Sunday, May 22, 2011

London Calling - Filling the Well at their Wedding

In the month of May, we've had so many public holidays here in London that the whole month seemed to run into one. For me it they were like a Godsend because the well of my creativity had grown desperately dry. I really welcomed the chance to see our great city full of visitors.

When visitors come here on holiday they bring mess, noise and inconvenience but they also bring fresh perspectives, laughter, excitement and weird questions like 'Can you tell me where Sherlock Holmes lived,' even though Sherlock Holmes was a fictional character invented by Arthur Conan Doyle.

The wedding of Prince William to Katherine Middleton was a thrilling occasion - but for me, the important thing was that I got out there. If I had stood in the pouring rain to watch the bride go by in her gold and glass coach, it would have been just as good for my writing as if the weather were glorious.

I love the way that creativity has a voice in good times and in bad, whether we are busy empathising with other poor souls, perhaps homeless after a cyclone or a flood, or whether today, our own worries and troubles threaten to overwhelm us. It makes no odds - craft a word, redraft a line, snip a sentence here and there. Suddenly nothing else matters.

Jennifer Pittam is a winner of Coast to Coast writing competition and is working on her second novel.

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Saturday, April 02, 2011


SCREENWRITING THEY CAN'T RESIST. How To Create Screenplays of Originality and Cinematic Power. Explode the Rules
by Pauline Kiernan. Quaere Publishing.

If you want to create screenplays that are derivative, formulaic and forgettable. If you’re looking for another manual that paralyses your creative brain and shows you how to use a tent pole to write your script. If you want to experience the existential despair of trying to fit your story into a rigid structure designed to be universally applied to all scripts, this book isn’t for you.

But if, like the most distinctive and exciting screenwriters today, you want to write bold, innovative, outstanding screenplays which are full of emotional depth, disturb and challenge your audience, and have a real chance of getting develope this book will help you.

It offers a radically new and provocative approach for writers who want to discover how to create screenplays that are daring, inventive and wholly original.
Out go the ‘3-Act Structure’ and other rigid structural constraints that lead only to existential despair. Instead, the focus is on orchestrating all the elements of the script around the central imperative of all storytelling, which Kiernan calls Emotional Pull.

There are intensive, practical workouts and unorthodox ideas and inspirations as well as weblinks to movie clips and scripts and interviews, to show how the writer can develop for themselves the most imaginative and powerful ways to shape their unique creative vision and storytelling instincts to create screenplays of originality and solid market potential.
Screenwriting They Can’t Resist is for writers passionate about the wondrous potential of cinematic storytelling, who want their screenplays to challenge and disturb, excite and exhilarate an audience, and leave them emotionally and mentally stretched.

Screenwriter, script consultant and award-winning playwright Pauline Kiernan is also a distinguished Shakespeare scholar and a visiting screenwriting tutor at the University of Oxford.
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

A moment of insignificant silence.

Watching the waves rush over the fields and streets and cars and houses and people and dogs and cats in Japan, I was shocked, saddened and scared. All those lives, just washed away and all I could do was watch.

I offer only my own moment of silence...small and insignificant... silence.

In honor of every life lost.

In honor of every struggle to live.

In honor of fear and determination and survival.

In honor of love.

Remembering reading about plate tectonics, subduction zones and continental plates as I edited my brother's college physics papers. As I corrected spelling and punctuation, I learned, not realizing, the lessons would be needed in my lifetime.

We may have dodged this tsunami bullet, here in the Pacific Northwest, but it was our Pacific plate that was involved in this earthquake. Not insignificant.

I take a breath and honor in silence the preciousness of life.

By Susan Gallacher-Turner
My website: Read more!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Seeking A Convenient Distraction

Seeking A Convenient Distraction
By Lisa A. Riley
Many of us have experienced this form of procrastination. Where we give into the rationalization that once these convenient distractions are completed and put to rest, we can create. When in reality, this is an indication of our own internal resistance to facing the act of producing something. Feelings of self-doubt, criticism and negative beliefs can produces anxiety around the creative process. Such discomfort may rise from our own demons emerging to remind us how mediocre we might be, how worthless our work is or worse of all how “uncreative” we really are. For that reason, we naturally look for diversions to keep us from facing this discomfort. Read more!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cleansing: What was lost is found.

By Susan Gallacher-Turner

“Cleansing,” was the word I heard when I leaned against the big cedar tree the other day. It wasn’t a surprise, because I’ve been cleaning out closets, drawers, cabinets and shelves for the last month. What was surprising was the tone; it had finality to it. A sense of closure. It felt reassuring, like when you’re packing your bags from a long trip for the journey home.

Home. I love my home. But the changes and events of the last 3 years have shaken my sense of home right down to the foundation. Why is it when you’re worried about having a home at all that you take the least care of it? Maybe, when you’re afraid of losing something you love as much as your home, you create distance with clutter and disorganization. Or maybe the fear of not having enough led me to hang onto everything around me like a little kid hangs onto the monkey bars with white knuckles or stashes Halloween candy under the bed.

It’s a new year, now. Life has changed again, this time for the better. Job gains have replaced job losses. We are adjusting to a new routine, a new normal.

One afternoon, I went looking for a crochet hook and next thing I knew I’d cleaned two shelves and rearranged the others. Lately, I’ve found myself cleaning out drawers and cabinets all around the house. I didn’t make a list. Or set it up as a task. It just started happening.

Another day, I opened up the pantry and the next thing I knew I was sorting, re-filing and throwing away recipes. Then, it was my studio shelves, desk and easel. I threw out old work and put out new work. Next, it was the master bathroom, utility room, main bath, kitchen drawers and cupboards and hall closet. In every place and space, there were things to be thrown out, cleaned up, repaired, rearranged and donated.

Questions ran through my mind like a non-stop bullet train: Was I avoiding the studio? Was I afraid of email? Was I running away from writing? Was I covering feelings of self doubt with dusting and scrubbing? Was I becoming my mother?

My train of thoughts sped on while my hands were busy scrubbing, tossing, repairing and discovering. As I worried whether I was lost, I found things I’d forgotten I had.

Boxes and boxes that held jewelry gifts, now empty. A container full of silk paint and tools. A book on writing and publishing, something I’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t done, yet. Old art books. Old car stereo cassette plug-in that my son wanted and I thought was long gone. Grandmother Gallacher’s shortbread recipe. Photos of my 8 year old cat, Terra, as a kitten. Five oil paintings that I’d done years ago and forgotten, literally, came out of the closet and tears came out of my eyes when I saw them again.

Answers were found as well: I am creating freshly washed, open space for new creative ideas. I am re-arranging my life, my priorities, and my thinking. I am finding a new way to enjoy my home, my home life, art, and writing.

Cleansing. Yes. I am cleansing my fear, pain and sadness. I am hearing deep thoughts and feelings that I thought were lost and finding my way back, not only to myself, but to my heart and soul as well. Like a blank canvas, fresh with white gesso, I am beginning again, at home, and moving outward to find my true joy.

If you'd like see my artwork work, please visit my Sculpture website and you can read more about my creative life on my blog Sculpting a Life. Read more!

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Fire of Intention

The week before New Years, an artist friend was hard at work sculpting a huge altar to set on fire. Patrick Gracewood has been making and burning his work for over 30 years now. His intention is to provide closure to the old year and energy to the new.

The sculptures have taken on many diverse shapes and themes over the years, including griffins, peacocks, wizards and tigers. This year, the sculpture was an altar shape with a large white and green cake made of a tube iced with joint compound behind it was a green and gold stenciled 7th century Buddhist flame symbol for awareness. Patrick said, “It’s a wake up for this year.”

Arriving at his studio on Friday night, the mood was cozy and inviting. But soon, the mood changed as strips of paper were passed out. There were questions to answer: What did you want to let go of from the old year? What did you want to welcome into your life in the new year?

A silence surrounded the room as one by one, adults and children chose colored paper strips and wrote out messages, wishes and prayers. Then, each person pushed them through the holes drilled into the cake sculpture or tucked them into a large fireplace pinecone that was placed on top of the altar. A little before midnight, the sculpture was wheeled out the door of Patrick’s studio and onto the concrete patio/pathway.

Talking and laughing, we all followed from the warm lit room into the dark, cold night. Somehow, it seemed fitting, leaving the light of the old and known year and stepping into the dark of the unknown new year. Everyone waited excited and anxious to see the first sparks fly from the fireworks. There was a 10 second countdown to midnight. Cheers went up. Hands clapped.

And then, it grew quiet as we all stood, huddling closer to the warmth and light of the sculpture fire. Pieces fell into the flames creating dancing lights of orange, yellow, red and blue. Other pieces crumbled into black piles of ash. The bright pieces of paper with messages from the past and wishes for the future had become like smoke signals spiraling up into the night sky.

The excitement of the fire gave way to silence and in the end a deep sense of peace. As the flames died down, the guests left slowly, shaking hands, giving hugs, blessings and wishes for the New Year to new and old friends. I can’t think of a better intention for the New Year than that.

If you'd like to see more sculpture see my website, Susan Gallacher-Turner Sculpture or Patrick Gracewood's website. If you'd like to read more about living a creative life, visit my blog Sculpting A Life. Read more!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Success, Digital Stress and Answering Life's Questions: An Interveiw with Jennifer Louden

Contributed by: Susan Gallacher-Turner

I had a wonderful opportunity to interview Jennifer Louden when she visited Portland last month to teach a writing retreat, Walk into Fire, with Susan Piver and Patti Digh at the Kennedy School. Even after a long day inspiring writers, Jennifer still had energy to talk to me about her difficult start as a writer, her ultimate success and her newest challenge balancing the internet, her life, writing and a new venture.

Best selling author and Comfort Queen, Jennifer Louden, has written a series of self help books starting in 1992 with The Woman’s Comfort Book, The Couple’s Comfort Book, The Pregnant Women’s Comfort Book, and Comfort Secrets for Busy Women, followed by The Woman’s Retreat Book, The Life Organizer Book and companion CD. Even though she’d published successful books, Jennifer still has problems seeing herself as a real writer. That inner critic was saying to her, “Well yes, you wrote a book and it sold hundreds of thousands of copies, but it’s a ‘self help’ book. It’s not a ‘real’ book. It’s not literature.”

Every book was a ‘self-help’ book for Jennifer. By looking for the answers to questions in her own life; Jennifer helped herself and many other people, too.

“I think that’s why so many of us write anything or create anything because we have a question. And somehow we are directed or constructed, or both, in a way that we don’t just do it for ourselves, said Jennifer.” “There’s something about the conversation that is huge for me. That’s what I love about the internet, and my blog, creating products and doing teleconferences, retreat calls or both, there’s feedback back and forth. And that sparks more learning and questions for me and then I get interested in answering questions for other people, too. But it’s got to be that sweet spot between the two.”

Hear the entire interview with Jennifer Louden as she talks about how she answers the questions of balance, success, digital stress and saving the world in the podcast on Voices of Living Creatively website. Or you can read a text version on my blog at Sculpting A Life. Read more!