Posted in creative process, NEWS

The Art of keeping a Journal

Journalling not only supports my daily creative practice– it is is an essential part of it. I keep several different kinds of journals–art journals, junk journals, writing journals. Through journalling I have learned how to deepen my creative process, expand  my imagination, experiment with creative ideas,  overcome personal challenges, and transform my life  with all it’s ups and downs into art.

I love journalling so much that I trained to become a certified Journal to the Self® workshop facilitator– an amazing magical process based on the work of Kathleen Adams  of the Therapeutic Writing Institute  and her twenty-two extraordinary transformative techniques. As an avid journal keeper for most of my life, it’s a perfect fit for me to teach this work. It is a wonderful process for writers and non-writers alike.  If you live in the Vancouver area and are interested in finding out when and where I am teaching  please contact me at mslynna.g@gmail.com.

 

Posted in creative process, creative vision quest, creative writing, life lessons etc., Uncategorized

Writing and dreaming and stargazing

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Even if we have a reliable method and a process that seems to work  there is still a lot of mystery in writing.

It’s a act of faith sometimes.

Somehow magic is involved and patience.

Sometimes a  story calls you to come and find it, but you can’t quite locate where it’s hiding.

Sometimes an idea appears in your mind for a moment and you are so sure that it will work– but it won’t.

I think a writer has to be a bit of dreamer with a willingness to search imagination the way a stargazer searches the endless sky.

In a way a writer is looking for distant galaxies of meaning and metaphor–trusting that somewhere, beyond the dark matter of a half-baked plot,  there is a story that needs to be told.

Astronomers know that beyond the glimmer of  a of a billion years lies astonishment.  And a writer  must  be like an astronomer and trust  that beyond the dark matter of self doubt that story will appear.

 

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Posted in a writing practice, creative process, writing

Leading the Witness.

 

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When I ask myself why I never finish anything- my mind will assume that this question is valid and that the statement is true and I will supply all kinds of evidence and end up concluding that I shouldn’t even bother writing. 

I call this particular kind of self-questioning leading the witness.

 It’s like there is this big trial going on inside me and the prosecuting attorney wants me to confess that I am guilty of never finishing anything–and of course I have this very compliant witness inside me that is swayed easily and will provide lots of evidence that I am guilty as charged.

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But the thing is it’s not true. I’m not guilty. I do finish things all kinds of things.

I have learned that when I feel stuck or confused, I try to ask questions like: What can I do today to get back on track- to keep me excited- to keep me focused on my writing goalsHow can I make better choices to keep going when I get bored or confused by my script— or how can I increase my focus  when I am distracted and in danger of  losing my momentum? These questions are more effective because they have me asking a wiser part of myself how to do what I am trying to do.

A writer asking themselves why they are not writing might miss the implied judgement in the question, and judgement of self is not useful for moving forward in life or in art.

Judgement– to stay with the legal metaphor is a way to  punish yourself and lock yourself up in a prison of self doubt. Or if that’s too dramatic-it’s  a good way to slow you down or even cause you to give up.

Who, what and how questions imply that there is a solution. These questions move us into a part of our brain where we can strategize and plan and problem-solve and analyze. How can I get the support I  need?  How can I organize my time to make room for writing?

If we want to transform something,  change something,  finish something, asking  why is not the best  way to do it.

Of course writers need to ask why their characters do what they do. Asking why can helps justify an action or a decision. But, writers do not need to supply evidence of their lack of discipline, dedication or actual talent around writing itself. That is a waste of your time.

So if you are  wondering why you aren’t writing,  don’t ask why.

If you do–well–I object–the prosecutor is leading the witness.

 

 

Posted in a writing practice, creative writing, work in progress, writing

Some work in progress–The beginning of a story

My Scribbled Secret Notebooks

This is the beginning of a story that I scribbled down in the coffee shop today.
I have had this idea in the back of my mind for a while.
It showed up in my notebook today like this.

My grandmother was quiet and mysterious and knew mysterious things.

She was part gypsy, at least that is what I grew up believing.

She could heal wounds, and cure sickness, and she always knew how things would turn out.

She could predict bad news, and see right through untrustworthy people.

She knew what to do about both.

She had secret recipes, and special remedies,

and wise old sayings, to fit every situation.

She believed in good luck and friendly forces.

She also believed in the unfriendly forces,

and she took great pains to protect us from them.

I would watch her fill a little cloth bag with needles,

and nails and…

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Posted in a writing practice, creative process, healing art, life lessons etc., writing

A New Year Wish for anyone struggling and not able to celebrate

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“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

 It’s December 31st 2017.  I am re-blogging this post from 2013, a very difficult year in my life and I’m sending it out to anyone who has struggled this year.

Life this year has been stamping it’s foot, screaming at the top of it’s lungs–that I should face my life and not look away. Well I have faced my life. I’ve stared it down, and looked directly at jmany harsh truths. I’ve struggled with all my might, mostly against my own self torment. And here is what I have learned.

1. Not to fear my fear.

2. Not to feel bad about feeling bad.

3. Not to be ashamed of my shame.

4. I have everything I need to create change in my life.

5. And sometimes  disappointment and grief and loss are our greatest teachers.

So on this last day of the year when people are celebrating, I am going to take a moment to speak to those who are not.

If it has been a tough year for you–and you think you have nothing to celebrate–let me send you a message of hope. You are brave and amazing and resilient and strong, even if you don’t feel that way right now. And if you are looking into the abyss of your own lonely heart, let me tell you that I know what that is like.

Be kind to yourself. Be loving with yourself. Forgive yourself. Let yourself feel whatever you feel.

And if you have a hole inside you-that you can not fill or if you are angryand afraid, if you have a wound that has never healed–a mark that will not go away–remember you are absolutely beautiful, and your torn and tattered heart, only makes you more so.

I like to think of the Japanese idea of Wabi-sabi- and the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

So Happy Wabi Sabi New Year to you my kindred family.

I have hope for you even if you don’t right now.

Let me hold your hope for a while.  It will be here when you need it.

You are going to feel happy and  stardust shiny  again.

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Posted in writing

Remembering December 6.

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I am reposting this from a few years ago because today is December 6th.  and every year on this day I like to take a moment to reflect and remember what happened on this day 28  years ago.

On December 6 in Canada many of us commemorate the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre,at L’École Polytechnique de Montréal. On that terrible day December 6 1989 14 innocent young women were gunned down-in a senseless and horrific act of violence against women. They were young engineering students-most of them-one of them was a clerk in the school office-one of them was 35 years old-and had gone back to school to study nursing. They were all filled with hopes dreams and aspirations. .For 45 minutes on Dec. 6, 1989 the killer, who’s name I will not mention, roamed the corridors of Montreal’s École Polytechnique screaming  “I hate feminists.”  Please take the time to say their names aloud-or read them slowly in your mind, and help me mark this day.

The women’s names were:

Genevieve Bergeron, 21 Helene Colgan, 23 Nathalie Croteau,23 Barbara Daigneault, 22 Anne-Marie Edward, 21, Maud Haviernick, 31, Maryse Leclair, 23, Anne-Marie Lemay, 27 Sonia Pelletier, 28 Michelle Richard, 21 Annie St-Arneault, 23,                                  Annie Turcotte, 21 Barbara Marie Klueznick, 35 Maryse Laganiere, 35

As you go about your daily  life today, please remember that Violence Against Women and Girls continues to be a massive global problem.  I think about the Murdered and Missing Indigenous women and I want everyone to do the same.  We have to make this issue more important. You could go here and donate to this organization.These folks have some good things figured out.

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Death-Dancing-2FOR ALL LOST GIRLS AND WOMEN

Posted in life lessons etc., poems, poets and writers, Seamus Heaney, writing

Trying to write a poem

0n the death of Seamus Heaney

faint-hope.jpgI am trying to write a poem

because I am sad–

and because

summer is ending-

and because

a poet I love has died.

I am trying to write a poem

because–

as the days grow short

and the nights fall so suddenly-

all my summers-

of innocence and invincibility

are coming to an end again.

As I face the ever expanding sadness

of this moment of my life–

As I face the turning of the season–

I am facing a turning in my soul.

I am longing to mark this moment

with something that will capture

it’s meaning.

I long to write something

to add to the map

of the unknown world.

Something to guide a weary traveller.

Something to put in that corner

where it says

“Here be monsters”

Isn’t that what a poem is?

A map of the soul’s geography?

I am trying to write a poem because

I am not a poet

Not really.

I am just a lost dreamer looking

at summer roll past

and needing to write a poem

to hold my sadness.

So here I sit fingers digging

into the soil of my lost

summers like the poet

who died has taught me to do-

trying to write a poem.

old map engraving

Posted in a writing practice, life lessons etc., writing

Insider Secrets

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When I was a kid- my grade eight math teacher told our class about a mail-order scam where someone would put an ad in the classifieds–offering an ancient secret to becoming rich and famous. All you had to do was send nine dollars to a box number and the secret of unlimited wealth would be yours.

A few weeks later, a booklet in a plain brown package would arrive. You would tear open the package to discover that the secret was putting your own ad in the paper-and sending out the booklet yourself.  You could buy the booklet in bulk. You could put your ad in multiple newspapers and then before you knew it  you would be raking in the millions, nine bucks at a time.

I don’t think the mail-order scam is still around, but we have plenty of high tech versions of the same thing.

Recently out of curiosity,  I signed up for a free seminar that promised to teach the secrets to becoming a best selling author on Amazon.com

I realized pretty quickly that the the free seminar was just a pitch for the upgrade.

An upgrade would give me instant access to the special secret insider info, which was being shared for the first time by the hottest-most powerful, most successful superstars in the booming billion dollar e-book business. Apparently there were over ten thousand people who had already clicked through to the upgrade according to the ticking counter on the sidebar.  The upgrades were going like hotcakes.

Now I am a little bit overly skeptical by nature,  probably because of the x-ray glasses that I trustingly sent away for when I was eight. My x-ray glasses were a real life lesson.  But apparently there are many people who are willing to  believe that the flow of  wealth is only a secret away.

I clicked over to the upgrade page just to see what the deal was.

I saw–various upgrade packages available. For  two hundred and fifty dollars you would get the seminar but the  five hundred dollar bundle would get you the seminar plus the bonus lessons, and if you wanted to go directly to the sanctum of  insider secrets– well that would be a thousand dollars where you could get the seminar and the bonus lessons and a private coaching session from one of the experts,  plus  they would help you build your own website so that you could sell your ebooks and offer seminars  where you could sell  insider secrets. Well, I clicked myself out of there pretty quickly– but I have to admit a part of me was thinking, “Was I being negative again? Was I being fearful and closed minded? Was I blocking the flow of wealth and money?”  “No!” said the other part of me. What kind of inside track would you be on if ten thousand people were on it with you? That seminar and all those so called secrets were just the mail-order scam 2.0.

It’s kind of a metaphor for our human frailty. We want to believe there’s a short cut, a secret door, an easy way to get rich quick. Even rational intelligent people with college educations  and a lot of success in life will fall for Ponzi schemes.

Here is my secret.  And it’s free.  If you want to get rich writing ebooks, write one. Find out how hard it is to  actually write a book. Find out how difficult it is to shape an original idea and then develop it into something that makes sense. Find out how writing is painful and takes diligence and determination and time. A lot of time. Then when you have done that– you can look into how to sell it and get people to buy it.  It goes for anything in life. Do the work. There’s no shortcut. There’s no secret.

 

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Posted in creative process, creative writing, life lessons etc., work in progress, writing

Mind your own business

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“There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.” ~ Byron Katie

Today, I had the urge to write about something that I was outraged about. I was annoyed  about a particular internet  art star. I wanted to be the kid in the crowd who cries out that the emperor has no clothes. But I changed my mind. And even if I am right and the emperor is truly naked a lot of people love her. A lot of people hang on her every word and lavish fawning praise every time she overshares on her facebook fan page.

My grandmother used to say- “A still tongue in a wise head” In other words, keep your opinions to your self. So I will. I will not blab my snarly opinions, even though I want to. I will not be a critic. I will not be a judge. I will hold my tongue. It is just me being skeptical, about what I see as bullshit.

Truth is, I feel threatened by it. Not sure why. Some form of jealousy maybe? Some kind of resentful feelings about her success. Feelings of injustice maybe? My judgements might be my own insecurity. I don’t know. Then again I could be right. My skepticism could be spot on. What I see as a load of crap, could be indeed–crap. But it’s not my business. People apparently love crap. So who am I to try to counter that. Who am I to tell them what to believe. So I have told myself– Don’t sit around grumping in self righteous indignation about whether or not someone deserves their success.

You have your own work to do. I am reminded about my grade two teacher Mrs Clippingdale who never listened to tattle tales. She said if we were busy doing our work we wouldn’t be noticing other people not doing theirs. So thanks Mrs. C. I am taking your advice. I will do my own work. It’s not my job to save the world from naked emperors. Life is too short. So now–Back to work on this play. I am on draft three of that and I have a ways to go. Right now my play sucks so I need to stop avoiding it with indignation and other wastes of time.

Sally LIves Here
Sally LIves Here