Saturday, November 28, 2009

London Calling

Today I took class with Anne Aylor in the Lucas Arms, an old pub not far from Kings Cross Station. The class was a precious 'time in' with the artist soul. We worked upstairs, lulled by the creaking pub sign and the smell of burning sage. Anne, a gifted novelist, has a talent for nurturing the embryo writer in others. For a precious day I found myself once more with Thomas Tarling, his charming and courageous woman Mary and the enigmatic leader of the fair, Zackariah Scarrott. 'One's religion,' said J.M. Barrie, is 'whatever one is most interested in'. Today, the religion of the practising writer was extended by a few more hours, in a London pub with the rain beating down on the streets outside.

Jennifer Pittam is a winner of 'Coast to Coast' Writing Competition and is working on her first novel.
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sculpting a Life.

Losing Control.
By Susan Gallacher-Turner

For the past month, I’ve taught 3 different project classes in 3 different places, gone to meetings upon meetings, done interviews, and managed to squeeze a few hours in the studio. Ok, I’ve been busy. The point is: how much of these creative projects and time are within my control?

As a self-employed artist, teacher and writer, you might think all of it. I used to think that, too. Not anymore.

I’ve always been a self-motivated creative person. If I wanted to make something, I made it. If I didn’t know how, I figured it out. That might mean reading a book, taking a class or just doing it. Whatever I needed to do, I did it. Myself. I had creative control of my project.

That was an illusion. I wasn’t in control of my creativity then and I’m not now.

I may want creative control, but I don’t have it. It doesn’t matter whether I’m working alone in the studio, on a group project, or in a class with students. Students show up or not. Some people are easy to work with, others not. Ideas that seem good, go bad. Supplies get discontinued.

What I really want is a good ending. That’s why I think I need to creative control. What I need to do is lose control and follow the creative road. Trusting the bends, bumps and detours are all important parts of the journey. And that the end result I’m trying to control isn’t the end at all, it’s just a stop along the way. Sometimes the stops are good. I make a beautiful piece with clay, metal or words. Sometimes, it’s bad. I recycle the pieces and learn something new.

Maybe, creative control isn’t something I really need and don’t really even want. It’s just my fear wanting to drive my life, so maybe it’s time to shift into a different gear. Lose the control and maybe I'll enjoy the ride more.

If you'd like to see some of my sculpture, visit my website Susan Gallacher-Turner Sculpture. And you can read my interviews with people living a creative life on my other blog, Voices of Living Creatively or listen to the podcasts at Voices of Living Creatively website. Read more!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wild Woman of Queens: Notes on Urban Creativity from Across the East River

The Bridge by Sandra Lee Schubert @2009

Last week I wrote two poems while a friend was visiting his doctor. I heard someone say I am getting banana pudding for fat boy. That one statement started a poem and another began after reading about someone who was learning about trick or treating. Now this is not a piece about writing poetry but about explaining it.

Do poets need to explain their poems? My friend writes the most complicated poems. Each poem requires a visit to Google, a dictionary, possibly Wikipedia and skills in translating foreign languages. Even after all that work you still may not know what he has said. People expect not to understand his poetry.

But what if you write a fairly simple piece and people ask, "what does it mean?" Are you obligated to give them an answer? Poems have layers. The layer the poet writes, what it means and what it means to others. When I write a piece there is a clear meaning in mind. But I can be surprised when something I've written does not have the clear meaning I intended. A poem can have  meaning the poet didn't even know about until someone else reads it. That is when feedback becomes valuable.

Again the dilemma is when to explain. My thought is to allow the poem to be opened up to interpretation. You can't be in everyone's home explaining a piece. At some point you have to make sure you a well-written piece and then let it fly. 

Sandra's e-course leads people to be their creative best through telling their stories and talking to interesting people on her online radio show-
Wild Woman Network: Radio for Creative Vagabonds, Thinkers and Innovators..
She is a creative vagabond, a poet, and a writer who co-facilitates the Wild Angels Poets and Writers Group at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.
Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own Visit her blog. 
Email her> Sandraleeschubert(at) or @writing4life via twitter. Read more!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Garden Views: Cultivating the Inner Gardener

If you’ve ever been to someone else’s garden that had a magical quality about it, haven’t you come home wanting to create a similar mood in your own space? How do you replicate that inexplicable, but tangible, x-factor?

I’ve spent the last three years interviewing gardeners who have this special touch and analyzing what they’ve done. But only after training with Eric Maisel as a meaning coach was I able to design a process to help other gardeners do it themselves. My coaching practice, Cultivating the Inner Gardener, teaches gardeners how to put themselves in a mental space that allows them to develop an intimate, holistic relationship with their gardens.

Cultivating the Inner Gardener can multiply the pleasure you derive from your gardening experience many times over because you’ll start to make better choices that result in a personal space that’s not only beautiful and healthy, but also provides a sanctuary from the world that speaks to your soul.

Through a series of assignments and exercises you’ll learn how to rediscover and focus on the things that really matter to you about your garden, restore meaning to your gardening efforts, and revitalize a cherished pastime.

If you want to discover how to express more of your personality and creativity through your garden, how body/mind/spirit can play itself out in your gardening activities, and how you can take more pleasure in the journey, visit: or contact me at

Lois de Vries' thoughts on gardening and environmental issues run the gamut from gardening in her own back yard to promoting land management practices that reconnect people to the Earth. Lois is seeking a publisher for her book, The Transformational Power of Gardening. Visit her blog at
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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I'm very excited to be heading to DC this week for the opening of "Portrait Of Maquoketa" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Artist Rose Frantzen painted 180 portraits of her local townspeople in Maquoketa, Iowa, that will be on display through early July.

I met Rose and her artist husband Charles Morris about a year ago and had the pleasure of working with them over the spring and summer on their book, Portrait of Maquoketa, which is being sold online and will be sold at the Smithsonian gift shop while the exhibit runs in DC.

After I conducted a number of interviews with Rose last spring, I wrote an introductory essay for the book and helped her write and edit short reflections about the people, their portraits and her artistic process.

Later in the summer, I listened to Chuck read his essay aloud, which relates biographical information about Rose, discusses some of her other works besides Portrait of Maquoketa, and periodically reveals snapshots of what it must be like to be part of such an amazing marriage of two talented artists. Chuck not only wrote this marvelous essay that ends the book; he also labored on the layout design book all summer long. Then, together with Rose in the late summer and early fall, he saw the book through the many steps involved in the printing process.

The opportunity to work with these remarkable people was handed to me out of the blue from the Freelancing Gods via friend Al T., who thought my husband Chuck would enjoy meeting Rose and Chuck and arranged for us all to have dinner in Davenport one cold winter evening. That's how freelancing can work sometimes -- opportunities sometimes just seem to fall from the sky.
So I'm feeling very lucky today as we prepare to head to DC tomorrow to see the exhibit at the Smithsonian, honor Rose, and celebrate the 180 Maquoketans whose faces will grace the halls of the National Portrait Gallery for the next 7.5 months.
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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Wellness & Writing Connections Conference

On Saturday October 24th, on a beautiful fall day in Atlanta, Georgia more than sixty writing enthusiasts met to share, learn and talk together about the connection between writing and wellness.

The vision of John Evans, convener and founder of the conference brought us together for the third annual Wellness & Writing Connections Conference.

What makes this conference unique is the variety of professions represented. Writers, poets, physicians, nurses, psychotherapists and teachers of writing convene together. What we share is a passion for writing and the connection between writing and wellness.

Check out the website and plan to meet us in Atlanta next year!

Wishing you happy and healthy writing,

Susan Borkin

Susan Borkin, M.A. is a licensed
psychotherapist, author and speaker. In her practice she provides psychotherapy, coaching and training for people who are interested in using writing as part of their healing, growth or transformation. Read more!

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