The best way to spend a Monday morning

I took advantage of the fact that I dont have a 9 – 5 job today and spent my Monday morning in Newlands forest. ¬†Research, you see, for my new book ūüôā

Trying out My Artist’s Way Toolkit

For the past few weeks I’ve been participating in My Artist Way’s Toolkit. This is an online companion to Julia Cameron’s book¬†The Artists Way. ¬†It contains many of the tools from the book, ways to help you get around (or under, or through) obstacles to creativity. ¬†It’s presented as a sort of online notebook. ¬†You can click to view inspirational quotes, suggested¬†activities¬†and exercises:

Well, as you can see I signed the contract – here is a closer view:

I’m sorry to say I’ve not been very good about¬†honouring¬†the terms of this contract so far. ¬†In particular, I’ve not been as good as I should be about writing the “Morning Pages” – you are supposed to do three pages of longhand freestyle writing every morning. ¬†But reading all the “why I’m not doing the morning pages” comments on the blogher discussion about the Morning Pages¬†¬†– has¬†perversely¬†enough made me once again feel motivated to try to stick to the routine!

So far the best thing I’ve gained from this process is to¬†become¬†more aware of what Julia Cameron calls the “internal censor”, ¬†that little internal voice that is constantly belittling everything you do, telling you not to take risks, making you doubt your abilities. I’ll be writing soon again about this process of using the My Artist Way Toolkit – so watch this space…

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

The Story Trap cover finally finished

I’ve finally finished the cover for my book “The Story Trap”. ¬†I changed her eyebrows and ears, added more chains and leaves, and changed the background to the lettering as well as some changes to the colours used. ¬†I’m done now. ¬†What a process!

There is going to be a print edition this time so I had to do the spine and back cover as well ūüôā

If you would like to be notified when this book is launched, you can join my “new release” mailing list at this link.

I will not share your information with anyone. ¬†You won’t receive many mails from me – I only send a notification when a new book is launched, and you can unsubscribe whenever you like ūüôā

I have succumbed to the pin

I’ve joined pinterest . ¬†I’m using it to find images that inspire my writing. ¬†Or that’s my¬†rationalization, at at any rate. ūüôā

You can see the collection of images that inspired my book “The Story Trap” here:¬†http://pinterest.com/mashadutoit/inspiration-the-story-trap/

Other¬†favorites¬†are my “Pictures tell stories” board:¬†http://pinterest.com/mashadutoit/pictures-tell-stories/

And here are the images that I’m gathering for my next book, the sequel to “The Story Trap”:¬†http://pinterest.com/mashadutoit/writing-inspiration/

Writing Tarot

No new drawings, because I’ve been swamped with got-to-pay-the-rent work about which the less said, the better. ¬†In the evenings I’ve been working the outline for my new book.

I’m still¬†discovering¬†who the characters are and why they got to where they are. I needed a way to help me figure these things. ¬†Problem is, it’s easy to slip into the groove where ¬†my main character is, essentially, me. ¬†And the secondary characters are suspiciously like characters from my favourite books.

To “throw myself a curve ball” as Brendon says, I’ve been doing tarot readings for each of my characters. ¬†This helps me figure out who they are and what they care about. ¬†I’m fairly new to reading the tarot. ¬†It’s quite a fascinating process. ¬†I tend to be a bit skeptical about the mystical side and use it mainly as a tool to help me consider many different sides of a question. ¬†But I must admit that I got some pretty uncanny results. ¬†Either there is something more going on than I like to admit, or the human tendency to recognise patterns where there are none is even stronger than I suspected.

For example. ¬†One of the characters is the “love interest”. ¬†He will develop a crush on my main character, although at this stage it is unclear whether the relationship will get anywhere. ¬†I asked the question “Tell me more about this young man.” ¬† ¬†The first card, that stands for “the heart of the matter” and such issues as “central issue” and “outstanding feature” was the Two of Cups. ¬†The second was The Lovers. ¬†That made me stare.

The Two of Cups is all about ¬†attraction, particularly between two individuals, “recognising that a bond is developing”, making an exclusive connection. ¬†It is the minor arcana equivalent of The Lovers. The Lovers deals with the urge for union, the strong connection between two people as well the commitment an individual makes to certain beliefs and values. ¬†And, of course, sexual and romantic love.

So that was quite appropriate.

The reading I did for my “evil” character was just as apt. ¬†Her heart cards were the Three of Swords and the King of Pentacles. ¬†The Three of Swords is about betrayal, hurt and¬†loneliness. ¬†The King of Pentacles suggests qualities of reliability, competence, the ability to succeed, “working towards a goal with resolve”. Her reading was a study of contradictions. ¬†Reconciling these ¬†has helped me think about this character in a much more complex way, figuring her out as a human being rather than the symbol of evil she was before I started this process.

Of course, just the act of laying out the cards and looking at them helps me think.  Such amazing, potent images.

How the tale grew in the telling: The unexpected sprouting of The Lord of the Rings

Where do stories come from?¬† The process of story creation is fascinating.¬† I’ve been reading a lot about JRR Tolkien, and how he came to write The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.¬† Most of the following information was found in Humphrey Carpenter’s biography or Tolkien. You can also read about them here at Tolkien online.com and here at warofthering.net

Tolkien was someone who immersed himself in stories.¬† He had been creating the language and history of Middle Earth for many years, and his stories seem to emerge out of this preoccupation.¬† Tolkien, as quoted in Carpenter’s book: More