Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I'M BACK: REPORT ON A 7-MONTH SABBATICAL

The other day, I got off the 2/3 train at 96th and Broadway and saw my old doorman, Mike, walking up the street. He said, "Hey, I haven't gotten your newsletter in a long time." (This blog originated as an email newsletter.) I felt kinda sheepish. It's been 7 months since I last wrote for Creative Times. Other folks have commented, too: "I thought maybe I got dropped from your list." Not so.

I've been on a 7-month sabbatical from writing Creative Times. I was climbing Mount Everest and decided to swing off onto a side path that allowed a little more time to explore and smell the flowers. Here's some of the stuff I've done:

1. Read a ton of great books about writing and the creative process. Gems included:

  • What A Writer Needs by Ralph Fletcher
  • The Sound of Paper: Starting From Scratch by Julia Cameron
  • Letters to a Young Artist by Anna Deavere Smith
  • Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • This Time I Dance: Trusting the Journey of Creating the Work You Love by Tama J.Kieves
  • Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life by Natalie Goldberg
  • Creating a Life Worth Living: A practical course in career design for artists, innovators, and others aspiring to a creative life byCarol Lloyd
  • The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: a portable mentor by Gail McMeekin
Admittedly, I also bought and read a second hand copy of Florascope: discover your flower sign written by Helen Brown Gentry and photographed by Sally Tagg. Evidently, as a Scorpio, I fall into the category of Cactus Flower. This means that I am "eager to delve into life's hidden corridors." So true!

2. Taught public school parents how to make reading and writing more integral to their families' lives. Thanks, Ralph Fletcher, for the idea of having parents write stories about their first names. Incredibly revealing exercise!

3. Wrote journal entries about my immediate surroundings (e.g. a description of my favorite neighborhood cafe) and mailed them to my eight-year-old nephew, Niko, who lives in Hawaii.

4. Rented, for dirt-cheap, a subsidized loft studio space from arts center Spoke the Hub to listen to music and dance. A highlight was bringing my 11-year-old friend Lizzy into the space to co-choreograph a dance to a Mariah Carey song.

5. Co-choreographed a dance to a 70s song with colleagues at my office and performed it at our holiday party.

5. Started a Dream Binder. It's a place where I stick 3 by 5 cards or pictures which reflect the stuff I want to bring into my life.

6. Found pennies most days on the street or the subway. Taped individual pennies to sheets of paper with a note asking the finder of the paper to make a wish, take a step toward making the wish come true, then email the wish to me. I never heard back from anyone, but still enjoyed planting the notes around my neighborhood.

7. Explored many branches of the New York Public Library and took the office staff to tour Donnell, the best branch of them all, which resides across the street from MOMA.

8. Joined MOMA mostly to have access to their awesome loft-like cafe and visit Picasso's She-Goat in the sculpture garden.

9. Got inspired by the music of British MC (rapper) Lady Sovereign. Check out her website: www.ladysovereign.com/

10. Interviewed a woman who drives a pink ice cream truck in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for a report back from the interview in an upcoming entry.

So, you can see, I haven't been totally idle. But it has been hard to not write. There's a huge backlog of things I want to put to paper.

Here's what brought me back to writing for Creative Times: I found Louise Crawford's blog, Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn -http://onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.typepad.com/ and through it found out about the upcoming First Annual Brooklyn Blog Festival in June. I emailed Louise and we ended up having a great phone conversation about blogging. In connecting with Louise, I realized that I am not a lone star floating around the atmosphere; I'm part of this great collection of folks who, like me, collect odd bits of information and life experience and string all of it together through words.

I'm excited about attending the Blog Festival and meeting up with kindred spirits.

Funny thing: after chatting with Louise, I opened Carol Lloyd's Creating a Life Worth Living to the chapter called "Building a Bridge You Can Jump On: Support Structures." Carol sez:

Like a bridge that needs to be anchored to the ocean floor and connected by great iron cables to the shore, creative people need multiple support structures so they don't float away to some distant professional reef [...] Your will alone cannot keep you in place. You need support structures to help you.
[...]
Creativity springs from a ferment of connections and ideas. So, in addition to your private vision, your vigorous creative habits, and your practical day job, don't forget that you need fellowship connecting you to the world.

I think this was the missing piece for me, the fellowship piece. I thank Carol and Louise for pointing out that truth, thus helping me return to the drawing board.

It feels good to be back.
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