Tag Archives: the artists life

First Creative Writer’s Conference…with Kids in Tow!

keys

I’m writing this post from my hotel room in San Diego at the La Jolla Writer’s Conference. What an amazing two days so far! At first I almost cancelled coming, as I didn’t have a sitter Friday and Sunday I’m throwing a birthday party for my youngest munchkin..So, not only would I need to bring my children along Friday and part of Saturday, I wouldn’t have the extra time and attention needed to throw a perfect birthday party back in LA on Sunday. You dads out there might not get this…but man, don’t you moms know that need to throw a perfect party? 🙂 I could spend hours arranging flowers, cleaning house, making cupcakes etc. even for 6-year-olds. It must be a southern thing…I’m trying to recover from this.

So, it’s clear that I need to let go of that perfect parenting bug I’ve been bitten by. AND, I’ve realized that it was a wise decision to go to my first creative writer’s conference and let my kiddos tag along. Why? Because how often does my life revolve around them?  From soccer games and practices, to violin lessons, homework, concerts, doctor visits, etc.—I’m at their beckon call. And it struck me, as a single mom writing a novel, that it’s okay to ask my boys to come along and sacrifice some of their agenda in order to support me and my work. So that’s what we did. It was no problem.  My 12-year-old babysat my just-turned 6-year-old while I attended two lectures Friday. They watched a movie and I garnered amazing advice. It was a win-win. Instead of going to the networking event Friday evening, the three of us hit the pool, had a yummy dinner, rented a good movie and snuggled. Saturday morning started at 6 a.m. for me and I raced from lecture to events all day with a lunch break at the pool with my boys. My nanny picked them up this afternoon and took them back to LA for me, so luckily, I was able to participate in all the afternoon lectures and even my own terrifying pitch session, where I described my novel to two agents and a filmmaker and screenwriter—talk about frightening! I’m still speechless at their responses, encouragement and requests to read my work. I’m so filled with gratitude and excitement for next steps. 🙂

So, I have a few things to say about this experience:

First, my years interviewing experts as a parenting editor suggested this —but I now know without a doubt—that it’s good for children to see and support their parents working toward goals. This is especially true of single parents. If all children see are moms sacrificing their identities, dreams and goals for their children, these children may grow up with a sense of self importance, a false sense of entitlement and little patience for cooperation or compromise—not to mention out-dated views on spousal roles.

Secondly: WOW the writers, film makers, poets, agents, publicists, attorneys at this conference have been amazing!  Their willingness to give their time, insights and support have been invaluable to me. I haven’t been to one lecture that didn’t provide incredible information and inspiration. I have a lot of advice to digest from the business of publishing and negotiating contracts, to writing the perfect query and synopsis, to marketing strategies.

It’s a lot to cover. And that’s not even touching on the part that I love most: creating and how to keep those negative voices at bay that can stall the writing process. I’ve gotten a lot of support at this conference. I love the writers that I’ve met. I’m inspired by their honesty and their bravery. Each one is an artist who is baring his/her soul to some degree. In order to write well, a person must “find those tender places,” as Patti Callahan Henry,  a New York Times best-selling author, eloquently explained today. It requires cutting off the fear of being good enough and being able to close the door on that negative critic inside that worries about what others will think. And in doing so, we can keep working and getting better at our craft, while finding our unique voice as writers. I loved what Callahan Henry said today: “Our voice is buried in that compost pile from our youth.” The best writers bravely go there. And clearly, Henry does this. I picked up many books by this southern writer, and am excited to read all of them. I’m half-way through her latest: The Stories We Tell, and know I won’t go to bed until I’m done. I’m immersed in this Savannah-based tale and want to learn the truth lingering between the couple who seem to have it all…Her characters are compelling and believable, who live in a world that invites me in to sit a while and marinate in their truth—which may just resonate with my own. And that’s all a writer can hope for isn’t it?

If you’re a creative writer or artist, please chime in. What helps you find your voice? What helps you stay on track? How do you keep negative voices at bay and continue creating when the world—or your world—might be telling you to do “better” things with your time? I look forward to hearing from you. x

Advertisements

How Yoga Helps You Create

warrior2

  • Builds Courage:
    Are you, like me, periodically thwarted by perfectionism, procrastination and paralysis—better known as the “3 Ps”? So many writers and artists lose their momentum when they allow the 3 Ps to take over. A regular yoga practice has the amazing ability to help people let go of fear and perfectionism. Showing up regularly to an environment filled with love, acceptance and a child-like sense of play…literally tears down barriers. Every time I close my eyes during asana flow, or attempt a balancing pose, fall down, and laugh at myself or with friends—I realize that the fun is in the journey and the playful risks taken. I am no longer afraid of what others will think. I don’t fear failure. I thrive in the moment and the attempt. This thinking is critical when attempting to finish a novel.
  • Fosters Dedication/Routine:
    Writing, painting, performing, composing…rarely become good without regular practice. Yoga, too, requires dedication—and luckily, is highly addictive. And the more I go, the more I receive. The deep breathing, friendship, acceptance, meditation, flow, sweat, all re-boot my mindset and let me leave lighter, happier, more accepting, more forgiving and inspired. Writing (and I imagine all other forms of art) helps place an artist in the sweet-spot of life. I know that when I sit down and write or edit a few chapters of my novel, hours go by. When I stop, I feel like the Universe makes sense and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. The more I give to my art, the more it gives to my soul. The more content I am, the better mother, friend, lover I become. It’s a ripple effect. Yoga is very similar as it opens me up, allowing me to dare to follow my dreams… But first, it requires dedication.
  • Heightens Trust of Your Inner Voice/Vision:
    When I still my mind, I’m able to hear that quiet inner voice of intuition and that’s when I begin to trust myself, my vision and my voice. Yoga helps tremendously as the sweat-filled flow puts me in the moment, tires my body and lets go of any chatter within my mind.  After an hour of intense Vinyasa / Hatha practice, I’m able to let go, detach and truly meditate. For me, I have to work out my wiggles, sweat and release negative influences or issues of the day before I can really just be. And in those moments of detached being—from this life, from these earthly issues—I’m able to come back anew, as if from a vacation, with a clearer perspective, a renewed sense of wonder, more gratitude and, yes, determination to follow my art, my path, without apology.
  • Sparks Inspiration:
    This may be a bit repetitive from what I’ve already written, but at certain moments within some yoga classes, usually within the flow, an awesome idea pops into my mind. Sometimes it’s about an article I’m writing. Other times it’s about my book. A few times, one of the characters of my book will become crystal clear in my mind’s eye and I suddenly feel like I can better describe her or him. Maybe it’s the inward focus of yoga. When I bike, I have tunes blasting. When I power walk or run, I usually have a friend chatting alongside me. Pilates or dance class is distracting (and fun) by all the other women and mirrors. Only in yoga do I let all others slip away and I flow, sweat and mentally go within. These are inspiring moments.  I love going back to my home office and writing for a few hours after a class. Whether I’m writing for a client, or writing on my novel, I’m always more productive, more creative, more focused.