Posted in Author/Book Review, Courses, Creative Writing, creativity, Editing

Through Fear and into Creativity

Since returning from the UK, I have been taking a little break from writing new stories and have been working on polishing up my manuscript, The Living Death of Toddy James.

I received some good feedback from the Ink & Insights 2018 Critique my Novel contest and decided it was time to submit my manuscript to an editor who can help me take it from the rough and step it closer to publication standard.

But as I have taken this step forward in my creative life, I have also had to battle internal fears. Fears that I am still not good enough to publish. It sounds silly given the spectrum of published works in the world since self-publishing became so accessible, but I still have an inner voice that speaks volumes about where it thinks I am at.

This inner voice drove me to pick up the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I listened to it on audio first, then went out a got myself a paperback copy so that I could refer to things that inspired me and provided me with ‘a-ha’ moments. big-magic-elizabeth-gilbert-book-review

This lead to me creating a skillshare course called: Through Fear to Creativity, where I explore some of the methods I have used get past the fears that have blocked me when it comes to creative writing and, at times, my artwork.

Fear to Creativity

I then made a short YouTube video where I speak directly about how Big Magic has helped me move through a perfectionism blockage and I hope, if you watch it, that my insights help you to.

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Then I thought I’d do a book review on Weekend Notes and I called it: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Book Review.

So, in a strange way I have been quite productive … dealing with fear and building courage to stand up and do what is in my heart to do.

But I have to be honest, writing a novel is a big project. It’s like a marathon level of focus, day after day. It took me over a year to write the first draft of The Living Death of Toddy James – most of it tapped into my Scrivener file during NaNoWriMo 2017. When I finished that draft, I was exhausted. I’d finally got the basic story out and I liked it.

Then anxiety crept in and I fiddled and fiddled with the manuscript filling in plot holes and other such things. Then I made excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly put the manuscript into an editor.

Then I went to the UK and found (to my surprise) that the level of my fiction writing was on par with the other students in the Fantasy Fiction course. I was stoked.

So, when I hit Australian soil again, I promised myself that I’d be brave and submit my story to an editor with a lot of years of experience and a good track record of helping authors actually bring their stories to publication.

I want my story to be the best fiction that I can make it. Not perfect. I can’t do perfect. I can’t please everyone. But I’d love to know that someone somewhere enjoyed reading what I wrote.

So I guess the next phase is about to begin. And to keep my mind from going totally crazy over what work is ahead of me with my manuscript, I’ve focused on creating book reviews, a YouTube video and a skillshare course.

Hopefully as time goes by I will finally figure out how to move my photos of the UK to some kind of show and tell thing-y, then I’ll be able to share more of what I experienced. But to tell the truth, I’ve kind of enjoyed allowing the travel dust to settle. Who knows when I’ll get around to sharing my UK photos and mini-musings.

In the meantime, Happy Creating!

Posted in creativity, Dragons, Drawing, Drawings, Sketches

Dragon Sketching

I took some time out today to start sketching some dragons. It was a lot of fun to get back into my art and enjoy the process of creating on the page.

Below are some photos of my first dragon portrait. It’s an idea that I’m developing and hope to create a far more intricate image in the coming months. But for now, this drawing is about exploring possibilities.

Exploring possibilities is part of the fun of developing my artistic/creative expression. It also gives my left brain a break and allows my right brain the opportunity to take the driver’s seat.

I’m pretty happy with my dragon line drawing and I am looking forward to developing her further.

The second dragon I sketched today took about an hour and a half to create. I’m also rather happy with how the image turned out.

Dragon_2_04082018I think that this sketch can be developed further and more depth given to it, but for now, I am happy with the results of my time playing on water paper.

I chose not add water or colour to the sketch. I wanted to spend my time developing a dragon from my imagination and seeing how it came out on the page.

Today, it’s Saturday in Australia and I’m now two weeks away from my trip to the UK. I finally gave in and got myself a ‘selfie stick’ so maybe when I get back home at the end of September, I’ll have some other photos to share. I also hope this trip fills up my creative bucket with new ideas for creative writing.

15 days and counting down.

Have a great creative day (or night)!

Posted in characters, Creative Writing, creativity, Dragons, Editing, fiction, Fiction Writing Courses, Paranormal

Writing – Paranormal and Fantasy Fiction

soul seeker 1A couple of weeks ago a new character came into my imagination. I knew what she looked like and I had a good sense of who she was. It was like being visited by a the soul of a real person.

I grabbed my iPad, opened a new Scrivener project and jotted down everything I’d seen, heard, smelled and tasted in that first meeting. It got me excited because I loved this character immediately and I wanted to know more, to learn more and experience more of her paranormal/normal life. I wanted to learn more about the conflicts she has over her abilities and how her paranormal abilities complicate her career, her love life, her sense of self.

On and off since the first time she showed up, I’ve had visits from her and each time I learn a little more about who she is as a ‘real person’ in my imagination.

Then last night an antagonist walked out of the mist of my imagination and I saw exactly what he was wearing, the gate of his stride, the tilt of his fine boned face.

So once again, I opened my scrivener file and jotted what I’d experienced down. I don’t have his name yet but I’ve got the essence of who he is and the darkness that emanates from him in a seductive manner. And I know he is the opposing force to my female protagonist.

I love it when this type of thing happens. For me this is part of magic of writing fiction. I’m always learning and growing as a writer and story teller, and when a character comes forward and wants to be put down on the page, I get excited. It’s almost as if the character is whispering in my inner ear and I am writing their story from their perspective.

So, now I am a bit over three weeks away from my trip to the UK and I now have two stories growing inside my mind. After a period of feeling creatively fallow, these ideas are a delight.

One of my stories is a paranormal romance, which is probably my absolute favourite genre to write, and if this story goes the way I am plotting it, then it will be my third paranormal story with romance beats. I’m excited to write this story.

The second story is my fantasy novel which features dragons and a few humans that can use magic. I’m enjoying learning how to put an epic fantasy story together. I’m not yet sure how this story will go. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don’t have all the puzzle pieces and other times I feel inspired by the ideas I have. Most of the time I am considering: How can I take this idea beyond cliche?

So far I have discovered writing a fantasy world is an in-depth adventure in itself. There is so much for me to think about, to brainstorm and to create. My thinking includes:

  • Characters – who is my protagonist, my antagonist and other roles
  • Conflicts – the major conflict and smaller conflicts for all characters and how they will play out
  • World building – there is so much involved in this part, sometimes I feel overwhelmed
  • Plotting how it will all pan out
  • Themes I want to touch on
  • Treatment – do I want to write this story from first person point of view or third person point of view?

So I am going to really enjoy my Fantasy Fiction writing course with David Farland in Oxford, and I am very much looking forward to learning about all the layers and nuances I need to consider to bring my ideas to life and create a believable fantasy fiction world that readers will want to experience via my characters.

When I return from the UK, I hope to finish writing these stories and to work on editing Tuppence Weatherstorm and The Living Death of Toddy James so that I can move them toward publication. It would be good move my writing to the next level, even if being published is a scary step.

 

Posted in Courses, creativity, Gratitude, photography, skillshare

Learning Photography

Last weekend I started learning the basics of my Canon DSLR which resulted in some photos that I loved. This week, I finished going through the Skillshare.com online course and put some of my new knowledge to use.

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Here is Miss Poppy suffering a long photo shoot session. I used the Av mode on my DSLR to get a cropped image and to capture the sweetness of Miss Poppy’s face.

Here are some of the various photos I took this morning. Miss Poppy has to put up with a lot.

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I managed to catch a photo of Rocket playing with his rope toy. I don’t think I had the camera on the right mode to really catch the moment, but I am learning. And I do love this photo of my poodle.

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Next, I tried to capture Rocket in an interesting composition by getting down on the floor and photograph him from his level. He wasn’t too keen on giving me much face time for the portraits I was trying to take. The look on his face in the second photo says it all.

Jack (above) is a gorgeous boy but he doesn’t believe in sitting still for photos. It took me ages to catch these images and they are a little blurry. I’ll just have to keep trying.

Then I went out to Mapleton which is in the Hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, and took some photos. The images above were attempting to capture the water fall movement using the Tv mode of the camera.

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This is the view from the Mapleton lookout – or at least, a portion of the view.

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I was striving to capture the expansive nature of the vista and to make an interesting photographic composition in the above image.

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Here’s an image of David, my partner. I used the Av mode to get this portrait.

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Above is an image of my best friend in the world, Edward. He’s also putting up with me snapping photos of him using the Av mode of the camera.

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And, lastly, I had to get in front of the camera. I set up the manual settings and gave the camera to David. He did a great job of these photos, I reckon.

Taking a moment out of the busy-ness of life has allowed me the space to capture images that mean a great deal to me. I’m a total beginner at photography, but I am thoroughly enjoying the process of learning. And learning is what inspires my continued growth and I’m grateful for that.

Posted in Art Philosophy, Courses, creativity, Gratitude, Journal, Minimalism, photography, skillshare

Learning a new creative skill

Last weekend, after doing some minimising of ‘stuff’ in my house, I wanted to do something creative and different. I wanted to learn a new skill.

So, I decided it was time to take the DSLR Camera (my friend owns it and I borrow it from time to time – he’s good to me like that) and start learning how to use it.

I went to my go-to creative learning site, Skillshare.com, where I created and published my own online class to teach people how to draw using negative space, and looked for classes on photography.

I found a class that focused on teaching beginners how to use their DSLRs. I watched the start and learned how to use some of the manual features of the camera. Buttons, and dials and widgets that had intrigued me for some time but I’d never got around to working out what they were for.

So far I have watched just over half of the course. As I learned about shutter priority, aperture and ISO, I fiddled with the manual settings and had a go at taking a photo or two.

Here’s a couple of photos of Rocket. I know these photos are not professional in any sense of the word and I’m not even sure what settings I used but I love them!

I think I love these photos so much because they really capture the cute attentiveness of Rocket. These are the first photos I’ve taken of Rocket in a very long time where I have been able to capture what his face looks like.

Having a black poodle is one of the greatest things in my life – I treasure him. He is my loving and ever present companion and I want to take images of him as he is, showing his sweet face to the world.

This tiny creative success has inspired me to keep watching the course on Skillshare.com and learning how to use the camera to take photos that I want in my life.

Also, learning a little bit of photography is a great way for my brain to rest after such an intense time of creative writing. I’ve found lately that my creative writing has slowed down and that I need to take a pause. To allow my creative writing bucket an opportunity to fill up again.

Learning a new creative skill helps to enhance all of my creative skills. And I get to share this with you too!

I’ve been cutting out the things in my life that no longer bring me joy or add value to my life. And I’ve been focusing on uncovering my highest values so I can live in accordance with them.

Creative expression is one of my highest values. I love being creative. Drawing. Writing. Painting. Mixed Media. Photography.

Each one of these creative activities helps me to take a breather from a fast paced world and allows me to see what is truly before me. Creative writing helps me to understand the human condition, as does reflective writing and journaling.

I am so grateful for creativity and the journey of continued self-expression.

If you haven’t tried something creative for a while, maybe it’s time to slow down the pace in your life and take a moment to put a creative desire into action.

Posted in Courses, creativity, Drawing, Drawings, Sketches, skillshare

A little bit of skull action

Three skulls created with indian ink in my visual diary. Artist: Selina Shapland

Three skulls created with indian ink in my visual diary.
Artist: Selina Shapland
Created 15/3/2018


Tonight I came home and decided it was time to do some art. So I got online to my new favourite creative site and did a great class on Skillshare.com about how to draw skulls. It’s taught by this amazing artist/graphic designer, Jon Brommet. He broke the class down so it was easy to pick up the nuances of drawing a skull to rough proportions and he encouraged me (or his students) to break out and build on the basics and to develop their creativity through quick, rough sketching.

I admit, I haven’t had time to do every exercise but I will get around to it.

But for now, here’s a sneak peek at a little bit of skull action I did for my class project.

I’m really happy with my drawings.

They are all drawn with graphite pencil and black ink pen. The ink pen is water soluble so I’m thinking of adding some Indian ink to the design and making it pop off the page. We’ll see how I go.

Anyway, I had a great time and that’s what I think art is about. Fun. And embracing the journey of expressing something personal without chasing picture perfect perfection.

Posted in Courses, creativity, Drawing, Fiction Writing Courses, skillshare, Wattpad

My Creative Projects

A while ago I decided that I’d let my art slide by the wayside just a little too much and so I found this fabulous site called skillshare.com. I joined and took a few short courses on art and had a great time.

On one of the classes, I put up a project of a drawing I did of Miss Poppy (once she finally went to sleep on the end of my bed so I could draw her).  I loved the drawing.

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There it is above.  I didn’t think too much of it. I just moved on to the next creative project in my life – learning how to write a love novella (or as the course is titled, a Lovella).

Then I got invited to do a teach challenge in March on illustration and I thought … what would I teach?

And then I thought … why not!

Then I thought … Oh My God/dess, what have I signed up for?

But I won’t grow if I don’t give these things a go, right?

So my creativity is amping up again in both my art and my writing. I’ve been learning how to do videos for the online course that will be published through skillshare.com and I’ll share my link with you when I finally do get it finished and ready for viewing.

The worst thing is that I’ve got a cold now which has knocked me about and I haven’t been about to video without sniffling. It’s a lot of hard work learning how to cut these things out while keeping the video going.

My online course is tentatively titled, How to See and Draw Using Negative Space. I’ve got a class outline written up, done a video for the introduction and the ending. And I am working on demonstrating drawing negative space to show out a positive object can pop out on the page. I’ve always found this a great way to approach drawing objects that my brain gets stuck on as symbols.

You know, like when we were kids and we would draw a box with a triangle on the top and that would be our symbol for a house? Sometimes my left brain tries to take over and make symbols on the page and I get paralysed. So, that’s when I start looking at negative space.

In my other spare time, I’ve been plotting a short romance between a part faery/part human and a human detective. It’s coming together but I’m not a big romance writer and the romance plot has to take front and centre on the stage with this story. Usually, I write a fantasy/paranormal action plot and have romance as my secondary plot. My stories are very character driven and all about the lead woman stepping into and owning her power.

I’ve noticed that I’m developing a story style and particular type of author’s voice. Having said that, my stories are different in their plots. It’s just an interesting parallel that’s been happening.

In a previous post, I’d mentioned that I was writing a story on Wattpad. It’s called, The Living Death of Toddy James. People were reading the parts I’d published and were asking when I’d finished. I felt terrible cause I couldn’t write it as quickly as my readers wanted it. But now, I’ve finished it and it’s up on the site for beta reading and feedback.  I kept my word to my followers – yay me!

I’m going to leave the manuscript on Wattpad for a while and see what happens, and after I come back from my holiday in the UK in August/September (2018) I’ll submit it for editing and feedback.

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I’m super happy with The Living Death of Toddy James because I feel that I have written a fairly tight plot and there aren’t any tangents (that I can identify). My teacher and editor advised me not to spin off on tangents and I did my best to apply that rule in this story.

Oh and I am so very excited because I will be going to the UK to study (once again) with David Farland in Oxford. I’ll be taking his Fantasy Fiction seven day intensive course and I hope that when I’ve been through this course that my imagination is fertile ground to complete the story in my mind which has dragons and angels and demons and magic in it.

Living in Australia makes it tough to get a sense of how to write a castle and make it realistic since we don’t have any architecture that is steeped in that type of history like the UK.

After my writing course, my partner will be flying across to meet me in London and then we’re going to zip over to Paris for a day and then on to a bus tour of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.  I can’t wait to visit the Scottish Highlands. I admit it. I’m influenced by Jamie Fraser from Outlander (the show and the book).

I’m learning so many new things, from writing to art to video production to working a mic to video editing. This is turning into a very creative year!