130 – what’s your creative DNA?

Working my way through Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit,” published some years back. One of her big exercises she puts you through is finding your Creative DNA.

Here are all the questions:

  1. What is the first creative moment you remember?
  2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?
  3. What is the best idea you’ve ever had?
  4. What made it great in your mind?
  5. What is the dumbest idea?
  6. What made it stupid?
  7. Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?
  8. What is your creative ambition?
  9. What are the obstacles to this ambition?
  10. What are the vital steps to achieving thi sambition?
  11. How do you begin your day?
  12. What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?
  13. Describe your first successful creative act.
  14. Describe your second successful  creative act.
  15. Compare them.
  16. What are your attitudes toward: money, power, praise, rivals, work, play?
  17. Which artists do you admire most?
  18. Why are they your role models?
  19. What do you and your role models have in common?
  20. Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?
  21. Who is your muse?
  22. Define use.
  23. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond.
  24. When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond?
  25. When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?
  26. When you work, do you love the process or the result?
  27. At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?
  28. What is your ideal creative activity?
  29. What is your greatest fear?
  30. What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?
  31. Which of your answers would you most like to change?
  32. What is your idea of mastery?
  33. What is your greatest dream?
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129 – writerly angstiness

It’s been a weird year, and I’m in a weird space at the moment. Not exactly writer’s block (I mean, you’re reading this, so I’m writing, right?), but not exactly not writer’s block either. Every time I open the draft of “Flak Be Nimble,” my head explodes, and I will do anything short of standinAllBadWritersAreInLoveWithTheEpic-Hemingwayg on my head and whistling Dixie to be elsewhere doing anything but writing.

But… I feel as if I’m on the edge of something, and I just have to reach out and find it. Maybe I’m right (write?), or maybe it’s just my dodgy little brain doing one more thing to keep me from Chicken Littling all over the place. Whichever.

Pick one. Or find something else entirely…

128 – and the beat goes on

Oh my word, I haven’t posted here since August. Since no one is protesting, I’ll just have to assume y’all haven’t missed me. That should make me sad, but it actually makes me feel a little less pressured.

So, since August, I:

  • Completed the contract at the restaurant, and handed it over to a new manager. My opinion of him will remain unwritten–he’s still there as I’m writing this, so it’s been seven weeks, as he started right at the beginning of October. I hope, for the Mitchell’s sake, he makes a success of it. Scuttlebutt around town is not good, but then, it seldom is about most things.
  • Am 11,000 words into Flak Be Nimble, the sequel to This Little Pig, which makes me very happy and annoyed at the same time. I used NaNoWriMo to jump into it, and have struggled to get in gear. I did great for the first week and a half, and been just eking it out ever since. Minor proof is… I’m writing in this blog for the first time in THREE MONTHS, because I’ll do anything to not be writing in the novel. I should be 40,000 words in, and I’m just over a quarter of that…
  • Bought a warehouse with Corey. And an RV storage lot, as the property came with a half-acre lot, hurricane fenced, triple-strand barbwire headed. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Still standing empty… but that’s not really why we bought the property anyway.
  • Stopped writing my column for the 90 days I was at the restaurant–as I know I suck at multi-tasking and might not have time to do the column justice. Jody Bailey Day, one of the most amazing people I know, ably stepped in and did a Mayberry serial, which was awesome.
  • Went back to writing my column a couple weeks back, and totally spaced that this week was Thanksgiving, so just wrote an everyday column to turn in this Sunday… 🙂 Corey and I don’t really plan to do anything but bake a ham on the day, and otherwise kind of ignore the whole thing. He is busy-busy with stuff for the ranch and will probably work through the four-day weekend… and I have to be in town on Friday evening anyway.  Hmm…

So, it’s been an interesting 90 days. Life never stands still, does it?

127 – mumblings from the mountains

Sitting looking at a smoke-hazed mountain outside my best friend’s back door. It’s beautiful, even in the fire-induced fog. The sun is trying to climb over it–she often doesn’t get actual sun on her house until upwards of 10 a.m. because it lies in the early morning shadow cast by that mountain.

Happy to be here, feeling a sense of accomplishment–a quilt that I worked on for almost a year has been given to the newlyweds, and the bride was my friend’s youngest daughter. The bride and groom are off now to Hawaii. Now a couple days just for us, the vacation we both sorely needed–and a quick visit with son John in Great Falls before we head back to super-heated but not-on-fire West Texas.

attic window quilt
attic window quilt

Got a nice, long visit with Kelsey and Brian and the kids the last week of July, got to know Miss Haley Leann a little bit better, and had tons of fun with Tyler.

Also took on a consulting job shortly before that, getting operations turned around at a restaurant in the 8000+ population town 45 minutes from the ranch. The same folks who own the ranch own the restaurant, and when their general manager asked if I’d take on the challenge, I couldn’t resist. That was July 17, and from there until we flew out to come up here for a week, I’ve been running with my ears laid back. It’s in much better shape now, with tons of help from Kels and Brian as well as Corey, who jumped in with the staff to do the massive cleaning that was the first step to getting the place back on track. It’s a 90-day contract, minus the time here in Montana, so as of October 16, I’ll be back to entrepreneuriality, if that’s a word. And November is NaNoWriMo.

Oh… and we bought a warehouse. 🙂

126 – Can’t believe it’s been a month!

So much going on of late… An old, old friend came to visit the first week of June, unexpectedly, but most welcome. We had just come back from watching one of my favorite people in the world graduate, Vivyan Sauls, niece extraordinaire. Got to see my sis for the first time since a quick visit in March, and Viv’s older sister, Elizabeth for the first time in five years. It was totally awesome to hug her neck and talk, as well.

Annette (at right, with me in one of the hunting buggies), who was part of a couple that were very close with me and the ex-, looked amazing, hadn’t aged a day… Hadn’t seen her since I was super-heavy, and had spoken to AnnetteAndMeher a couple times since the divorce, but hadn’t actually seen her. It was really awesome to see her and talk to her. Some things don’t change–old friendships that you can take up without missing a beat are pretty danged awesome.

Also got to see daughter Kelsey, husband Brian and both kids for nearly a week. It was an awful lot of fun having a little one to play with, and Tyler got a chance to play with the owner’s grandson, slip-and-sliding an afternoon away.

Writing is booming right along, as well. The print and Kindle versions of my second book of the summer, “She’s Thinking Out Loud,” are live on Amazon.com. Haven’t got a ton of response to it yet, but haven’t had near the marketing time that I had with “This Little Pig.” It’s also of much more local interest, as the vast majority is my op-ed columns written for The Fort Stockton Pioneer.

Am 4,000 words into the sequel to Pig, “Flak Be Nimble.” Synopsis: Flak’s been asked to be maid of honor at her college roommate Cynthia’s wedding to the heir to a West Texas homestead. She accepts with pleasure, as well as taking on teaching a summer class on small town law enforcement at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, so she can stay in the area while Cyn and her soon-husband honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta.  But Flak first has to puzzle out why her oldest friend, who should be blissfully happy, is instead scared to death. Before long, bodies with a peculiar symbol etched on each one begin to show up everywhere, from unmarked graves in what outsiders believe are the barren wastelands of the High Chihuahuan Desert to extremely public places in the small towns scattered a day’s hard ride apart. None of it seems to make sense. But the body count just keeps getting higher, and that will not stand. Not where Flak’s concerned, anyway.

I’ve signed up for Camp Nanowrimo, shooting for 3,000 words a day… I’d really like to have a first draft done by the end of the month of July – I wrote Pig in 30 days, should be able to get FBN drafted in that amount of time. We’ll see.

I’ve also lost 31 pounds in the last 90 days. Deliberately. Shooting to lose about 40 more by the end of the year. 🙂 It’s been a good spring and summer so far.

125 – happy insomniac

Up at 4 a.m. this morning. Promised Corey I’d never say 4:13 again. He finds that kind of precision funny. I would say I don’t know why… but I do, ’cause I find it funny when other people do it, but only when they add vague qualifiers to it, like “almost 4:13.” We are weirdly alike for two people that on the surface are not so much… But that’s probably what makes us work as a couple. At any rate, woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I figured I’d rattle off a few paragraphs.

Not a lot of plans for the weekend, other than to get into town in time to check the mail, pick up some ranch stuff, pick up some grocery stuff… get back home and work on the craft project that I’m up in the middle of–it’s a gift, so my lips are sealed. Am taking pictures.

My only other ambition is to get our van up and listed on a couple of websites. If you know anyone who might be in the market for an extended body 2002 Ford Econoline E350 cargo van, with a 7.3L diesel engine, let us know. It’s in good shape, two brand new tires and two good ones, just passed inspection a few months back. It’s very clean inside because we’re clean freaks. We stripped it down to the metal inside, repainted the inside floor and put it back together again. It does have a ladder rack for the top. The picture below is not a picture of THE van, it’s a picture of A van, same year model, same body type, frame, etc. I’ll replace it when I get a moment to get out and take pictures, if it’s not raining once the sun’s up this morning.

We had planned to kit it out as a weekend camping van, and it has room enough for a 2002-ford-econoline-cargo-van-058-p3queen-size bed in it, but we are just too busy to get it done… and enjoy just exploring the ranch on the rare weekend where we have time to just enjoy the weekend together. Plus, we like sleeping in our own bed now that we’re older. Camping, bluntly, kinda sucks.

But, I digress.

We’ll be listing the van for $6,500. Someone will want it just for the engine, according to my mechanically expert husband, who says it has 3/4 of a million miles of run-time left on it. Don’t know the mileage offhand, but I gather these engines run for decades. I know jack about engines, but know Corey wanted the van because of the engine, with eventual intent to tow a bumper-pull trailer, use the van for extra storage and the trailer for living space.

All I know is, rather than let it sit, someone who can use it ought to be using it. So if you know someone who might be interested, flag me down and let me know.

124 – light dawns, habit calls

As the sun rises on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2015, 6:51 a.m: We do not forget. To those who thank living veterans, we appreciate it–but please give the day’s respect to those who paid with their lives for our freedom. Raise a glass in their honor; celebrate their names. Remember them. We do.

I was looking outside to see if it was light enough to run yet, and decided MemorialDayto check and see when sunrise actually was these days in these parts… and it would be, oh, now.

Didn’t run yesterday and felt guilty as sin–may have finally developed a good habit. Only took me what, eight weeks? They do say it takes 27 repetitions to develop a habit, and considering I’m unusually slow, especially when it’s something I should be doing, I’m figuring a little over double isn’t too bad… 🙂 I’ll take it.

The final proof copy of “She’s Thinking Out Loud,” my book of collected columns, is uploading (for the seventh time) as I write this. The digital copy is out for review, and my apologies to my reviewers, as I set a deadline for them of this weekend, my head being so far up my own backside that I totally forgot that for normal people it’s a three-day weekend. So I re-sent my e-mail and asked them to get reviews back to me by June 1, and if I get them at all, I’ll be grateful.

There’s space in the print reserved for them, and they’ll be inserted after the final print proof is in my hands. Woo-hoo, second book will be out in June, people!

And, speaking of books (and you knew I would) if you happen to be around Fort Stockton, Texas, on June 11, at 6 p.m., stop in at The Garage, Coffee, Music & More, at 1110 N. Main St., for “Meet the Author,” where I’ll be presenting a few selections from This Little Pig, A Flak Anders Mystery. The first 40 people seated will be able to buy a signed first edition of the book. It’s my first book in print, as well as my first novel.  Bring cash, I don’t accept credit cards yet! 😀