Welcome 2018! (Or, plans for the new year)

Happy New Year! Happy 2018, dear readers!

Well, can you believe it? We’ve made it to the start of another year. Another 365 days around the sun to do some things. It’s exciting and terrifying. Like a new journal with 365 pages and we have to come up with something awesome to do. That’s a lot of pressure to make something wonderful, important. You know, not to waste the year just by having fun. But I think having fun is part of the point of creating, instead of trying to compete with people’s perfect Instagram or Twitter posts.

So what are you planning to do this year? What do you want to accomplish with your art or work or anything in between?

I always have super-audacious plans. Always. And I don’t accomplish all of it, even if I get a lot done. I seem to think that there are always more hours in the day than 24 and that I’ll never get sick or burned out or tired. But life has a way of bringing a reality check to any plans. However, I try not to let that get me down.

So what am I planning on doing this year?

I’m going to do a lot more calligraphy for the sheer joy of it (and because it’s important to remember that not every hobby has to become a hustle). I received some amazing gifts of new ink, nibs, and a whole ream of practice paper for Christmas and am looking forward to practicing and creating beautiful writing. I’ll probably share some photos, too, but I’m doing it for the joy of it and not for any hustle.

I’m going to continue writing with intention (check out Chuck Wendig’s post on this for inspiration). I’m still writing the first draft of what I started before NaNoWriMo and worked on through November (in between travel and getting a truly awful cold) and I’m hoping it will wrap itself up in the first couple of months of the year so I can let it sit and I can revise it later in the year. It’s the slowest I’ve written a first draft, but I also feel it is probably the most intentional writing I’ve done in fiction, too. It’s been frustrating sometimes to write slowly, but it feels like the words are coming out better, truer, with meaning. I’ll let you know how it looks once I get into the revising.

But I want to continue writing with intention, even if it is slower. I’m going to continue writing Saturday Shorts, which feed my need to play with fiction writing and satisfy my desire to complete a project. I hope you’ll continue reading them and hopefully enjoying them.

I want to read more books this year. I keep track of the books I read throughout the year and books I want to read. I have a healthy list and will hopefully get to read a lot of them in the coming weeks. I may share some thoughts on them from time to time and hope you’ll share books you love with others, too.

I’m looking forward to a year of continued creativity and art, with work and activism knit up into it all, too. Plus many cups of tea, naps in the sun with my husband and cat, talks with dear friends, and some travel for inspiration, too.

I hope you have a wonderful plan for 2018 that brings a smile to your face and keeps you buoyed through the inevitable difficulties of life that lay ahead for us all. I hope you have a supportive community, full of friends and family, that keeps you going. And I hope this year we make the world a better place in anyway we can. As Desmond Tutu wrote, “Each time we choose good, we add to the human treasury of goodness.” And that’s something I think we can resolve to do in our art and life. Let’s increase goodness in the world this year. That’s a plan worth resolving to accomplish.

Happy new year, dear readers. 🙂

Goodness is What We Do

Sometimes words fail. I don’t know about you, but after getting past “Nazis are bad” and “hate is bad” it can be difficult to know what to say or add to the conversation. Sometimes we have to act for good, giving of our time, money, and creativity to make the world a better place in whatever way and space we can, but still can’t find the words to represent or contain our emotions and reactions and all that messy stuff we try to work through in our art, our writing, our living. So I’m rather thankful this week for the quote I found in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide and I wanted to share it with you.

Goodness has a First Amendment right, too. Southern Poverty Law Center

First, go read the guide. It is full of useful tips and actions that we can all take to make the world a better place, a place of goodness and welcome, a place where everyone is valued and safe. That’s a world that I want to help bring about and I want to live in.

Second, remember that goodness has a right to be in the conversation, too. (And, whenever you need it, there is always the PSA from xkcd about free speech, too.) We can spread goodness, at work and at home, in our communities and across the world. One person can only do so much, but together we can do a lot. And while it is really, really difficult to continue creating art in such a time, we need to do that, too. It can sustain us so we can continue fighting and it can be used, as we’ve seen for resistance.

Also, if you’re like me and a lot of your creativity takes the form of writing, it can be helpful to know you are not alone in finding it difficult to write now and good to read other writers who also all about getting art done at the same time as working to better the world through their activism and support of various causes and organizations. For a bit of cheer and something concrete you can do, go read the guest post from Michael Damian Thomas on Terrible Minds then go support Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. Also, check out the 10 Things for Good from Janine Vangool, the publisher, editor, and designer of Uppercase. 

I hope you find some way to help spread goodness today in the world and whatever kindness you can. I hope you find it in you to create and share your art because we need it, always. And I hope you find some joy in whatever small things you can because we need joy to continue our work, our art, and our lives. Let’s smother the hate of the world with goodness in speech, action, and art. I know together we can do it! 🙂

All the Time We Have

I think about time a lot. How much faster it seems to pass now than when I was in grade school. How much of it I seem to waste in meetings that my work requires. How much more I’d love to have to do things and how little I seem to be able to get done in the time I have. But, as today’s quote reminds us, no matter how the time is passing, it’s all we’ve got:

Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got. Art Buchwald

This is not the most comforting quote I’ve shared in this space, but it is an important quote. Especially now when it sometimes (often) feels like the world is spinning off its axis and there is so much that needs righting and it can make us feel hopeless and small, it is important to remember that time still passes so we’ve got to do what we can in that time. Because, no matter how much time we have, it never seems like enough.

So, even in these lazy days of summer, I’m reminded to keeping moving forward and using the time I have in the best ways that I can. And, for me, that means spending time with family and friends, creating and sharing my art, helping out with what I can, and remembering that sometimes the best thing to do is take a break and stare out the window (preferably with a glass of iced tea).

So let’s keep up the good fight, keep creating art, and keep sharing our time and love with others. Time really is finite. How will use your time today?  I hope you find time for the things you love and the people who inspire you today. 🙂

Ordinary Heros

Well, here we are in the second half of 2017 already. It’s been a year, hasn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely ready for a bit of a break during summer. Some slower days, longer nights, and time to work on some of my non-work projects sounds lovely to me. Life becomes a slog if you can’t find the time to sit back and unplug every once in a while.

But we still have to interact with the world and try to make it a better place, through our work and our art. So in that spirit, I wanted to share this quote:

I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Christopher Reeve

I think this may be one of my favorite definitions of a hero. It is something I can aspire to do, even if I don’t face overwhelming obstacles. I can continue to persevere and endure and help others to, too, even when it seems like everything is going up in flames.

Plus, if we manage to persevere together, we have the potential of not just enduring but thriving and kicking those obstacles in the butt. And that gives me hope, which gives me the strength to continue to take action. I think we all need that these days.

Also, if you need some inspiration to keep writing (or doing whatever creative acts you do), I still can’t recommend reading Chuck Wendig’s blog enough (sample motivation post found here). It can definitely be NSFW sometimes, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t still a great read. It helped me take the holiday yesterday and start writing fiction again. And to me, that’s a great win.

I hope you find ways of being an ordinary hero (just don’t start calling yourself one, that’s a bit pretentious), of creating your art, and of sharing it with the world. Let’s help each other and let’s make some great art. Be kind and I’ll be back with a Saturday Short this weekend. 🙂

Spending Our Days and Our Lives

We have sunshine where I live for the first time in what seems like weeks. I know it hasn’t been that long, but the rain in California has been intense this year and it is nice (and necessary) to have a break. I always feel more energetic when the sun is out, but I wrote out this week’s quote when it was raining because it reminds me to get on with life even when I feel like just curling up and doing nothing.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard

This is both profound and oh, so, simple, right? Our days make up our lives so we better spend our days doing what makes us create the life we want. I mean, that shouldn’t be hard, should it? But it seems like too often we let things get in the way of using our days in a way that is meaningful and productive. I know I’m guilty of fixating on work problems and conflicts or the dozen small tasks that I need to do, instead of focusing on whether I’m moving towards my goals and towards helping anyone in what I’m doing with my day.

So I need the reminder that our days create our lives. I need that reminder whenever I feel that time is going by too quickly and I don’t have enough time for those things that make life worth living for me: family and friends, time to create and to share, giving and laughing, listening to the birds, and walking without constantly looking at my watch.

I hope that you life your days the way you want to spend your life. Reframing my days in that way makes what I do have purpose and meaning, even if sometimes it seems futile. If you have any tips on what you do to make your days meaningful, even in the midst of busy work weeks, I’d love to hear them.

Also, if you have a chance, I highly recommend The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. It is a wonderful read and a reminder of what makes for a good, meaningful life. Plus, who doesn’t want to exist in a place of joy? No one I know. So I wish you a joyful day and a joyful life. Let’s create something wonderful, okay? 🙂

Sharing and Having

Well, it’s February already. Did anyone else feel like January went by in a hazy whirlwind and you’re not quite sure what happened? The world is way too interesting for my taste right now and it is hard to fell like there is time for art when there is so much else to do, so many others to help. So today feels like the right day to share this quote b Leonard Nimoy:

the miracle is this-the more we share, the more we have Leonard Nimoy

It makes me smile and remember that sharing truly does give us more. Not just talking about “stuff” either, but the important things like more compassion, more empathy, more knowledge that we are enough no matter how flawed our attempts to share and to care might be. In doing things to help others, we inevitably help ourselves and that’s a good thing.

The world may seem to be getting harsher and less caring, but there are so many good people in this world sharing and caring and helping. So we need to remember this—I need to remember this—to keep up my energy and to keep caring.

And our art is a part of this sharing. It’s important. I got back to creative writing on my next manuscript a few days ago and it felt wonderful. It felt right. I hope to have more to share soon.

Keep sharing, keep caring, and keep making your art. We need it. We really do.



Opinions and Thinking

Everyone has an opinion about everything, or at least it sure seems like that sometimes. Goodness knows I have opinions on lots of different things and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I do agree that one should base opinions in thought. So, it seemed appropriate with all that is going on in the world to share this quote:

An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it. Jef Mallett

Thinking, critical thinking, can be difficult. It can take time to sort out fact from fiction from deliberate falsehood. It can make a person’s brain hurt listening to all the swirling, ill-formed opinions racing across all forms of media.

So it is good to remember that we shouldn’t substitute opinion for thought. That perhaps, we should all do a little more research, a little more contemplation, before running head first into whatever argument or onto whatever soapbox we’re gunning for. We need to take time to think–it usually saves time and face in the long run anyway.

So I hope that you feel you have time to contemplate, to think, to reflect and that it helps you in your life and in your art. It’s been a slow start to my own art practices this new year, not least of all because I’ve gotten some touch of that nasty cold that’s been going around. But even a slow start means some progress and I’ve had time to think about what I want to accomplish in the new year and I hope you have to. There’s only eleven and a half months left to do something, and that’s not very long at all.

So here’s to thinking and sharing and creating. Thanks for reading and Saturday Shorts are returning this weekend, too. 🙂

Invincible Summer

Here we are in the midst of winter (or if we aren’t technically in winter yet, it sure feels like it outside) and the end of another year. It has been a surreal year and I’m not really sad to see it go. Winter is often a hard time, a brutal time, one that makes me want to hibernate instead of doing the dozen of things I should be doing. So I rather think it is fitting to share this quote as the last quote of the year. In the midst of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. Albert Camus

I love this idea of an invincible summer inside us all. No matter how horrible it gets we have the possibility of tapping this well of warmth and goodness and hope deep inside us. And my goodness, do I believe that we’ll need all the summer-like hope and joy that we can get going forward. Because hope is a good thing (check out this Chuck Wendig post for more on the necessity of hope) and we need it to fuel our actions so we don’t get dragged down by winter’s inevitable chill.

I hope that you feel there is an invincible summer inside you, too, and that it powers you to do great and good things in your art, your craft, and your life.

This is the last post for the year. I’m taking a bit of a break and will be back with more calligraphy quotes and Saturday Shorts in the new year. Until then, I hope you make these last days of 2016 and first days of 2017 as wonderful and joyful as you can. I hope you have a mug of delicious tea or coffee or cocoa and time to relax. I hope you have time to create something special or find a spark of interest to try something new. I hope you find comfort and caring and show the same. I hope you have a very happy new year. 🙂

Analog Ideas

Do you ever feel like you spend too much time in front of some form of computer screen? I do. It’s hard to get away from between work and writing. It seems like so much of my time deals with doing something or other that requires the internet and screentime. And sometimes it’s more draining than fulfilling. So I had to share this quote from Von Glitschka:

Ideas are still best developed in analog form. Von Glitschka

While writing may be faster on a computer, some of my best ideas are developed when I’m handwriting and scribbling notes in one of the many notebooks lying around my house. It seems like handwriting is a sort of magic that allows thoughts to make connections to plug plotholes and problems, find new twists and link random events to make a cohesive narrative. Even though I know that I’ll have to transcribe my words on my laptop, it is worth it to sometimes step away from the screen to write by hand.

The same holds true for my other creative activities, most obviously in calligraphy, but also with drawing and designing. These were the areas that Von Glitschka had in mind when he said that analog beats digital for idea generation. But it works for most forms of creativity, in my experience, too.

So how about you? Do you find stepping away from the screen and working in analog format useful for idea generation? For sparking your creativity in new ways?

I hope, whatever medium you use, that you find something that inspires you this week to create something beautiful to share with the world. We could all use some more beauty and inspiration in our lives. Happy creating. 🙂

Creating and Belonging (and not being Annoying)

Have you read Elizabeth Gilberts, Big Magic? I have and I liked it so much that when I was stuck in an airport fairly recently without any unread books left in my bag (the horror!) that I bought a copy for reading on the plane. It was as great the second time around as the first and I say this because today’s quote is from that book:

The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chose few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. Elizabeth Gilbert

I really love this quote because it makes me smile and keeps me from worrying (too much) about if my work is “art” and if I really have any talent whatsoever. We all worry about this stuff sometimes, right? (If you don’t, I’m both happy for you and slightly envious of your confidence.)

People who try to tell you what you are doing isn’t “art” or that you shouldn’t be creating whatever your work is are totally annoying and it is nice to have someone call them out on it. No one likes to hear about the “chosen few” when they are struggling to get something–anything–published or trying to get their first showing or whatever other goal you are working towards.

I need the reminder that creating doesn’t belong to only a few and that creativity belongs to everyone in whatever way they want to bring forth their art in the world. This quote reminds me to tune out the haters and get back to my work, whether that is at the computer, in my sketchbook, or in the world. As we are constantly reminded, haters gonna hate, but we don’t have to listen to them even if they are self-styled guardians of culture and arts. We can just keep on making art and making the world a little bit better, a little bit more beautiful through our efforts. Creating a place where we belong and reminding ourselves that we’ll never be that annoying, even when we reach our goals.

I hope you have a wonderful week full of inspiration and creating your art. 🙂