Kay: Altered Books, Altered State of Mind

Most of us who come to this site are readers. We get a lot from books, starting with pleasure and comfort and ranging to education and creative stimulation.

I recently went with an artist friend to a juried exhibit of altered books. The artists had taken books as a starting point and cut them apart! Glued them down! Stitched them up! They created a whole different set of artistic variables with the texts and covers to view the book elements in new ways, and I think, to investigate reading and the value of books.

I loved some of the pieces. One of my favorites was a wholly new creation—a wooden, hinged “book cover” encasing pages showing a series of graphics all done in the same color scheme, of a figure leaping a mountain in joy. There was a tree made with the fanned, sculpted pages of a book. Also a giant bug made of sculpted book pages with human legs. There was a rather unimaginative (in my view) framed sequence of Harlequin covers, one from each decade. There was a way-too-large stack of annotated titles, an homage to banned books, and another about piece about resistance that had thorned rods running through the pages. There were one or two pieces that I thought were a waste of a perfectly good book.

(I apologize for the quality of these images: they’re enlarged screen grabs from YouTube, because I forgot my camera.)

It was fun to see the exhibit with an artist and to get her take on the objects. And it was fun for me to see how an artist had interpreted, and altered, books like Mother Goose and Naked Lunch. (Here’s a link to a one-minute video showcasing the exhibit.)

Did it stimulate my thinking? Absolutely. Did it stimulate my creativity? Well, better ask me later, when I get that WIP finished.

What about you? Have you guys seen any exhibits lately that made you think about your writing life?

Jeanne: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

On Friday, after 46+ years working in the same building (two different employers, multiple different jobs and all three shifts) my husband retired.

I’m excited for him. When I quit my job two years ago, I discovered that I LOVE it. Although I’ve always been a fairly achievement-oriented person, it turns out I’m happy as a clam having my days to call my own. Hubs is much more mellow to start with, so I predict he will luxuriate in not having to get up at five a.m. to go into work.

On the other hand, it will mean some changes. Less income, of course, and new health insurance, courtesy of the U.S. government (in return for a reasonable monthly payment). Continue reading

Nancy: Book Festivals

 

The writer, when allowed out of her cave for short periods of time, will tend to congregate with other writers.

As summer approaches, even I–hardcore, sun-avoidant introvert that I am–will venture out on occasional weekend forays. On Sunday, I attended a fabulous gathering of a small group of Women’s Fiction writers. A few of the ladies had attended the Gaithersburg Book Festival on Saturday, which was on my to-do wishlist. Alas, I had scheduling conflicts so had to give up on attending this year, but I hope to plan better next year.

So what did I miss? Turns out, quite a bit. Book signing. Author panels. Writing workshops. Chances to meet readers, other writers, and book lovers of all stripes. A chance to wander around in the sunshine and soak up all things literary. And it’s all free, even the workshops. Really, the only experience I can think of that’s nearly as good as sitting in the stacks of a gorgeous library on a rainy day is wandering around in a park full of books on a sunny afternoon. Continue reading

Nancy: Post-Book Blues

A few weeks ago, I finished the complete draft of my Victorian romance that will come out this fall. It’s a bit more than a first draft, having already been through first-round revisions along the way, but it was “the end for now,” and my coach asked me what I was doing to celebrate. Around the same time, I was answering a series of interview questions, and one of them was, “How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?”

I didn’t have an answer for either of them.

The truth is, I don’t celebrate the end of a stage of the creative process so much as mourn it. And curling up in a blanket on the sofa, rewatching episodes of Dead to Me and Santa Clarita Diet, staring at the pile of TBR books I’ve been so anxious to read but now don’t have the energy to tackle, probably isn’t the answer they want to hear.

Taking Comfort in Community

As it turns out, the post-creativity slump isn’t all that unusual. When interviewed for an article on the Fast Company website, film writer/director Jeffery Lando talked about having post-movie depression. He captured one of the elements of my own creative journey. Continue reading

Jeanne: Spring Fever

Front Porch Flowers 2019
I meant to do my work today—
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand—
So what could I do but laugh and go?                                                 Richard Le Gallienne

I usually write my blog posts on Sunday afternoon, but this Sunday, after a week of rain and cold, the weather turned beautiful. So, instead of hunkering down at my desk, I bopped up to the garden center around the corner and bought geraniums and begonias to fill my front porch planters. And then I spent a happy afternoon playing in the dirt.
We’ll categorize this post as “Work Life Balance.”

Elizabeth: The Sunk Cost Fallacy

A “first draft” version of a quilt

No, we didn’t turn into an economics blog when your back was turned.  Today’s post is definitely about writing – honest!

But first . . .

One summer when I was about twelve, I made my first attempt at piecing a quilt.  I’m from a long line of crafty people, there were plenty of fabric scraps around the house, and I needed something to do during those loooooong hours when the library had the audacity to close.

Pink and green was a popular color combination at that time (don’t ask me why), so those are the colors I chose, making bigger blocks out of smaller blocks of a variety of colors.  Since I was using scraps, I ran out of some patterns before others.  Eventually the top was finished, some batting purchased for the inside, and a piece of fabric unearthed for the back.  I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, but I’d seen it done before and just sort of winged it.

The seams weren’t as straight as they could be.  I frequently forgot to check my stitch-width, so that varied quite a bit.  My squares could only be called “square” by the truly charitable.  Had my mother been making the quilt, she’d have taken apart the problems areas and made sure everything was perfect before moving on.  I am my father’s daughter, however, and his philosophy (besides “duct tape can fix anything”) was “if you step back and squint a little and it looks fine, then it’s fine.”  So I stepped back, squinted, and carried on. Continue reading

Elizabeth: To RWA or not to RWA

agents, editors, agent, editor, pitch, pitching, manuscriptThe annual email reminding me to renew my RWA membership arrived sometime in March and I promptly forgot all about it.  RWA is persistent, however, so a reminder arrived in the beginning of April, and then the next week, and again the next week.  The last reminder listed all the benefits I’d be losing out on if I neglected to renew.

And yet . . . my membership remains un-renewed. Continue reading