Every one of us is creative. Every one of us has an inner artist (I’m going to call him Art for the sake of brevity) but we don’t all take the time to nurture Art. It’s hard work nurturing a creative child with a mind of its own, and it can be frustrating —painful even, especially if we haven’t picked up a paint set since second grade.
But there are ways to rediscover the creative, uninhibited Art you were as a child. One of those ways is what I call spring cleaning. No, not actual cleaning, although I’ve had excellent ideas come to me while vacuuming! I mean using nature; the return of buds and blossoms and the birth of creatures as a return to the artist that’s lying dormant inside you.
You may think your artist is non-existent, but it’s simply living inside you, waiting for you to bring it out of hibernation. My Art likes to go to sleep, too, especially after a busy period like I’ve just completed (I just published my fifth poetry collection and spoke at a journalism conference).
So how does spring cleaning work? It’s much more fun than actual cleaning. If you have a car, get in the car, and drive. If you don’t have a car, put on your running shoes, and go for a walk. Anywhere is good, except in heavy traffic! That will put you in a rotten mood and block poor Art, who just wants to run around outside, like the free-spirited child he is.
Bring along a voice recorder and record ideas that pop into your mind the minute you have them. Don’t be shy —this exercise is to shake loose the ideas lying dormant inside your mind. Let them loose! No one ever has to hear what you record but you.
If you have a camera, take that along, too. Stop the car or stop walking and snap photos or go explore anything that grabs your attention — this is Art telling you to take a few moments for him.
Just as with real spring cleaning, there are distractions that can stop you from getting anything accomplished when you spring clean with Art. These include feeling you simply don’t have the time to go play with a camera and a tape recorder, embarrassment, and feeling you need to obey rules.
You’ll have to dig deep and find the self-discipline required to simply not listen to those blocks if you really want to spring clean. Time? Yes. As technology increases the speed and ease of communication, employers are putting increasingly ridiculous expectations on us as employees. And there’s more: Early to rise, late to bed, families to care for, aging parents to look after. Where does that leave time for Art?
Make five minutes at first. That’s my Five Minutes First rule for anyone who thinks they aren’t creative, and don’t have the time to find out that they are. It takes five minutes to snap a photo, draw a picture with bright pencil crayons, cut some flowers and arrange them in a vase. I guarantee, once you find five minutes for your creative self one day, you’ll want to set aside 15 the next. Art is like that. He’s one persistent dude.
And what’s so embarrassing about standing with a camera by the side of the road at sunset? It’s far better than fuming about your day while stuck inside a car, like those passing by. As for rules, okay, please don’t get put in jail, but if you need to park in a stranger’s driveway so you can walk down their residential road and get a good shot of the river at the end of the street, go for it. You may want to knock on their door and ask for permission, but my bet is if they find out what you’re up to they’ll start telling you how they used to love photography, and how they wish they had more time for Art.
You may end up inspiring someone else to do some spring cleaning of their own. This is another trick Art loves. Once one artist is inspired to create, their whole community can be inspired.
Have fun spring cleaning!
Poetry is more alive than ever. It’s in our songs and on our subways, on our iphones, iPads, Kindles and Kobos, it’s #hashtagged as #twaiku and #howevermanywords we want. It’s on podcasts and Youtube; it’s live streamed and it’s archived. It’s still studied and awarded and Canada Council funded. It’s in our libraries, in old musty tomes and new digital anthologies, and coveted by young students reading Scholastic book flyers. It is written about in the New York Times and celebrated at national conferences. It’s time we stopped calling it dead, because it’s going to get very, very angry. Oh right, that’s Spoken Word.
Happy World Poetry Day 2013! Share a poem with someone you love!
Thanks for reading,
Thank you for reaching out and making space on your Kindles for THREE SPACES. I has been out two weeks tomorrow. And guess what? In two weeks, I’ve sold more Kindle copies of THREE SPACES than any of my other poetry ebooks. In fact, it has already outsold the Kindle copies I sold of Carry On Dancing (mind you, as of end of December 2012 - I’ve just learned from my publisher – I have sold 242 copies of that book, print and ebook totaled, realizing my goal to sell 200 copies before its 1st anniversary mid-March! I am SO thankful to my publisher, several Chapters bookstores, Kingston’s Novel Idea, and The League of Canadian Poets for your help selling those copies. And of course to you readers for buying & telling others about my work. Please keep spreading the word…
Still haven’t sold as many ebook copies of THREE SPACES as THE FRIENDS I’VE NEVER MET – that one blew me away! I keep thinking about writing another screenplay, because I never imagined I’d sell so many copies of a SCREENPLAY on the Kindle! (don’t forget it’s also on many other ereaders like Kobo, Nook, Sony, and iBooks).
Since you are my most loyal readers, my dear blog-following friends, you can be the first to know I’m working on a romantic-comedy novella. I say novella because the thought of coming up with 60,000 words when I have 1,000 so far frightens me to death. But I am not giving up! The plan is to write it as a novella, see if it has promise as a novel, and then write it as a screenplay too! Ask me again about this in 2014, because for me, this is a huge project and I’m taking baby steps with it for now.
Amid all this writing, I’m going to be giving a workshop on the wild new world of e-publishing (There’s An App for That: YOU!) at Queen’s University next week, March 9th, and I’ll be the panel of journalists on March 10th. I’m also going to be signing books & reading at Chapters Pointe Claire Quebec on Sunday, April 14th, to celebrate National Poetry Month, and I’m planning a reading & signing at a beautiful garden in Hudson, Quebec this July.
THREE SPACES will be available on Kobo , Nook and iBooks shortly. Sorry for the delay, hang in there !
Limited First Edition, signed, printed colour copies of THREE SPACES are available for $36 plus shipping. (Yeah, it’s not cheap, but they are in full-eye-popping colour). Just contact me via this page for details. At this point there are nine copies left up for grabs. Second edition copies with a colour cover and black and white interior will be for sale online (at Amazon stores around the world) at $14.99 by the end of April.
Speaking of April – here is a little inspiration for those of you living anywhere with snow and sleet in your line of vision every day (like me). These purple tulips are $6 of bliss that keep me going when it’s miserable outside. Hang in there!
Just a thank you to all you Kindle readers for picking up Three Spaces in THREE countries!
I am thrilled that it has been sold in the Canadian Kindle store (Amazon.ca), the US store (Amazon.com), and the UK (Amazon.co.uk) It has ‘charted’ as #1 in Kindle Books>Canadian Poetry on Amazon.ca and also hit #7 in Bestselling Canadian Poetry Books!
Yesterday was a very good day. Three Spaces was on best-selling charts in all three countries! #82 on Amazon.com in Bestselling Poetry; #84 on Amazon.co.uk in Bestselling Poetry Books (just above Milton- wow- made me laugh!) ; #7 in Bestselling Canadian Poetry Books on Amazon.ca.
While I try to take rankings lightly, as it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m selling a ton of books but just out-selling others in that category, I do try to compete with myself every time I bring out a new book.
I’m thrilled to say that this is my best-selling poetry ebook yet! And the first one to hit three bestselling Amazon charts at once!
Three Spaces will be out on Kobo, iBooks, Nook Books, Sony Reader and more soon.
Please do tell your friends about Three Spaces (share this post!). It’s got prose as well as poetry this time, and full colour photography for those nifty colour e-readers.
Thanks again so much for buying & sharing!