Habits of a Writer's Mind

Taken from notes at a lecture on creative writing, circa 2002.

+Habits of a writer's mind+

1. reading voraciously and widely--it becomes the text in your head "that's what you'll write." read a lot.

2. Observing the world--the "antennae of the race;"
                                                                                  "imaginary gardens with real toads."

3. Keep a good notebook--record everything
                       "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts."

4. Write regularly. try a writing schedule--discipline
                       "Something almost always comes. And if it doesn't, I just lower my standard and write


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 9 to go

While we are back in the 90s, let's stay awhile and warm up with . . . TLC.
I actually remember this one. It used to get stuck in my head at random times of the year. Fun times.


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 10 to go

Christmas commercials. There have to a lot of classic ones, but for some reason all I could think about were the ones from Gap and Old Navy. Particularly this one from back in the day.
What are/were your favorite Christmas commercials?


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 11 to go

It has to be done, but not without apologies. I'm sorry. But you know it has to be here.
Rob Lowe. Christmas Shoes. Rob Lowe? That's right. He was in a movie based on the infamous song. It may be the longest video in the countdown. I will say nothing much happens, which is even more reason that if you watch the whole thing, I might just send you a candy bar.
To take me up on the offer, leave a comment below with your favorite part of the video.
And answer me this: why do you love/hate Christmas shoes?


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 12 days to go

This number should do the job nicely.


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 13 to go

A friend of ours shares this video every year the day after Thanksgiving. Somehow I forget about it every year. How is that? It's so--epic. It's so--full of key changes. It's so--Jess and Ash.
Parum pa pum puuuuhm.


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 14 days to go

This isn't the most exciting video, but it's fun to watch the Beach Boys run around on the ice to this classic song.


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 15 to go

"The Muppet Christmas Carol" is one of my favorite Christmas movies. Gonzo's true narration and the music make it a wonderful version of the classic tale. And of course Michael Caine is magnificent as Scrooge. God Bless us, everyone.


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 16 to go

A lovely version of a lovely song in a lovely song. Stunning. More information about the track and the couple behind the song at Hue and Hum.


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 17 to go

This gem from an old Andy Williams Christmas special is brought to you by the color combo Mustard Yellow and Grandma's Couch Orange, which are both colors I kind of love so we're cool. I especially like the guy in the back who keeps peeking out  from behind Mr. Williams during "Sleigh Bells."

Bonus track: "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 18 to go

I was kind of tired of this song--until I watched the video. I love how Paul McCartney just appears. And the lazer star/keyboards.


Christmas Music Video Countdown: 19 days to go

David Bowie. Bing Crosby. Here the twain meet. The small talk. The near matching blue blazer/sweater. The harmonies. This is probably the only version of this song I still like.

Of course there's also this:


20 Days Until Christmas: A Music Video Countdown.

We are doing all kinds of countdowns at our house this year. The ornament advent. Chocolate advents. The candy cane advent. a scripture-a-day advent the kids brought home from Church. I decided to add another countdown to the mix. Every day until Christmas, I will share a fun/strange/delightful Christmas musical video.
Today's installment: this delightful rendition of a classic. I saw this on Jimmy Fallon last night (so really, on December 5) and so it just has to start the countdown.


Basic Six.

Sunrise at La Push, November 2011.

In the last year or so many of the habits that have helped my life run smoothly have either evaporated or been wiped out by various activities and events. In an attempt to get back on track with some of these simple things that make my life easier/better, I decided to identify the basic tasks/areas I need to work on every day. The idea is that if I accomplish at least these basic things, the other things will fall into place. It's more about focus and centering than necessarily the tasks themselves.

+ Daily Scripture study/spiritual time.

+ Do something to make our home warm and welcoming.

+ Do something for B/our relationship.

+ Plan ahead.

+ Write in journals, focusing on details of kids at this stage and the good things that happen to us.

+ Do something to care for myself.

These are the activities that center me, give me focus, and help me keep a good perspective of my life.

What are your Basic Six, or five, or whatever? What things do you like to do each day? What helps you feel centered and focused and grateful?


I am a Moth: Ryan Darton.

This is my friend Ryan Darton.

He sings. He plays guitar and piano and bass and  adds new instruments to his repertoire constantly. He writes music. And this summer, he released his first solo album.

My first encounter with the album was "Sing to me Baby." It was the beginning of the summer, and this song seemed to capture exactly how I felt about the coming season--happy, hopeful, and a little vulnerable. Like you are aware that you are reaching for a dream that might not come true. Summers in the northwest can be fleeting, short-lived creatures, and wishing for a beautiful one can lead to minor heartbreak. Like most things in life, really. Ryan Darton has a knack for capturing that feeling in its many incarnations. If Ryan Darton is anything with his songs on "I am a moth," he is true.

Ryan Darton seeks to translate the beauty in all of life's experiences into songs. His care for life is apparent from the intimate opening tune "Summer and Snow" to the the energetic "Living this way."

The result: an approachable album brimming with emotional and musical staying power.

Ryan Darton hooks you with thoughtful lyrics and a variety of catchy tunes. He wins you over with warm vocals and melodies in "Uptight" and "Living this Way." He keeps you close to the speakers with the quiet love song (aren't those the best kind?) "I am a moth" in what might be my favorite moment on the album.

At the end of the album or just the end of your day, if you're not convinced that life is beautiful, just listen to "I am a Moth"'s closing track, Ryan Darton's breathtaking cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love." His rendition begins reverently, but quickly grows into an epic declaration, complete with romantic strings.

I'm listening to "Uptight" yet again and I can hear my kids down the hall. They are singing along. Ryan Darton's album has that effect. The opening song is an invitation, after all. An invitation to listen, do some soul-searching, sing along, and if you feel so inclined, pick up a khim to play along on "Camel's Back."

You can find Ryan Darton's album here, and watch for upcoming live shows. He puts on a great one.
Now enjoy this music video for "Sing to me Baby." It features some of my favorite scenes in LA and feels like eternal summer.


30 Red Balloons.

This year's birthday video for B took a French twist. Some notes about the production: 
+It took about 10 hours total, including help from my friend Chelsea who has a talent for wrangling balloons and children. This includes planning, filming, and editing.+The song is "Cet air la" by France Gall. I love me some yé-yé.+This is the second film in my Twelve Films project for this year. The other one is here.+Between meticulously watching the weather and keeping the film a surprise for B, I was quite a mess the week before B's birthday. Thankfully the clouds parted and it stopped pouring when it said it would; I was able to use the balloons in their six-hour window; and B was actually surprised to see the movie.


Flora Swatch Head.

Here is a rendering of my gray-eyed baby girl. Capturing her face was a lot trickier and I'm not totally sure I did it. I need to let it set a bit and I'm sure I'll revisit it soon.


Mindful in March.

Oh February. You were so good. And so crazy busy. It feels right to make this month a time to be more mindful.
I was looking through the book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider of SimpleMom.net. I love the ideas she poses of living simply, of living holistically. To live holistically, she writes, means to "emphasize the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. All the parts work together for the good of the whole, and the final result--the whole--matters more than any single, independent part." She goes on to talk about how to balance the different parts of our modern lives--spiritual, relational, emotional, intellectual, physical, and financial--and keep them working together instead of competing.
I love this definition of holistic living. It rings as a true principle to me. As I was reading it, I also thought about families. I kept picturing each member of my family, each doing their part for the good of the whole. I can see much room for improvement from this single entity lately. I don't say that with self-pity--it's just a good self-realization.
So Mindful in March. I want to slow down. I want to make dinner every day. I want to feed myself and my family more fruits and vegetables. I want to walk to school more. I want to shop less and simplify our errands. I want to declutter and spring clean and make our home work better for us.
What does March hold for you?


In Progress: Swatch Faces.

I had this idea a while back to try to boil down the colors of my eyes and lips to single shades so I could make swatches with them. I have been fascinated by color lately, and this was a fun exercise. If you ever look at yourself in the mirror up close or examine a photograph, no bit of us is one simple color. I still thought it would be possible to at least simplify to one essential color. This is just a rough first draft, but it was fun to do.

Update: new version of Swatch Head Meg.
I wanted to play around more with the line style. This is the next version.


Thank you, Sylvia.

Write about your own experience. By that experience someone else may be a bit richer some day. Read widely of others’ experiences in thought and action – stretch to others even thought it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back into the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance. Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always as long as you have breath in your body to take the hard way, the Spartan way – and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich continually evolving entity.

- Sylvia Plath



really, i want to use up the craft supplies i have before i get anything new. yet, there a few things that i would really like to add to my stash.
red tulle.
calligraphy pens (see previous post)
tacky glue.
more little canvases.
we have a midwinter holiday next week. i hope to organize and refresh and make some arty things with my kids.



We had travel plans and craziness the weekend of New Year's, so I've given myself extra time on setting resolutions. Even though I'm late this year, I love resolutions. I love the feeling I get every new year--like it really is something new and blank that I can shape and make what I want it to be.
Here are some of my creative resolutions for 2012.

1. Work on my penmanship. It seems lackluster lately. I want to like my handwriting again. Something I admire about my mom is her beautiful cursive. My cursive? All but gone. I would also like to take another stab at calligraphy.

2. Learn about things I've wanted to learn more about but haven't yet learned more about. I know a bit, but I would love to be able to drive around neighborhoods and know when they were built based on their architecture.

3. Bake more. I love baking. I need to do the things I love more often. Especially when they're delicious things.

4. Make 12 little films. I'm pretty rusty. This one will be fun.

5. Make things with the children. We have a lot of random supplies. This year I want to use them.

6. Read great books. A great book makes me write better.

7. Be more artistic. Draw more. Craft. Paint. Sew. Make something Fantastic out of paper.

8. Be the grownup I want to be. Err on the side of generosity. Leave something better than I find it. Give more. Relax and enjoy things more. Be funny and spontaneous.

9. Take more photographs. I've lost a bit of traction, but hope to regain motivation on this project. I also want to take more/better pictures of the children.

10. Experiment more. In any way. Once a week would be ideal. I've been inspired by this blog.

11. Make my home the home I dream about. That's a nice way of saying declutter, cook dinner, do family scripture study and prayer, and make more pillows. I always want more pillows.

12. Cultivate my collections. Gather. Edit. Photograph. Draw. Get inspired by them.

I also like this list of creative resolutions from Anthology magazine blog. Do you have any creative resolutions this year?

images 1/3/5/7/ 11.