Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Which I Get a Little Rambly

Yesterday, I sent off a first draft of my current WIP to agent extraordinaire. Today I went wandering to reward myself.

I used to love walking around with nowhere to go, exploring and noticing and observing. I live a totally different life now, full of responsibilities and constant action (make lunches, walk the kids to school, go to the post office, grade papers...), so I often forget what it's like to move without purpose. The most delightful things come across one's path when there are no expectations.

So...I found myself in the next town over, walking block after block, when I spotted a shop I'd rushed past hundreds of times, always grumbling to myself that I should go in when I have a spare minute. This time I went in. On the surface the place was typical for a neighborhood filled with Victorian homes and people with money--candles, natural skin products, cutesy wall plaques with inspirational quotes. Then I looked a little closer. Some books on Native American spiritualism lined one wall. Palmistry and fortune telling the other. Okaaay, I thought. Then I spotted the Buddhas. Tarot cards. Incense. Bundled dried sage.

Then I saw the sign. "Shamanistic Readings by Appointment Only."

Holy freaking crap! What was a Shamanistic reading? I had to know. I approached the counter. The woman behind it was about the same age as my mother, with a blond suburban bob and a green sweater set right out of the Land's End catalogue.

"Who's gives the readings?" I asked. I don't know who I was expecting. A straight-backed elderly gentleman from the Cherokee nation? Jim Morrison? An ex-Deadhead who would also try to sell me some peyote?

She smiled at me. "I do."

This was my Shaman.

Turns out Shamanistic readings are kind of a guided, spiritual look inside the psyche. The focus is on answering a question, as in some Tarot readings, but all kinds of stuff comes out because the Shaman is gently coaxing spiritual energies. At least that's how I understood it. Anyway, this woman and I ended up having a great conversation about creativity, aromatherapy, life in general.

I didn't get a reading (Um, Shamans are expensive--even ones that look like they crochet instead of hang out in sweat lodges.) but I learned some things I can file away for that witch book I'm working on AND I scored some medicinal grade peppermint essential oil (great for focus and concentration.) All in all, a success.

There's a part of me that sees these excursions as a waste of time (You could be writing, Miss Flaky-pants, the little voice tells me.) But today I'm going to see them like a Shaman would: opening one's soul to the world.

And what's wrong with that?

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Kick to the Right Side of my Brain

Happy 2011, everyone!

I am so excited for what this year will bring, and I'm eager to get started on a major project I've been planning for quite some time. BUT I still have to finish up the one I'm working on. Exhaustion is common as one enters the last phases of a book, particularly during the busy holiday season, but I was lucky enough to come across some incredibly inspiring art to keep my mind whirring. Here's a taste...

1. JUST KIDS by Patti Smith. I realize I'm a little late to the party with this one, but--wow--if you were one of those "creative" girls in your late teens/early twenties, with no idea what to do with your creative impulses, this is for you. I loved reading how Patti came into her own and figured out what to do with all the ideas exploding in her head.

2. Bonobo is a pseudonym for the Brit DJ Simon Green. I usually can't write to music, but his hypnotic album, Black Sands, calls forth the words like a snake charmer. I'm obsessed!

3. Expanding my Beta circle. I love my long-term betas, but it's always good to search out new, critical readers. I've been lucky enough to meet some pretty sharp, fantastic people and my writing has truly benefited.

4. Black Swan--It's a Hitchcock/Twilight Zone/YA novel mash-up. LOVED it. I mean, I was totally creeped out, but it's been a while since a movie made me feel anything deeply.

5. Comic books. My younger son has been writing his own comics. Watching how his 8 year old brain maps out a story has been a lesson in the art of simplicity.

What's been jumpstarting your creativity? Movies? Art? Music? Tell me!