15 Minutes of Writing

I wrote a post yesterday that I can’t access, so I’m starting over with another 15 minute writing exercise. I have found that using a timer is quite interesting and magical, in that you can see how much longer 15 minutes is than it seems. When you exercise, 5 minutes can seem like an eternity. I think writing and drawing for 15 minutes in the morning is like a kind of mental going to the gym.

I’ve been obsessed with various art materials over the years. I’ll discover or rediscover something and then use it a lot and get into getting more of them. I’ve been obsessed with pens for a long time, first Retro 51 writing pens, and more recently, all kinds of art pens. I usually get random art supplies thinking people who come to my studio for therapy or supervision or hang outs will use them. Sometimes I discover something because a patient picks it out to use. A few years ago I got a few paint pens. One night someone in my supervision group started using them and I was really impressed and thought, “How is it I had little interest in these? Look at the cool stuff this person is making!” So I copied them and started using the paint pens. Of course I needed more than just a few metallic and primary colors so I ordered more. Then I looked into other brands and also got into different size nibs. I mostly liked the medium nibs at the time because they get paint in them quicker and you don’t have to struggle so much with them. Getting into the paint pens got me re acquainted with metallic markers, the cheap ones I found at Walmart years ago that are better than Sharpie metallic markers. One time I was in a session with someone and they opened one of those markers and there was mold growing on the tip. That was the weirdest thing I encountered with a pen. I hadn’t ever seen mold on a marker.

I also bought a lot of gel pens because so many people like to use coloring pages in sessions. The Japanese jelly roll pens have always been my favorite because they really are great quality. Recently when I started drawing 15 minutes a day, I got re acquainted with very fine pens. I had tried them out a few years ago and dismissed them as being too annoying because they are hard to use and take a while to build up any color. Then I got some supplies from the Sketchbook Project. Once in a while they send free supplies with the sketchbook or with some other project. Recently I got some thin nib pens from them and tried them out in my 15 minute drawings and got hooked. The Sketchbook Project over a year ago sent me some pens and pencils and one of them was a Letraset Aqua marker. I used it a little and then left it for a long time. I recently picked it up again and got obsessed so I ordered a set of 12 in off colors, like peach, light lavender, light brown. These are great markers as they are a cross between brush pens and illustration pens. Like those, they have a dual tip, but one tip is fine but not really thin and the other looks tapered like a brush but doesn’t flex the way a brush tip does. Unlike illustration markers, they are watercolor like the brush pens, so they are kind of a paint pen and have a wash quality. They come with a blender pen and you can layer thinner pens on top of the marks you make.

I started writing about art making and art supplies in more detail a few years ago when I started writing personal narrative pieces about art and life. I’ve noticed that it seems like a good subject for my writing because it’s something I’m really into and writing about materials seems to bring up other interesting topics.

I recently got rid of a bunch of old canvases. I had made paintings in oil on them in the early 2000s.

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The Grand Graphic Novel of 17 years

I am now starting another 30 days of no sugar/low natural sugar, after a successful 30 days that ended last Wednesday. The next day I had an ice cream and then Friday began the next 30 Days.

This new eating “plan” is working on a much grander level. Yesterday at a party I met someone who just started something similar and we shared how this is much more than about dealing with sugar addiction and eating healthy, how this can help you focus on doing the important things you want to do that you neglect. It’s the secondary side effect, being more able to follow through with goals and projects and why food is such a big factor with ADHD for me.

I started writing a graphic novel “fantasy/memoir” 17 years ago in 2000. I took a class at the Open Center with a comics expert friend about writing graphic novels. It was taught by a woman who wrote a graphic novel about having a baby as a teenager. She got us to figure out what was important for us and what we wanted to write about and to get going with the nuts and bolts of layout and drawing and speech bubbles. I got started and got the first 10 pages done and got a lot of great feedback. People who read it thought it was funny and well, good, worth continuing.

There is nothing like immediate “success” to stop me in my tracks. I kept working on it and then at some point put it aside and left it to collect dust. It was too hard and I reached a place where I didn’t know what was supposed to be on the next page. Since then at various points in the last 17 years, I have taken it off the shelf and worked on it. For a while in 2006-2007 I was meeting up regularly with my friend I took the class with to work on our graphic novels and encourage each other. Then life got in the way and I put it back in the black hole of writer’s block until the next spurt of inspiration hit. In 2013 I got very revved up to get it done by my 50th birthday and figured out how to get 100 pages done by doing a page every 16 or 17 days and posting some of it on Facebook. That went on for a few weeks, then I lost several pages of the book and gave up again. I picked it up and did a few more pages and even found the lost pages, after putting the loss of the pages in the book. By then, the book had  developed a life of its own and was also about my inabilities to keep going and doing it. Fast forward to a few weeks into this new “food plan”. About 4 weeks ago, I decided to get one page done per week and use therapy to make me keep it up, so I had to do a page by Friday and send a photo of it to my current therapist. I am now working on the 4th page (page 44 of the book). If I keep it up, I will have about 31 pages done by my 50th birthday and be on page 71. It won’t be finished but it will be more finished than it’s ever been.

Getting back into it and forcing myself to do it each week has been enlightening. One question that I won’t be able to answer until I finish is what is this project getting in the way of in terms of other things to accomplish with my creativity? I always thought in terms of all the things I manufactured as reasons to not be working on the book and what are all those things I put in its way, but I hadn’t thought in terms of what this unfinished big block of a project might be obstructing. What if this book is an obstacle itself? I won’t know until I do it and finish it.

When you force yourself to work on something like this that has been 17 years in the making, you learn things for sure. It is just at the point of shit or get off the pot, put your money where your mouth is, etc. So I have decided while getting back in the process that I have to get this done and finished and then get it published so I can continue with whatever else I am doing with my artistic and writing career. I definitely have another book, not graphic, just writing, that I started last year and am working on which I have put aside lately while doing the graphic novel. I posted a few things from that book on this blog, but for sure, I will have to write it at the same time or get the graphic novel done so I can do the book.

The book is going to be called The Art Box and is a book of essays/reflections, mostly about doing art therapy with adults, especially my work at my old job at FEGS Rockwell Continuing Day Treatment Center that I left in early 2003 to start my private practice.

The graphic novel process is extremely challenging as each page takes a really long time to conceive and complete. It’s much more frustrating than pure writing as the images are a big deal and take a long time. Sometimes I forget how fun it can be. I started it in black and white, drawing in pencil first and then covering in black sharpie. Now it is in color as well and I am trying to vary the layout and composition. The one benefit of taking forever to get it done is that now the internet is so great for research, whether to look at examples of fight scenes in comics or look up things  that relate to the content. I also just organized my sketchbook journals that I started doing in 1987, so there are 30 years of them, minus a few that I took apart. I’m going to have to look in them more for more info and ideas. I have been using old drawings from my journals to get image ideas for the pages in the past few weeks. Today I used a scribble drawing from 2012.

The second week I noticed how it is difficult to deal with the inner critic saying this isn’t good enough, your drawing is bad, there isn’t enough variety, maybe you won’t get it published. You have to just keep going and keep in mind that you are going to keep going and not stop. Stopping is the deadly thing, so having this idea of having to do a page a week at least is great for momentum and also keeps me motivated to stay with this eating plan, as the fear is, going back to eating badly will remove my motivation and I will give up. Each goal feeds the other.

I hope this continues to work as it’s reached the point where 17 years is enough and I have to get it done in the next year-year and a half!

Everyday Inspiration Day 1: I write because…

You finally admit that this is who you are, you come out and hope that no one runs away.” – Mark Haddon

I did this assignment so fast, that I want to go back and really focus on the question and answers or clues. Maybe I was running away from the assignment; it’s the crucial question for me. That is what is going on right now and has always been there; hiding in the closet. I am fonly now admitting to myself most of all, and to a few others, that I am a writer, and have been one long ago, at least since that journal from high school.

It is easy to hide behind being a “visual artist”. People might not understand my being a writer because I’ve convinced them I am a painter. Pictures and words. I worked hard to go from words to pictures back age 20 and now I’m back to going to words.

Actually after losing that journal on the subway, the other day I found a bright red “cahier” not sure the English word, from a much younger me. There were lines in it for learning handwriting. The kind where you can fit lower case next to each other and more space above to make upper case. There were a few pieces of other peoples writing, some poems. Then the writer’s name. That was it. I was probably practicing handwriting, but I’m not sure what the thing with writing other’s writing. It seems like a clue. I liked other people’s writing. I liked writing their writing. I even today started with a quote.

I think I always was interested in the visual aspect of words and handwriting. It was a big deal for me at some adult age to consciously decide I didn’t like the way I print low case “a”s and wanted to make them look like how this font is; maybe it’s a writer’s a, the a on the typewriter. Recently I started writing t’s Ls ps and gs differently, from copying my daughter who talks about handwriting with me. She thinks my handwriting is messy. It is but I’m sort of changing it. It helps you slow down. I’ve always wanted to write the way my brother does. His capital A”s are so beautiful and impossible to copy. It came from his working at an architecture firm a lont time ago. I am fascinated with other people’s handwriting.

So in this case, the answer isn’t even I write because I like words; it’s because I like letters! Wow, maybe that is ultimately what it is. I’m not super into fonts, but I do like certain ones and think about that choice seriously.

So that might be one answer. I write because I love letters. I love all the books that start little toddlers or younger children reading. A is for apple; B is for barn, etc. My I write because is also very entwined with reading other writer’s. Looking at their writing, their sentences, their words, the letters.

I remember being excited to tell a friend that the word “urine”, is You Are I N E. It seemed so important at that moment 29 years ago. Sort of strange now. I admit it with a tinge of embarrassment, not about the word, but that it doesn’t seem to mean much. I guess it meant what it was: You are I. The “N E” is subtler but was part of it.

I have landed back to the beginning. I was thinking a lot about words, which I’ve been thinking about long time; I love looking up origins of words, especially fun to look up a name and surprise someone with the meaning. I see names as very important; of course they are. How they are chosen, who chose the name, what was the process. Ultimately I guess I wrote simply because I love letters; I love the alphabet. I love other language’s alphabet, but I am most familiar with English. When I was studying Japanese back in 4th grade, I remember the first thing we learned was how to read and write the 2 easy Japanese alphabets. First “Hiragana” and then “Katakana”. The first one is away to write Japanes words simply and read them. The second one is an alphabet just used for foreign country’s words. The real tough and important one is “Kanji”, it is impossible to learn all of it. Each character is so complicated and means a whole word. That is what I remember. It was fun doing the letters. Same thing with Russian in college. You get to do the alphabet. It’s cool in its own way, and learning a new alphabet of another language; that got me already into the concept of languages, and how other languages can be so different from English, starting with the alphabet. Alpha turns out to mean ox and beta turns out to mean house if you go back far enough.

The secret to my wrestling and struggling and process with “Why do I write?” may be simply in this ox an house

Everyday Inspiration Day 1

This is a topic, “I write because”, where I am excited to say that today, I wrote because my 9 year old daughter was writing; I have a love hate relationship with writing, but when we write at the same time, I enjoy writing and don’t feel all the usual crazy stuff and insecurity and everything else that comes with torturing yourself writing and in between writing.

The prompt was a great 4th grade prompt: Cake or Cupcakes, which do you prefer? A very important question that I have pondered quite a bit.

It just so happened that we went to get cupcakes today with her friends and friend’s babysitter Heidi. I already knew my daughter was writing in favor of cake.

So here is my writing that I did in the 20 minutes that she did her piece. I’d also like to say that writing for 20 minutes is great because you enjoy it and have fun but don’t go too much into it and get caught up. For the ADHD writer, it’s great. No time to get bored or distracted except within the topic.

Ok, here it is. I have to add that my daughter asked me to put it in this blog!

Actually it is probably more fun to read as a post on its own, so I will make a separate post right now, write now!

Pushing the Blogging Reset Button!

I started this post thinking I would “push the reset button” on getting organizized, however, I wrote myself into a different place. Re reading this post, I still want to push the reset button and try getting “back on tract”, at least for a little while.

I set some blogging intentions on Feb. 8 of this at the time, quite “new” year, 2016. I posted a “schedule”, which the WordPress Experts call a blogging calendar. It was:

Monday: the day to Re Blog at least one other blog post from another blogger

Tuesday: Post at least one sentence

Wednesday: Nothing Required

Thursday: Post at least one image

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Read at least 5 Blog posts of others!

This calender/schedule did not turn out to be quite right for my blogging “style”. I would divide “individual” (not publications) bloggers up by style only to refer to how often and how regularly they post blogs as well as how they follow or don’t follow a schedule.

“Big Bloggers”: High frequency of posts on a daily basis

“Regular Bloggers”: You know what to expect on a given day, as they are able to follow a daily type of schedule like the one I tried above.

“Distracted Enthusiastic Bloggers”:

Here, I’m referring to myself. I don’t think being “distracted” is bad or good; for me it’s a neutral term. Most bloggers are very enthusiastic; I use the term here because how and when distracted bloggers post is often connected to feeling enthusiastic. So, I have great intentions to become a “regular blogger”. I post often sometimes. I get distracted and “forget” to post. I start series of blogs on a cool topic and forget to keep posting regularly on that topic. For me, even the attempt to post monthly from my art journal is challenging and I often do not follow through.

Another reason “distracted” is the partner of enthusiastic emphasizes how I get excited about any topic and then go full force. Then my excitement drops a bit, and I either get distracted by things that excite me outside of blogging, or I get distracted by my own interests in other topics.

This kind of blogger has some interesting challenges, challenges all bloggers face, but not to the degree and intensity of a distracted blogger.

Yet, am I putting my round peg into a square hole? Are these my challenges as a blogger, or are they other bloggers’ challenges I think I am supposed to have? Obviously I face this question constantly in the non virtual world.

Back on topic, here are the challenges I see:

  1. Post regularly.
  2. Post frequently.
  3. Stay on topic
  4. Follow my own rules and intentions

What makes these challenges so hard for some and much easier for others?

Maybe partly because the act of “Blogging” itself lends itself to doing things that way BUT also lends itself to not posting according to those challenges.

Blogging is the most “accepting” medium of writerly writing I’ve found. By writerly I mean by people who are interested in “Writing”, what to write, how to write it, when to write it, where the writing belongs in genre or medium, etc.

Blogging as I’ve said in other posts I don’t remember posting, is the nicest place to write. You can blog once in a while; you can post anything you want. You can post quickly and skip the step of worrying about your audience because other bloggers are kind people for the most part. You write for anyone to read your blog, and at the same time, you write for other bloggers because blogging involves community. I would even venture to say that because the blogging community is so warm, accepting and welcoming of all kinds of people and writers, it is a therapeutic “place” for “sensitive” writers like me.

Blogging also lends itself to multiple identities types of writers. I am a “multiple identity” writer/blogger. I post poems, opinions, ideas, images, non-fiction meanderings, journal style posts, reblogs with introductions. Many bloggers write and post in this manner; some are distracted, and some are regular, frequent, organized.

To post the way I think is best or to post my “default” distracted enthusiastic way – that is the question.

From this struggle as a blogger, I emerge with the dialectical answer, keep doing both! Of course by getting organized and frequent/regular at random times and other times posting with no set plan seems to indicate that I will remain a distracted enthusiastic blogger.

While life outside blogging remains hugely challenging due to this pattern I have, I know that with blogging, I can just be myself. The “blogosphere” answers with a “yes” of course. Be yourself, whatever that means, including: be the blogger who tries to blog in all ways possible, even the blogger who forgets for big chunks of time to post, but no matter what, your enthusiasm is rewarded by the blogging community!

No Surprise: I said organizized!

I am not surprised to say that I just had to look up my own post to figure out the blog task for Wednesday. It was to post an image, and yesterday was Day Off, so I didn’t follow my own schedule, but at least I am disorganized in a timely manner!

I’m not sure where the word “organizized” came from. I think I made it up a long time ago, but, having a disorganized memory recall, I could be making that up.

Ok, as usual, just by thinking about one word, I find out crazy things in the middle of blogging. (Side note: I’m actually glad there was no internet when I was in high school and college. My papers would be so off topic and meandering, even more than they were, and I wouldn’t have been able to get to the point at all, and would have taken hours looking up irrelevant relevant stuff and hours trying to make the paper make sense. Kudos to the people/students in school in 2016 trying to organize anything.)

The word “organizized” has a hashtag on Twitter. Not sure if that means it’s now a word. Thank you to Eric Thornton for this tweet:

One of these days I’m going to get organizized, which is a Cherokee word meaning “mauled to death by gerbils”.

And of course I got distracted by looking into Eric Thornton on Twitter. Turns out he has a great sense of humor. For example:

Police are just people, though that’s an impression they’ve labored to their very utmost to eradicate.

Here’s something brilliant from his Tumblr explaining the writing process that totally makes sense:

Step One: This is awesome!

Step Two: This is shit!

Step Three: This is salvageable!

Step Four: I don’t know what this is, but maybe someone else will!

Repeat until you get a real job.

ooh. I just found a irrelevant/slightly relevant (semi-relevant would be an obvious choice.. Anyway I will reblog this blog as it shows DeNiro In Taxi Driver, a great film, using the word “organizized”…

As I am citing Eric Thornton, I will give the link to his Tumblr post I quoted and his Twitter. Click on the link to get there. and thank you Eric Thornton for finally given an origin to “organizized”!

Eric Thornton, Tumblr Post

Here is his Twitter: Eric Thornton Twitter