Life Reboot, number….I’ve lost count now.

10 03 2015

Weather: Michigan Winter on the Wane. After weeks of sub-zero wind chills and cold air temps and snow snow snow….We’re finally stabilizing back up into the low 40s & 50s.

So I haven’t post anything since my post- brain trauma write up. Time to catch up with all the craziness.

I am pretty much fully recovered. Had a third angiogram and a 4th CT Scan. Which basically told me that 1) all the blood has cleared out of my skull, and 2) I still have no answer as to what caused my brain bleed. The doctors all told me there is close to zero chance of this happening again, which is weird, considering they don’t know what caused it. C’est la vie.

I’m off almost all of my meds, which I am infinitely thankful for, because the getting up in the middle of the night to take horsepills was getting a little tiresome.

There have been bumps in the road. I had an allergic reaction to the dye from the angiogram which resulted in a week of severe skin irritation and a lot of Benadryl being taken to stave it off.  Once that finally vanished, I succumbed to that week’s version of plague. (Luckily the head cold version, which sucked nonetheless) Still have lingering nasal yuck, but hoping for it to be all gone soon.

The down side of perpetual sickness, even if it changes up the version, is that everything in your life kinda gets put on hold. Have only been to the studio twice since getting home from the hospital. I’ve missed several weeks of TaiChi. My weight is getting ridiculous again, but that happens when you’re stuck on a couch feeling miserable.

Then there’s the non-illness related bumps in the road. My dad’s only brother, who was my favorite uncle, passed away this week. He’d been ill with heart problems related to previous health issues. Still, it hurt to see him go. It was kind of like losing another connection to my dad. We’re going to the wake this weekend.

Now there has been some GOOD news, albeit stress inducing, but in a GOOD way. We purchased a house! Here in St. Joseph and in our price range and in town proper. Never thought we’d get all three. Closer to the studio. Closer to town. Putting down some roots finally. Brian hated living in the apartment, but made do. We lucked into a four square style, 2-story house with almost all the features we wanted, including fairly brand new appliances. (Which is a god send, because we’re gonna be tight as ticks until I can get some work/artwork sold.) Will be so happy to get all our stuff out of storage and start paring down the non-essentials.

All in all, things have been slowed down, and both Bri and I feel like we’re rebooting. We will be putting a lot of energy into getting the house organized, getting back into the studio to make up the time we’ve lost over the past few months, and getting ourselves back in shape. It’s time. We’re in a very good place now, and I don’t want the opportunity to slip from our fingers. Having had a pretty serious scare on the health front has, without being totally cliche, put things in perspective.

The long cold winter is finally over.

Hoping for a productive, creative and new start this spring.

More regular blogging will happen once we get settled in.

I’m happy.  I’m alive and with the person I love, and we’re about to embark on a whole new adventure.

I really really can’t wait. 😀

 

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Expanding your Toolbox

27 09 2013

Personal update first:
Glanced at the dates and cringed. But I have a legitimate reason for falling off the posting cliff –After years of waffling, the Husbeast and I are FINALLY putting our house on the market, and getting ready to relocate.

Granted– our grand plans to move to the Pacific Northwest have been knocked over under the weight of financial realities, but they are not fully dead. Postponed rather than killed off.

We’re looking further east in Indiana, mostly because we can get more house for our (rather meager) housing dollar.

Now onto the meat of this post. The husbeast and I were chatting in the car this morning, heading to the train station where I drop him off for the commute into The City where he works. And by chatting I mean, he groggily nodded as I pontificated out loud. As you do.

We were listening to music from zee iPod and a My Chemical Romance song came on. I commented at length that I loved artists who had multiple outlets –e.g. Gerard Way sings (well, SANG) for MCR, but also has a very healthy career in comics, award winning even. Steven Archer & Donna Lynch from the band Ego Likeness also make amazing art & write great books.   It’s really less about the number of things that these artistic multi-taskers work on and more interesting to look at why they do it.

A lot of my friends are artists, writers and musicians. Not a calculated thing, I just have more in common with them. Most of them are single art/media focused. Which is fine, because they are VERY GOOD at that particular media. Several others are multimedia. Some have pursued the different branches of the art tree because they got bored of one particular track, or because, due to one unforeseen event or another, had to change track. (Injuries, money, relocation, etc.)

But there are a handful of my artist friends and idols who juggle multiple disciplines for the same reason I do: to expand their toolbox.

As creatives, a lot of us are usually juggling a bunch of ideas in our noggin, which makes for some uneasy translations from brain to physical manifestation.  Results can vary from satisfactory to “oh gods why did I even bother???” If you work in a single media, that can make things even more challenging, as a single media is limiting. If you only paint or sculpt or write, sometimes getting the idea in your head to manifest in the physical world can be like shoving the proverbial square peg into a round hole.

Your toolbox, as it were, doesn’t contain the right tool to tell the story or describe the image in your head.

At this point you can do one of three things: 1) wrestle the idea into shape as best as you can with the tools at hand, 2) abandon the idea and work on something else, or 3) you can decide to expand your toolbox and manifest the story/idea through different means.

Number 3 can be both exhilarating and daunting by equal measure. Trying a new method of idea translation, especially one you’re not well versed in,  can be frustrating.  But if you at least try, you might be surprised at the results. No one is going to be an expert the first time you try another method. If you’re a good painter, you’re not going to switch to sculpting and create at the same level instantly.  But here’s the rub: ideas are fluid and complex and never come with a step by step instruction how to manifest them. By adding different tools to your toolbox, you give yourself a wider selection of ways to tell your creative story.

I started out as a writer, with no intent of trying another media. I wrote to give my ephemeral brain stew some structure. Words were my building blocks. My ideas always came as images. Sometimes moving, sometimes still. The moving images were easier to write. They were movies, complete with soundtracks and actors and dialogue. I was writing the transcripts of these snippets and then, like putting concrete around a wire frame, I built a story.

The still images? They’re vivid, they’re specific and they don’t really do more than lodge themselves in my brain, waiting for passage into the physical world.  I stashed them in my brain locker , in carefully labelled Tupperware, for later use.

A few years ago, The Husbeast decided to take some stained glass classes. He’s a graphic design production artist, so his comfort zone is working with computers and design software. Learning a hands-on, physical art was new for him. (He’d dabbled in painting and art classes in high school, but nothing serious). He was instantly hooked. He started building pieces, working towards making Tiffany reproduction lampshades. Watching him get absorbed in translating images in his head using pieces of of glass and metal was fascinating. I started thinking that, since my novel had stalled in the middle of my gazillionth editing pass, maybe I too should find a craft that would allow a different outlet. Since there was a metric tonne of small glass pieces and leftovers from The Husbeast’s projects, I decided to try my hand at mosaics. I made some pieces for Christmas presents, and they turned out pretty damn good. Then the inevitable happened: The ideas started poking out the Tupperware in my head. All those still images that had stumped me now had a way to manifest. I bought sketchbooks, and to my surprise, found out I wasn’t too bad at drawing the things in my head. But even with this new tool in the toolbox, I realized that there were still ideas that I sketched that wouldn’t be served by mosaics. So I’m learning to paint, and photograph, and sculpt.  I want to learn to make tiles and pottery. I want to have as many tools at my fingertips as I can, so I don’t have to shove ideas into that Tupperware anymore.

I have no idea if I’ll be any good at any of these new tools, but my perspective has shifted.

Instead of taking my ideas and wrestling with them to make them work with the tool I’m best at, I’m now letting the idea dictate the tool.  I think all of us, all creatives, can be served better by increasing the options in our toolbox.

It doesn’t matter if it’s something as simple as learning a new brushstroke or switching the substrate you work on or changing the genre of your story, or if you decide to completely change the medium to something you’ve never tried before.

Tell your story in the best way you can.  Don’t be afraid if it seems impossible.

You got the idea, created it from nothing into something. Somehow, I think if your brain gifts you with art, it probably already knows how you need to make it.  Just find the art equivalent of the Babel Fish to translate it into life.





:Blowing the Dust off this Thing::

13 06 2012

Weather: Sunny & 70s. Been a roller coaster since March. Cold then hot. Climate Change, WOO HOO.

Yes, it’s been an elephant’s age since I updated. Lots has happened, but nothing really noteworthy.

On the writing front, I’m finished with my novella of erotica. It’s been edited, revised and now is ready to be unleashed….um UPLOADED. Now comes my first foray into the self-publishing realm full stop. Currently I’m trying to wrap my head around e-formatting. Then I need to decide on a venue to publish it. Was going to use Scribd, but they have capped their sellers for now. No joy there. So now it’s between the usual suspects: Createspace, LuLu and Lightning Source. Will be tapping my friends to get a consensus on the good, bad and ugly about all of these.

Book#1 is almost done. Sigh. Rewrites have proven painful. Last 1/3 of the book required some BIG changes, which as we all know, leads to a domino effect of retroactive changes through the book. There are days it flows, and days filled with gnashing of teeth and thoughts of burning my laptop in effigy. Double le sigh. Still, I need to worry less about arbitrary deadlines and get the best writing done instead.

On the mosaic side, I finished 2 commissions and 4 other pieces. Need to step up my output. I seem to be caught in a tug of war between my two pursuits, and neither is being adequately served. More’s the pity. Interesting development in that I have discovered I prefer working mixed media (Part stained glass, Part tile.) It  gives me a little more flexibility in design. Besides, the husbeast has a metric ton of glass and is quite willing to share. Always a good thing when a couple can share their passions. 🙂

The house is getting some major work done on it: New roof, new gutters and all the windows replaced. Paying for it will be a challenge, but not impossible. Now we need to get the cosmetic stuff done: paint the siding, patch & paint the inside, etc etc.  Bri and I figure we can safely put the house on the market very soon. New horizons and people and opportunities beckon from afar (Well, the Pacific Northwest, to be precise 😉 ) and it’s far past time for us to be on our way.

I’ve had some difficulties the past few months, trying to find my way with this new paradigm. It’s not easy. It’s simple on paper and in theory, but life is neither predictable or plays nice when you make plans. Rolling with the punches seems to be more the name of the game than disciplined planning. Still, things are starting to happen, and to work. My preconceived notions of what I’d do or think or BECOME have altered radically.

For one, I’m finding that I can’t split my time 50/50 between my two pursuits. The muses are not that practical. Projects will take the time they take, and I can’t flog myself if I’m spending more time on one rather than the other. It all has a way of working out. Inspiration will not be ordered about. Sometimes the writing is working, sometime the art needs all the attention. Roll with the punches, as I said.

Online interaction has been sporadic, but I’m getting better at determining when I’m not doing anything productive and stepping away from the computer. My health kinda faltered a bit, what with losing my 2 mile a day hike to the office. So, I’ve built in a workout schedule that has finally started to click.

Nothing comes easy in the freelance life, and maybe it shouldn’t. If it were easy, everyone would succeed and no one would quit. Challenge makes it worthwhile. It’s just trying to find a way to make the challenges motivating and not intimidating that is difficult, at least for me.

I would be remiss in not mentioning that one of the things that’s been helping me not toss the towel in on my writing has been reading Chuck Wendig’s blog on a fairly regular basis. He gives unvarnished advice to writers of all stripes. Colorful language abounds, she says with vast understatement. But the advice is sound. You don’t necessarily have to agree with him, but he’ll make you take a closer look at your work and make it better nonetheless.  Read his awesome blog here: Terrible Minds

Also, a reminder that my husband and I both are producing art for sale at our website, Einini Glassworks. It’s in need of an update as well, and we have more items that will be up for sale hopefully by this weekend. You can also like our Facebook Page,  or follow our Twitter feeds  (Einini Glassworks & Einini Mosaics).  I’ll have my Self-Publishing Facebook page up shortly. Need to get the novella ready for pubbing first.

Again, nothing earth shattering in the news area, but steady has been sufficient to keep me busy. Hopefully, I can stay at least consistent in that.





Regrouping.

6 01 2012

Weather: Seriously, Weather Gods. WTF? 50 degree temps today? IT’s BLOODY JANUARY!! I would very much like my crappy blizzard weather now, rather than in March!

I mentioned that our home was broken into and burglarized right before Christmas. We were lucky not much was taken, though there were a few things that are still making me broken hearted that they’re gone. My engagement ring for one. My grandmother’s garnet pendant for another. Money is easily fixed, technology replaceable. Sigh. The worst thing that’s come from the break in is the shredded mental state it leaves behind.

Three weeks on and I’m just now getting my sense of security reassembled. we had to replace our back door in it’s entirety. (Frame, storm door, main door. New locks, new alert system. Door brace). It’s very difficult to escape from the victim mentality. It leaves you shaky, tight-chested and constantly thinking the worst case scenarios. It’s hard to sleep when you don’t feel you’re secure. It’s hard to leave the house, when every time you come back, you’re sick to your stomach at the possibilities.

I worry about leaving the cats at home. I lug my laptop to work with me everyday. And my passport. And anything else I’m worried about getting stolen. My back is not happy about this.

So now…now I’m starting to feel less insecure. I’m feeling a little more relieved everytime we come home and everything’s fine. I’m still jittery, and I’m still a little suspicious of anyone walking down our alley. But I imagine this will also dissipate with time.

The side effect of all this paranoia and fear is that it totally derailed all the momentum Brian and I had going before the holidays. We had a fire stoked to get our art and writing done. We had plans, we had deadlines….all went up in a puff of anxiety. So now we’re regrouping. Scraping up the scattered shards of our confidence and trying to reassemble them. Gonna take time.

The one thing this incident has NOT quelled, but in fact has strengthened, is our desire to move and leave behind this area for good.

It’s funny how talking about taking big steps in one’s life and the desire to make changes in one’s life are easy to come by. Especially when time appears to be available. It sometimes takes an extreme event to throw cold water on your head and wake you up to the fact that time is, in fact, not unlimited. And sometimes the comfort zone, even if it isn’t palatable, can sometimes make it difficult to change your situation. The devil you know, etc etc.

So. Life goes on. And either you let the horrible event shape you, or you grit your teeth and keep moving forward. Life moves forward regardless.

I promise the next blog will be filled with witty comments, helpful insight and more news on developments for me & the husbeast. Or at least some fun pics & a random snark.





Winding down the year

26 12 2011

It’s been far too long since I posted.

Lots has been happening. First off, I’m officially a small business owner! I filed a DBA for Corvusangelicus Press, which will be used to self publish some of my stories. I’ll still be pursuing trad publishing for some of my books, but this way I can get some other pieces out there that might be too hard to trad publish.

Also, I started creating glass tile mosaics. These were gifts for my family.

I’ll be splitting my time between writing and creating art. I’m going to sell some of these pieces at einini.com (Einini Glassworks) where my husband sells his stained glass art & Tiffany reproduction lamps. Ultimately, these two businesses will become my full time work. Not just yet though. 😉

On a less pleasant note, our home got burglarized a couple days before Christmas. Someone booted in our back door and ransacked our house looking for cash and jewelry. They must have been on foot because they left behind all our tech gear and a number of items most thieves would have grabbed. We’ve been very on edge until we were able to replace the back door with something more secure, including an alarm system.

Partly I blame the weather we’ve been having. It’s been far too warm around here for this season. It’s not gotten out of the upper 30s – low 40s since Thanksgiving and we’ve seen precious little snow, which didn’t stick around at all. Sigh. Sad to be wishing for horrible weather to feel safer.

On a positive note, I made some feral cat shelters for the small feral cat colony that hangs out in our neighborhood. I put out a little food for them daily and some water. They mostly seem skittish, although a couple seem like they might be adoptable.  We may take those two into the humane society once the weather starts getting colder. They seem very healthy, so far.

Personally, this has been a roller coaster year. Brian and I have lost some relatives. We’ve both made some major strides to establish our business, but we’re still stuck here in Indiana. Our health was getting better until we both hit a major skid in October. Up and down, two steps forward, one step back. Kinda tired of the dance.

I’m gonna be an aunt come the end of February and that has just added another kick in the ass of Bri & I wanting to start a family.

But, as the turn of the year arrives on the horizon, I’m striving to begin the new year with a more even handed mindset. Take things as they come. Making more leaps of faith. Not letting anyone else dictate my limits or deciding for me what is possible or what is the best path. I need to make my own mistakes, and my own decisions. Brian and I have so much we want to do, and most of it requires us to not be in our current location to work. So…major changes & decisions in the new year. All for the better, one way or another.

Hopefully I’ll be able to blog more, and have more to blog about, come the new year. Time for the Renaissance Chick to put her big girl panties on and get to work.





News! I have News! and some chitchat about the DIY industry

27 09 2011

Things have been a little on the ZOMG! DISTRACTED! side so apologies for the lack of posting.

There have been DEVELOPMENTS, of the good kind. My lovely friend Heather Poinsett-Dunbar  and I have finally gotten our proverbial stuffs together and are putting together an anthology of Library themed stories. Mine is serious erotica, which I dared myself to write a while back. (There will be more authors involved, but I’m keeping my lips zipped until things are more firmed up & I get a green light from all involved)  I’m finishing it as we speak, as it had been back-burnered while I went through my gazillionth revisions on “When the Lights go Down.”  (Those are almost done as well. Expect a ::cross fingers:: publishable novel by end of October.) More details on a publishing date for the anthology once the project gets a little more jelled

And yes. I’m going to self-publish. I seem to be turning into a cottage industry. Not only will I be publishing (And therefore marketing) my books, I’m also delving into mosaic glass tile artwork that I will be selling under my husband’s Einini Glassworks site.  We’re making a go at a proper company, where he will produce stained glass Tiffany reproduction lamps, sun-catchers & other items and I will be working on trivets, frames and eventually, tabletops & outdoor installations. It’s a whole big thing getting off the ground as we can.We’re hoping to make it a full time endeavor somewhere in the near future, once we move to Seattle. (Stop rolling your eyes. We’re moving in the Spring. Come hell, high water or zombie apocalypse).

Speaking of the whole DIY industry, if you haven’t visited Kickstarter or Bandcamp or even Etsy, you should. Because honestly, they are turning into the best sources of music, indie movies & other amazing unique projects that you will not find in the usual mainstream sources. With the economy tanking and thus effecting some rather egregious cuts in support from traditional sources, people in the arts are starting to make a go of it themselves. Crowd-sourcing is making it possible.

Social media, while it can be a royal pain in the ass if used incorrectly, can also be a great marketing tool. Twitter won’t make you rich, but if used right, it can build you a consumer base or community for support. We’re back to the idea of patronage. Yes, it does make it easier for everyone and therefore floods the market with a rather intimidating amount of product of varying quality, but the good stuff floats to the top. Word of mouth still works wonders. You can make an impression there without making yourself a nuisance.

Check out some of the artists featured at Bandcamp or Etsy and read the articles about self-promotion (There are some great success stories here: Quit Your Day Job.)
Learn by others’ mistakes. Check out artists’ similar to yourself & see what their path to success was.
Don’t look for a blueprint or a list of steps, because a lot of your success will be in how YOU handle your art or promote yourself. The cookie cutter business plan is no more. But what you CAN learn is how to more effectively use resources, and how to  network with other like-minded artists, and how NOT to alienate potential customers.

Don’t get me wrong. Putting yourself and your art out there, for all to see? You still need to have a thick skin and a philosophical attitude. You’re still gonna have to work for it. But you can be a success if you are willing to weather the storm and seek out YOUR audience. They’re out there. Go find them.

On one last note, I’m going to be attempting to apply WordPress to my proper website. It’s been an elephant’s age since I did proper web design of any sort, so I’m not holding my breath it will be done anytime soon. BUT! If I succeed, I’ll be consolidating my blogging there. Watch this space for more updates. Hopefully more frequently than once every season. (BTW– WELCOME TO FALL!)





Musing on my birthday and why 44 seems…kinda underwhelming.

12 01 2011

Weather: Typical January High: 27º and intermittent snow showers.

So.

Today I turned 44.  ::looks at the number. Remains unimpressed::

It’s not a milepost birthday…not even a mid-decade marker.
It’s a perfectly non-descript age. And oddly enough, that makes it all the more motivational for me.

I have a bad tendency to place unreasonable expectations on certain age milestones. So far, I have failed miserably to reach the goals I set for each. It is on these odd, non-descript age markers that I tend to accomplish the most. I graduated college at 23. Got married at 38.  And so on.

So 44 and I had an unspoken “conversation” that went something like this:

Me: Well…I got nothing. What should I expect this year?

44: [raises eyebrow] See. You’re doing it again. That “expectation” thing. I am not letting you set any this year.

Me: [Flailing] What? No Expectations? How will I manage to get anything accomplished?

44: [Shakes head] Because that’s worked out so well for you in the past. How about cleaning the slate this year? I mean REALLY cleaning the slate. No carryover plans from last year, no lingering worries & doubts?

Me: [thinks, twitches, thinks some more] Well that might work. How about creating some NEW goals? New shiny, sparkly, ACHIEVABLE goals?

44: [whaps me on the head] How about clearing out all the excess crap and see what you’re left with? Ever consider that the things that really matter to you aren’t the same as last year? Or 5 years ago? You have a trainwreck of abandoned ideas, goals, projects and “shiny new things” behind you. Very few you saw through to finish.

Me: O_O Geez, 44! You’re mean!

44:  No. I’m practical. And honest. And…

Me: Right. You’re right. This year, instead of flogging the entire herd of dead horses who are not getting any fresher, maybe I should just clear the field and see what wanders in?

44: ::Nods and fades away. ::

So, in that really clunky metaphorical conversation, you can see what my brain has been dealing with whenever I try to set some goals.

Truth be told, my writing has ground to a halt. I have moments where scenes present themselves & I dutifully write them down. But nothing is coalescing. I’ve rewritten the opening chapters for Book #2 five times now. Nothing has clicked. I’m re-editing book #1 to streamline it a bit more as I realize, upon looking it over after a couple months of locking it away, that there WAS a lot to be cleaned out.

Here’s the truth. And it’s not really what I wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. I envy my husband. Because the art he works in is concrete. It has clear steps, from beginning to end. The creativity comes in the picking of glass, colors & layout. After that, it’s assembly & patience.

Writing has no clear steps, and it shouldn’t. It’s a nebulous, always morphing art form. The story can change and usually does at least a few times. The outcome you planned may not be the one you end up with.

And here’s my conundrum. I have several stories planned out. I have a general sense of the stories I want to tell, but the actual  fleshing out has suddenly become problematic. The main problem is I’m a math brained person trying to create art. I keep trying to logic myself out of plot issues when I should be relaxing, visualizing the story and letting it work some of the kinks out. I know there are writers who can do this, I just seem unable right now. I have tried all the usual methods of re-starting a stalled story. Truth is I’m not feeling very inspired right now.  I haven’t been able to concoct something that makes me go “YES! I want to work on that now.”

So, in the interim, I’ve decided to take a brief break and focus on another field I enjoy, photography. I don’t talk about it much, but I’ve been taking photos for as long as I could hold a camera. Not just posed fun shots, but arty nature shots and doing some different types of portraiture. I have a camera but it’s not the quality I need to actually take the kind of photos I want.  So. I’m going to invest in a decent mid-level camera and start taking my photography a little more seriously. Brian wants me to do promo shots of his glass work for his portfolio, so there’s a place to start.

I’m also thinking of starting some freelance non-fiction writing & doing a podcast. Not sure of the topics yet, but I have a few tendrils of ideas that I’m trying to work out.

So. There you have it. 44 and I have made a pact. No worrying about things that aren’t working right now. Go find another outlet until the block is broken. And if it isn’t, that’s okay too.

I have some big ideas, but it’s time I just started pursuing them, rather than make elaborate Gordian Knot shaped plans that ultimately sink under their own weight. Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention to stop writing. I don’t think I can. Maybe it’s just time for me to consider a different kind of writing, or a different way to share my writing with others.

How will it turn out? I don’t know. And that’s kind of okay too.