Artists vs. Zombies

 

“Feed me brains!”

Zombie Sam from terror4fun.com

The Zombie Leader lumbers towards an unsuspecting group of people who blithely go about their business reading, writing and creating. The Zombie Leaders intent to devour their energy and independent wills does not seem to faze them, until he makes his way to each one devouring brains and creating more zombies.

The Zombie leader does not discriminate when it comes to brains, but he especially enjoys feasting on young minds because of their potential to absorb energy and ideas at an overwhelming rate. Catch them young, he thinks, and they will never learn, grow, or threaten my Zombie Kingdom. Of course, he doesn’t really think this with as much insight as that. Really, his thought process is limited to “Brains!” but inside he knows that destroying a thinking, creative populace is what has made him strong and will make him more powerful.

Caught by this creature’s never-ending lust for domination and power, the young people turn into zombies quickly because they have yet to learn how to defend themselves from his overwhelming control.  As his army of brainless drudges grows, the Zombie King gains power over event those who have the skills to protect themselves and others from him. Why? Because these creative people often get so absorbed in their individual projects that they don’t sense his putrid, decaying presence until it is too late.

The more creative energy one zombie can devour, the higher in the ranks of the zombie world he/she rises. And with that strength comes more power and control over the ever-growing army of mindless drones and crucial elements of society which would help the diminishing group of rebels continue to fight the good fight.

But here’s the secret that they don’t understand (if they understood anything, which is a challenge when your brains are in someone else’s stomach):

Zombies cannot exist without artists!

Yes folks. Artists created zombies . We drew them, designed them, wrote stories about them. And while we focused on creating them, they grew stronger and more powerful. They grew to resent us, and their thoughts began to focus on our destruction. They exist because we gave them life,which suggests that we have the power to destroy them.

But I don’t think destruction is the answer. No! As artists our power comes from creation, not destruction. So, if we want to defeat the zombies and protect the creative minds of young and old alike, we must use of the power of our art itself. We must wield our pens, brandish our paint brushes, strengthen our words, mix our colors, build our connections, sing our songs, pronounce our monologues, grow or gardens, dance our dances, create our puppets, share our knowledge, and dream our dreams.

The zombies will try every trick they can–including destroying the foundations of equality and justice. They will attempt to suck the brains out of anyone, especially a leader, who leans towards valuing something other than power and money.

But in the end they will lose because artists never die–we live behind our words, our pictures, our songs, our sculptures, our ideas, and the power of our dreams. We are even capable of turning zombies back into fully functioning humans, or, at the very least rainbows. All it takes is a sprinkle of fairy dust and a lot of hard work.

Artists can rule the world!

Deciding to Get the Words Out There

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Writers write.

I know, that’s not news, but it is true. Writer’s write.

Why do writer’s write? The numerous answers to that question would make this post far too long and uninteresting. Some say they write for themselves. Others say they write because they have to. Some say they write to learn. Others say they write to heal.

I suggest writer’s write in the hopes that the words they write will be read.

Now, I recognize that sometimes the words we put down on a page are too personal to be shared. But I am the first to admit that I picture my great-great-great grandchild picking up the fragile pages of my journals in order to learn more about his/her family, in order to learn about my life. Do I want those journals published now? No way. But I still write them (although I haven’t for a long time) in the hopes that someday someone will read them.

I would that writer’s of stories, in particular, write words that beg to be read. So, if you’ve written something and labored over it, editing, revising, crafting and so on, the last thing you want is for it to sit on your shelves gathering dust and loneliness.

My manuscript for Giving Up the Ghosts has done just that.

But, in typical Lisa fashion, the fact that I have not found a home for that book has led somewhat to my inability to focus on writing another. I’ve started several, but deep inside my overly critical brain I hear this voice:

“Why bother loser? Nobody would publish your last one. Don’t waste your time!”

Sometimes I wish that little voice would just be quiet!

Yesterday, while I was talking to my partner in creative crime, Jackie she asked, “Why don’t you just publish it to kindle?”

Why don’t I? I could give you all the lame reasons and arguments I’ve said before about not self-publishing–but really they all boil down to one thing.

FEAR!

But, everyone I’ve shared this book with loves it. I worked hard. I know it is good. Do I expect to get rich off of it? No. But, I am even poorer if I don’t allow the book out in the world for people to read. Even if I only have a few readers, at least it would be read.

So, when I got back last night, I looked up how to publish it to Kindle, and it is super easy. I also discovered what looks like a super easy to publish physical (paper back) copies as well, that can be printed on demand.

So folks, I’m going to set my words free. Of course, some day I would love to get a publishing contract and sell books the traditional way–but, as in most of my life, the traditional way doesn’t always seem to work for me. So now I’m going to do it a less traditional way.

Why? Because writers write and stories want to be read.

Stay tuned for more specifics and wish me luck.

An Ego Boosting Challenge

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised by some comments by Diane at Kids Party Heaven who read my post on Age Appropriateness and went on to share a fabulous story that is both inspirational and frustrating.

The pleasant surprise came from being called “one of my favourite bloggers” by Diane. Why? Since Diane doesn’t comment often, I didn’t realize that she reads me and likes me.

She likes me, she really likes me!

Seriously this made me think about the silent readers on everyone’s blogs. The ones who come often and yet never comment or even hit the like button. The ones who we all would love to know we reach, but somehow we never learn it. I myself am guilty of this, observing and reading but not commenting, whether out of shyness or simply not knowing what to say.

The comment and post by Diane gave me an unexpected ego boost, one that we all need once in a while.

So here’s my challenge for you readers. If you don’t comment on blogs regularly, but visit blogs often, try to make a comment over the next few days. Say hello. Give a compliment. Ask a question. Write a post inspired by another post and link back to it. Do this on my blog or on someone else’s blog. Share the love and the ego boosts.

Of course, I don’t want you to spam each other either. Comment or like a post that means something to you, and make it real.

This ego boost works both ways you know. I have tried to limit my time on WordPress for sanity’s sake, but I always visit blogs of people who comment on mine. Often I find a new and wonderful blog to add to my subscriptions and/or my blog roll. Often I find a new friend.

Don’t hide in the blogosphere, speak out and write!

A Brief Note of Thanks

A quick thank you to Terry at The Incredible Lightness of Seeing who gave me some blogging awards yesterday. I am honored to receive (again) the Versatile Blogger (the image is posted on the right if you would like to see it) as well as two other awards:

Of course, while I am grateful to be recognized I also find a little of the humor in this. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever been described as stylish. I certainly create my own style in everything I do. And, of course, I cannot resist the sweet blog award because I am unable to resist sweets of any form in my life. Well, that’s not true. I’ve been really good lately resisting dessert, so now I will gracefully accept the yummy picture.

Should I be concerned, however, that Terry wrote this as a description of my blog?

“to the ranting of Lisa https://lisawieldswords.wordpress.com/about/ whose blog catapulted me into the postaday2001″

I hope I don’t just rant. But, maybe that is my true talent, a rant a day. 😉

As usual, I am going to break the rules somewhat (although I’m not clear about what the rules are for this one). I am not going to list 7 random facts about myself. Why? Because if you want to learn things about me, read my blog. I write from my truth. Even the few pieces of fiction scattered throughout this blog contain elements of my truth. If there is something specific you would like to know, just ask, either in a comment or send me an e-mail.

I have some favorite bloggers that I have given awards to before, so I’m not going to do that again. Instead I am going to pass this on to a few blogs that I have only discovered recently but enjoy visiting for a variety of reasons.

  • Visit Spread Information where the writers (there are several, and they welcome more contributors) show versatility in topics and style, writing posts that make you laugh or make you think (So the Versatile Blogger award is fitting). Yesterday’s post by Madeline Laughs reminded me of the joy of giving and receiving thoughtful gifts because someone cares, not because of the time of year. It was truly a sweet post. And, their layout is classy and stylish. Truly a site worthy of these three awards.
  • jgavinallan mostly posts fiction and poetry, so I haven’t really had time to delve into the work. (I find it takes more time to read people’s fiction posts for some reason). But, Jaye never fails to make sweet comments on people’s blogs and what I have read so far is fabulous.
  • I literally found Julia’s Blog, Wordsxo a few days ago. But, I am so impressed by her writing and her insightful comments. I look forward to exploring her blog more thoroughly, and hope she accepts this honest award. I think many of you will enjoy and understand her post about writing in the summer from yesterday, as many of us seem to be struggling to find balance this summer. Go, read, enjoy and celebrate her awards.

So there you have it folks . . . another round of awards. I understand if the recipients choose to do nothing with them, but at the same time I hope you will visit these blogs and share the love.

The American Dream in Reverse

I’ve always wanted to own my own home. I have now owned two. But I no longer own a home as of today.  Neither houses were dream homes (although the first was pretty awesome) but they were mine.

The house in the snow. I won't miss that part. Goodbye Colorado home.

[Well, sort of as of today, since the money hasn’t appeared in my bank account yet. Grrrr!]

Anyway, while I know it was the best thing, having to sell the house was bittersweet. Why? Because I haven’t found a new home yet. No, I’m not homeless. We just haven’t found the place we want to settle in, the place where we will all feel comfortable living. I’m not just talking about the physical location, but the community, the town, the state or maybe even the country.

It is also bittersweet because I don’t know if or when we will ever be able to afford to buy a house again.

But, there is a positive side to this. What, I am calling “The American Dream in Reverse.” See, while we did not make as much money on the sale as we had hoped, and technically lost money (because of an evil sale that fell through last summer after the buyers insisted on fixing the house which ended up on our credit card) but we still made some money. And, once we see it, I will pay off our credit card debt and put the rest into savings.

I like a credit card balance of $0.00.

The only people we will owe money to now are Nathan’s parents, who helped us out with maintaining two homes this year while taking a huge cut in income. I’m going to write a nice big check to them as well, and then pay back in increments as we are able. Great rates (0%) and no time limit, but I want to pay them back asap.

Still, I’m not a fool, and I’m putting the majority in savings to make some interest. Perhaps we will even invest it in some way. And then, since a  major move does not seem imminent from our current location, we will save money. We are switching rentals to help with that, and moving into a place that is giving us free reign to paint and decorate as we see fit–to turn it into a comfortable home. And as we save, we will make plans.

A new American dream.

If all works well, next year we will move on. Of course, I’d prefer to move with a job in hand, but if not maybe we can just take a chance and follow our hearts. Maybe we can find a place that calls to us and simply pursue our dreams. I know it won’t be easy, and that we will never be rich, but I am beginning to realize that happiness and fulfillment are worth pursuing, even if they are not easy.

So, maybe not owning  a home will be my key to a new American Dream, one that suits us all  better than the one that has failed us so painfully.

Who knows what the future brings?

Appropriate Age Appropriateness

I love reading books for children and young adults.

I like going to movies that have a rating below “R.”

I admit my fascination with shows made for Disney and Nick.

I like to build with and play with puppets.

I talk to stuffed animals, and yes I even sleep with some (they are the perfect size to support my arm, my husband is too big).

I have several collections of music made for children by regular artists.

Sometimes I feel I get along better with kids, then with other adults.

I am in my 40s, and I love all things related to childhood. And I truly believe that those adults who are in touch with their inner child lead happier lives.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, one of my many projects this summer is working with adults with Developmental Disabilities to create some drama/art programming. My artist friend, Jackie, and I go there twice a week to work with this wonderful group of people. At the end of this month, we will be doing a public sharing of some of the things we have done, but my focus has really been on providing this group with an experience that helps them learn, grow, and have fun.

Last Tuesday, the group had an open house and wanted to film the workshop for inclusion in a commercial. So I made sure to plan a really active day, incorporating everything we had done so far–including the fabulous masks and puppets that the group had made. It went really well, and the filming was fun.

However, this is where the issue of AGE APPROPRIATENESS came into play. Yes folks, one of the important people from the company stuck her head into the room to watch what we were doing. Literally, only her head, because to fully enter into the room might actually allow her to sense the energy, learning, and enthusiasm that was going. And what was her reaction? She didn’t like the puppets. She didn’t think they were age appropriate.

Let me backtrack a little to explain. Since this was a new group for me to work with, I had a plan but recognized that I had to be flexible and let the plan grow around the needs of the group. That is one thing that I am good at. So, first I started by introducing them to drama games, and getting them comfortable with using their bodies and their imaginations. Then we asked them to create masks which I thought would help some of the shyer ones come out of their shells.

Some of the fabulous masks.

It worked.

Then I learned that a group of them are in choir and sing “Puff the Magic Dragon. ” In an Aha! Moment I thought, “ooh, we could use that as a foundation for a drama to explore.” So, I brought the song with me to a session–and in that one we went on a magical imaginary adventure to the beach where Puff lived and the cave where he hid out. Then, in the next class, we had the group build puppets made of egg cartons and paper, and the decorations of their creative minds. Again, my theory behind the puppets was to give them something tangible and comfortable to use as we further explored this world.

A Puff puppet. The body is paper and "flies"

On Tuesday, the group interacted with the puppets, the masks, and each other. They had conversations and acted like they were at a party. They came to life.

But remember, the puppets are NOT AGE APPROPRIATE!

Yesterday, I wrote mini-scenes for us to explore, and brought two sheets and a few masks and one puppet to aid us.

Scene I: (on the beach)

Puff: I love you Jackie.

Jackie: I love you too Puff. Let’s always be friends.

We established the beach using the sheet, where we had an imaginary picnic. We ate. We played volleyball. We hunted sea shells. We became seagulls. And then we used the puppet and one mask to practice the scene.

Success #1: The shy man who would never speak or do anything, volunteered and read the lines in a very quiet voice.

Success #2: The woman who said “No!” and would not move, jumped onto the picnic blanket and ate her imaginary chicken nuggets.

Scene II: (Riding in a boat on the ocean!)

Jackie: Land Ho!

Puff: Roar!

King: Welcome!

Pirate: Arrrr!

We used two sheets to create the boat. One became the sail, supported by two people.  We laid the second sheet on the ground and had people sit in the middle. Then we picked up the corners and raised it around them, swaying back and forth so they could feel the boat moving. The rest of the group made wind sounds as the boat moved in the ocean.

Success #3: People jumping at the opportunity to ride in that boat.

Success #4: The older gentleman who is always happy and having fun, but a little hesitant about participating, refusing to let go of the sail because he was having so much fun holding it up and swaying in the wind.

Success #5: Some of the shyer ones again volunteering to speak and become the characters.

Success #6: The man who is somewhat higher functioning, but can be very taciturn and grumpy when things don’t go the way he wants them to, leaping up to become the King and embodying that king in body and voice.

Scene III (In the Cave)

Puff: Where are you Jackie?

Jackie (outside of the cave): I’m too busy, Puff.

Puff: ROAR (sobs)

This time the two sheets became the cave.  Four people held up one for the ceiling, and the other formed the floor. Volunteers again leaped at the opportunity to sit in the cave. When I asked what we might hear in the cave, everyone said “water.” So I grabbed my rain stick and handed it to the one woman who had not participated much at all that day. She simply sat in a chair and watched. She took the rain stick and helped create the glorious drippy atmosphere. Then, as  we started with the lines, I realized that caves should echo. So everyone became part of this scene, with one person saying the line and everyone repeating it several times to create a cavernous echo.

Success #7: Full participation in this imaginative journey.

Now remember folks. We achieved all of this using things that might be inappropriate. 

I wish more adults had the courage to embrace child-like things, because it brings joy.

And for this group of adults, it also brings other important things like:

  • The ability to communicate
  • Use of their imaginations
  • Use of their bodies
  • Fine motor skills in order to use the puppets
  • The chance to speak despite shyness.
  • The chance to touch in a caring, safe way.
  • The opportunity to travel even in imaginary places
  • Etc.

So I am going to continue to embrace the inappropriate. Anyone want to join me?

Please check out this  post written by Diane who used puppets in an even more powerful way, but faced the issue of inappropriateness  as well.

Creativity with a Deadline

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EUREKA!

I’ve figured out part of my block, part of the reason behind my inability to come up with ideas or new things to write about.

I work best with a deadline.

Yesterday, several of you commented on my post sharing the pictures of Kaa the Snake with comments about my creativity or getting my groove back.  In my mind, I replied with comments like: “It was mostly Jackie’s idea,” or “That wasn’t creative, I had to finish it,” or “It’s okay, I guess.”  You know, typical self-deprecating stuff.

One of my fatal flaws is my inability to see anything that I do as good.

But, my second thought is the one that has led to an “A-Ha!” moment–“That wasn’t creative, it just had to be done.” I get my best and perhaps most creative work done when I have a deadline.

I’ve always known that I can accomplish more the more I have to do. But this is slightly different. While I would like to live a fully freelance lifestyle, working on projects that intrigue and interest me and excite my bliss, I am also a person who absolutely needs a deadline. I don’t necessarily need a supervisor, but I do need to know that someone is expecting my work at a certain time. I need an editor. I need a supporter. I need a show date. I need a deadline.

My vague goals for writing this summer were not enough, because they were vague. I need someone to say to me, “send me you first chapter by such and such a date.” True, I sometimes have to ask for an extension for deadlines, but those extensions won’t last long because I dislike having things hanging over my head.

I function best with interesting projects that have specific goals and specific deadlines. When I have to do repetitive work with no specifics or no end in sight, I have a harder time staying focused. Of course, I always get these things done,  but I have to give myself a little deadline to achieve that. Lock yourself in your office Lisa, until you’ve finished grading those papers!

The actors neeeded Kaa for  tomorrow’s rehearsal  so the performers had time to work with him before dress rehearsals next week. So, in a creative burst of energy we finished him. I had a deadline, and I achieved my goal.

I’ve tried to set up my own deadlines. Specific goals for each day and each week. But that is not enough. I need someone on the other end of the deadline holding me responsible. I need a writing buddy, or a paycheck, or a due date, or something.

I am a very creative person with a lot of talents. But I now know that I am at my best with a little bit of structure and a deadline.

So what does this mean, my blogging friends? How do I get out of the slump that I am in without any deadlines looming? I need help!

Introducing Kaa the Snake

One of the projects I’ve been working on with my good friend and blogging buddy Jackie Haltom from Bluebox Art Studio is a Kaa the snake puppet for the production of Jungle Book Kids that our girls are in this summer. Here is the end result.

Kaa the Snake, I pulled the girls out of the play pool to model him.

 

Alivia (the red-head) is actually playing Kaa's Head in the production.

Seasonal Slump

Red Hot Sun

Image via Wikipedia

I’m back. Did you miss me?

I’m back, but I still feel like I have nothing to say.

I was hoping this would be a summer full of words. That I would find my voice, and my story, and my purpose as a writer. That I would find the path to my dreams of writing for a living, or at least part of a living.

But, I am wordless. I don’t have anything to write about. I’m not a summer person, so maybe the heat dries out my brain and turns it into mush.

Or maybe I simply have run out of things to say.

I always accomplish more in the fall. This past year I thrived during the spring, and did pretty well during the winter.

But now I am in the summer slump–physically, emotionally, and mentally melting into the heat of no return.

Any ideas how to break myself out of it?

 

No Blogs for You!!!

 

I have an insane week ahead, and I just found out I made a big mistake planning for the two on-line classes this summer. I’m feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and feeling unable to write. So, this is just a little post to all my regular readers and the blogging friends that I follow to apologize if I disappear for a bit.

Thanks again to Eileen from Aligeata's Blog for this lovely image.

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