Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Buck Stops Here (and I'll quit stressing about the holidays)

Does he looked stressed? Nope. Nah uh.
Those of us who lack the yippee-the-holidays-are-coming gene feel inadequate at this time of year. Shopping, baking, cooking, hostessing, and decorating loom as tasks rather than pleasures. Next time I reach for a paper bag to breathe into, I'm going to stop and gaze at the photo of the oh-so-mellow buck who wandered into my Hill Country backyard last weekend. Does he look stressed? Nope. He’s at peace with the universe.

This year, the universe and my little Meyer lemon tree gave me more than sixty of the sweet-tart fruit. Does the harvest stress me out? Au contraire. I’m thrilled with the bounty and have an easy-peasy plan for using it:

A fraction of my bounty!

After the holidays, I have a date with a paint roller and lots of walls. (Uh oh. Stare at picture of the buck. Breathe in. Breathe out) In the meantime, I’m researching paint colors, an activity that leads down the mother of all rabbit holes. (About that rabbit: is it Alabaster, White Dove, Philadelphia Cream, or Dover White?) My research took me to many design blogs. Belatedly, I remembered I lack the good-at-crafts gene. Never mind. The design posts helped me winnow my color options and solve some home-maintenance problems.

My non-crafty self laughed at and with his post, but I LOVE the bench he made. Is it possible good-at-crafts people are made not born? If so, could I build a similar bench? I mean, if I tried really, really hard? (Uh oh. Stare at the picture of the buck until the desire to jump in the car and drive to Lowe’s passes.)

While the holidays show me I'm all thumbs and two steps behind, I’m grateful for you. Have a joyous Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Ignites Your Creativity?

My friend Karen McFarland has been thinking about creativity and its many triggers. Books, nature, and awareness of all her senses spur Karen’s creativity, and now she wants to know what spurs mine. She tagged me to participate in the Inspiring Spaces BlogHop. (Cate Russell-Cole, that instigator, tagged Karen.) 

People and places inspire me. Spaces? Not so much. That said, I’m up for any challenge that asks, “What ignites your creativity?”

People-watching gives me ideas, and snippets of overheard conversation fuel plot twists. For as long as I can remember, I’ve made up stories about strangers sitting across from me on buses, in airports, or at meetings.  I give those people names, occupations, and relationships and was astonished to learn not everyone does the same.

Once, I was interviewing for a job and a receptionist pointed out the man I’d be meeting with but didn’t identify him. He was tall and lean, with a shock of fair hair, and I decided him name must be Max, Lars, or Thor. 

When he introduced himself as Ernie, I did a double-take.

Like you, I’m inspired by books I’ve read. Ooh, ooh, have you read Liane Moriarty? Her stories feature the kind of women we think we know from the office, PTO, and book club, and then, bam! She shows us we don’t know those women at all.  I highly recommend What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret.  Itty Bitty Lies is on my Kindle and will be my treat for finishing this month’s many tasks.

 Walking’s my sport, and its glacial pace matches the speed of my thinking process. I solve problems—my own and those of my fictional characters--while putting one foot in front of the other. The places I walk inspire me, too. One is a Houston park alongside Buffalo Bayou, and the other is beside Lake Travis in the Texas Hill Country (Yes, we capitalize all those words.) For me, any recipe for creativity is more delicious if it includes the words “add water.”

Creativity and problem-solving are closely aligned, don’t you think? For me, figuring out what a fictional character will do when thwarted constitutes creativity. Sometimes, though, I wish I had the kind that results in gorgeous gowns or fabulous paintings.

Although I have a home office that holds photos, cards, and mementoes that are special to me, I tend to write in the family room, at the kitchen table, at the public library, and while sitting in all sorts of waiting rooms. To me, writing’s a moveable feast. 

 Your muse is Murphy the Pelican, and mine’s a cat. I don’t have to wait for the muse to join me as he’s usually sitting in my favorite chair. Sometimes more than one cat occupies my favorite chair.  Am I grateful the muses show up to motivate me? Nah, I tell them to scram.

Writing is lonely, but my writer friends remind me I’m not alone. Thanks for tagging me with this blog-hop challenge, Karen. Your friendship inspires me.