Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Creativity of Options by Leona Beasley

Foolish but innocently I went with my wife to pick out a dog. Though we’d looked at a number of dogs several times before. I knew in my heart we’d come back with Jackson.

The problem at hand is I had no idea how difficult, challenges, how much work it takes to care for a dog. Nor did I know just how much of a concrete decision I was making.

In grad school I studied with a wonderfully talented writer, and a generous spirit, Abigail Thomas. Her memoir “A Three Dog Life” is a lovely account of life, hope, transformation and love after her husband’s tragic accident.

In class Abby read passages from all types of books: scientific, fiction, poetry, memoir. After the reading Abby gave an assignment linked to the readings.

One assignment might be, “Now write a story where you encounter some one from your past.” Another, “Write a story that includes an orange, a back door and someone with a tattoo.” You get the picture.

I loved having these contained options. Maybe they helped build perimeters of safety around my then budding writing skills. With these added options I unexpectedly got a richness added to my writing. I always came up with stories I liked, some I even loved.

There is an axiom that says Creativity is the Elimination of Options.

I don’t know if this was Abby’s intent, but creativity blossomed in the class each week when person after person read their work out loud. It had a bit of magic.

The option to add Jackson to our family is both scary and expensive as well as time consuming. The alternative option my wife like wouldn’t like. Send him back.

The best option in this life story is to allow the story to play out, and to include a dog name Jackson, a wife who travels and a writer who creates. And see what happens.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Writer’s Life: No Time to Kill by Leona Beasley

I guess I never really lack things to write about—only the time to get them done.

Now time is a funny bugger. Even fickle I’d say. It sometimes likes me and other times now so much. Still I court it like a girl on a mission, a lesbian girl on a mission. Gay girls who read this page know exactly what I mean.

We, in this case—I throw a wide net to snare my pray. The pray being time to write, get myself focused and put pen to paper. I did this when I was looking for a girlfriend. Now days I’m married. I’ve passed on this skill to my writer’s life.

In math classes I liked long division even some geometry. Southern teachers, like southern folks loved to preach about the merits of the subjects they taught or the things they experienced. “The Pythagorean Theorem will come in handy,” Coach Brandon insisted with a southern twang.

In the case of writing time management long division have proven important to know. Dividing up my time between, tweaking my novel, writing art columns, searching for work, revising the second novel, reading works in progress in public, practicing reading, doing a workshop here and there, and simply thinking about putting words together.

And though it doesn’t directly correspond I like knowing that The Pythagorean Theorem is a2 +b2 = c2. Perhaps knowledge of this theorem helps create equal balance as I carve up my time.

And I don’t like to think there isn’t enough time. That thought is too morbid for me. What I will admit is that time is as nebulous as water,
fluid, ever flowing, doing its own thing without regard to what any of my wants, desires or needs. How liberating its must be to be time itself. Never having to be conscientious of the other. Always moving in the forward motion, never looking back.

If I were Time I’d be lousy at its job, too concerned about outcome, way to anxious and un-cool.

The best I can do is to make peace with time. To honor its process, not fight it at every turn, to take it day-by-day. Knowing somehow I’ll get it all done sooner or later.

Today I have twenty-four hours to divide up at will. And now that I completed my thoughts on time I’m off to write something else.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Writer’s Life: Into the Woods by Leona Beasley

The Rockefeller Preserve has become my sanctuary. I walk and run the wood in search of mostly exercise, but secretly I also look for inspiration.

I can’t say I find it, only that after I’ve spent an hour I’ve at least burned calories. But sometimes I tell the trees my problem, the challenges I face in working to become a published novelist.

I guess you could say I’m lucky and I do get Arts and Culture articles published online at AOL’s Tarrytown Patch. I could live a much more enisled existence. Still my heart wants more. And so does my soul. Doesn’t every writer?

In grad school I listened on as a professor rail on about his former colleague (a really famous writer at Princeton) inability to appreciate or see all of her success.

“You never heard such moaning, the professor complained. Meanwhile she publishes a book a year, gets advanced royalties and that’s not counting her short stories, and essays.”

To my first mind my less famous professor was being a hater. Yet it did seem impossible for someone so famous to be so insecure. But fame and fortune doesn’t fan the flame of insecurity. Insecurity is its own monster.

Insecurity isn’t my challenge mine is the getting and the knowing my novel is structurally sound, and landing in the right hands. It’s a bit of a crapshoot. And minus religion it’s all seems to be a walk of faith, chance, and happenstance.

You have to drive the publishing campaign like you know where you’re going. Momentum is your ally.

And until I’ve got a structurally sound novel in the rights set of hands I’ll have to keep it moving. Keep my mind focused, and my energy directed. And I’ll push against hope that all my good work, great training, focus and drive lands me published.

And then I’ll start all over again.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Creativity of Speedboats and Water by Leona Beasley

Weeks ago my friend I call “little bird” took me out on the Boston Bay in a speedboat. Ooh-wee! What wonders, what excitement, fear and creativity bubbled inside me!

I’ve been away from my blog for eleven months. I have plenty of excuses, none of which I’ll trouble you with here. While I wasn’t writing on the blog I was finishing up what I hope is the final draft of my novel, 11 Light City, settling in our new home after the move across country to the Hudson River Valley, and I’ve added columnist to my ever-growing list of jobs.

Columnist is at least in the right category of jobs; it’s better than taxi driver or baker. I don’t have an aptitude for taxi driver or baker I never worked either and don’t plan to.

What I am good at is playing with words, creating ideas. And while I’m good at it this doesn’t mean it comes easily for me. I happen to type slowly while thinking fast, this drive me to madness sometimes.

I have more ideas than I can actually act on. Unlike being on the water in a speedboat, life moves slowly here on land. Every word must be thought about again, and again to make art. Aaaah! But making art is the point.

For now making art doesn’t make me tons of money. So I’m exploring additional work beyond my column. I’ve even contemplating teaching. Don’t laugh I’m good at it. Most folks think if you’re good at something you should do it. I don’t necessarily think this is true.

But perhaps its easier and sometimes easy is what is needed.

On the boat in the Boston Bay Mike LaRhette aka “little bird” drove with precision not just speed. And while I’ve been on plenty of boats this boat was like a roadster on the water. We were one with the boat, one with the water.

The water operated like and alternate landform—solid not liquid. A landform on another planet, it was so cool to breeze on top the water like a speed racer on land.

Creativity does not come speedily. It takes time to foster, to grow, to develop.
Often I’m at odds with time with writing and reading deadlines. But when I engage the water either on a boat or looking off at its vistas time isn’t on my mind. The view and the experience are what matters.