761. Your Creativity Archive

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I recently read a post on Austin Kleon’s blog, “The Garden Where Ideas Grow,” that I found encouraging and even life-giving. For those of you who don’t know of Kleon, he writes about creativity and is the author of several books, most recently Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad. The blog post spoke of creativity as being like gardening, which rang true for me even though I’m not a gardener, in the literal dig-in-the dirt sense of the word. Each of us has notes for some creative idea planted in a number of places, such as emails or letters, journal pages, new project files, the margins of books, blog posts, and so on, and these seeds don’t go anywhere while they’re in those places. But then—and often rather out of the blue, because you didn’t realize at the time when you wrote these notes or phrases that you were really planting seeds—a moment comes and you’re surprised to see something germinate and push toward the light, and you realize then that all this time that seed had been growing tender roots. I discovered that this week with something I had worked on over 3 years ago.

I had been reading Dancing on the Head of A Pen by Robert Benson, and he wrote about how he writes 600 words every morning related to an emerging project and uses the rest of the day, all of the rest of the day, to work on projects that are further along or market the ones that are already out in the world. As I read it I thought how wonderful and wise, that this is how the work gets done, but the next day as I got ready to start my day job, I felt nearly upset at what I’d read because it so clearly leaves out someone like me, and perhaps you, who has to give so much to other things like earning a living. Then I remembered the little project from 3 years ago, and it clicked together in my brain with the Kleon blog post about creativity being like gardening and the clue from Benson of giving a certain number of words per day to something new, and so now something new is slowly growing and in a fun way, come what may from it.

I mention this because maybe it will cause you to think of something you started once upon a while and to wonder whether roots have yet formed hidden.

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Related posts:

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[Photo: Dusk, the evening after summer solstice, at one of Minneapolis’s beautiful lakes.]

760. A New Venture

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This blog space has been quiet the last several months. At the turn of the year, now already more than 5 months ago, I had planned to pull back from writing here for a time so as to devote more time, in the already too few hours unclaimed by work and other commitments, to moving along my manuscript on hope, which already has taken way too long. But just as that plan was made, I found out that Kalos Press, the publisher of Finding Livelihood, my book that came out in 2015, had gone out of business.

While I was still absorbing this news, grieving it actually, and wondering what to do, the book's editor, Jessica Snell, emailed me to say that she and the book's designer, Valerie Bost, were on board to help me republish it if that's what I wanted to do.

Republish it?

I hadn't even gotten that far in my thinking yet. But, yes, I did want to republish it. I think this book still has some good to do in the world. My new publishing venture, Metaxu Press, was born!

Instead of having a next draft of my hope manuscript to show for these months of silence, I now have a second edition of Finding Livelihood. I've been learning about copyright law, and the Library of Congress, and business structures, and book distributors, and pricing models, and printing options. Thankfully, I didn't have to also learn about book design because Valerie allowed me to use again the same cover design and, slightly modified, inside design (did you know that a book's cover and inside design belong to the designer?).

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Valerie also designed a new logo, which I love. Whether I publish anything else through this new press in the future, I can't say for sure, but it's been a fun process. So maybe I will?

The new edition of Finding Livelihood is now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online booksellers. Kindle and Nook versions too, although the Kindle version hasn't loaded yet for some reason.

You can also order it from Hearts & Minds Books and Eighth Day Books. If you live in Minneapolis, you can buy it at Milkweed Books or Magers & Quinn. If you live in St. Paul, you can buy it at Next Chapter Booksellers (formerly Common Good Books). No matter where you live, you can ask for it from your local bookstore and they can order it.

All books need some help, even second editions finding their own way out into the world. If you wanted to help this one along—and if you did I'd be ever so grateful—here are some ideas:

  • Post something on social media, such as an excerpt from it or just a word about it

  • Order it from your local bookstore or ask them to stock it

  • Ask your library to order it (this is surprisingly easy to do)

  • Write an Amazon review

  • Buy a copy for a friend or for your church library


Thank you for being here and reading along. I promise I'll get some new content up before too long.

~~~

[photo: taken of the Lilies of the Valley in my yard. It was such a long winter here; the appearance of these triggered a surge of joy.]

755. Beyond work

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Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I watched the 2016 film Paterson for the first time. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Paterson the film is about Paterson the man who lives in Paterson the village. Paterson the man, played by Adam Driver, is in his late 20s or early 30s and drives a city bus. He is married to Laura, played by Golshifteh Farahani, who is passionate about many things, including home decorating, learning to play guitar, and baking and selling cupcakes at a weekend community market. Paterson does more than drive a bus; he also writes poems.

He writes poems in his head as he walks to work each morning. Before he drives his bus out of the garage, he writes down the lines that came to him during that morning’s walk in the notebook he always carries with him. At lunch, while he eats his sandwich and drinks coffee from his thermos, he again takes out his notebook and adds the lines that came to him while he drove. At home, he goes down to his basement office—a desk and some shelves in an unfinished basement—and adds a few more lines. His wife begs him to read some of his poems to her, and he keeps promising he will but never does. She begs him to send his work out to some magazines. Instead, he just keeps writing, line by line.

The world around him seems to give him signs that what he’s doing matters, although the signs are not profound or recognizable to anyone else. No readers show up cheering his work, and no agents or publishers suddenly appear. He has no social media account that magically gains followers. The signs are more along the lines of “I see you.”

As he writes line by line in his head and in his notebook, he has a steadiness about him and an inner drive, not toward success, which is usually how the word ‘drive’ is used today, but a drive to keep putting the words together until they fit, and the final click unlocks some inner release and the eyes widen and the soul opens.

I wish this film had been around while I was writing Finding Livelihood. It probably would have made its way into one of the chapters. While the film features a man writing poetry while he also drives a bus, the broader implication can be a fill-in-the-blank sort of prospect for any of the rest of us. What else are you about beside your work or alongside your work? In what ways do you seek the opening of eyes and soul to what is beyond your work?

~~~

[photo: taken of the juniper berries on the table at the American Swedish Institute while I drank my coffee last week.]