Choose Your Path (Part One)

crossroad5

As artists, which quote can you relate to the most?

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”- (Robert Frost) The Road Not Taken

 

 

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Are All Artists Crazy???

trials

In your opinion, do you think-in general-that creatives (writers, poets, painters, actors; even scientists and philosophers) are a bit, er, “crazy”?    Would you consider some to have some form of mental illness?

Here are some quotes to consider:

“Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence.” Edgar Allan Poe

“The notion that  inspiration requires  regression and dipping into irrationality in order to access unconscious symbols and thought has been popular across disciplines for hundreds of years. Plato said that creativity is a “divine madness…a gift from the gods”. Maureen Neihart, Psy.D.

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” Aristotle

“It is only too true that a lot of artists are mentally ill-it’s a life which, to put it mildly, makes one an outsider.  I’m all right when I completely immerse myself in work, but I’ll always remain half crazy.”  Vincent van Gogh

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”
– Sylvia Plath

Studies have shown that creative individuals tend to exhibit some form of mental illness (such as mood disorder or bipolar or depression) more so than non-creative individuals.

Why?

Could it be because we look at the world and at our experiences differently from others?  Could it possibly be that we tend to be hyper-aware of all that goes on around and within us?

Any thoughts or personal experience on this?

 

*Additional readings:

Madness and Creativity: Do we need to be crazy?

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness

The Sylvia Plath Effect

Writing and Mental Health

 

 

 

Another Year’s Ending

What a year this has been for me and my family.  Packing and moving from NC all the way up to ND…talk about a culture (and weather!) shock.  Christmas was quiet for us as it was just us (all the family’s back east).  It felt strange.  Even my 12-year old son commented on how it really didn’t feel like Christmas this year even though there was nearly two-feet of snow on the ground.    We’re still settling in , and adjusting to our new life.  These things just don’t happen over night.

Need to keep reminding myself of that.

I’m not one for resolutions.  They never really worked for me.  My only goals for the coming new year are:

  1. Write often (daily if possible)
  2. Read as many books as I can
  3. Seek out and connect with other creatives

That’s it.  Simple is always better.  Anything else would be gravy.

What about you?  Have any specific (or general) goals for 2016?

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

*Here’s one of my favorite poems by Lord Alfred Tennyson called “The Death of the Old Year”:

 

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take ’em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I’ve half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o’er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he’ll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
‘Tis nearly twelve o’clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we’ll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.

 

 

Writer/Author Debate (Results)

The responses have been steady since I posted the poll that asked the question on whether “writer” is the same as “author.”  So far, most readers agreed that “writer” is NOT the same as “author:”

Facebook responses:

Mary McDonald: “I think that’s one of those debates that will continue through time. I think most see publishing being the point of transition from writer to author.”

Mark Carver: “I’ve always understood the key difference being that an author has published work.”

Stephanie J. Pajonas: “I say I’m an author. It’s my job writing books and publishing them. Writer is more generalized to me. I’m that as well, too.”

 

Blog responses:

Tiegan Dakin: “My definition of a writer is anyone who performs any literary creating, i.e poetry, fiction, nonfiction, etc.

I always saw authors as people whose works had been published online or in print, whether that be in literary magazines or their own novels.”

RYCJ: “A writer can be a writer without publishing his or her work.

An author on the other hand is published… whether he or she “authored” a letter to a friend or Congress, or wrote and published a full length book.”

Laurie Buchanan: “I agree with the other two responders (Tiegan and RYCJ): A writer is someone whose work is yet unpublished. An author is someone whose writing is published.”

It appear that many deem that in order to be considered an author, one must have been published.  What vary among these responses are what items (poetry, stories, books, etc.) that are published that would determine one’s status as writer/author.  Any further thoughts on these?

 

Alex for Shaw offered the most extensive response that was different from the rest:

“Writer and author are very similar nouns in their common usage, but writer is a broad term that covers anybody who assembles words. Author usually refers to a writer, but one who is identified with their body of work (however large or small). The implication is that what an author writes has visibility beyond their private sphere.

There are some forms of writing where “author” is not the usual term, such as journalism: one usually refers to the writer of an article, editorial, column or feature rather than the author. With literature “author” is much more common, especially for a creator of prose. With poetry or dramatic works the more specialized “poet”, “playwright”, “dramatist” or “screenwriter” are often used, leaving “author” primarily as the term for novelists.

Finally, “writer” is descriptive of what the person does. It derives from the verb, from the action (just like the word “scribe”). “Author” in contrast is synonymous with “creator”, hence phrases like “author of one’s own misfortune” to describe someone who has gotten themselves into trouble. While “writer” deals exclusively with the mechanical acts of putting pen to paper (or an equivalent: finger to keyboard), “author” refers to the creative aspect, the invention.”

Personally, I’m still digesting this particular one.  Anyone agree with her insight on the topic?

New responses:

From pipermac5 (aka Steve) as of 12/29/2015:

“I am a writer, a blogger, and somewhat of a wordsmith, but I wouldn’t claim the title of “author”. My writings are online and available to all who wish to read them, but none have been “published” as printed-material.”

From bdaiken as of 9/5/2016:

“I think it’s about self perception to some extent. I used to describe myself as a designer who also writes. I would now describe myself as an author who does the occasional design job. Less about how much money you make from each venture, more about where the focus of your life lies.”

 

 

*I humbly thank all those who have responded so far. Keep checking back here for new responses as they are added over time!

 

 

How Many Wrimos Actually Get Published?

For those who have participated (or have considered but never did) in the November’s National Novel Writing Month, some must have wondered if it’s even worth doing.  Do Wrimos really get their novels published?

Can it even be done?

According to Nanowrimo.org (Published Wrimos)many have actually done it.

In fact, since 2006, over 230 NaNo books have been traditionally published.  Included in this list are publishing houses such as Penguin Books, HarperCollins, Scholastic Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ballantine Books, and others.

Additionally, over 150 Wrimos have self-published their novels.

With hard work and courage, it is possible to have that crazy thing called a “novel” published.

 

“Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”
—Henry David Thoreau

3 Ways To Raise Self-Awareness (and end those destructive behaviors)

In an earlier post, Sabotaging Your Own Dream, one of the readers asked a valid question: are there specific ways of increasing one’s self-awareness?

Yes, there are.

I hunted through the world of web and found these three basic tips below to help increase self-awareness:

 

Pause:  

In a modern world that is full of distraction, noise, and chaos, we find it increasingly difficult to allocate time for ourselves in order to re-connect.   In turn, stress and negative habits build until they threaten to overwhelm us, causing us to lose sight of who we are as individuals, and of our dreams.

Studies have shown that it is essential for our mental health to be able to spend quality time with ourselves; but, how do you even begin?

The first step is take a break from your usual hectic lifestyle.  Pause. Be still.  This can mean taking a long, hot bath; or, taking your lunch to sit in your car while listening to soothing music; or even finding a closet and shutting yourself in it.  For others this could be found while going out on a leisurely walk, or gardening, or while washing the dishes.  The key is finding your “quiet” place where you can be alone with your thoughts and feelings.

Reflect:

Turn your focus to your thoughts and feelings and reflect on them.  What’s bothering you?  Are you where you want to be at this point in life?  If not, what is preventing you?  What’s holding you back?  Be honest with yourself.  Recognize and acknowledge each thought and/or feeling that surfaces. Don’t push it away. If it’s helpful, keep a notepad with you and write about these thoughts and feelings.  Don’t hold anything back.

Redirect:

Wait a day or two and then go back and review what you wrote.  Chances are you may see a pattern of behavior (overtly or not) emerging.  If it’s a negative one, it could be responsible for preventing you from realizing a particular dream.  If it is, what changes can you make to remove or convert it into a more positive behavior?  Make note of them, and then put them into action.

 

For further readings on increasing your own self-awareness, please refer to below sources:

An epic guide to developing self-awareness: how to improve your leadership skills by understanding yourself

Self-Awareness