Friday, July 29, 2011

You gotta let yourself go

"Nothing will work unless you do." ~Maya Angelou

Creativity is a fickle beast. Be it writing or painting, sculpting out of metal or gluing magazine pictures to a piece of canvas, who knows where the muse will strike, why, or when. We, as writers and creative souls, try so very hard to dictate when and where the Muse will appear. We give her candles and incense. We shower her with music and meditation. We bribe her with wine and chocolate. Yet, all the while, Muse sits back and waits.


Greater artists than I have said it countless times: if you want inspiration to strike, you better get in there and work. Inspiration doesn't come when we're lounging on the sofa (though I've had it hit me while laying by the sea). It comes when we're working, when we're lost in some project, even a half-hearted project we started "just because".

We have to be willing to do our part if we except the bolt from the blue to hit us.

1) Show up!
Writing nook, work table, or corner of kitchen table; wherever you create, be there, regularly.

2) Work. Hard.
Yep; pick up that pen, clatter about on those keys regularly. It doesn't matter if you write "I can't think of a bloody thing to write about" five hundred and sixty two times. You're writing. And trust me, the words that need to be said will come.

3) Rinse and Repeat.
Simple? In theory. Hard as heck? You betcha. Why? Because it's important. Because it matters. If it didn't, we wouldn't bemoan the fact we're stuck on page 210 with our protagonist pacing a trench in the living room floor for lack of something to do.

I suppose that sums it up: it matters. And if it matters, it must MATTER. It must come from the aether, from the Muse, and become something tangible. A book. A painting. A bar of soap.

And that's only going to happen if you make it happen.

Happy weekend,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Birthdays, Courtyards, and PICTURES!

Yesterday was my birthday. I'm 34 years old. I'm not ashamed of it and I don't try hiding it either. As I tell my mother, there's only one alternative to getting older and I'm not quite ready to play that card yet :).

I'm also probably the only woman in the world who got super excited (and a tad bit emotional) when she opened her gifts and found an Atlanta Braves Baseball jersey. With John Smoltz's name and number 29 on the back. Yes, I'm a woman. I love diamonds. Baseball diamonds!

The other two items in the picture are a hilarious Star Wars mock up poster (have I mentioned I'm a Star Wars geek?) and my favorite movie, How to Train Your Dragon. Yep. A kid at heart. Guess that's what keeps me young, lol!

Remember those pictures I promised? Well, here they are! Feast your eyes on our marvelous Mediterranean-esque loft of magnificence!!

This is part of the courtyard and the gate that separates our little peaceful area from the rest of the lofts.

Yes, I'm hopelessly addicted to books. Oh, and see all that marvelous light (something we were in severe shortage of at the other loft)? That's coming from one of the two skylights.

Here is the reason we went through all that headache and chaos of moving 100 feet down from our loft of the giant map encrusted wall: the arched doorway to the kitchen!

One more: the coffee bar. Built in, as is the bench underneath the window in the kitchen and the other, gorgeous shelf you can't see on the wall to the left of the photograph. The shelf with all the mugs hanging from it, my husband built that. He's groovy.

I won't bore you with any more pictures. And, yes, I'll get back to writing about writing. Just easing myself back in the waters and enjoying showing a bit of our new life with you all.

Here's to life!
Be fabulous.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blatherings and Scented Oils

I stayed up until midnight thirty last night putting some finishing touches on some book ideas that have been bubbling over in the back of my mind. It's as if my brain was suddenly transformed into a lovely little Aga with a multitude of pots simmering and squeaking over warm flames. Then, wouldn't you know it, the back two burst and sauce went everywhere! It took me until almost one o'clock to get it all tidied up again.

We'll see where they go. A bit of a foray into a land I've not really touched upon. Just when you think you write one way, in one genre, those pots bubble over. You know the ones; the ones you tried to ignore but put on the stove just in case they held something of interest for the ones you forced to the front. Yeah. Those.

In other news, I decided to make some scented oils. I have an addiction to fragrance oils and I have a tendency to log onto Brambleberry Soap Making Supplies and order multitudes of samples of delicious fragrances with names like "Mahogany", "Sweetgrass" and "Mandarin and Myrrh". I add them to a beeswax/base oil blend and create solid perfumes and lip balms. I've sold a few in the past and, once I perfect the base blend, may start selling them again.

Today, however, the scents come not from a bottle of fragrance oils or even essential oils. I took some leaves from some plants I grew as well as some that have grown wild around the lofts: plantain, mint, pineapple sage and rose geranium. The plantain is the leaf of that little "weed" we used to wrap around itself and shoot our friends with when we were kids. Sort of like miniature cattail. The mint was self seeded from who knows how long ago and grow rampantly outside our courtyard gate. The pineapple sage and rose geranium were bought for me by my mother and have thrived throughout spring and summer (which is more than I can say for the beans and cucumbers...).

The plantain I left plain and poured copious amounts of olive oil, sweet almond oil, vitamin E oil and grapefruit seed extract over. The rose geranium, the same. The mint and pineapple sage, however, got the royal treatment with some green tea, mint tea and earl grey added for fun and flavor. I think that oil blend will make a delicious lip balm. Stretch some plastic wrap over the top and secure with a rubber band, label and put in a dark, cool place for about a month. Viola! Come the end of August, I'll have some delicious oils for some more solid perfumes and lip balms.

Anything new and exciting in your neck of the woods?

~Jen xo

Monday, July 25, 2011

Well...I'm Back

Isn't this gorgeous?!? Sadly, it remained at the garden center, but it reminded me of a taffeta ball gown. A hyacinth I believe.

Good morning, world. How are you? I hope you're feeling fine. It has been far too long since I've sat at my own computer and written about life. Yes. MY computer. After much hoop-la and foo-foo-ra, we have the Internet. At home. I no longer have to pack up everything and launch myself out into the large corporate chain coffee shops in order to do school work and communicate with the world at large. It has been a breath of fresh air, this "working" from home. And now, now, I can blog again.

I never meant to be gone for so long. Is it really almost August? The last time I wrote it was May. I'd quite my job a month prior and yet chaos still reigned in my mind. I was confused, I was battered, and I was exhausted. No rest for the weary, though they say; I was off on a rampage of school reports and engulfed in a literature class that took every ounce of time I wasn't already devoting to a statistics class that threatened to steal my soul. Perhaps you find that an exaggeration. Perhaps you're good at math. I'm an English Major. 'Nuf said.

I made herbal salves and solid perfumes, ate shrimp and grits for the first time and spent a week on Tybee Island. We found foster-dog Grace a new home and my mind cleared out enough rabble to focus on a story or two.

Then, yes, THEN, we moved. Didn't see that one coming, did you? Neither did we. A family moved from a loft 100 feet or so down from ours. We'd never seen it before. It has a courtyard. It's walled in with grape vines growing up one side of the wall, a long neglected picnic table tucked behind ivy vines, and two poorly soiled plots of land that will, with some love and lots of hail Marys may just produce some flowers next Spring. We walked into the loft, turned to the left and saw the kitchen. A brick arch separates it from the living room. It is gorgeous with stone floors and a wide, open eat-in corner under a window complete with built in coffee bar and bench. We had to have it. We signed another year's lease. We moved.

And so, a new adventure begins. We left the wall map of the world for a very Mediterranean courtyard, small, European style loft with a quintessentially Italian-esque kitchen. It isn't perfect (what's perfect?). But it's home. It has separate rooms, not sprawling space with 16 foot ceilings which were, for a time, nice. But the need for cozy begged for something different and here we are. There's creativity here, friends, and I long to tap into it.

I'm back. I've missed each of you. I long to catch up on your lives, your worlds. I have much to learn about new changes in the writing industry, but I'm confident, in time, I'll find myself back up to speed. What speed is that, you may ask? Well, it's a bit slower than before. A little more "stroll" as opposed to "run" or even "jog". A good pace, for sure.

And just as soon as I figure out how this gosh darn new phone uploads pictures, I'll post some of the new place.

Now, your turn. How have you been?

Hugs and chocolate drops,