Adam Zagajewski, Clare Cavanagh, contemplation, creativity, imagination, Pádraig Ó Tuama, poetry, Poetry Unbound, Transformation

Creative Conflict

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I’m a big fan of Poetry Unbound. If you haven’t heard of it, I’d recommend checking it out.

Every week a different poem is shared aloud by Pádraig Ó Tuama. He not only reads the poem, but also offers his perceptions on what the poem or the poet is speaking of.

This week I listened to “Transformation” written by Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanagh. It’s vivid imagery and the way in which the poet expresses his dutiful search for his elusive creative spark struck a chord in me.

Transformation

I haven’t written a single poem in months.

I’ve lived humbly,

reading the paper,

pondering the riddle of power and the reasons for obedience.

I’ve watched sunsets (crimson, anxious),

I’ve heard the birds grow quiet

and night’s muteness.

I’ve seen sunflowers dangling

their heads at dusk,

as if a careless hangman had gone strolling through the gardens.

September’s sweet dust gathered

on the windowsill and lizards

hid in the bends of walls.

I’ve taken long walks,

craving one thing only:

lightning,

transformation,

you.

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Listening to the poem and Pádraig’s critique of it got me thinking about my creative focus. By day I’m a teacher for the visually impaired and blind and by night a writer of children’s books.

My writing takes second place in my daily list of to do’s. It has to. But my creative connection is not so much lost, as the poet’s was.

It can at times feel that way, especially if afternoon or evening obligations eat into my opportunity to write. The tasks I want to get to sometimes get pushed back for days in a row and that can leave me feeling at a creative loss. Where was I? What was I trying to do? These are some of the questions I ask myself when I’ve been away from writing for too long. Don’t worry, my family thinks I’m talking to the dog. Thankfully, she’s usually close by.

I have also recognized this feeling when I’ve finalized a draft I’ve been working on for awhile. What will I do next? I wonder. Where will I find a creative spark for a new story?

Have you ever lost or misplaced your creative connection? Or have had to place it on hold? What have you done to get it back or engage it again?

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amwriting, books, brainstorming, children's books, children's writing, imagination, picture book ideas, picture book manuscripts, picture books, Storystorm, Susie Ghahremani, Tara Lazar

STORYSTORM SUCCESS!

Although we’re already into February I want to take a moment and celebrate January’s Storystorm!

If you’re a picture book writer or if you’re interested in writing a picture book, Storystorm created, coordinated, and hosted by Tara Lazar is the conduit to generating enough ideas to fill your new year.

The premise is to come up with 30 ideas in a month. An idea a day for all but the last or the first day of January, depending on your preference. To guide and inspire you, there are daily blog posts that come right to your email. What a nice way to start the day, or interrupt a day that’s heading south. Some posts are funny, some serious, but all are heartfelt.

I’ve participated in Storystorm for a number of years, even when it was in October and was called PiBoMo. But this year I’ve seen it through, for the first time ever, to come up with thirty ideas in thirty days. Actually, I came up with thirty three!

Now some of them are pretty wonky, but still . . .

Thank you to all who shared their writing journeys, their book journeys, and their techniques for idea-imagination creation via the blog posts. A huge thank you goes out to Tara Lazar for doing it all so well, once again!

Looking forward to pb manuscript weather systems propelling my writing this year!

amwriting, creativity, imagination, writing journey

Its in the Process not the Product

What draws you to create? What leads you to want to write prose, or verse or create illustrations? What drives you to craft, to sculpt to paint?

What is it that makes the time spent in your creative endeavors help to recharge your stores of energy? I know my answers to those questions, but I’d appreciate hearing yours.

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I love the time and space when no one else is awake. In that time, I can let my thoughts wander and create without the necessary focused distraction of background music. Even if it’s for a short amount of time and results in only a few sentences, it puts a better spin on the day.

At present, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to give to my writing. What I do have feels like stolen time and often occurs before the work day begins. Without it I feel diminished, but with it I feel energized and creative. I’m pretty certain that transfers into my being able to be a better teacher, a better human.

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Creativity adds a dimension to my day that I miss when it’s not available. I’m thankful and grateful that I have the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate it.

Wherever it is that your creativity lies, I wish you joy in your process.

amwriting, book giveaways, brainstorming, children's books, children's writing, creativity, imagination, picture book author, picture book illustrators, picture book manuscripts, picture books, Storystorm, Tara Lazar, writing journey

STORYSTORM 2021!

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The StoryStorm challenge created by Tara Lazar and found on her blog Writing for Kids While Raising Them, https://taralazar.com/2021/01/16/storystorm-2021-day-16/ is a fantastic way to generate ideas for potential picture books. Specifically, the challenge is to come up with a picture book idea for every day of January.

This being January 18th means that those participating are a little more than half way to reaching their goal. Are you participating? Is this your first year, or are you a returning challenger? If you are a returning challenger, have you always made it to the end of the month?

The median point of the month has notoriously been the time when work responsibilities gets the better of my attention (Special Education Annual Review Time), and my consistency with following the daily StoryStorm blog posts and brainstorming an idea a day peters out. In fact, I found a calendar template for last year’s StoryStorm and I’d made it until the 16th, so I’m already doing better than last year, and that’s definitely a plus.

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This year, I’m determined. I’m going to do it. I’m going to make it all the way to the end of January. The featured guest bloggers for StoryStorm have been funny, inspirational, validating; the list of encouraging adjectives could go on and on. It’s amazing how many different ways there are to come up with ideas. Many of the guest bloggers recommend mentor texts which is another great source for inspiration and idea creation. One of my favorite posts was about process over product, written by Kirsten Pendreigh https://taralazar.com/2021/01/10/storystorm-2021-day-10/. Has there been a blog post that spoke to you more than others?

I don’t know if I will come up with a picture book that goes to contract this year from the ideas generated, but it’s more likely that I might, if I keep my word and the challenge. Have you had a picture book come from one of the ideas you came up with in past StoryStorms? If you have, please share in the comments. I’d love to hear about it and I bet other’s would too.

2020, creativity, home schooling, imagination, learning, pre-school classroom, re-mote learning, re-mote teaching, teaching, week before holiday break, winter holidays

Holiday Break Countdown

It’s the week before break and students in school, at home and remote, are counting down days while parents and teachers are adding up bills and carefully stacking the packages that were left on their porches.

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Concentrating on work, no matter the kind, is hard this time of year as we’re all looking forward to holiday cheer. It happens like clockwork year after year, but this last month of 2020, considering all we’ve been through, the ante’s been upped. It’s in our own best interest to do all that we can do to sleigh ride into break while working toward achieving our children’s/students’ educational goals and objectives that still need to be met.

In school, I saw the transformation begin last week. Suddenly the activities that used to hold my students’ attention just couldn’t compete.

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This week I’m going to haul out the holly, deck the halls, turn on the brightest strings of lights, hang some tinsel as Jerry Herman’s lyrics to the song We Need a Little Christmas, so aptly recommend. In other words, if I can’t beat ’em I’ll join ’em. It’ll be much more fun in the end.

So, if you’re homeschooling, or teaching whether remote or in person during this holiday season, I’d definitely suggest working in some holiday fun to whatever you’re trying to convey. I think you’ll be surprised how easy it is to fold it in once you give into it. The pay off in your children’s/students’ attention to task may be at least five if not ten-fold, of course nothing is fool proof. There will still be good days and not so good days. But by giving into the magic of the holidays you might just reduce some holiday stress while helping your child/student learn, and that’s what I’d consider a win-win.

Wishing you tidings of good cheer, happy holidays, and a way better new year,

Jan