxton Studio, she’s also the author/illustrator of 2 best-selling children’s books, A Book of Fairies and The Book of Mermaids, and the inspirational design book 52 Weeks of Peace. Her paintings have exhibited widely and hang in private collections throughout the U.S. On a personal note, as a 24/7 single Mom, Patricia has come to see much of her work as a real-time, real-life experiment in “doing what you love.” (p.s: it’s not always easy, but chocolate helps!) Click Why I Write What I Write (And Other Pressing Questions) to see her spirited answers to these four questions.
Who Is Juliette Mansour?
Juliette is a first generation American, born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in the 1970s, within a blend of three cultures. Along the way, she went to Roman Catholic schools where she learned important things like… how if you don’t discipline yourself, someone else probably will… how Jesus probably never interrupted anyone mid-sentence… how “haste makes waste”… and how making a practice out of consistently connecting to a Higher Source can make your earth journey a lot more manageable and happy.
Juliette has lived in Atlanta all of her life but travelled to different cities and countries every year since she was a toddler. She harbored a clandestine love for an artistic life since the age of 3 and spent decades never believing she could have one. In love with words for life, she learned to read at the age of 4, read incessantly, has been writing in a journal since the age of 12 (she says she must write) and has been compelled by stories all her life. She won a few creative writing awards in school, majored in foreign language literature, got another degree in linguistics, and out of nowhere, took a fast left turn in 1998 away from language teaching into technology. It was then when the innate curiosity that drove her to pull apart transistor radios at the age of eight was reborn into a love for media, photography and visual arts.
On a more personal side, she has met some interesting people along the way, has cultivated the finest of friendships, has learned some hard lessons and ultimately, Juliette has “found herself.” So now she feels compelled to share all of her creative pursuits on her website, www.juliettemansour.com and her blog at the additional f-stop.
She also knows what she cares about and uses her images on this site as a way of communicating what she continues to learn so that she can inspire others how to find their additional f-stop. Click Changing Hop into Hope: Staying Present To Grief to read Juliette’s answer’s to these questions shortly after her experience of loss. “Some requests come at difficult times and seem easy to dismiss…” I am so glad she didn’t dismiss this hop and you will be, too!
Who is J.V. Manning?
She is at times her own best friend and at times her own worst enemy. Some days she has her stuff together. Some days she is a hot mess. She drinks way too much coffee, but always seems to be tired. She thinks a lot – probably too much. Her brain never really shuts off. She is quirky. She is a bit random. She is a tad bit crazy at times. She has been to hell and back and isn’t afraid to write about it. She is a bit outspoken, probably too blunt and tends to speak her mind. She refuses to break regardless of what life throws at her. She likes to make people think.
She is the woman next door, the chick at the coffee shop, and the one singing in her truck at a traffic light. She is a wife, stepmother, sister and friend. J.V. is simply a woman who has seen both the darkest of days and the brightest moments that life has to offer and who one day decided to write about them.
J.V. Manning is the author of the wildly successful blog “Random Thoughts n’ Lotsa Coffee.” Her first book, “Random Thoughts n’ Lotsa Coffee: A Collection of Writings Inspired by Real Life,” was published in 2013 and her second book “The Other Side- Where all the life lessons learned from your past are put to use for a brighter, happier future” was released on May 2014.
J.V. lives in Gorham, Maine, with her husband and stepson. She can often be found down at the coast – coffee in hand – contemplating life while staring out at the deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean.
Who is Jill Alman-Bernstein?
I Must Be A Mermaid ~ I think I have always been a mermaid. For as long as I can remember I have loved the sea, returning time and time again to the deep waters to soothe my soul and bring peace to my heart. Anais Nin’s quote gripped me and never let me go – “I Must Be A Mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” And so it was with that as my guiding light that I began to dive deeply into and give voice to my personal emotional storms. Life, like the ocean is a constant ebb and flow. We are in perpetual transformation. As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, editor, writer’s coach, and mermaid, I have much to write and comment about. You can dive with me on my Blog, visit my Website, and swim with me on Facebook and on Pinterest.
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