Posts Tagged ‘art’

 

Kids are visual creatures. They like to be entertained in every respect. As a child, I loved books with illustrations. When I morphed into reading chapter books as a young person I wanted the more complex stories, but I still wanted the imagery. I can remember really appreciating the authors who put ink illustrations in their chapter books. I have fond memories of poring over the minute squiggles and flourishes on the pages of Tove Jansson’s books.

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Last year, I prepared to release my first book, my novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ The first book from The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. I realized there was no way the budget would stretch to illustrations, so I came up with an easy solution.

Here’s  a guide to creating your own pen and ink book illustrations:

Step One: Start with your characters.

First, you must have some form of cover art for your book which you have either paid for or otherwise have liberty to use. For my debut novel, I had the two main characters rendered artistically in digital form by my nephew.

I simply copied the character with a pencil.

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Second attempt on Aden, for b&w illustration0002I wanted to introduce a new face. I took a photo of a statue of a giant which I found in a 1970’s magazine and copied the basic outline.

*Hot Tip: I use an automatic pencil, as they have the super fine leads. You want to do all the early stages on tracing paper.

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I already had my protagonist, Aden Weaver, rendered in pencil from last year, but I needed to change his position for this book so I lifted him into the air. This gave me a new image to work with. As I pinned down the character’s positions, I switched from pencil to a fine permanent marker pen.

*Hot Tip: You’ll need to see every line. A fine nib is necessary. I use a Staedtler “Triplus fineliner.” Every line needs to be carefully but clearly distinct.

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Step Two: Create the background and foreground

For this image, I decided to use one of a few special backdrops. A dear friend, Lyall Gardiner, had gifted me four of his ink/colour pencil backdrops before he passed. In A3, they’re enormous, so I selected elements from one image, the moon and wispy clouds and some of the looming shapes and traced them onto a more compacted A4 page.

You could use whatever you have to hand, interesting segments of your kids’ artwork, pieces of your own from childhood, or you could go wild and cut segments of out-of-date magazine pictures to create a montage/mosaic effect, etc. Use your imagination.

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*Hot Tip: Take care not to tread on rights to intellectual property.

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Step Three: Combine and Trace

The next part is to employ your artistic eye with placement. Arrange your characters on the background in a way that fits the “story” you want to tell. The great thing about using tracing paper is you can flip the characters over. I decided to “tell the story” of the Oni looming. However, I needed to flip our hero to have him face the giant. To do this, I simply turned the paper over and re-defined all the lines with pen on the reverse of the paper!

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Step Four: Fill it in!

I took my taped-together tracing paper image and copied it onto thick art paper. I used permanent markers and filled in the picture. I thought in terms of light and shadow, silhouette, of how things look in the dark, not drawing to be realistic but to create pattern – effect through contrast. I left certain patches: one or two to be left white and at least a few to be painted black. They added impact.

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The resulting image will be one of the two illustration plates for inside ‘The Sasori Empire.’ On Facebook, I shared it with the caption, ‘The horned face of the Oni appeared in the trunk, even more hideous than before, and a head of bark grew.’

Step Five: Copyright!

Make sure to add your name the copyright symbol and the year somewhere on your picture.

With a bit of effort, anyone can create at least a couple of illustrations to go inside their own book. These simple pen and inks are relatively easy, quick, and they’re super fun to do. You have the satisfaction of having made it yourself.

Have you ever tried your hand at your own illustrations?

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Talk to you later

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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The Holy Grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it. ~ Banksy

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Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here. ~ Sue Monk Kidd

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In the last week, I’ve had a revelation, thanks to a little help from a dear friend. I realised I’m spending way too much time on social media, at the expense of my writing.

I started out with the internet and social media about five years ago. At first, I had it all in balance, but somewhere along the line, the balance started to shift.

My friend pointed out that while I’ve been able to keep my blog and newsletter and Facebook and YouTube updated regularly  -‘You’re everywhere’ – I failed to finish and produce my second book, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ as I’d promised readers, last year.

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Self-defence is the knee-jerk. I explained I’ve long adhered to Kristen Lamb’s excellent social media advice for writers. I was under the impression keeping up with the social media gambit was a necessity for all artists these days.

Yet, when I really looked hard at myself and my output, I knew my friend was right. I’ve maintained social media religiously, and let the writing of my sequel to *’The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ slide. *http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I

I really do appreciate my subscribers!

While I feel an obligation to continue to provide output, I also have had to admit that if I continue at this rate, I’m not going to produce ‘The Sasori Empire’ this year, either. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. I spend a day at a time writing and producing my blog posts. I spend at least three days, even longer sometimes, writing and collating my fortnightly newsletter.

My friend said, ‘You do all of your social media well. Now imagine if you put more of that time into this book instead of rushing through it.’

Yes. Imagine!

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Between raising my two youngest boys, and being on the committee of two different groups, something’s gotta give. Therefore, I’ve decided to take at least a month’s hiatus from social media (although I may pop onto Facie in the mornings while I have my first cup of tea).

My ultimate dream would be to publish ‘The Sasori Empire’ this winter and make a start on the third book in The Chronicles of Aden Weaver series in time for spring in the southern hemisphere. But, to do that will require a lot of work.

Therefore, I’ll be taking a writer’s hiatus for a month, or so.

After I have put nose-to-the-grindstone, I shall return! Hopefully, with the second book well in hand. Sometimes you’ve got to make the hard calls, and this is one of those times.

Thanks, for your patience!

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Talk to you later.

Meantime, keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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A young writer is an explorer. She knows she wants to get somewhere, but she doesn’t even know if the somewhere even exists yet. It is there to be created. In the process of creating it we find out how varied and complex we are. ~ Colum McCann

 

 

 

 

When we start out as lowly newbie writers, knowing no one and nothing, we tap away at our stories in our towers of isolation and let the stories flow. We dream of being picked up by traditional publishing houses that will put on a full media blitz into trumpeting our shiny debut novel the length and breadth of the land. We go on to make scads of money, have our books in libraries and on bookshelves. We live forever. We conquer death.

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We get our book handed to Peter Jackson, the famous New Zealand movie producer. He reads it and decides to make a movie out of it with Weta Studios. We go to the theatre with our family. We see our world and our story played out on the big screen under the glittering lights.

We make enough money to buy our own island, to which we retreat purely to write and paint. We make enough money to pay for the kids’ education and then to buy houses for our grown-up children.

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Then we wake up one day and realize, that in reality, we’ve run out of money, we’re eating beans for dinner every night, the rent’s overdue, and there are bills to be paid. We move back home to live with our parents. We resign ourselves to using the public transport system and to being a bottom-feeder, again.

We console ourself, it’s okay. We’ll re-start the editing cycle. We’ll join a new critique group.

We drag the dream out of the dirt, dust it off and revive it again. We go back to work on the book in earnest.

We resolve we’ll work on this story, make it the best we can do, and it will be discovered by a traditional publishing house, and it’ll go on to become a bestseller.

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The dream’s still alive.

We finish the book and submit our precious baby. We get rejected. This gets repeated ad nauseum.

We wake up one day, thirty years later, and realize, the original dream isn’t going to happen the way we thought it would. One of our parents has passed over already, two lots of our friends have divorced, and our kids have turned into teenagers as if by magic, seemingly overnight. As the song lyrics go, ‘my children are getting older, I’m getting older, too.’

Only when we’ve exhausted all hope, and run down every street to find only dead-ends, do we consider the mountainous obstacle of self-publishing.

The bitter reality is that going Indie is a ton of work, and only a select few authors get to live the first tier of the dream: getting that golden deal, hitting the bestseller status, and signing a book-to-movie deal. Not everyone will be the next Hugh Howey.

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The rest of us get to evolve.

Isn’t that wonderful?

What’s the alternative? To give up? To abandon the dream that has warmed our nights and sustained our days through the long hours of typing? No, of course not. We are indomitable. We are writer.

We write. We learn. We observe. We write. We learn.

And now, whether we like it or not, we are going to be a publisher, as well. We’ll get to wear many hats: to don the apparel of book producer, promoter, like an old-fashioned hawker of your own goods. “Roll up! Roll up! Hot off the presses. Get your copy quick!” and to bash people over the head with a verbal press release about our book at every social (media) occasion.

It’s either go Indie, or go home.

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We can see by the veritable tsunami of self-published books flooding the market these days that we are doing these things ourselves. We adapt and survive and thrive. And, some Indie authors are climbing to the top of the literary mountain and attaining the first tier of the dream, under their own steam. So, it can be done!

The immutable truth however, as stated in The Drunkard’s walk, by Leonard Mlodinow, is that there is a certain random element in who gets to make the bestseller list. ‘There exists a vast gulf of randomness and uncertainty between the creation of a great novel and the presence of huge stacks of that novel at the front of thousands of retail outlets. That’s why successful people are almost universally members of a certain set – the set of people who don’t give up.’

In other words, while hitting the big time may be a game of numbers, there’s one way of getting there and that is to write and continue to write.

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Keep on creating…

Yvette K. Carol

@yvettecarol1

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Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

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Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!

The January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

I have a love/hate relationship with the writing rules.

I was jagged up by the rule “show don’t tell” for years. I see this as a great cautionary tale for up-and-coming writers. Don’t let the rules limit you. As they say, learn the rules then forget them or else the writing can become stilted.

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The great writer, Ursula Le Guin said, ‘Thanks to “show don’t tell,” I find writers in my workshops who think exposition is wicked. They’re afraid to describe the world they’ve invented.’

When I was coming up as a writer, I took on board every rule I heard until my writing had turned into literary cardboard.

Other control freaks will understand. We take the rules to heart. I followed the rules to the extent that all creative spark in me became squashed. I didn’t have any fresh material for stories. I felt blocked. I wasn’t enjoying the creative process anymore.

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One critique partner at the time said my sentences had no flow and were the rhythmic equivalent of ‘riding over cobblestones on a horse.’

I had a very kind old Indian writer patiently explain that ‘a story is like a room in need of decoration.’ He said, “While your stories are good there isn’t enough furniture.’

Part of my coming up and finding my feet as a writer came from letting go of the rules or at least holding them at a decent arm’s length. I had to give myself permission to experiment again, in order to free up again and feel the inspired feelings take over.

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My writing hero, Kate de Goldi, has said the reason she writes is to chase her lost childhood Eden.

Exactly.

Childhood is eternally enshrined in my mind as the time in my life when I was the most wild and free. It is to that state I seek to return through my writing, and to help the reader see, feel and experience. It is that place I sought to go in the books I read as a child. It is to those ‘special shaded places’ I return to in the books I read as an adult.

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Can I find the secret shaded places through the window of the rules? No. Though it’s helpful to know what’s what when it comes to editing! I think this is what Stephen King meant when he said, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” For me, my initial writing process, or what Joy Cowley calls ‘the genesis project,’ happens best when I shut out what the world has to say, via rules or otherwise, and surrender to wherever the muse wants to go.

If I have writing resolutions for 2017, it is to get my second book finished! And, to let myself be even more free with my writing this year, to be more wild. I want to feel I can explore, unfettered, the unique way of writing fiction which works best for me. And, I love that this particular process is an ever-unfolding road. It will never be finished. I’ll never reach the end of learning how to write.

The goal is ever to find my stories in my way, on my own terms.

What is your New Year’s Writing Resolution?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ~ Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

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Ever since the first year my son Sam-the-man was able to sit unaided, I have photographed him and made a Christmas card for our family.

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Sam was born with Down’s syndrome. The card began as a way of celebrating him and his achievements. It created a small yet meaningful tradition for our family. Once his little brother came along, the card featured the two boys and it became another way to chronicle their lives.

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I think people gravitate towards things which are home-made. Those are always the favourite gifts from the kids. I send a parcel to the boys’ grandfather every year at this time. I send him gifts and the boys’ artwork, their calendars, stories they’ve written, as well as our Xmas card.  This is what the older generation, grandparents especially, live for.

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The card is simple, easy to make, creative, fun.

The Photo:

Any parent can tell you, the first and hardest step in any Xmas photo is the child-wrangling.

*Tip: Don’t leave it till December. Try to get the photo taken before the festive season.

I aim to get the photo taken in the last couple of weeks of November, as this gives me a leeway of time up my sleeve if the boys prove resistant to having their photo taken. Ha ha. *evil laugh, rubs hands together!*

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Once I’ve managed to coral them into one room with the box of Christmas get-up, then they must be persuaded with promises of treats, to dress up. After that, I snap as many shots as I can take before they start begging to be let out.

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The boys are fourteen and eleven respectively, this year, and it’s getting harder and harder to coerce them into the festive shoot. You’d think it’d be getting easier, but, no!

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The Construction:

Picture chosen, print up a dozen pictures at 10 cm x 7 cm, and trim them. I like to keep them to a small size because some people like to hang the cards on their tree.

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Then, I choose which cardboard to use. Originally, I used to recycle old cardboard. We have a saying in New Zealand, ‘reduce, re-use, recycle,’ which we try to adhere to as much as possible. Some years, I cut old Christmas cards down to size. This year, however, I sourced a small box from the Hospice shop which were the right size which was a great option as they came supplied with their own envelopes.

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Glue a sheet of paper cut to a couple of centimetres shorter than the card to the front of the card stock. This will form an edging like a frame for the picture. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. I like to see a little of the construction in crafts.

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*Tip: Every year, on Boxing Day, I do a ritual of taking the discarded gift-wrap and cutting up the beautiful or unusual wrap into small, clean pieces for later craft projects. In this case, I have some rather special rescued reindeer, snowflake, and red-chequered print paper.

My mother used to buy me a crafting material called “Hot Fuzz,” coloured synthetic fibres which bond together under the heat of a warm iron (through paper). I cut a dozen rectangular wedges of a sheet of Hot Fuzz, for the dazzle. You could use holographic cellophane just as well for this.

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Stick the photograph on top of the recycled paper, trapping a wedge of Hot Fuzz/cellophane between the layers.

*Tip: use a glue stick as “wet” glue can stain the paper. Press the cards under something flat and heavy between each glued layer as it creates a flatter, more pleasing finish. Make sure each layer is fully dry before you add another.

This year, I bought a “Card Kit” of decorations at the Hospice Shop. It included diamante leaves, silver stars, silver bows and transparent beads. I also sourced some finer glitter.

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*Tip: When you add the glitter, make sure to place the card on a small tray as it’s really hard to collect and re-use the left-over sparkles otherwise.

On top of the photo, in the same corner as the Hot Fuzz, apply embellishment, be it a delicate bow or a star. In the lower right corner, on a sweep of glue, drizzle more glitter and add beads or stickers.

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The last step is to write a personal message inside. Then, post it, yes, via snail mail. It still exists.

I posted ours to the lucky recipients. One Facebook friend – who had requested a card – responded, she ‘couldn’t take her eyes off it.’ Yay!

A Christmas craft project completed feels wonderful. This year, I even had enough left to put one on our own shelf. Joy.

Do you have a festive family tradition? Do you enjoy crafting? Do share in the comments below!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. ~ Albert Einstein

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After rashly deciding to join in with writing pals, Teresa Robeson http://teresarobeson.wordpress.com/ and Catherine Johnson http://www.catherinejohnson.com/ on the SelfieArt Day challenge seven months ago, I now find myself part of a regular artistic quest to capture one’s own features. An elusive, multi-fold quest.

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For September’s SelfieArt, I used the photograph taken yesterday of my sister and myself, at my nephew’s 21st party.

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I started with a faint pencil outline of my face.

I know – yawn! I admit it. I got started on the SelfieArt challenge, imagining I’d be stomping about in a different medium each month, going buck wild in there. But, something tells me I’m a bit more staid these days than my imagination likes to think I am. I see myself, in my mind’s eye, as a Poppy-Longstockings-Pocahontas, whereas in reality, I’m a mature stay-at-home mama with a slight touch of OCD.

I find myself drawing my SelfieArt each month in plain old HB pencil. Nothing less, nothing more, and going, “That’ll do.” Oh, the complacency of age!

You can see how the challenge of the SelfieArt challenge is multi-fold, because the process continues to be self-revelatory.

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#SelfieArt for September

Done, baby!

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Art is essential to life, it feeds the eyes with the aspirations of life.’ ~ David Prosser

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

 

 

After rashly deciding to join in with writing pals, Teresa Robeson http://teresarobeson.wordpress.com/  and Catherine Johnson on the Selfie Art Day challenge five months ago, I now find myself part of a regular artistic quest to capture one’s own features. An elusive, multi-fold quest.

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My first thought when I faced the prospect of Selfie Art was ‘pastels.’ I imagined myself sweeping colour blocks all over the place. I brought out a lavish tray of pastels, and an old HB pencil and bitten-down eraser.

As always, I started with a faint pencil outline, a bare suggestion of features. This gave me a template to work on.

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Then, I started firming up the outlines. I made my first attempts at getting the lines right, especially with the eyes. They were a big concern.

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I refined the features with pencil and added more detail.

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I took a photo of myself, to get a better handle on the line of the brim of my hat. I adjusted details. It was only at that point, I realized I’d completely forgotten the pastels. It was too by then to go back.

Without more ado, here’s my Selfie Art portrait, number six.

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If you decide to join in on the challenge, make sure you swing by Teresa Robeson’s wordpress blog at http://teresarobeson.wordpress.com/ and tell her about it. She’ll include your links on her regularly updated list. Include the hashtag on your post: #SelfieDay. Have fun.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“The role of the artist is the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” ~ James Baldwin

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

I know, I’m late again. Wednesday is time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

Right now, I am deeply insecure about the human race.

It’s hard to look at our planet right now and be chipper about it, even for an upbeat, optimistic, Sagittarian Dragon like me.

How can I continue to create my imaginary literary worlds when the real world around me is going to hell in a hand basket?

Although I appear somewhat refined, I’m actually low-brow. I loved Harry Potter, love ‘following the Kardashians,’ going to the movies, eating ice-cream and too much junk food on my time off. I don’t read the news, don’t know anything about politics, didn’t go to University, didn’t get a degree, well, you get the idea. I’m a fairly basic human being.

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Nevertheless, I still have my own expression to share.

I look at the world and I am disappointed by the sad state of our planet, by stupid credit wrecking world finances, by inane politics, by religions, by the state of our education system, by practically everything! I’m deflated right down to being scared of the strange characters loose on the streets, that make it too dangerous for a single woman to jog.

On my jog today, I was frightened by a man.

All day, I’ve been trying to think of a solution. I could jog with someone else, if I knew someone who lived nearby who jogged. But, apart from the lack of such a person, I use my running as time to commune with myself, in the style of a semi-meditation. So, that’s not really an option.

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There have been lots of incidents over the 20+ years I’ve been living here. I’ve been forced to change the times of day I run, and the routes many times. I used to run at 5 in the morning, when I got a doozy of a scare to find a man had been waiting for me in an alley. I changed to running at 9 a.m. 4 p.m. midday. Then, I changed it back to 8 in the morning which is where I am, currently.

Today was the second time in a few days, that I’ve seen the same terrifying guy, with the deadly serious attitude.

It was pouring with rain.

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As I ran past this man walking, I knew it was the same man who had given me chills from two days before. I thought I’d better check the stranger was still walking on up the road. But, he wasn’t. He’d stopped and was starting to turn around.

My guts said, “MOVE!”

I saw I was a few steps from the driveway of another school mama. I shot down to her front door. She and her daughter, and their big dog were just getting ready to leave for school. She said, “What’s wrong?”

I said, “There’s a strange man on the road, and I came to the nearest safe house.”

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She said, “Don’t worry. Brut will scare them off!”

We went back up their driveway. The man in the hoodie was loitering on the other side of the road.

I said, “There he is!”

At that, the man pivoted and took off into the property behind him.

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I thanked my friends and ran home safely. Yet, it was like the final straw. I have ignored the signs for years. But now, it’s unavoidable. I have to accept that my freedom is curtailed, because it is not safe to jog anymore. And something in me really rankles against that. I’ve spent the day feeling incensed.

With evening, I find I’m left with this great weight of disappointment like a sad blanket upon me. I’m disappointed by the human race.

Someone on Facebook said a few days ago, that he feels a sense that the miraculous is afoot. This does give a glimmer of hope. Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movie, says, “I think you’re underestimating the human race” I sure hope so! However, I’ve also decided to invest in a treadmill.

In this sad, old world of ours how do we artists continue to create our imaginary Edens?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago, had they happened to be within reach of predatory human hands. ~ Henry Havelock Elllis

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

After rashly deciding to join in with writing pals, Teresa Robeson, and Catherine Johnson, on the Selfie Art Day challenge five months ago, I now find myself part of a regular artistic quest to capture one’s own features. An elusive, multi-fold quest.

After a few experimental shots at different kinds of selfie art portrait with the last few posts, I decided to take a leaf out of Teresa Robeson’s book this time, and pare it back to minimal lines done in pencil.

This whole portrait was done with an HB pencil.

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I like to snatch the main outlines first. I find I always underestimate how big my hair is and make it too close to the head. But, nevertheless, I’m happy if the placement of the facial features and general shapes seem to be in the right places.

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Next, I like to make all the main lines more firm and distinct, so I don’t lose them.

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I’ve messed up the eyes a number of times, and I usually leave them till last. This portrait, I decided to do the eyes first, figuring perhaps I’d be fresher. More able to get the lines right. And to me it’s a definite improvement.

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Here’s my Selfie Art portrait, number five. What do you think?

If you decide to join in on the challenge, make sure you swing by Teresa Robeson’s wordpress blog and tell her about it. She’ll include your links on her regularly updated list. Include the hashtag on your post: #SelfieDay. Have fun!

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That or a kick-arse red lipstick. ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

This Wednesday it was time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! I’m late again, (sorry). It is time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

I spied a funny meme on Facebook this morning, then when I went back to look for it this evening, I couldn’t find it. It had vanished on the ether. If I can paraphrase, the message was this: “Teach a person to read a book, they’ll while away many a happy hour; teach a person to write a book, they’ll spend a lifetime mired in self-doubt.”

A chorus of ‘ain’t that the truth’ comments had poured in. I suspect that we, writers, and creatives, all suffer the same voices of self doubt about our work. I found it rather heartening, to know I’m not alone in my uncertainty.

A friend and fellow Toastmaster, said to me to the other day, “We creative people are sensitive.” This is so true. When our speech or our story gets picked apart, as she said, “we take it personally, because we’re so close to the material.”

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We have to learn how to keep our feet on the ground, when our business is to reach for the stars. A photographer friend, said, we creative people put our heart and soul on the line when we show our work.

This is true. As a writer in the early ‘80’s, I used to stress and sweat it so much over every publisher’s rejection letter. I can remember as an over-dramatic teen feeling as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I think it was Leonardo di Caprio who said, ‘With age, comes wisdom.’ Luckily, I’ve learnt a thing or two as I’ve gone along.

What can we do?

Mindfulness. ‘Mindfulness is being deeply aware of what is happening from moment to moment, outside and inside us, without judging or attaching to the content, feelings and emotions that arise. It refers to living deeply and richly in the present moment and not responding to life in a distracted and mechanical manner.’ Dr Yellow Bird.

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World-renowned spiritual leader, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a lovely little book, Peace is Every Step. ‘The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.’ I have a copy of this classic book in my home library and re-read it regularly. The ‘deceptively simple practices of Peace is Every Step encourage the reader to work for peace in the world, as he or she continues to work on sustaining inner peace by turning the “mindless” into the mindful.’

How should one go about Mindfulness?

Dr Yellow Bird recommends, ‘formal mindfulness instruction can benefit anyone who is exposed to chronic stress.’

However, if formal instruction is not your style, Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace is Every Step, gives simple exercises you can do at home, to develop and build our awareness of your own body and mind. You work towards mindfulness through conscious breathing.

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Jordan Bates wrote a great article over on his blog which is another good resource. Check it out! The 14 Mindfulness Teachings of Thích Nhất Hạnh’s Zen Buddhist Order

These sorts of relaxation-based techniques really speak to us, the sensitive souls who have to expose their souls in their work, writers, photographers, artists, etc.

I find mindfulness and meditation help keep me balanced in my middle age. And I feel they enhance my writing. I like to see that research is currently being done and they are discovering a basis for the reputed health benefits of meditative practices. I know they work for me.

How about you? What have you found that works for you to battle the self-doubt?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“Friendship redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in halves.  For there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more, and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less.”  Francis Bacon

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