Creative Prompt: The missed shot

This year I’ve been experimenting with creating creative prompts for other creative folks by taking photographs of strange or quirky things that I see when I am out and about. My general format is then to post the photo along with the story of the picture, or some thoughts that the picture provokes in me. In last week’s creative prompt I briefly mentioned the sometimes transient nature of creativity, and this weeks photo is a really good example of that.

I first saw this broken pair of sunglasses on the road a day before I took the photo. My initial response was that they weren’t that interesting to me, but then when I found myself thinking about them a bit later in the evening knew that they had caught my attention after all. When I went looking for them the next day I was relieved that they were still there, but they were not arranged as I remembered.

When I first saw them one of the lenses was still in place in it’s frame. While I like this shot with the strip of yellow running through the photo, it’s not as good as that first glimpse. Basically I missed the shot because I didn’t take advantage of the moment.

I’m sure I’m not the only creative with experiences like these, and would like to hear about other similar experiences in the comments below. What was your best (worst!) ‘missed shot’?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: Green Dragon Court

I came across this street sign when I recently went for my Covid vaccination in Central London. It is very close to borough market. In the day you can wander among the stalls smelling all the wonderful cooking smells, and buy expensive hand crafted food stuffs.

At night the market is empty, but in non covid times there area a number of local bars and the customers spill out into the space. For me though this street sign reminded me of the brilliant Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (affiliate link). If you have not read this book and you are at all interested in fantasy, I strongly suggest you give it a try.

It kind of makes me wonder if in another reality there would be a resident green dragon who holds court here.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt mini-series: paying respect to trees #4

I quite often see trees that people have decorated with one or more objects, and they always catch my eye. For this reason this month I have been running a mini series of creative prompts about trees and the way people appear to honour them. You can see the other three posts here, here and here.

For my final prompt in this series I wanted to offer you this photo of a tree I saw on the side of one of the Cotswold Hills near where my parents live. I was out walking with my partner, and my parents were looking after my son so we were able to get into places that were a bit too hilly or muddy for the pram.

It was a really hot day, and we mostly chose to stick to the cover of the woods, but found this tree on the side of a field on a hill near a local monument. The sun was very strong that day on my skin, and so bright that it was difficult to take this picture because of the reflection in the screen of my phone. But it seems I did manage to capture this arrangement.

There has been a strong theme of of pagan or druidic traditions in the area since long before I was born. At the time of taking this photo it was not long before the summer solstice, and I imagine that these symbols do have meaning for whoever placed them there. But it is not a meaning that I understand. Perhaps someone who sees this will understand it better and be able to explain it to me.

In my own creative writing at the moment nature plays a strong part of the belief system of the shadow world I have been trying to build. I like seeing things like this, particularly when I don’t actually understand the intention of the person who made the decoration, as it sparks my imagination. I hope that this picture of symbols on a tree may spark something for you, too.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt mini-series: paying respect to trees #3

I saw this tree in a street near where I live over a year ago. It’s not a great photo, as it came out a bit dark. Fiddling with an edit seems to cause more harm than good by bleaching out the image, but I’ve managed to enhance the range of woollen decorations hanging in the tree.

On the actual day the weather was quite gloomy and cool, and it was spring but not really near Easter or any other festival that I know of would explain these objects hanging in the tree. They really stood out to me as a bit special. Someone, or a group of someones had spent a chunk of their time hand making these decorations for a tree in the street.

This is the kind of thing that really sparks ideas off for me. Who would spend the time to do such a thing? What meaning might these objects hold? Are they left over from a festival, or just there because someone simply wanted to honour the tree?

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt mini-series: paying respect to trees #1

One of the things that really catches my eye when I am our and about is where people decorate or otherwise mark local trees. I frequently find the way they do this to be interesting and mysterious, and it allows my mind to wander into spaces that are both ancient and mystical.

This tree is close to our house, and has been marked with this ring of stones for some time now. I frequently walk past it, and wonder who may have put these stones there. What do they mean to the person who placed them?

In my own work in progress (Feeding Jasmine Valentine) natural cycles, and plants and trees play quite a big part in my world building. One of the things I want to do a bit more with this blog is to share some of the things that are feeding into my ideas for that work. So over the next four weeks I’ll be sharing some photographs of trees that may spark your imagination.

I hope that this mini series will provoke new ideas for you, too.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Learning to do self promotion, and a sale on Redbubble

When I started this blog several years ago my plan was just to be able to blog about my creative stuff, and maybe connect with other creative people too. Once I got going I found that while I enjoyed the writing side of it, I really didn’t enjoy the self promotion side of it. For a long time I didn’t really push the blog, and for much of 2019 I didn’t blog at all.

A friend of mine once told me while I was pregnant that I would probably feel a lot less concerned about what other people thought about what I was doing after my son was born, and she’s been pretty spot on on that account. Over the last year l’ve spent a bit of time getting the hang of promoting myself on twitter, and have been a bit more comfortable in pushing myself. The one thing I am still finding difficult to do is to find the time to connect with other bloggers, to read their blogs and to join in with commenting. But am trying to do better with this.

Most of my recent blogging has been about my writing, as it’s been difficult to do much visual art or film making because the setting up of things takes so much more time. I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘indie’ route for my writing, and recently realised that I’m already an ‘indie’ with respect to my art, and have quite a ‘back list’ available on Redbubble.

I received an email today from Redbubble to say they are running a sale this weekend on the website, so I thought it was a good opportunity to engage in a little self promotion. One of my favourite collections was a series of pieces of paper cut and mixed media art that were set across all four seasons – The Forest Kiss Collection. I look at them now and find that similar ideas are informing my writing, with my current project also featuring cycles and seasons.

This weekend, if you were interested in getting yourself some new art, take a look at Redbubble, which features art from over 700,000 independent artists, and use the promo code FINDYOURTHING grab yourself a bargin.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

On not having a niche: diverse interests and creativity

When I first started blogging a number of years ago now, I spent a bit of time looking at what other people said about creating a successful blog. There is lots of advice out there, some of it sensible, some of it conflicting. I tried to build some of it into my blogging, with various degrees of success (if you are looking for a good site on this is suggest taking a look at Female Blogreneur here). Most were easy enough. Include pictures. Check. Include pictures of cats. Double check.

But the most consistent piece of advice that came up was to find a niche and stick with it. This is where I have a problem. My blog and website started off as a place to talk about my writing, films and art. But over time I found myself wanting to write about other things and other ideas. This is mostly because my magpie brain is attracted to lots of things, and you know, life happens. So over time I have written about the flowers in my garden, interesting sentimental objects, open water swimming and IVF.

It’s not a problem to have diverse interests, but it makes it a bit more difficult to describe what you do. ‘I write about art, writing, and lots of other things’ is a bit vague. One of the other bits of advice that is out there is to ‘build a community around what you do’. If you are at best vague about what you do, that also gets a bit tricky.

Over time I’ve been thinking about this and what it all means. There are definitely groups of people out there ‘like me’. Emily Wapnick calls us multipotentialites. Barbara Sher calls us scanners, and urges us to ‘refuse to choose’ (affiliate link). There are several existing communities that exist around this notion, but somehow the idea of joining one doesn’t scratch the itch. I think the closest I’ve come to feeling like I’ve met ‘my people’ is when I meet other artists and writers, particularly the ones who deal in science fiction and fantasy.

On a number of writing shows and podcasts I have listened to recently I have come across this idea that as writers we need to fill the creative well. I feel my creativity is a bit more like a river with multiple tributaries that derive from many different sources. I can identify a variety of influences in my current work in progress, Feeding Jasmine Valentine. I actually think that my ‘niche’ is creativity itself. The things that inspire creativity, the processes that are involved, and the many splendid expressions of it. But the niche of creativity is so broad, and has so many possibilities that it is almost no good as I niche at all.

And I don’t think that matters.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative Prompt: a crack in the wall

When we moved into our house, pre pandemic, we were aware that there was lots of work that was needed. At the time we weren’t daunted by that because even though I had a big baby bump, we thought that we would have lots of help from our family. Unfortunately we then had a global pandemic which forced us all into a series of lockdowns, and our DIY has progressed rather more slowly than expected.

Upstairs in the room that is meant to be our bedroom, but that currently functions as an office/ dumping ground, I’ve been taking off the wallpaper a little bit at a time. There was a thin crack, and a lot of crumbling bits in the middle of one of the walls. I had to cut away and clean out some of the plaster before I could fill it all in again to make the rest of the plaster secure. In the middle of the process I took this photo of the crack, which I think looks kind of spooky. It has a whiff of MR James about it.

I thought that it would make a nice creative or writing prompt for somebody who has spooky tastes. Drop your ideas or flash fiction welcome in the comments below, or turn it into a post on your own blog and let me know.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

I started a mailing list – now what?

Long time readers of this blog will remember that I have a bit of an issue when it comes to finishing artistic projects, but since I completed the first draft of Feeding Jasmine Valentine last year, I feel like I may have broken through that particular wall. My second draft is now fully underway, and the story line and characters have evolved in ways that feel exiting and interesting to me. I feel like I may have finally hit my stride a bit, have worked out how to fit creative time into my busy week, and each week make a little more progress.

When I was pregnant with my son I found I suffered quite badly with fatigue, and didn’t manage to do much. But one of the things I did enjoy was laying in the bath listening to podcasts. While I was doing this I discovered the Best Seller Experiment, which is a great podcast. I have been a member of the Best Seller Academy for six months now and I think that this is one of the things that has helped my find my flow a bit.

While I’m not really that close to having that final perfect draft, I have been thinking about my publication strategy a lot. There seem to be several options:

  1. Try to find an agent, and then that agent will try to find you a traditional publishing deal with a big publishing company
  2. Self publish through Amazon or Kobo or one of the other platforms.
  3. Try to get a publishing deal with a small press, with or without the step of getting an agent
  4. Some combination of all of the above

I’ve been going back and forward between options one and two for quite a while now. There are advantages and disadvantages to each that I will probably discuss in a later post, and I have basically come to the conclusion that it’s too difficult to decide. So, in the spirit of being a member of the Bestseller Academy, I’m going to try a little experiment of my own, by giving both strategies a try at the same time to see which one works out better for me.

I have a draft of my first book which is a fantasy novel (find out more about the whole project here), and I’m working on a second draft. I’m going to try to make this as beautiful as possible and then try to get an agent for it.

In writing the new draft of my fantasy novel I have actually rough plotted three novellas that would be prequels to that novel to try to work out some character back story. I’m going to take advantage of having done that bit of work, and attempt to write and self publish these as a little trilogy. This has the advantage of growing a little following for the fantasy world ahead of the other book, and if I can’t find an agent for it I will not be hitting the ground cold with that book.

In pretty much all of the research I have done around successful publishing, I have found that one key piece of advice is to have a mailing list and news letter. I had been resisting this as I didn’t really know what I would write to people about. Now I have set myself this little challenge I think I have something to actually update people on, so I have taken the plunge and set up my mailing list. I’ll be attempting to doing quarterly updates on my progress, and hopefully have some fun as well. If you are interested in hearing how I am getting on with things, you can sign up to my newsletter here.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

My toddler is a scientist: experimentation and the creative process.

A few weeks ago my son learned to walk. Like every other skill he has picked up, the process involved a lot of trail, and a lot of error. There were plenty of missteps and a few little falls here and there, but it didn’t take him long to get the hang of it. Now he likes to spend his days charging around, while we spend our trying to keep up with him.

Over the last year it has been his gift to us to hang out with him while he learns to do new things. I am sure all parents think their children are clever, and I am no exception to this rule, but it has been one of the most delightful surprises of parenthood to be able to see this unfold. He is the epitome of a little scientist. Touching. Tasting. Moving things about. Trying one thing, seeing it fail, trying it again with adaptations, before moving on to the next option.

The other morning we were eating breakfast together and it occurred to me that this process is also the process that underpins good art. Trying one thing, adapting it, trying the next. I am one of those odd people who trained in the sciences, but is drawn instinctively to the arts. In my mind there has never been a huge distance between the core process involved in doing science, and the one that underpins the making of art. Watching my child develop has reinforced this for me in the most profound way.

Now he has walking mostly under control, we’ve moved on to putting blocks together in new and interesting patterns. For him, inspiration appears everywhere. We aren’t quite up to building yet, but that too will happen in time. I can’t wait to see what he will experiment with next.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.