Tag Archives: creative

Writers Retreat: The Mystery and Inspiration of Different Places and Spaces

Gather your best writing pals, circle a date on the calendar, set a goal for what you wish to accomplish, and head to a bed and breakfast for a writing renewal retreat. That block of uninterrupted time of which all creatives dream is inspiration magic.

Knowing that you’ve set aside a time period for the act of creating, or rekindling your creative flame, can actually be intimidating. Will I function okay without interruptions? What will I do without a phone ringing just as I sit down, or someone knocking at the door just as I’m developing a crucial scene? How am I supposed to concentrate without errands, chores, and never-ending house projects vying for my attention?

The Frederick Inn, located in Buckeystown, Maryland provided the quintessential setting for such an overnight idyll. There is something to be said for the inspiration of being in a space that is not home. Our group of four rented the third floor of this alluring property, armed with a white-hot goal of maximizing a 24-hour block of time to maneuver through story revisions, plot development, or just getting reacquainted with dormant work.

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What made the Frederick Inn ideal for such a retreat was the opportunity to tuck ourselves away in a secluded space (individual rooms, a common area that included a four-top table situated by a large window straddled by two stunning stained-glass panels, two powder rooms and a shower), access to the establishment’s well-appointed kitchen to store home-brought meals to avoid the time-suck of ferreting out food outside of the property, and the just-right attentions and made-from-scratch breakfast (drool-worthy zucchini quiche, fruit cup with mint, coffee cake, parmesan-topped tomatoes…) from the convivial innkeepers, Pat and Kirk.

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This charming, endearing couple also seemed to take particular delight in providing grist for our collective inspiration mill, sharing stories of the property that revealed more mystery than history. Trunk-traveling headstones returned by an octogenarian with a flimsy reason that didn’t quite get to the heart of the emotions beneath the macabre attachment. A bevy of relocated headstones like a mouthful of teeth tucked away in their own version of a graveyard, bodies (or at least the essence of their dust) presumably still in situ. The bottom portion of a grave marker with what looked like claw marks at the edge, a lone sentinel away from its topper.  The lady Elizabeth, her headstone’s inscription bearing the image of a weeping willow tree and the designation of “consort,” which sounds more scandalous than the 19th century use turns out to be.

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Such mysteries of times past remind us that every inch of earth has a story. A writer is only too keen to let such wonderings infiltrate her imaginings, and who knows what will come out on the other side?

Cheers to a successful 2017 retreat, and a new tradition.

 

Writing Collaboration or Mad Libs Mayhem?

Some background info on the collaborative effort going on over at Waterfront Writers… Let us know what you think about this process: creative, or recipe for chaos?

Writing Collaboration or Mad Libs Mayhem?

Writerly Collaboration

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I enjoy spending time with people, talking and sharing ideas, laughing, being outdoors, EATING, drinking wine or brew… but by nature, I’m more the lone wolf. My grandmother taught me as a little person how to entertain myself. I have enough reading materials to keep me busy a couple of lifetimes, and enough writing ideas… well, best not to jinx it.

When it comes to writing down those ideas, the words come in fits and starts, like a water faucet pulling from a near-dry well in an abandoned cabin. Maybe it’s because my day job requires that I write, that by the time I get around to “my” writing, my brain is in “hibernate” mode.

So it has been a twist to my worldview to discover that, collaborating with another writer on a story, I don’t have the fit-and-start thing going on… it’s more of a we-struck-oil gusher that I have to curb so I don’t dominate the storyline. Maybe there isn’t as much pressure having a writing partner.

For one, if you get stuck, they can get down into the weeds of a story with you and give that nudge to get you moving. Second, if you lose the thread of continuity, you have a second set of eyes to find it. Third, there’s a fair measure of accountability going on, because when I get the draft to work on, I know my writing partner is waiting… so I don’t have the luxury of trite, cliché or even wildly-creative excuse-making.

I enjoy collaborating, and our latest installment of our shared effort Two Weeks to Rites, which so far has been a blast, is now posted. Go to: http://waterfrontwriters.com/

Thanks for stopping by for a visit! Back to my wolf den…

Man of Steel: Have All the Good Stories Already Been Told?

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

Last Thursday was my son’s birthday, and he wanted to go see a movie. In a theater, not in our house. I could only dig in my heels slightly when he said he wanted to see “Man of Steel.” After all… it was his birthday, so I had to be a good sport and push down my desire to use my last-resort trump card: no, because I said so. Instead, it was with gritted teeth and a grimace that I replied, “Yes, little darling… it is, after all, your day.” 

I was pleasantly surprised… I really enjoyed it. Tears, laughs, completely plugged in… who’d have thunk it? 

My initial gripe was that, here we go, Hollywood is regurgitating the same storyline over and over… and did I mention, over, again? In the name of all that’s creative, can’t they produce something fresh, new, original? Or have all the good stories already been told, and this is why we revisit the same thing, even if it is in new incarnations?

As I watched “Man of Steel,” I realized that all the good stories have already been told, and we will continue to see the same stories over and over. They will come as remakes of the same thing bringing a new twist and visual effects, or they will be those fresh, new, original stories we year for. All stories resonate with us because they share in common the same mythic structure: heroes and heroines, villains, mentors, challenges, tension, resolution.

All the good stories have been told and will continue to be told, packaged in the structure that makes them reach into our human psyche and touch our hearts.

What’s your take?

Energy Efficient Appliances… Is it Me?

courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

I am all about taking care of Mother Earth and better stewardship and doing my part. I own an energy-efficient washing machine and dryer. I even received a tax credit for purchasing appliances that were “energy star” or some-such.

Joke is on me. And I’m sure I’ve more than spent that credit… on the electric bill. Not to mention, I think I’m failing at the “better stewardship” part.

I’m trying to figure out where the “efficiency” is, particularly with the dryer. Set on 60 minutes, the timer buzzes when it’s done. I open the door, reach in, and everything is wet, maybe just rung out a bit but wet. So, another 60 minutes… and we’re getting closer… but not before another 40 minutes or so tacked on top of that.

The efficiency part is that it uses less electricity–obviously–but I think that in order to save energy, you’d have to resign yourself to cutting your losses: take your wet clothes out and hang my stuff on chairs and throw it over the bannister and shower curtain rods.  But if I were to do that, what’s the point of having a dryer in the first place?

If I’m missing something, drop me a note… Otherwise, I’m debating going to find an old “energy hog” that gets the job done in 40 minutes. Somehow, I think that’s more efficient in the long run. At least it would save me from running up and down the steps to check one load of laundry, interrupting whatever creative thought I’m desperately trying to cling to and eke out into written form.  It’s these little things that can kill your creative flow, little annoyances from these appliances that were created to “serve you better.”

Not to mention, the energy inefficiency… such as when I forget about that load in the dryer-designed-to-serve-me-better and those wet clothes sit too long and start to get that nasty smell.  Then I’m having to start the process all over again, all the way back to the washing machine.

I guess some things sound good in theory, but it always comes down to the execution… and a little full disclosure on the front end, that maybe the money invested in a dryer would be better spent on purchasing clothes lines to hang between trees outside.

Doctor, I’m Experiencing Creatile Dysfunction

pills

I wonder how long it will be until pharmaceutical companies conjure up a little pill to end creative slumps.

Here is my creative contribution, a medical term they can latch onto: creatile dysfunction.

I am at present experiencing creatile dysfunction. My symptoms are: racing thoughts about getting through the holidays, inability to concentrate on anything more creative than cookie dough, lack of words written and a complete brain freeze on fresh ideas. Symptoms, if left untreated, can lead to creative paralysis, a condition that requires medical, psychological, theological and voodoo priestess intervention.

Really, I think a remedy for creatile dysfunction could be a blockbuster drug. We all want to create and produce more-better-faster, and a little pill you poke into your mouth once a day seems like such a simple thing to do for such creative richness.

How about you… have you exhibited any symptoms of creatile dysfunction?

[Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net]