Monday, August 24, 2015

In Pursuit of a Creative Life

I love watching Project Runway, but if you saw me in real life on most days, you would realize that I don't really care about fashion. What I love about that show is being able to watch people take raw material and create something new. The drama and pressure of challenges that result in sometimes stunning conceptions, executions, and final products is what keeps me running home on Thursday evenings to tune in year after year.

It's about watching creative people live a creative life--and many of the struggles that creative desire brings. Whether we are drawn to write, sew, paint, sing, act, dance, carve, name your art, often there is a great personal struggle involved in doing these things. Both internal and external.

Here are just a few reasons why we either don't start or stop creating:

Having time
Having a place
Quieting the critic in our own head
Quieting the critic in your own house
Persevering through the "beginner stage"
No monetary pay off for time invested
No professional validation has ever been extended

Oftentimes, the struggles overwhelm the desire to create and can snuff it out all together. Or more likely, cause us to shove that desire down, deep down into a place inside us where it will maybe fester and possibly make us very unhappy people. (I often wonder if some of our harshest, most cynical critics have unpursued creative inclinations of their own.)

Recently, Project Runway has been airing an AARP commercial with Tim Gunn and a gentleman named Chris Donovan. Chris was the winner of a contest sponsored by AARP and Lifetime. He received critical feedback from Tim Gunn for his shoe designs. You can see some of Chris's work here. In the commercial, we see Chris and Tim examining some of the unique shoes Chris has designed. In the ad, Chris explains how he has worked at a phone company for most of his life, then at 55 he quit his day job to pursue his creative passion--shoe design.

Now if you are thinking, "Well, I can't quit my day job to pursue xyz. I have a family to support!" I hear you, I can't quit my day job either. Even if I could I'm not sure I would because, even though it is at times ridiculously stressful, I happen to really enjoy my career in education. My point is not that Chris took a risk and jumped from his day job and into his passion (that's really fodder for an entirely different blog post) it's that Chris is actively pursuing his creative life despite not experiencing creative success or recognition until later in life (thank you to the AARP and Lifetime for pointing out that as-of-yet-unrealized-dreams don't have to die at 29, ahem.)

Let's face it, most of us will always struggle with those internal and external barriers between us and our work, whatever our individual media may be. I believe that if we find personal joy, fulfillment, and a meaningful challenge in working through our creations, finding the time, finding the place, finding the self confidence to face the blank canvas is totally worth more than any monetary pay off you may never see from commercial success.

If we hold our center to be the act of creation, our creative life is about the active engagement with our media. That is where the real joy resides. The outcomes (acceptance or rejection) elicit emotions of their own, but in an ideal creative existence, should not interfere with the joy found in the original process of building our works.        

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A.G. Henley, The Gatherer


A.G. Henley is one of the authors (along with myself) who will be contributing to a young adult anthology of short stories next spring. But right now, she has a new young adult novella out! Please check it out.

Alev is proud to be a Fire Sister, one of a fierce group of women who live in a flaming mountain compound called the Cloister. The Sisters live without men, so Alev Gathers young girls to replenish their numbers. After she plucks young Kaiya from the remote village of Koolkuna, the girl’s father follows them into the wilderness. Alev keeps him at bay, but over time she suspects that this man, at least, isn’t the monster she was taught all men are.

When Kaiya's father manages to reach the Cloister, the Sisters want to put him to death. Alev can look the other way, or she can heed the growing whispers of her heart to help the girl and her father escape. But to defy the Fire Sisters is to revoke the only life and family Alev has ever known—and to face certain death herself.

THE GATHERER is an exciting 50-page prequel novella in the young adult fantasy Brilliant Darkness series. The first novel, THE SCOURGE, was a finalist for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Two novels and two short stories are currently available. The final novel in the series, THE FIRE SISTERS, releases September 25, 2015.

Recommended series reading order:
THE FIRE SISTERS (coming September 2015)

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Midheaven by Rebecca  Taylor


by Rebecca Taylor

Giveaway ends September 15, 2015.
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