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Creativity Buddies

Images are Symbols

How to draw my cat, Per.

I just realized that for me, drawings are symbols / touchstones / hieroglyphs– they don’t tell all of the story, that’s what the words do.

Not only that, but they don’t have to show all of the story / information, either!

Here’s some insightful mirroring from my dear friend, Kelsi:

Don’t do realistic! Your gift is making the fantastical seem more real/relevant/truthful than Reality.

And a great example from Tom Gauld’s Instagram:

(He cartoons for the New Yorker, so clearly he’s not the only person who believes illustration doesn’t need to be photo-realistic to have value).

What I have always loved about oral storytelling is that I get to give suggestions of the characters, setting, lighting. The listener fills in the rest– which produces an experience better than any movie because it is collaborative, because the listener is making their own Magic.

This is my job. This expression is a touchstone and a doorway to someone else.

Why on earth would a picture book be any different? Leave space for the reader’s Magic. (And don’t sweat the details).

How to Give Creative Feedback

A friend just joined a writing group an mentioned that feedback can feel so personal. Here’s what I told her:

Writing groups can be so tricky, I think, because English classes teach us that the way to give feedback is through pointing out the problems, but that can be stifling in the early creative stages of a project.

If I’m at the very end or am stuck then I totally want someone to just tell me how to cut it up, but if it’s in a younger stage that feels so harsh and generally not useful.

I have always liked the 4 step feedback method I learned from storytelling coach Doug Lipman. It’s up to the writer/receiver how far to go in the steps. Even if you only do the first one it’s really helpful to hear from multiple people what they like about the story.
*First: reader says specific things they like (might be plot element, language, imagery, tone, etc)
*Second: writer asks questions of the reader (ie, Was it clear that 1 year had passed? What did the main character look like to you?)
*Third: reader asks questions (ie, What feeling for you want the reader to have at the end? How old is the main character?) This step can be tricky because readers want to give suggestions but phrase them as questions.
*Fourth: reader gives suggestions; I think phrasing them as “what ifs” is best (What if you start with a flashback? I think you can cut the part about the dog).

Lizzie + Bluebeard: Sharing a Work-in-Progress

Lizzie Bluebeard_blog banner

It seems backward to write a book while also working the busiest season at our B+B and performing in the summer musical– but the energy of summer and long daylight (and some writing buddies to check in with three days a week) make it pretty easy.

This is the first time I’ve shared a book as I go. It’s always been tempting… and terrifying. Now the timing is right, and it’s been a great way to have accountability.

A surprise benefit has been writing up chapter summaries as I go. (I know internet strangers won’t all start reading at chapter one). I’m not an outliner, but I do appreciate having a loose outline form as I go. (I use Scrivener, which makes all of this a fast process).

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This is how I imagine Bluebeard’s forbidden North Tower. Image: https://mediaandpcmodreveiws.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/oblivion-mod-dungeons-of-ivellon/

I’ve often read that you should ‘write for an audience.’ And that’s just never been my natural style. I write for me. I write for the same reason I read: to discover a new land, to fall in love, to be delighted and transformed.

But I have a couple of good friends who, without any prodding on my part, have been reading the novel regularly. Sue just sent me a facebook message today saying she’s especially enjoyed the last two chapters. Julie reads the new chapters before bed. (Since the book is based on the very gory “Bluebeard” fairytale, this surprised me…) It’s nice to have that little boost to keep writing each week.

Start reading “Lizzie + Bluebeard”

Lizzie + Bluebeard is built on the Bluebeard fairy tale, but also incorporates a few other stories I came across in my career as an oral storyteller, including “The Giant With No Heart in His Body” and various “Baba Yaga” tales. Today I got to write the meeting of Lizzie, Bluebeard’s 36th wife, and Baba Yaga, the Mother of All Witches…

Ch 29: Inside the Witch’s Hut

Dawn breaks as Lizzie enters the witch’s yard. It is deserted but charged with magic. She knocks at the door…

What about you? What are you dreaming up?

Rose