art

Creating Space

I don’t need to wax poetic about the fact that life is busy, and continues to be happen-y or busy or full as long as it extends. I won’t even go on about the fact that it’s sometimes vexingly difficult to find time for creative endeavors…particularly when we’re often convinced that there are Much More Important Things To Be Doing. Life hits hard sometimes, and we can so often be left examining the cracks in the pavement, stubbornly planting our creative gardens in the tiniest spaces. And that’s okay…even from those ittybitty spaces, big things can grow. Creating space is about seizing any opportunity we can to express ourselves–to think, dream, paint, write, sing, dance, move…to exist in that place where we are the makers. I’ll just leave this little image here in closing–my notes from a meeting where I was fully aware of the agenda content and discussions, but let myself also free-hand doodle through the facts, figures, and bullet points (I had SO much fun looking back over them). In the Venn diagram of life, there are many odd and wonderful places where the colors of “daily routine” and “creativity” intersect. Where do you create the space for imaginings? Where do you make the time to create? I’d love to hear in the comments. Be well all, and happy creating! <3

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Newsday Tuesday: An Announcement!

Hello, all…happy Tuesday to you lovelies! Since Tuesday rhymes with news-day, I’ve decided to announce today that my short story Nice will be appearing in next edition of The Book Smugglers’ Quarterly Almanac! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! *ahem* Nice will introduce an exciting new sci-fi world and set in motion the events that go down in my upcoming sci-fi romance novella T.D.A., coming in July of this year. I cannot tell you how excited I am, so I must include a moment for internal Carlton Dancing.

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*Ahem* again. In preparation for this exciting new story, which is among my favorite things I have EVER written and maybe even my Patronus, I have opted to do teaser art of one of Nice‘s characters. Kind folks, meet Lukka:

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Lukka keeps company with shell casings, apparently.

I’ll announce more details, including a cover reveal for T.D.A. (it’s AMAZING and I am not even one tiny bit joking), and availability dates. Thank you as ever for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day! <3

Remember The Sunwell: An Ode to Fan Fiction/Fan Art

The fabled gates of Silvermoon City.

The fabled gates of Silvermoon.

In the Massively Multiplayer game World of Warcraft, there is a place called Silvermoon City–an isolated, arcane, and perpetually autumnal realm where the Sin’dorei (blood elves) exist on the fringe of the world between sea and forest and legions of undead. I can easily picture (in the Burning Crusade content) the strange golden trees of Eversong woods, and I can hear the melancholy cello music and eerie choral interludes in my mind. There was such a powerful sense of place, and not always in a good way. At the gates of the city and throughout the entropy-kissed towers bolstered by terrible magics and the sheer arrogance of this people, guards stood proudly and did what all NPC’s in games do–repeat the same four or five phrases over and over and over. One of them was “Remember the Sunwell.”

What happens in Silvermoon City stays in Silvermoon City.

What happens in Silvermoon City stays in Silvermoon City.

Now, I won’t lore you to death but the funny thing is that yes, I do remember the Sunwell. I remember the architecture of these imagined cities, even phrases from these elves’ language, Thalassian–“Anu’belore dela’na” (the eternal sun guides you) is just one. I remember the beautiful music, even some of the NPC’s names. And it’s no surprise that I was prompted to write vignettes that took place in this pixel-city. It was so well-imagined, so real to me that creating narratives around the guardsand trainers and merchants just felt natural. I think this is one of the best gifts that fandoms/gaming/nerdery can give a writer or creative sort–the gift of an easy and super!fun way to create one’s own content. Sometimes you want to break away from writing the next Great American Novel or creating the Most Important Art Project of All Time and just forge your own take on something that already exists.

I've created a goodly amount of WoW fan art, trust me.

I’ve created a goodly amount of WoW fan art, trust me.

Fanfiction/art is a fantastic way to engage in character studies, to learn descriptive writing, to capture character expressions in art, and on and on. It makes me sad when I see people bashing fan-made content for already existing worlds. Part of fandom is having fun with what you do–and if that means writing, RP’ing, creating art featuring these places, then live it up! I know personally I’ve learned a ton about writing craft (guys, my prose started out so freaking purple) from character vignettes based in gaming or established canon worlds. Fanfic can be a fantastic way to break through writer’s block and exercise creative muscles in a safe place. In the end, I do remember the Sunwell. I remember how much fun I had gallivanting about Azeroth, and I remember how much it supported my writing so to all I say shorel’aran, al diel shala, and have fun out there!

Thriving Artists

Hey, creatives–Imma say a thing. *ahem* Once upon a time last year, a fellow writer cautioned me, telling me that I shouldn’t ever expect to get paid for my work.  No. No, no. No. No? No. NO! Nooooooooooooo. Newp. I keep running across this same issue with other writers, jewelers, artists, musicians, sculptors, and so many other creatives (forgive me if I’m leaving you out–I’m keeping this brief for the sake of impact). Now, I understand that exposure for your project or product is a good and right thing. Free samples, demonstrations, or sales on affordable commission all make good sense. They make even better sense when you offer them from an already existing creative platform such as your portfolio website or your writer’s blog where it’s clear that you are not just some kid in a sandbox offering to build a moat, but a creative professional with a valuable product to offer. I know some of you will wince at the word “product” and maybe even legit barf when you hear “branding,” but it’s true. Not just true, but necessary if you want to be paid for creative work which in my humble opinion, is healthy and just as it should be. We don’t question paying for someone to cook our food, for getting our hair done did, for having our cars cleaned and detailed, for personal trainers. Why do we devalue our own work, then? Work that takes hours to produce and hone, that takes a lifetime to get just right?

If you start to feel like what you’re doing is not valuable, please address this feeling with a Stuart Smalley-esque pep talk, and look at this graphic I made for ya’ll (use it any-damn-where you want) and remember that what you do is important to the world, that it takes time, resources (sometimes expensive resources) and more time, and that getting paid for it is as it should be. The “starving artist” mentality is not what we should be keeping in the collective consciousness when it comes to creativity–I’ll go with thriving artist any day. <3

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ZODIACAL: January/February Horrorscopes

Oh, hello there, star children! This week, I created horoscopes using this amazing, terrifying art as inspiration. I’ve taken these from my recent manic tweeting-session and condensed them here in this post. I was able last night to add fashion tips for the signs I’d neglected before. Gotta say, folks, January and February are shaping up to be interesting months, indeed. Love, money, eldritch horror…this year has it all!

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All Signs: These next months bring new opportunities. The Deepening calls in tongues of flame and terror. Mondays are lucky. Fear water.

Capricorn: Today, it is not your shadow anymore it grows impatient do not speak it do not name it do not–  Capricorn fashion tip: Earth tones can be grounding. Graveyard dirt, charnel ash, smeared on paling skin.

Aquarius: Today, you have asked the question you were forbidden to ask and now they know they know they see you they Aquarius fashion tip: black black black black black black SABLE AS PITCH

Pisces: Today, endless the Void so cold…  Pisces fashion tip: Shed your scales to get that baby-soft, pliable skin humans seem to favor.

Aries: Today, LOOK UPON THE SHATTERED LANDS OF YOUR SOUL, THE UN-FIRE BLAZING IN ITS FROZEN DEPTHS AND YOU WILL KNOW ME–  Aries fashion tip: *the shick-shick metal-ting of shears, the sound of rending fabric*

Taurus: This week, go to the chasm you see in all-consuming dreams. Gaze into it. Wait. Sun sets. The stars do not show.  Taurus fashion tip: Time to make a statement, Taurus! Wearing your insides on the outside ought to do it.

Gemini: Today, *hisssss* WE DEVOURRRR WE REND WE SING THE DEEPS WE TEARRRR WE BEG THE ENDING OF ALLLLLL– Gemini Fashion Tip: Geminians are as Janus…the twins, two-faced. You already have one…strap another to the back of your head. It doesn’t need real eyes. It’s a metaphor.

Cancer: Today, *scrabbling* *scuttles of tiny claws* Do not speak…shhhh. Still, now. Quiet…  Cancer Fashion Tip: It’s time to shine. Polish up that exoskeleton–Minwax can work wonders, or a light coat of shellac.

Leo: Today, expect rage-mad single combat under a blood-sun, the earthshaking roars of The Enemy as it falls to ruin.  Leo fashion tip: As the king/queen of the zodiac, jewel tones are right for you. Blood is a jewel tone. Vibrant. Red.

Virgo: Today, and the pretty little wren in the maying flowered morn wandered into faerieland now her wings are shorn–  Virgo Fashion Tip: Trying to save money on your wardrobe? With a little stain remover, re-purposed burial ensembles can be a great way to look fab without the hit to the wallet. Be sure to clean the dirt from under those nails.

Libra: Today, like stars they fell and burned the earth. You, chief among them, meted justice. All is fair. All is fair.  Libra Fashion Tip: Formal attire is on your mind…the Robes Of Kalad-hr donned upon a darkmoon night in the wake of The Summoning will really bring out your eyes. Right out of your head.

Scorpio: Today, For you, betrayer, were once my Trusted but now your name is as a curse and a blight upon the land.  Scorpio fashion tip: It’s all about accessories. Littlest bones, tarsals, metatarsals strung with tiny razored teeth.

Saggitarius: Today, expect that which lived when it should not have lived to collect the impossible debts you owe.  Saggitarius Fashion Tip: Dry skin? Lackluster hair? The Fat of the Leviathan works wonders. To the murky depths you’ll go to slaughter them beast and should you return, you’ll wonder at how your lovely locks shine.

I write poetry.

I write poetry. It’s pathological. I’ve been at it for years—I have proof. Awkwardly near-rhymed couplets in my 5th grade daily journal lauding the 11-year-old me’s perfect day: extra beanbag and reading time (in a sunbeam, no less), A’s on all my assignments, and chicken patties for lunch…each of these triumphs truly worthy of occasional verse.

In middle school, I discovered sonnets replete with iambic pentameter and by high school, I was villanelling with abandon. Byronically Keatsian odes, too. Dreadful and clunky and labored. I might have even asked my mom for a quill and frou-frou journal at some point—

MOVING ON.

Something happened that interrupted the awkwardness and ratcheted my wordsmithing into a new dimension. Our family trip to The Smithsonian, particularly the National Gallery. Mom and I stood for who knows how long in front of Manet’s “Plum Brandy.” The woman in the painting looked nothing like mom but, somehow–the faraway look on her face, the way she held her cigarette, forgotten, between those first two fingers–she so very like my mother that it jarred me.

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I was unnerved by the tremendous human-ness of the painting and in awe of how much one glance could communicate. I dug around in my purse until I found a pen and scribbled a poem about my mother while other tourists jostled and crowded and came and went. The product: three stanzas, no rhyme, short lines, more white space than I’d ever witnessed in any of my other smudgy, hand-scrawled endeavors.

My mother loved it.

I even tucked the piece into the pages of her favorite Robert Frost book to be burned and mingled with her ashes. I’ve never been more humbled by my own words.

Something happened in the National Gallery that day–a sensation of tumblers clicking and grinding into place when a key turns in a lock. I understood how the enormity of the world around me could fit into such tiny spaces. How my mother’s spirit could be mirrored in a painting from 1877 then again in three squashed stanzas. How working in a condensed medium could crystallize an instant, something ephemeral and dazzling in and out of sight like sun glinting on rippling water.

How I could imply so much in the spaces between words, between lines.

How little there is to say sometimes.

One writers’ workshop and more than twenty years later, I still write poetry. I absorbed all I read, all I was taught in some bizarre osmosis of concept and style. I devoured words, I built and destroyed the infrastructures of verse and somehow developed a process that sticks with me even now.

First, the raw stone. Employ the bludgeoning tools–the blunt mallet and chisel, the heavy saw. Stand back and see a form take shape.

Sand and sand and chisel and sand.

Fine tools come next–the Dremel, the diamond cutter. Micro-adjustments. Clear the dust and polish under a magnifying glass and harsh light.

Polish again. And more.

Step back.

Understand how something of such tremendous heft and substance appears as doubly itself in a condensed form, the black-hole matter, a nothing that is weighty beyond reckoning.

Feel humbled.

I write poetry. It’s pathological.