Monthly Archives: January 2013

Kate Arms-Roberts is Moving!

It is official. My new site is now live. 

What you will find there is an expansion of what I have been doing here.

  • An ongoing blog about InterPlay, writing, play, story-telling, and finding meaning in the world – continuing what I began here
  • Information about classes I am leading. These include InterPlay-related classes, writing groups, and acting classes
  • Information about the Creativity Coaching I am offering
  • Information about writing and editing services I am offering

Please join me over at www.katearmsroberts.com

If you subscribe to get the blog by email from the new site, there is an audio-recording of an InterPlay warm-up as a thank you for moving with me to my new space. It is a 15-minute introduction to InterPlay, and I hope you will subscribe and listen to it.

Please come on over to www.katearmsroberts.com and check it out.

 

Oh, The Places You’ll Write!

This is entirely unlike the chair in my dentist’s office. I prefer this one.

Writers work in all sorts of odd places.

The actual putting of pen to paper or finger to keyboard happens in obvious places like homes, offices, libraries, airplanes, and coffee shops, but also in cars, waiting rooms, and grocery store queues, on park benches, beside pools, on outdoor trails, and beside campfires.

In addition, the part of writing that involves cogitating, planning, incubating, dreaming, and inventing can happen anywhere and often does.

Writers are encouraged to keep notebooks, or at least paper and pencil, nearby at all times to capture the thinking that happens in odd times and places.

Many writers, and I know this well because I fall prey to it too often, believe the planning needs to happen before the writing. Often, they go better hand in hand; many writers sort out their ideas through writing – it is because they need to write in order to understand that many became writers in the first place.

But, wherever it happens, the key to the incubating phase of writing is letting the subconscious work and simply keeping the conscious mind around to capture the thoughts.

As an example, this morning I had a routine dental appointment. My conscious mind needed nothing more than to keep my mouth open the right amount for the dentist to do his work. As I lay back in the chair, looking through the yellow plastic glasses I had been given to protect my eyes from the light shining into my mouth, feeling the dentist scraping and poking around, my mind wandered to the revision needs of The Red Oak.

I am composing a response to being tagged in a blog chain, The Next Big Thing, which involves a series of questions about an author’s current work in progress, and the answers to those questions collided with a conversation I had last weekend with M-E Girard and Tobin Elliott during the Writers’ Community of Durham Region Training for Writing Circle Facilitators (which is being led by the amazing team of Ruth Walker and Sue Reynolds and I highly recommend future offerings of it for folks in the Toronto/Durham region who want to lead writing circles).

M-E, Tobin, and I were talking about the way YA fantasies featuring a protagonist discovering that s/he is a paranormal being act as a metaphor for coming to terms with any number of ways that a teenager can be atypical.

Sitting in the dentist’s chair, my visual world bathed in yellow light, my brain hopped along a series of mental stepping stones: metaphor, source of inspiration for the novel, one sentence synopsis, coming out as atypical. When my thoughts landed on the far shore, I realized I had new possibilities for three major elements of the novel that have been blocking me on this revision. I need to write into them to see how they really fit, but for the first time in ages, I have a direction to go with these three issues.

So, there you have it – Writing in The Dentist’s Chair.

If you open your mind to your creative impulses, you can’t predict when or where they’ll show up.

Do it Now or Have More to Do

Photo by Justyna Furmanczyk  www.janedoephoto.co.uk

Too many hours at the keyboard and I need my coffee companion.

I am moving my blog from this WordPress site because I am growing. My online presence needs to reflect that, and I want to expand in ways that make more sense if I move the blog to a self-hosted domain.

It is not technically challenging to move the content of the blog from a wordpress.com blog to self-hosted blog using wordpress.org. There are many great tutorials out there to walk you through the process. I used this one.

The challenges I have faced are these:

  • Choosing a theme. There are so many themes to choose from, even if you only limit yourself to free one.
  • Customizing a theme. One of the challenges with the theme I chose for my new blog is my name is too long for the Blog Title space on the template, so I had to modify the size of some of the elements, which required hacking around in the theme editor. I am not a serious programmer, but I have been playing around with code since the late 70s, so this has been fun, but has taken time from my writing.
  • I am adding new pages and additional content to the site to reflect the changes in my work.
  • Every link in every post that linked to a different post in my blog must be changed to refer to the same post in the new location. This is not necessary, but it will keep the experience of browsing my blog cleaner. Without taking this step, links from old posts to other posts on my blog would take visitors to the wordpress.com site and away from the new site.

I am going through all of my old posts and checking links. This is a time-consuming process. I want to be writing new posts, not editing old ones. But, I know that this is a one time project. Once I have done this, the new site will be ready to become my primary home online.

I will still be making changes to the blog, of course, as circumstances warrant. But, I will never again have to transfer this blog to my own domain.

I have put off this move for over a year. The result is that I have a lot more links to fix and the transfer is taking longer than it would have done when I originally planned to do it.

I could give myself grief for this, but I choose not to. I am merely reminding myself that, as is so often the case, delay created more work.

The only good thing to come out of the delay is that my theme, which I love, was not available a year ago. But, even a year ago, plenty of good themes were available.

Are there projects of yours where delay has created more work? Share in the comments and we can use them as reminders to just get on with the things that need to get done.

New Year, New Everything, Almost

Just a heads up. I am in the throes of transferring this blog to my own domain and away from wordpress.com. I hope that you, my readers, will follow me there. I promise that I will have a little something for you if you do. But none of it is quite ready yet. Until it is, I won’t be posting here very much. I had hoped to have the transfer done this week, but it is taking longer than I planned and I’m not sure I’m going to make it.

In the meantime, I am getting ready for my new drop-in InterPlay classes starting on Friday. If you live near Oshawa, Ontario, please come by and check us out.

And, if you know anybody who is looking to have some more fun in life or reconnect with lost creativity, I am taking on clients in my new Creative Living Coaching Programs. Details will be on the web soon, but in the meantime, direct any inquiries to kate@improvliving.com.

I hope 2013 is treating you well so far and I look forward to fabulous creating as we go through the year.

Cheers,

Kate

Why it is Hard to Speak Our Truths

The Buddhist tradition recognizes five great fears: fear of death, fear of illness, fear of dementia, fear of loss of livelihood, and fear of speaking in public. In The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music, W. A. Mathieu interprets this fear as fear of our own deep selves, fear that at some level our basic selves are unacceptable. We are afraid that by revealing our true selves, we will see clearly that we are worthy of hatred or isolation. That a major religious tradition recognizes this fear as a “great fear” tells me that this is universal human condition. To suffer from the fear of speaking up is to be human. To speak up any way is courageous.

Where does this fear come from?

I think this fear comes from our deep childhood.

Is there a person alive who has not been told by a trusted caregiver, probably a parent, that what we were doing was wrong? And who has not received such a message in a way that we interpreted as telling us we were unacceptable in some way?

Much as some churches would like to convince us otherwise, it is exceedingly difficult to “hate the sin and love the sinner” in a way the sinner recognizes. All of us bear scars from some moment where we believed who we were was unacceptable to some one whose opinion we prized above all things.

What happens then?

There are two standard responses to this moment.

Some people decide the other person was wrong and their life becomes about proving it. This first group become active doers, thrusting out into the world, often developing a chip on their shoulder and having difficulty seeing the value in other people’s positions.

Others turn inward, seeking to fix themselves, and hide until they are perfect. This second group is less visible in the world because their journey is inward. And this is the group that finds themselves in danger of being paralyzed by fear. Add to this natural psychological development a few cultural heroes who were killed for acting on their deep beliefs and you have a recipe for a mythic fear of speaking out.

How to Proceed?

For those who are held back by their own fear, they must find ways to deprive that fear of its hold over them. But how?

The platitude of “feel the fear and do it anyway” has a lot of truth to it, but isn’t always easy to follow. We must be compassionate with ourselves, understand the fear, teach ourselves that it is fear not a prophecy, and proceed.

For some people, fear must be leaped through. Some people cannot push gently against a fear and wear it down, but can blast right through it with the right support. Others, must dance with their fears, become friends with them, and dissolve them. Some people need different approaches to different fears.

In The Joy Diet, Martha Beck advocates a daily practice of doing something that scares you and that you know is heading towards your goal. For me, the key word in that idea is practice. Moving fearward benefits from practice. As you practice moving fearward, you learn to be comfortable with the feeling of fear; the part of you that observes your life and sees your patterns starts to recognize that fear is not a promise. Just because you fear things will fall apart doesn’t mean they will. And, if they do, you can pick yourself up and try something different. But, without a habit of moving into and through those fears, we never develop the understanding that only comes through experience.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Retraining yourself to move into fear instead of away is a difficult process, but one with huge benefits. Taking the time to practice while holding yourself compassionately if you struggle is a huge gift to your future self.

You might need a support structure, a spouse who nudges you, a mastermind or accountability group, a writers group, networking group, buddy you check in with by phone or email once a day or once a week. You know the way you sabotage your own growth. Can you think of a way to reduce the power of that sabotage by leaning on somebody else?

Is there a fearward step that you could take today? What support would you need to move in that direction?

Starting the New Year Off On the Write Foot

What can I say? The end of 2012 was not good for my novel writing. It was good for all sorts of other things, including a short story submitted to a big competition and good non-fiction writing, but not for my novel.

I spent December making all these things for my nieces, which cut into my writing time substantially.

I spent December making all these things for my nieces, which cut into my writing time substantially.

I want to finish The Red Oak (there, I said it – it has a working title) in time to start something new for NaNoWriMo 2013. Given that I need a couple of months of planning and pre-writing to go into NaNoWriMo ready to generate a complete first draft of an MG  or YA book, that means wrapping up the next draft of The Red Oak by the end of February. I have a lot of things I want to add to the next draft, complete sections, scenes, characters, etc. Things I need to write from scratch. Big changes, not small changes.

I want to get back to writing 1,000-1,500 words a day of completely new material.

It would be easy to give myself today, the New Year’s Day holiday, off. My husband has the day off work. My kids are home. I am sick. But, I need to reestablish habits that I let go of during the fall. And that means no excuses.

And so, to prove to myself that I am serious about this goal, I wrote. 1,000 words.

I believe that the choice of the New Year as a starting point is arbitrary. Different cultures have marked time in different cycles and counted the beginning of each year around the sun from different points. January 1 is only meaningful because we made it so. But, given that we live in a world that turns the year on this day, I see no reason not piggyback personal rituals on it. I don’t believe in traditional New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe that a culturally signified date can be a marker to pin a personal shift to, as long as you hold it lightly and hold yourself with compassion if you should falter – because we all falter.

Have you done something today because it is a practice you want to develop in 2013?

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