Art, Simplicity, and Joys

This week was the release of Written & Whim. I am very excited and grateful to have it done and out there. Still trying to wrap my brain around the fact I have published 23 full-length poetry books since September 13, 2011 aka the day The Heart of Autumn was published.

There are only 8 more books until I complete the A to Z theme. That is a bit baffling too. When I started on the A to Z journey in 2011, I thought it would be crazy to write 2600 poems over 26 books. I have less than 750 poems left to write now. Overall, I have written 2615 poems since 1994-ish. The bulk of which were written since I started publishing my work. Publishing my work has been a powerful motivator to write more which is fantastic.

No rest of the artistic. Already a quarter of the way through on writing the next book, Doll & Discarnate. At the beginning of 2019, I had this grand plan to write and publish 4 books during the year. I didn’t count on, foolishly, life things and other creative pursuits slowing that progress. Despite the error in judgement, I forge ahead with the words.

For several years now, I’ve been work on and toward a more simplistic life so I can spend more time with my passions and joys aka creative pursuits. I neglected my passions and joys quite a bit for many years prior which brought much sorrow into my life so simplicity is very appealing. Never want to feel that destructive, bone-deep sorrow again.

I keep coming to points where it seems I have finally reached a nice level of simplicity to only see it falter later. No. In fact, I have more to work to do. The chaos that ensues has been getting less and less chaotic over time. Yay for progress! But the fact that chaos creeps up and in so quickly tells me I have more work to do.

I’ve been neglecting such work this year. I think this has been to the detriment of my creative process and myself. Have to take time in the coming weeks to really clear out things weighing down my environment and triggering chaos. Cleaning up my apartment on a weekly basis, even though it is a deep clean, just isn’t enough to stop the creeping.

A few months ago, I sat down and wrote down everything that brings me joy no matter how small. The list surprised me. Poetry, painting, and creative things made the list of course. (Simplicity and no clutter also made the list which was surprising yet not surprising.) Some of my joys are not things I can do every day as they are seasonal activities. However, a lot of my joys were little things – like having my fingernails painted black, and the scent of sandalwood – that I could incorporate into my day every day but I wasn’t for some reason. As if I didn’t realize the joy they bring, as if I hadn’t forgotten what joy could be within the little things. Since I’ve done this list and started incorporating the little joys more and more into my daily life, I find myself much calmer and happier. As someone who has suffered from severe depression and wild mood swings for YEARS, it is kind of weird to be calmer and happier but it is growing on me.

I typed up all my joys into a word file on my computer. I go back and look at it to remind myself from time to time, especially if I am feeling sad or lonely or upset, then go and do one of things on the list.

So I leave you with this…

What are your joys? Do you involve as many as you can into your day?

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I Blinked And…

…it is August. Not sure where June and July went but August is here. Think I blinked in May and, boom, August. I do have vague memories of June and July – most pertaining to dental appointments and pain that followed said appointments. Not the greatest of months for functionality but they have come and gone. I look forward to August and all the things I would like to do.

I haven’t been very attentive to my online presence in the past few weeks. Need to work on that some more. I get busy with and distracted by tasks then forget other things. One track mind, maybe?

I finished Written & Whim in July. That was a big undertaking. It should be published sometime this month – doesn’t have an exact publication date yet as I’m still trying to figure out what the description/back cover should say. Yes, a description is all that stands between me and the publication of my 23rd full-length book of poetry. It breaks my heart just a little to be so close yet so far from the finish line with Written & Whim.

Aside from work on Written & Whim, I’ve been working on inventory for Patchwork Chicken Studio. We have several multi-day Art, Craft, & Gift shows coming up so all of us at Patchwork Chicken Studio have been busy creating in order to bolster our inventory for these shows. Patchwork Chicken Studio is, also, currently running a giveaway. Soon, we’re going to be giving a fabulous denim tote bag that was made by the very talented Susabelle and features a lovely rainbow-colored batik that came from my fabric stash.

My inventory work has primarily involved creating drawstring bags/backpacks in different prints & colors. I had enough fabric on hand for 24 unique one-of-a-kind bags. I have 14 done. 4 more sitting by my sewing machine to finish up this weekend. The rest are waiting to start final assembly. There are so many that I had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of what fabric elements go where and such since each bag features 3 to 4 different fabrics divided among 15 pieces to put together. I typically only make 6 to 8 bags at a time. 24 bags in an assembly line of bag awesomeness has proven to be a significant and, occasionally, overwhelming but worthwhile undertaking.

I have ten mosaic and six painting ideas awaiting my attention too but I’ve been kind of ignoring them. I couldn’t figure out why until this morning. I was gathering my things to come to the coffee shop as I wanted to get out of the house for awhile. I just HAD to get out. This ‘HAD‘ attitude is what tipped me off to my artistic plight. While my home is fairly clean, despite being in the creative trenches, it is just disorganized enough where I am agitated and unproductive among the chaos.

For someone that lived in much worse states of chaos for years and has taken massive strides in correcting such issues, this agitation speaks volumes about the progress I’ve made in improving my surroundings and negative behaviors. Very proud of myself though I am sad I will be spending the rest of today on cleaning. Still not a fan of cleaning. I can think of a million things I’d rather do even though I wouldn’t actually do any of them given the current state of my home. Irony perhaps?

For August: the publishing of Written & Whim, art & inventory (drawstring bags, flannel blankets, mosaics, abstract art, mixed media art, beaded ornaments [maybe]), tagging inventory with the spiffy new logo price tags recently obtained, packing up inventory for the shows, marketing work, writing poems, being more consistent in my online presence, and – most importantly – keep my home from sliding into the chaos again so I can remain productive.

Off I go to do battle with the evils of chaos…..

March Into April

National Poetry Writing Month aka NaPoWriMo starts tomorrow. Am I prepared for this? Well, no. Not my version of it at least. I usually write, at least, one poem a day so typical NaPoWriMo isn’t a stretch for me so I challenge myself to write five or more poems a day. Not sure I am mentally prepared for this as I’ve been dealing with a lot of things lately, some of which will end up spilling into the first week and a half of April at minimum. Been so overwhelmed in my thoughts to the point of one poem being a struggle to write. I managed two poems today. I am so delighted especially since they arrived easy with a flow like water. Love the “water” poems.

Since my last ‘On The Blog’ post on February 22nd (a bit surprised it has been that long), I’ve gotten thrown down by an absolutely horrific cold, dealt with a blizzard and other home-related shenanigans, was without a computer briefly due to power cord failure, created a new mixed media piece, began a new bead mosaic (it is almost done), started cutting out a few more drawstring backpacks, struggled to figure out how to help my feline overlord function despite his increasing digestion issues, gained another first cousin once removed, got in a minor car accident that – fortunately – only scraped up some paint when someone backed out into me in a parking lot, stressed out a great deal about matters involving my chronic health conditions, and went on an adventure to upgrade Patchwork Chicken Studio’s show displays after many discussions and layout tests. March has been busy.

I ended up missing the Fleshgod Apocalypse show due to my cold and the flare up of the chronic health conditions that it triggered. I was/am heartbroken over it as I missed them the last few times they had been in Denver too because of my health. Beginning to suspect that life doesn’t wish me to pay live homage to Italian Metal Gods. I did pre-order their forthcoming new release, Veleno, to appease some of my sorrow while listening to the first single, Sugar, in semi-obsessively constant fashion.

For April beyond NaPoWriMo, I have home-related shenanigans to finish/deal with, finish the bead mosaic, and put together the drawstring backpacks. Patchwork Chicken Studio has a show on April 6th so there will be some prep work beforehand. It is shaping up to be very busy too. I just hope it is busier to the creative side of things.

The Story of Art

For a while now, I’ve been part of this artistic collective/studio, Patchwork Chicken Studio. Mostly, we sell our art and home goods at local craft and art shows. Recently, we decided to expand our horizons and establish even more of an online presence. For the past two weeks, a lot of work has gone into that while prepping for our first show of the Spring season. Saturday, March 2nd, is the show so it is closing in quickly.

All this work has left me contemplative because marketing/selling my work is something I have always struggled with. I can be very shy and anxious around people I don’t know to begin with then there is the “marketing”… People want a story of why the item should be important, why it is interesting, how did I make it, or why did I make it. The back cover blurb, the source of inspiration, something…

I struggle with this immensely because I often don’t remember (or don’t know) the inspiration, the meaning, the anything of the piece. Saying, “I was sitting there waiting for words to come, as I sipped my coffee, then there were words and, from those words, this poem was birthed,” isn’t much of a story.

Trying to describe my poetry books doesn’t make anything easier because they aren’t 100 poems on a single theme or a few themes that tie into each other, their nature is much like a mosaic – different elements coming together to create a picture left up to personal interpretation as poetry is very subjective to the reader. While poems may mean certain things to its writer, it can mean very different things to its readers.

With my art and other projects posted here, I have attempted to put a story/explanation as to why a piece exists but, again, I struggle. Saying, “Every time I went to the fabric store, this fabric caught my eye so one day, I finally broke down, bought the fabric, and made this bag from it,” is probably lacking.

Most of the mosaic supplies are the same way – “I was wandering through the local craft store, this charm drew my attention, I bought it, it sat in a bin for a time before I put it into a mosaic with other beads that play nicely with it design-wise.”

There have been a few moments where I did buy items for specific projects like the beads for the Astrology-themed mosaic because each sign has different colors, elements, and nature ties so I wanted those represented in the designs. Even with those mosaics, the story is lackluster. Beyond the basics of color, element and nature, what else is there to say?

There are people out there who think writers can write anything, tell any story, etc. This is not true. I know fantastic writers that tell great stories through their novels but ask them to tell a story out loud or write a short story or a poem, there will be nothing. As a poet, my work is very fluid and organic. A brief, beautiful, blinding spark of inspiration before it is gone, leaving a glorious design behind. This nature is why I struggle to bring my novels fully into life. Why I struggle to tell stories about those sparks I consumed to make my art. It is profoundly difficult to exhume “ash” and make it talk to you once more.

The reason for this post – and the ones that proceeded it – are to, slowly, push me out of my writing comfort zone into one of stories that require more than a brief spark. Some moments out of my comfort zone are easier than others. Not sure if this moment is easier or harder but I think it might be both.

So yesterday morning, the other artists in Patchwork Chicken Studio thought it would be cool for us to take pictures of our work spaces for the website and Facebook page. While a good idea, I did panic because my worktable was covered in fabric, a small army of thread bits, beads, and other things while I still had 5 projects in progress. I kept losing my scissors even though they were right next to me the entire time. Decided it would probably be worthwhile to clean up my work space before continuing on with the five other projects so I could – shockingly – actually find my scissors right away when needed. Spent about 30 minutes, in early afternoon, making my work space clean and photo ready.

Work Space 1Work Space 2

So beautiful and organized. It actually does look like this normally when I’m not in the state of last-minute creative panic with a ton of projects in progress. I typically work on one mosaic, fabric, or mixed media project at a time, in addition to poetry, so the chaos stays to a minimum.

I did not get back to my projects yesterday so today is going to be a busy one.

My thoughts are feeling better now that I have written this post despite my story dilemma remaining unresolved.

Plans Always Have Other Ideas

When I reflected on what I wanted to accomplish in 2019 and how I would go about it, I thought I had left the end result fairly flexible to allow for bad health days (I have chronic ailments). Just days into January, I learned that it isn’t quite flexible enough but there is progress made in the end. Due to health things, January – thus far – hasn’t been as artistically fulfilling as I would have liked especially with matters not pertaining to poetry.

Currently, I have a baby quilt and two bead mosaics in progress. The baby quilt is on a significant deadline – my cousin is due in March. I am reasonably optimistic to have it completed and mailed to my cousin by the 18th so I can focus on other projects. I intend to have four bead mosaics done and the finishing work accomplished on several little paintings by the end of the month.

I really like the projects in progress. The baby quilt is in a color palette I normally shy away from but it is turning out to be really beautiful. I hope my cousin likes it. One of the mosaics, Maritime Eternity, was a random idea I had one day and I got to try out a new technique of staining with alcohol inks to give new visual appeal to some of the elements. The staining was an immense success – it has really brought the project to another unexpected level. Maritime Eternity is quickly becoming one of my favorite mosaics. The success of the staining has also made me want to try it out on items for future projects.

Altars & Avatars is on track to be published on February 12th. Currently waiting on its front cover so I can put together its advertising. My friend, who did the art for Mourning & Melancholia, has also done the art for Altars & Avatars. The art, based on my very basic idea, looks really amazing so I am excited to get the finished front cover from her soon.

I think that is it for this update. I have nine poems that need to be typed up and a quilt that is most eager for my attention yet I am, presently, ignoring all of them to write this post.

Wishing all much creativity and artistry.

Tuesday Tabellion – Post-NaPoWriMo Thoughts

NaPoWriMo 2018 & Camp NaNoWriMo have come to an end. My Camp NaNoWriMo goal for April was 30 poems to match the intent of NaPoWriMo. I validated on April 27th with 31 poems. I find this disappointing. In previous Camp NaNoWriMos, I always increased the goal. Most of the past Aprils, I was writing three to four poems a day. There even days with as many as eight poems (much like during NaNoWriMo). This April, however, I was lucky to put forth one poem with the rare second poem happening.

Overall, I am happy that progress happened with Mourning & Melancholia (16 for 36/100), Altars & Avatars (15 for 15/100), and Written & Whim (4 for 4/100).

This NaPoWriMo featured the posting of works to Instagram as well as some technical glitches which led to me posting several days at a time rather than every single day to this blog, Twitter, my Author page on Facebook, and Instagram. It was rather annoying. While I did like the readership that seemed to increase due to my use of Instagram, I remain uncertain about it.

On April 20th, I experienced Cradle of Filth, Jinjer, and Uncured. Post-concert depression did hinder my writing progress unlike with prior concerts I had attended. The reason for such eludes me. It was a fabulous concert and I did enjoy myself immensely even if my legs did not. Fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome do not make good concert-going companions.

April was light on other artistic pursuits too which left me feeling a bit at loose ends. May May bring more creativity and inspiration.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Ends

This NaNoWriMo was different than ones in the past. Rather unproductive despite reaching beyond the word count requirement. The words just didn’t go where I wanted them to. A lot of random bits of line that will never be more than that. Never will have a chance to be poems. Their threads were too short and, now, are lost to the winds of time.

NaNoWriMo 2017 was forced to compete with pre-concert jitters and excitement then post-concert depression (and immense pain courtesy of extremely drunk Children of Bodom fans kicking the back of my legs, constantly pushing me into the rail, etc.) which made for interesting writing times.

I greatly enjoyed seeing Carach Angren for my first metal concert experience. They were phenomenal. Uncured and Lost Society were also quite good considering I had very little familiarity with their work prior to the concert. I have been missing those beautiful spooky Dutch men something fierce though. The entire month’s wardrobe featured a Carach Angren band tee each day. I started the month with two tees and acquired two more at the concert so this has meant frequent laundry but totally worth it.

Onto the writing stats…

Total Word Count: 53432

This translates into 51 poems – 47 for Glyph & Grey, 3 for Mourning & Melancholia, and 1 for Altars & Avatars – and 8 pages’ worth of the “epic poem” that’s been slowly swirling around in my brain. There is a lot of free writing I need to sort through to see if there is more poetry lurking within the lines.

Glyph & Grey is at 67/100, and should be done in the next 2-3 weeks as I’m determined for it to be. I had wanted it to be done by today but that is, clearly, unrealistic. Mourning & Melancholia stands at 8/100. Altars & Avatars is 2/100. I hope to have Mourning & Melancholia done by the end of February. NaPoWriMo in April should bring about the completion of Altars & Avatars and significant progress for the upcoming Written & Whim.