Dancing the Dance – in Life and in Writing
When artists talk about “flow,” they mean that slightly euphoric state in which the act of creation seems to happen without effort. The rest of the world falls away, and the barrier between artist and art dissolves. Ease, serendipity, and synchronicity collide in a perfect storm of inspiration that bears the touch of the muse and even an element of magic. Flow transforms work from a heavy trudge into an airy dance. Everything you do feels at once delightfully improvised and beautifully choreographed. Things click. The stars align.
When your writing feels more like a battle than a ballet, you may find it difficult to believe that this kind of harmonious productivity exists; but it does. I promise. One way that I restore my belief in this kind of creative bliss is to practice noticing when similar moments of harmony and alignment occur in my everyday life:
- When a parking spot opens up just as I’m pulling into the lot
- When the Petco coupon arrives in the mail just as I’m heading out to buy kitty kibbles
- When the chicken, potatoes, and zucchini that I’m cooking for dinner are all done at exactly the same time
- When a client pushes a meeting out, rescuing me from what was going to be a crazy-busy day
- When I find the exact item I was looking for at the flea market (like today’s treasure – a beautiful, early 1900s library filing cabinet made of tiger maple)
They are small things, no doubt, but they are nonetheless examples of how the universe sometimes conspires to make my day a little easier. Each one of these moments renews my faith in the possibility of stumbling into a state of “flow” – both in life, and also in my creative work. Though it may not happen as frequently as I’d like, it’s nice to know the potential is always there.
What I’m Reading:
Today, a favorite from my picture book collection – The Whisper (Amazon affiliate link), written and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. I first came across Zagarenski’s artwork in a small boutique somewhere along the coast of Maine. I fell instantly in love with her work, which is at once whimsical and mystical. I bought a collection of cards, each one seeming to be telling an entire story in a single image. (I still have the cards; I’ve never been able to part with them.)
I have several other books illustrated by Zagarenski including a couple poetry collections and the beautiful Sleep Like a Tiger, but I wanted to share The Whisper because it holds special relevance for storytellers. In the book, a teacher loans a magical book to a little girl who loves stories. The little girl takes the book home only to discover that the words have fallen out of the book and the pages are filled only with beautiful pictures, but no stories. But, then she hears a whisper,
“Dear little girl, don’t be disappointed.
You can imagine the words.
You can imagine the stories.
Start with a few simple words and imagine from there.
Remember: beginnings, middles and ends of stories can always be changed and imagined differently. There are never any rules, rights, or wrongs in imagining – imagining just is.”
The rest of the book features beautiful, double-page spreads of Zagarenski’s gorgeous artwork and the opening lines of possible stories. The first one is called Blue Bear’s Visit and begins, “Blue Bear arrives on the first day of spring. He promised …” And then the reader is left to fill in the rest of the story.
This is a perfect book for any emerging storyteller – young or old. You can’t help but be inspired by the imagery and cast of characters who roam the beautiful landscapes in Zagarenski’s visions. Just gorgeous.
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My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:
- Writing Wednesdays: The Magic of TK by @SPressfield
- Write The Heart Of Your Story. Tips For Writing Emotion with @cjlyonswriter via @thecreativepenn
PUBLISHING & MARKETING
- How to Choose a Blog Topic That’s Pre-Programmed for Success by JAson Garcia
- Time to face the music: you need a business model to make it as an artist by @jccabel
- 3 Common Marketing Fallacies That Writers Need To Be Wary by @DanBlank
- Beat Writer’s Block with Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Jeff Elkins
- How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome as a Writer by @mdilloway
THE WRITING LIFE
- The Art of Paying Attention by @sarahrcallender
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Sundry Links and Articles:
Speaking of art that might inspire stories, I wanted to also share a recent series of charming pieces by Jamie Ridler. I’ve been following Jamie for years on social media, and we’ve talked once or twice via Skype. She does wonderful work around building a creative life, and I just fell in love with this latest collection of pieces called Wonderfill Forest. (Even the name is fabulous!)
Aren’t they so evocative? I feel like there’s such an undercurrent of mystery and magic at play in these images.
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Finally, a quote for the week:
Here’s to Sunday afternoons, art that inspired stories, and the possibility of finding artistic flow when you least expect it.
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.