Month: May 2011

Artistic Discipline, Direction and Self-Assessment

This article is one of the most insightful and clear commentaries I’ve read on the life of a working artist.

It has me thinking about all sorts of things. Like what elements of my time use cause pressure on my life. And how my time use is related to my spiritual perspective at any given moment. And how that relates to levels of mental pressure I put on myself in creating.

So, a brief productivity and quality-of-life assessment: I’m coming to conclude that I can either use a computer for work or for fun. Since work requires it, it appears I’m only going to get less fun from here on in–at least in the social media sense.

That should, however, help pave the way for getting back to regular blogging. Part of the irregular silence of the Scienda is deciding what I want to do next with it. Part of deciding what I want to do next is knowing how I want to spend my unpaid time. It’s not all about getting started anymore, trying out every opportunity to see if it fits. I know what I can do, how I do it best and what knocks me off the track. If one thing stands out clear to me right now, today, it’s that those knock-offs need some more elimination.

And that will take discipline. Because life is always changing, and the things a person needs to do are always changing in response. The one constant is that we do have to handle the perpetual shift.

Is self-assessment part of it? Because it helps to know whether my capacities have outstripped my previous goals. It also helps to keep tabs on which goals still outstrip my capacities–whether it’s a question of my personal situation or my particular skillset.

Is my sense of discipline the sort that keeps me locked in to ideas, actions or thoughts that are stalling my life? Or is it the sort that assists in inevitable transitions? Discipline and routine are not the same thing, though routine often arises from discipline. This has become crystal clear to me over the last ten years, as I’m married to the most self-disciplined person on the planet. David’s work affords no regular schedule, and yet he’s always on top of it.

Do I know what direction I’m headed? Yes. I couldn’t be knocked off the track if I didn’t have one, right? I feel no need to explain it here, but I very much have that figured. And there’s peace in the passage, as long as discipline is an ongoing goal for mastery along with everything else. More discipline will always be required as life continues to do what it does best: change.

Konig’s Fire a Christy Award Finalist

Wow. What a spring. I’ve just learned that in addition to having two editorial  clients who are Genesis Contest semi-finalists, I’m the (extremely honoured) editor of a Christy Award finalist.

Marc, my deepest congratulations on the Christy Visionary category nomination. I am so, so proud to have had some part in Konig’s Fire. Please do continue with the literary brilliance. It’s delightful.

Here’s a well-deserved shameless plug, including sample chapter:

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Sunlight

I woke up dreaming of words. Flat, blank, black and white. I think if I look at a screen any longer I may lose the ability to see in colour.

This is how the winter has been, and it’s slow to fade. Flat, blank, black trees extending arthritic limbs against the white horizon. Even the winter sky is white under a constant shroud of low clouds. There’s nothing to do but hunker down and wait for it to be over.

The clouds were the first to go. They left late at night, and my bedroom window ceased to be a giant black square in a white wall. I turned off the desk lamp, shut down the computer, and watched the stars drift like diamonds on a sea of deep blue. When the night sky changes from the stark black of a dead monitor to the hue of spilled ink, the winter is ending.

I’ve gotten used to being woken by the cold that settles in through the night. Shivering, unable to sleep, unwilling to turn the covers down. Not today.

Today I woke up to sunlight. There are hints of green along the roadsides, and the black-and-white trees wear leaf buds on their fingertips. It’s been a long, slow season. But like a bad dream, it’s over. There just aren’t words for spring.

Spun off of today’s Storypraxis prompt. Storypraxis is a freewriting community banded together around a daily writing prompt, facilitated by swashbuckler-in-chief and rather awesome editor Andy Meisenheimer.

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Literary Ninjas: By the Seat of the Pants

For some reason, Sunday’s final ninja interview didn’t come across my radar till today, in spite of me trying to watch diligently for it. Silly Cat! My bad.

The Recap

  1. A late-night conversation resulted in a wager between me and my partner, Marc Schooley.
  2. Several ninjas jumped into the fray with ambushes for said partner. (Ninja 1, Ninja 2)
  3. An unexpected final twist concluded the wager, in true Schooley style.

Since the last ninja interview was submitted just under the wire on Easter weekend, we turn now to its posting.

The Interview: How to Freewrite Your Plot

Fellow speculative author Janalyn Voigt picks Marc’s brain on what it’s like to write by the seat of the pants. Asking Marc to stop writing and be useful: Top-notch strategy!

The Ninja: Janalyn Voigt

Author Haven is a highly useful resource presented by a team of writers, including Janalyn, to encourage and refresh you in your own writing. But if you’re primarily a reader, you should also know that Janalyn is the author of the upcoming allegorical fantasy DawnSinger, first in the Faeraven trilogy, available in 2012 from Harbourlight Books.

I had the fun of sharing a judging panel with Janalyn for the recent Grace Awards, and quickly learned that this is an author with an extremely respectable sense of storytelling and the art of the novel overall. I look forward to seeing her work in print.

Where else to find Janalyn:

Soup

Savoury Beef Crockpot Soup

A nice one to start at breakfast time for a ready supper. Piggybacks well with other meal preparations earlier in the day.

  • 1 pound stew beef, browned on all sides
  • 3 qts water
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp basil
  • 2 bay leaves

Simmer in medium-heat crockpot for a couple of hours or till lunchtime.

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pot barley

Add to crockpot and let stew for the rest of the day. Served with Dave’s Super Salad and/or some homemade bread (and maybe a sailboat cake for dessert), feeds an entire family of hobbits.