Coffee vs. Inspiration

I don’t know about y’alls, but without a cup of Joe – it’s hard for me to focus on a single topic. My many inner characters all start chattering at once, and I need a cup of cafecito to help me get in gear…or at least to help me hone in on one idea. So here I sit in front of my laptop. Half upset that I cannot get myself back to my writing, and half excited that I am going to be paid $100 to pick someone up from the airport. Life is strange for a freelance artist.

I suppose I should have known this when I decided to do art administration and writing and media and all that other stuff I like to do all at the same time. The only drawback is that these odd jobs take up a lot of time. Time I need to sit and soak with ideas.

I used to think that coffee will jump start me into inspiration. But that is not how it work. I don’t think it works in any craft. Coffee: it gets my heart racing. Writing: It gets my heart dancing. But coffee, how to best explain this development I have with you? I suppose the caffeine gets me a little paranoid sometimes. Like right now, I feel like someone is watching me write this and judging me. This old man next to me actually, he had the whole flipping couch to himself  and he sits on the edge closest to my table.

Ay coffee, this is what you do!

I’ll have to go back to the drawing board. I think I may start drawing again to help me get in touch with my characters. It’s been a while. Time to dig deep. They’re knocking on my door, and soon enough I fear they may get sick of me and leave. It’s pressing right now because I plan to apply to a couple of Creative Writing MFA programs at the end of this year and in the coming next year. After some deep thinking about what to do after a couple of years of freelance work, I think I want to focus and finish this book. I love this book. I love it and it’s not finished, and that’s a problem.

I am hoping to do a program that pays so I can really focus on writing and helping others find their inner voices/style. I am ready to inspire and get inspired.

Also, I have to start finding the things that trick me into thinking inspiration will flow from them…like coffee. It doesn’t create any inspiration really. So I have to find other things to do. I might go back to people watching again. It’s been a while.

Hmm. Now to deal with a looky-loo here, a fast pacing heart and jittery fingers. Good grief!

Good luck on your journeys!

Moved in with the Boyfriend and Getting Fat, so I’m going to WRITE again.

Found this cat online. This is how I’ve been feeling the past week.

Meh.

I am growing up Blog Land. And more than that, I am getting to that point in my age when coming home early to catch a movie on: Netflix/Hulu Plus/my VHS collection – has gotten pretty exciting. I have already skipped out on a couple of bar chat events. I walk up to them, see the people holding their drinks, holding their face muscles up to smile, holding their breath to suck in their guts and I think to myself…not tonight! Not for me. Nope. I want to be home in my pj’s doing a video edit while listening to my boo talk about places we should travel when/if we ever get the money to do it again.

Holy Snickers…will we? Sometimes I dive into a IS THIS THE END OF MY LIFE? imaginary theme song and somewhere in the deepest parts of my brain I am caught in a web of first world problems. I won’t even begin to get into that issue right now.

My biggest success this week (from the move) was wrinkling up old little scraps of paper of creative writing that I had spread all over my notebooks and placed them in a box I titled, “Writing.” Oh joy! All the things I’ve been working on in my mid-twenties while living in LA and the Bay Area live in this box now. My notebook autographed by Quentin Tarantino, my sketchbook I bought in Paris in 2008 with my pseudo-poems, my scraps of notes for character development on my novel, and pieces of a script I abandoned for fear of success back in 2010. Don’t ask, I’m a mess! Even writing this stuff down is like an admonition to my self-depricative nature. Don’t tell me what you think! I disgust myself, and that is punishment enough. All this beautiful juicy work – all unfinished. Rotting away in all these little books, notebooks, and plastic baggies I thought were cute once upon a time. But I’m growing up blog land. I have put all these things in the one box. I hope it inspires me to keep going with them.

A person who keeps pushing me forward is my boyfriend who is currently playing Angry Birds on the bed, so go figure! Life is a mystery. Also this place we moved into is super cute and creepy. We have a deck in the back, which makes me feel like taking breaks to write outdoors. Maybe I’ll do that, I’ll go out on that deck with a bottle of beer, and write. I don’t care what comes out, but it’s getting down on a piece of paper.

I hope you are all working your way through your writing and creative work. Artists are enigmas to me (and I include myself in that comment). I come up with these clever little ways to share my deepest thoughts through fictional characters in hopes that someday I’ll be published, and then the fear of being published or getting noticed freaks me out and I break out in hives thinking — maybe not today. Honestly, it’s time to get over this stupid fear. It’s stupid. Time to share the work, get rejection letters, and continue working. I mean, I love writing for myself — but I think it’s high time I start sharing the writing with others.

Challenge yourself today Blog Land, challenge yourself everyday! I plan on doing just that. Onward.

My family and their close relationship to my sanity

The Simpsons

I spent the last two days reconnecting with family. You know, getting back to my roots  and arriving at a conclusion as to why I had moved six hours away from them. The reason is because one of my gigs in the East Bay ends in April, and I have to decide if I should go back to LA or stay in Nor-Cal.

I arrived around midnight and sat at the dinner table while mom cooked some last minute papa a la huancaina. Yum. My sister sat beside me and  updated me on family drama. Meanwhile, my thirteen year-old brother challenges me to a Mario Bros. 3  game, AND he refuses to believe I used to be a gamer.

And it hits me. God I miss these freaks. I miss them so much and instantly being around them makes me nostalgic. It’s sad really, especially because my brother grew like three inches while I was away. Where does the time go?

So why did I leave? I ask myself. After the second day of family craziness and drama I realized quickly why I left. I am the oldest in my family. The only one who has received a college degree. I cannot go backwards. I have to move on in search of something that could help me help them…from a distance, so I don’t go crazy.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. I love them to bits! But they are cray cray. Let’s be real, I am sure there are a lot of people (if not all) who can say — My family drives me nuts!

But in all honesty, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am back in my little hole in the wall apartment now and I think about them. I think about our adventures, our jokes, our insults, our challenges, and it inspires me to write. If I was short any muses before — FORGET ABOUT IT!  I started voice recording writing notes on my drive back to the Bay. So much to do. So much to write!

Dream, dream, dream…

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been getting some pretty gnarly dreams lately.

But who cares, right?!

Dreams, nightmares, the other world—if you will—are AweSOME!! Why? Because I find that dreams have the power to inspire a spark in an artist. Once I woke up and wrote a song based on some words and images I remembered from a dream. I honestly believe that our subconscious holds a lot of truth to art. What I mean is, that our minds–during slumber–are not constrained or trapped in a world of PERHAPS, NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN, or SECOND-GUESSING. Our dreams, nightmares, fantasies—well, they just GO FOR IT. They give us our fears, our desires, our peace of mind, our urgency, and our nostalgia.

So if you ever get stumped when you are creating, here’s a little thing I started doing in high school.

Sleep with a notebook or a pad of paper by the side of your bed. This should work if you are one of the lucky ones who can remember what you dream about. When you wake up write down what happened, or if you only remember glimpses write down the images/sounds/colors/smells/etc. etc. etc. —AND don’t censor yourself or try to make sense of it. Just write. Afterwards, cut up the words in small pieces of papers and thrown them on the floor. Open them at random and see what happens. You might surprise yourself. You might create something unexpected.

Day Dreams/ Night Dreams/Nightmares have helped me: 

1. Develop characters

2. Write songs

3. Settle arguments with people

4. Reconnect with my past

5. Empower me

6. Frightened me

I find that dreams are really great for inspiration. Whether its a poem you are working on, a painting you are waiting to understand, or a guy you’ve been crushing on for some time and you finally get to have your way with him…in your brain. Yeah, dreams are great!

Anyways, those are my thoughts for today.

I leave you with a classic.

Symbolism, re: LADYBUGS & HP SNAKES

Blogland, Did you know that ladybugs are lucky?

Well, at least it’s a belief they share here in the US of A. I found that out about a year ago when I accidentally took one home with me. I found it in my notebook sleeping by the metal spirals the next day. It stayed with me the entire night. I  apologized for my human mistake, and left it on a leaf on my way to class.

Well, Reader, it happened again. Last Wednesday a lady bug came to me while I was shooting/filming an interview. I thought it was a spider and pushed it off my chest. When I saw it fly away, I saw the red wings and groaned. I had pushed away good luck.      I thought: Well, there goes my luck!     Surprisingly, the lady bug came back! Or at least another one came and landed on my neck. This time, I fought the urge to shoo it away and allowed it to walk around my neck and into the back of my hair.

After I finished the interview one of the women stood up and grabbed it from my neck, so that I could take a picture of the friendly bugger.    The other woman, who is a doctor, exclaimed: “You are blessed! You are blessed! This project will turn out great. There is good coming your way…” and she kept reassuring me that the ladybug is a good omen and that I was being blessed by mother nature.

Well, Reader, I am keeping my heart and mind open for this one. I need a pick me up after this past week. Things have been so exhausting.     In the end, I have a lot to be grateful for. I suppose this ladybug reminded me about that.

* * * * * * * * *

As writers, sometimes we can use these types of encounters to inspire us. Maybe I am writing about a character who is crying over the death of her grandmother, but then a ladybug sits on her while she cries. She doesn’t notice it.    The ladybug could represent a transition into self-revelation or happiness that is not visible in her current situation. Maybe only the reader notices the ladybug during the encounter.

Something else I read about ladybugs is that if you push it off, it usually flies towards the direction of your true love.

Symbolismcan be used to move the story along, and give hints out that may reinforce some thematic ideas behind your story.  It can be a tool to foreshadow something that might happen in the future.

For example, Harry Potter and the snake he meets at the zoo in the very first book and film. He starts talking to it, but neither he nor the audience knows that he is using Parseltongue. This is discovered much much later. Of course, the snake symbolizes a lot of negative things in the Harry Potter books, but this is not an original concept. Adam and Eve had a bad time with a snake themselves in the best seller book: The Bible. But pulling from history and culture like that can help guide your audience to better understand the complexities of your character. It’s just a fun way to show your reader/viewer something special about them, something unique. This is especially effective when the character is shown to be down on her/his luck, or before her/his transformation.

Reunions or RE: Inspirational People

There is something absolutely gratifying about being able to reunite with people you’ve had really cool experiences with. Today, I met up with the Paris peeps; also known as the group that I went to Paris with. It felt like a fresh breath of air being around them today.

We talked about our trip openly and without judgment. We talked about being back in the states, and how many things needed to change back to “REGULAR LIFE” mode. We talked about missing each other. We talked about drinking, life, scandals, robberies, accents, love, lovely strangers, and crêpes.   We all agreed it was nice to let it all out and share without feeling the need to censor ourselves. And it’s true, we do censor ourselves. Because when people ask about my trip to Paris, I have to watch what I say and how I say it. If I sound excited and eager, they think I’m a deuchbag/showing off. If I sound disinterested/trying-to-keep-it-simple, I sound conceited. What a relief to share and not feel any level of expectations.

We met at a crêperie in Berkeley, and our mouths filled with oversized breaded meals overflowing with spinach, salmon, mozarella, etc. etc. etc. Everything we gorged on was spectacular, an American version of the French cuisine. Larger than life, of course. Oh, to be back in America! Smiles, drinks, and too much food. It’s good to be back, we all agreed. And it was good to remember what we had in Paris.

I realized that it wasn’t necessarily the fact that we were in Paris (See, I sound like a deuchbag writing this!), but the combination of the people there. These people are incredible, and okay now I may sound like I’m showing off, but being around them literally brought back that little fire in me that triggers me to write. They inspire me! Their talks, their laughter, their mannerisms, our shared stories and experiences — it put me back smack down in the middle of Montmartre at 3:05pm when we were all walking through the souvenir shops and I pointed out this cheetah spotted scarf that was only six euros. A scarf my friend wore today because I did not want to spend the extra cash on something I might give away. 3:05pm in Montmartre—taking pictures  as if we were always going to live there, laughing with the storekeepers, buying tiny circular music boxes that played popular music like Thriller. There was nothing else in the world but that moment, and it all came rushing back to me as I talked and ate my large crêpe

I hope every writer out there has people around that makes them want to get up and write, write, write. This was a good day.

80 Degrees & Drowning in Memories

Dear Writers of the world (aka WordPress World),

I moved back to Los Angeles to spend  time with family before going to Paris in July this summer. Yup–yup, I am back in little Peru with mom, sister, brother, stepdad and the Hollywood smog. Today is day three, what can I do besides call old friends and sit by the pool?     What else?     WRITE!

I am proud to say that I spent 1 hour on my novel yesterday, and I plan to do the same today.  I’ve been focusing on Chapter three of the novel. It involves my innocent character. I am focusing on him because I lost my main character’s voice, that is … until today.

Today I found a box of high school letters. Reader, if you write (and I am sure you do), you know that this is a treasure. A box of love letters, friend letters, drama letters from your past is just the ticket to get you inspired. The use of language, the type of lingo from those days (the days I am writing about) are essential for my story. It captures the culture I am writing about, and the voice of my main character. I am proud to say that I will be getting back into her world pretty soon. This is going to be a good day.

I wish you all a joyous summer.