Category Archives: creativity

Aesthetic.

What is aesthetically beautiful country?

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/aesthetic/

The WordPress daily post is always a challenge but I don’t often find time to write on the chosen theme. Today, however, we’re on the same page. I’ve been considering writing about where I live now.

I have long-held opinions about what I consider aesthetically beautiful scenery. It involves water, mountains and blue skies.

Well, here in Norfolk there are no mountains. But there’s plenty of water and sometimes there are also blue skies.

the aesthetic beauty of Norfolk

January Broad

I started out feeling cold on this Sunday afternoon walk around the Broad but soon had to peel off the top layer. Some Norfolk Broads came about as a result of peat diggings in medieval times but others, like this one in my photograph were chalk excavations. Rising sea levels completed the job. You’d never know it, but the fine city of Norwich is just behind those trees.

The Norfolk Broads are a popular English tourist attraction. Thousands of people come in summer to spend their vacation time on the water, stopping off at waterside hostelries before moving off in time to moor at another hostelry for the evening. Boat hire is big business here. Some folk live by the water and have their own. It’s a good place to house-sit!

winter aesthetics

private mooring

Winter brings a different kind of aesthetic beauty and makes creatives like me get out the paint brushes and/or write poetry, especially when mist hangs over the water and everything is still.

aesthetic mist

winter staithe in mist

Winter Staithe ©

( a staithe is a cutting or inlet )

 

No wind to fill the billowing sail.

No sun to bathe the picnic decks

where plimsolled little sailors skipped

gaily in and out and dripped

their melting ice creams down their necks.

No birds to follow in the trail

to search for scraps, to wheel and cry

and loudly squabble ownership

of tasty morsels newly slipped

into the wake. The staithe and sky

in rippled stillness form a pale

and misty shadow of the days

gone by. The old gate creaks

its winter joints. The reeds break

through the grey and filmy haze

with shots of gold: thin echo of a summer’s tale.

. . . . . . . . . .

More Norfolk posts to come in the goodness of time. Leave a comment, please. Don’t be shy. I love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, Stranger. How’s your CRPS?

It’s been a while. I haven’t written a new post since May. If you’ve read previous posts on the pain of CRPS you’ll know how it sometimes affects my creativity.

Chronic pain knocks the stuffing out

It’s like there’s no energy left for anything other than crawling back into bed. With an extra pillow to support the throbbing arm. With a hot water bottle to ease the painful shoulder. With a heated lavender pack under your neck. Sexy, huh?

In the early days my hand was swollen. If you Google images for a CRPS hand guess whose comes up?

CRPS hand

yes, folks, that’s me

I found I could use the keyboard with one hand but sitting at the desk in constant pain didn’t get my head in the right place for writing, especially the kind of fiction beloved by women’s magazines. Besides, my head was in a fog most of the time due to side effects of various medications. But I could edit. So, little by little I managed to get my first two novels out.

Oh, that seems so long ago.

CRPS beginning

CRPS beginning

Where my CRPS is now

The swelling has gone now. Thanks to early intervention my claw of a hand is more user-friendly. (You cannot peel a potato with one hand, not to mention putting  on a bra!)

Now I can do most tasks beyond my capabilities at the outset. And I’m grateful for that. I still drop things and take twice as long as other people at the supermarket cash desk but if I have a word with the cashier beforehand they’ll go more steadily for me. Top marks to Tesco on this one – always happy to help.

tesco

top marks for Tesco

But it seems my CRPS has spread to other places in my body. It’s gastro-intestinal stuff now, people. Look away now if the subject is too distasteful.

I have cyclical vomiting and diarrhoea. And it’s becoming more frequent. I’ve tried to ascertain which foods might be culprits and I know now to avoid heavily fatty meals but, still, some days the cycle begins without any reason, it seems to me.

I have an appointment to see my doctor next month which, by coincidence is CRPS awareness month.

crpsawarenessmonth

CRPS awareness

My doctor knows how I feel about taking medication. I control the amount I take. Rigorously control. However, as I realise I’m a candidate for osteoporosis due to the CRPS I’m going to ask for a Vitamin D check. If I can avoid further damage to my bones by taking a vitamin supplement, I will swill it down gladly.

In the meantime, cyclical vomiting permitting, I continue with my writing endeavours.

The Sandman and Mrs Carter is under review with a publisher. I’m also revisiting Queer as Folk, my second collection of short stories.

And I’m getting my orange outfit ready for CRPS Awareness Day.

crpsawareness

CRPS awareness

Immortalised in Stone

How would I wish 2015 to be immortalised in stone?

In response to the WordPress daily challenge <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/immortalized-in-stone/”>Immortalized in Stone</a>

If I were to commission a sculptor to carve an immortal,  personal symbol of 2015 what would it be?

immortalised

a prize to die for?

I have a rather complicated image in my mind’s eye of the way I’d want my 2015 carved in stone as regular readers and friends will understand. To be immortalised means to be made non-mortal. God-like, even. Something never-ending, absolute, memorable. All positive.

And – lo, and behold, I’ve got there. Not immortal. No. Not there. I’ve arrived at the positive place that seemed unreachable six months ago, Hallelujah! Fates be praised. I’m sitting in the same chair by the same window, looking at the same view but I’m seeing something entirely different. Where once I saw empty space, now I see freedom – the freedom to fill that space with whatever I choose. How fabulous is that?

immortalised

the price of immortality

I’ve done the dying swan bit. More than once. I won’t go into details. Suffice it to say I keep on bouncing back. I should have been a cat but I don’t know how many lives I have left. Whatever it is I choose to do next I better get it right. You know, just in case I’m running out of bouncability.

However, not everybody agrees that being immortalised is necessarily a worthy objective.

immortalisedBut the challenge is not about the immortality of the individual: it’s about the year 2015. Which brings me back to the positive/negative argument I’ve had going on in my head since February.

I still have some heavy negatives to face. To fight. But, oh, boy am I up for it. I haven’t felt this strong in an age. I’m back to being me, the real me who somehow disappeared and only came out to play once a week at choir practice. It’s a damned good feeling.

So what would my sculpture be?

Imagine a stone spiral. At the solid base supporting the structure are hewn family, grandchildren and friends. Their loving arms are entwined above their heads and they’re holding up filigree metal branches decorated with books and paper and paints and paintbrushes and music scores with treble clefs and triplets. There are lipsticks and fancy bottles of perfume and shoes with killer heels.

And when the wind caresses my sculpture there is a humming sound through the branches; forged musical notes tinkle like a wind chime; the high heels tap their timpani against the stone till the spiral spins on its axis. When decorations fall from the sculpture it doesn’t matter because other people can add their own mementoes; their own important little fancies so that my sculpture is always changing.

That’ll do, monkey. We’re done now.

 

immortalised

spreading the message

How sad is ‘The End’ ? Missing your characters.

 

The End of the book

image from ‘The Guardian’

Some people feel sad when they finish reading a book or a series. There’s a new hole in their lives, they say, when the last page is turned and the characters they’ve come to know and support fade away.

Here on Reddit, there’s a discussion about how finishing a book causes sadness.

Bailey laments the coming to the end of a series in 2013 in her BookBlogging blog.

In Yahoo answers the discussion mentions sadness at finishing a book because the reader has become so attached to the characters.

On GoodReads, too, there are readers who explain how they feel sad when they’ve finished reading a book they’ve really enjoyed.

So how do writers feel when they’ve finished?

If you can feel sad when you’ve finished reading a book, how much sadder are you going to feel when you’ve finished writing one?

The writers at Jungle Red discuss it here. Most writers feel something of a kind of emptiness but deal with it in different ways. Some jump straight back into the next novel. Others enjoy taking a break.

Flaubert said this –

I love my work with a love that is frenzied and perverted, as an ascetic loves the hair shirt that scratches his belly. Sometimes, when I am empty, when words don’t come, when I find I haven’t written a single sentence after scribbling whole pages, I collapse on my couch and lie there dazed, bogged in a swamp of despair, hating myself and blaming myself for this demented pride which makes me pant after a chimera. A quarter of an hour later everything changes; my heart is pounding with joy. Last Wednesday I had to get up and fetch my handkerchief; tears were streaming down my face. I had been moved by my own writing; the emotion I had conceived, the phrase that rendered it, and satisfaction of having found the phrase–all were causing me to experience the most exquisite pleasure.”
-Flaubert

He must have been depressed beyond imagination when he actually finished.

I admit I’ve made myself cry

when I’ve killed off characters. I’ve got myself all riled up during arguments between my fictitious people and found it difficult not to take sides. I’ve felt for myself the heartwarming/heartbreaking bits, but the act of finishing, actually coming to ‘The End’ has been a very strange feeling indeed.

When I finish a short story, I can’t wait to submit it and see if a magazine is going to take it up. I don’t grieve for the fact that story is finished. I’m not so invested in the characters. I’d be wrung out like a rag if I became so deeply involved as with the characters in a full length novel.

So, now I’m missing the characters in Patterns of Our Lives. They’ve been a part of my life for so long. The best I can do for them now is market the book and find ways to promote my work and persuade people to read it so they can come to love Sandra and Jean, Polish George and Ronnie Logan and all the others. Like grown up children, they have to go out into the world.

I’ll leave the final words to the Bard:-

Juliet:
‘Tis almost morning, I would have thee gone—
And yet no farther than a wan-ton’s bird,
That lets it hop a little from his hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silken thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.

Romeo:
I would I were thy bird.

Juliet:
Sweet, so would I,
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow. [Exit above]

Romeo And Juliet Act 2, scene 2, 176–185

The End

farewell my friends . . .

A pain in the Arts.

Pain shut off my creative spark. I didn’t have the faintest glow. Not even a hint of warmth, never mind sparkle. So, I got to thinking where does creativity come from? And where has it gone now that I’m battling this CRPS diagnosis?

How can we measure suffering?

pain scale

on a scale of 1 to 10 where would you place your pain?

Doctors usually ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. What I’m looking for is proof that there’s a connection between pain and creativity so I can understand why my light went out temporarily.

Doctor Joy Madden who’s the self development editor for Bella online says that, actually, we might need suffering because it can have a positive effect on our creativity.

(Not mine, Doctor Joy)

Indeed, her article goes on to say, and I quote:  “Some of the most famous creative works have been accomplished when experiencing the greatest pain.”

(Oh dear)

In Pain and the Creative Process, author K. Ferlic says:

Although pain is not inherent to the creative process, it is integrally tied to the creative process as performed by humans because of how we create our experiences. Pain and the creative process are related in several different ways.”

Similarly, in Pain and suffering and developing creativity, 

Cheryl Arutt, Psy.D., a psychologist specializing in creative artist issues, says “Many creative people carry the belief that their pain is the locus of their creativity, and worry that they will lose their creativity if they work through their inner conflicts or let go of suffering…”

(Oh, double dear)

It seems to me that in articles such as these they’re talking about the need to have experienced pain of depression, loss, longing and desire to fire up the creative processes.

I’m not talking about the ‘tortured’ artist who creates on the agony in every brush stroke or word of what it felt like to be dumped by her precious ‘other’. I think it’s only common sense to see that if you want to write about heartbreak, it helps if you had it yourself at one time.

I’m talking about having CRPS right now.

CRPS pain scale

CRPS pain scale

It hurts. It really hurts. Now. And now. And NOW. Over and over like Groundhog Day.

‘Look out! Your wrist just got broken,’ mine tells me. ‘Look out! Your wrist just got broken. Tell your arm your wrist just got broken. Tell your elbow your wrist just got broken. Tell your shoulder your wrist just got broken. We’re all broken. NOW. Broken. BROKEN.’

You get the picture. But other people don’t. They’re so happy to see you out and about they slap you on the shoulder or they rub your arm and don’t realise they’re putting you through agony. I try to anticipate and turn to the side but I’m never quite quick enough.

Chronic pain is tiring. Exhausting. Medication gives you nausea on top of everything else you’re putting up with. You can’t sleep so you’re even more fatigued. You begin to avoid going to places where people will rub your arm and tell you they’re glad you’re all better now. And, yes, from time to time you get a little depressed.

With all of the above going on, how could anybody find the energy to be creative?

So where do ideas come from?

Read Neil Gaiman’s thoughts on this. I like his thinking. I like the reference to daydreaming. I like how he says ideas come often when you’re doing something else.

But, when you’re in real, excruciating pain, right now this second, you don’t do something else; you don’t do daydreaming. You’re not relaxed enough for those things. All you can do is try to cope with your pain and get through the day, the hour. When you are relaxed it’s because medication got you there and you probably wouldn’t even remember how to write a shopping list in the state you’re in, never mind write the next five thousand words.

I found I could edit, though. I could look at what I’d already written and reshape it, get it ready for publication. So there is a positive to come out of it. Maybe without the enforced limitations on my capabilities I might never have got around to editing Patterns of Our Lives. I’m pleased and proud it’s out there and selling.

But, don’t tell me pain is conducive to creative arts. It only works in the past tense.