In Anticipation of Creative Endeavours

Earlier this week I wrote about anticipating spring, and how this shows itself in a myriad of ways from early blossoms to the proliferation of buds. It reminded me of the importance of having something to look forward to, that intoxicating sense of anticipation.

This has resulted in a quick assessment of where I am at the moment in a creative sense. In my working life I am task oriented and love crossing items off my to-do list. Occasionally I think that if I applied the same approach in my creative life, I’d get a lot more done. This is probably true, but my creative side seems to resist any attempt to contain it in such a structured format. I know I could, but I don’t want to. Somehow it seems too important to have the flexibility to go where my creativity leads, rather than corralling it with constraints.

So what am I looking forward to, creatively speaking? I have a few ideas tucked into the pages of my writing notebooks for future projects, and these will continue to germinate as I go about my daily routines. I have two stories on the go at the moment, one of them triggered by a vivid dream. Both are longer than my usual outings and that in itself creates a sense of delight. Usually with a short story I have a fair idea of what I’m working towards, but both of these stories are taking their own sweet time to reveal the end and that makes the process quite intriguing.

Recently I have started reading a book of ten short stories with accompanying essays by the writers revealing insights into their craft and the genesis of their particular story. I have dipped in and read a couple so far and have been invigorated but have resisted the urge to read them too quickly. Some things are better digested slowly and savoured.

Another source of creative anticipation is something about me but not something that I have created. By chance I came across some interesting drawings on Instagram by an artist called Carly Zandstra. A few weeks back she posted a drawing of her head in a phrenological kind of way. There is a link to the post here which will make more sense. I was so impressed that I made contact and Carly is creating something similar for me, based on things that matter to me. I am really looking forward to what Carly has come up with – another version of my creative self.

So right now there are still stories to write, different worlds to ponder, stories to be read and a head full of ideas to fuel my sense of creative anticipation.

What are you looking forward to, creatively speaking?

[Photo: phrenology head spotted at a market]

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My I Spy: something beginning with ‘P’

Plenty of possibilities for things beginning with ‘P’ have presented themselves. Parrots, people, plumes of clouds, pets, just to name a few. Here are a few things I managed to photograph.

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Paragon Cafe, West Wyalong

Paragon Cafes

The Paragon Cafe in Katoomba celebrated 100 years this year. But it is not the only Paragon Cafe around by a long shot. These cafes, typically started by Greek migrants, were dotted all across the cities and small towns of Australia. When travelling through the central west of the state, I managed to spot these two. The first, in West Wyalong, is still trading as a cafe. The second is a shopfront in the town of Harden in the south west of NSW. Lately there have been some interesting podcasts and books about this cafe culture.

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Paragon Cafe, Harden

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Phrenology Head, North Rocks Markets

Phrenology

The ‘study of external conformation of cranium as index to development and position of organs belonging to the various mental facilities’, as defined by the 1911 Concise Oxford Dictionary, no longer holds the sway that it once did. It is now a rather discounted theory of how one’s mental powers are influenced and indicated by the shape of the skull. My earliest recollection of this theory was when I stumbled across it in one of the Bony books. Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte was the literary invention of English born writer Arthur W Upfield. Upfield worked and travelled extensively across Australia, and he wrote a series of books based around Bony solving mysteries in various locations. Many of the books were set in the outback and Bony brought insights from his mixed heritage into solving crimes. Titles included ‘Death of a Swagman’ and ‘The Bone is Pointed’.

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Possum the Locomotive at Eskbank House, Lithgow

Possum the Locomotive

Possum now resides in the grounds of Eskbank House at Lithgow. It was one of several engines that worked the train line between the Blast Furnace and the steelworks. Possum arrived in 1919 and worked the line until 1928; it was relocated to Port Kembla when the steelworks closed in Lithgow. It worked through until 1967 when it was retired and relocated back to Eskbank House, which was then a relatively new museum. The little engines that worked the line between the furnace and steelworks all had animal names including Wallaby, Wombat and Bunyip.

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Sunset over the Kanimbla Valley

Pink

I love a good sunset. Sunrises are good too, but I like the fading of light at the end of the day. This sunset was spotted over the Kanimbla valley.

What possibilities have you spotted beginning with P? Pop over and see what Autumn is spotting here, along with photos on Instagram by atman.art.studio. Next week, I’m questing for things beginning with Q …

 

Don’t ask, don’t get.

Something that never ceases to amaze me is the power and capability of the mind. Whilst I’m quietly confident that I seriously under utilise my mind’s capacity, there is comfort in knowing that I can call upon it to help me out and that it will usually deliver. This is particularly true in relation to creativity.

A little while ago I was walking my dog late one night after a long day. I was really tired and although it was frosty outside, it seemed like every fascinating scent was out and my dog insisted on careful inspection of all that was on offer. We finally turned the corner for home and an idea popped into my head for a short story. It was incomplete but with enough shape and structure to get started. We made it home and I shrugged off my weariness to capture the words and images that were tumbling through my mind.

Recently I reviewed the rough draft, tweaking it and making some changes. The two main characters were really clear to me, but I hadn’t named them in my haste to get the story down. What to call them? I left my brain to work on that problem overnight and woke up  with a handful of possibilities. The characters now have names and that tricky ending that I was worried about has been replaced with something better.

There is another short story idea that I have simmering away in the back of my mind. The images are clear and I’ve jotted down some notes for when the time is right to start it, but again I was thinking about the name of the main character. There were a couple of secondary characters who were easy to identify, but I wanted the main character to have a surname that could be mispronounced by a child and end up as one of those abbreviations that becomes a nickname which ends up as the main form of address for someone. A name with a couple of levels of meaning or significance in the story. I was driving recently when there was a discussion on the local radio and one word literally rang a bell for me. It was the perfect fit.

Putting it out there may not always be entirely reliable or a quick solution, but if you have a bit of time and space to let your mind sort through the possibilities, or listen out for solutions, the results can be pleasantly surprising. Don’t ask, don’t get.

How do you find solutions for your creative challenges?

[Photo: part of a phrenology head spotted at a local market]