Feeding Your Soul

While I’m feeding my soul and enjoying the sunshine and endless Vitamin D here on beautiful Saint Simons Island, Georgia, I’ve been thinking a bit about the pile of manuscripts I’ve accumulated over the past 15 or so years. Of course, it’s not really a pile, but rather folders full of dozens and dozens of manuscripts and ideas. When you write every day, that pile is bound to grow, and grow… At this point, I’ve come to accept that there are a few, okay maybe more than a few, in that pile, even novels, that will never be published, but yet I keep writing. I can’t not write. It seems like I have new ideas every day; part of the challenge is definitely sticking with an idea, as Rick Riordan has said:

For some reason this year, I’ve also started drawing. I can’t remember when I’ve had this much fun with a pencil and piece of paper, but it was probably back in elementary school. I’ve created so many picture book characters from words, and trying to bring them to life with my pencil is a very cool (and often frustrating) experience. I got to spend some time in Blick’s, a huge art store in Savannah a few days ago – so much to see, and none of it is cheap! Savannah has a big art college; can’t imagine how students afford to acquire materials. It’s doubtful I’ll ever see my “art” in a book, but enjoying the process is what it’s all about, right?

Whenever I travel, I always try to visit the local library. Here on Saint Simons, you can get a six-month library card for $12 – what a bargain! Sadly, I’m only here for one month, but I’m spending hours going through picture books, trying to figure out the appeal of certain illustrators’ work. It seems to me it’s really about having an original style – many of the most popular illustrators aren’t producing “fine art,” but it’s art that appeals to both kids and adults, art that enhances the story being told through creating people who seem real and organic to the story.

Hope spring has arrived in your corner, and that it brought a new burst of creative energy your way, too; hopefully something beautiful and satisfying to feed your soul. A quick middle-grade novel recommendation – NIGHTINGALE’S NEST (Nikki Loftin) – magical, perfectly imagined and written from its cover to its last words. And here’s some food for thought from Steve Jobs:

steve jobs quotes




“I Am” (Tom Shadyac); Solitude and Creativity

I have to say that I love Netflix – for $8 a month, I get unlimited access to more films than I could watch in a lifetime, and the inventory is constantly changing. Last night, I watched I Am, (http://www.iamthedoc.com/toms-profile/ )a documentary by film maker Tom Shadyac (of Ace Ventura fame). He made I Am after a long recovery from a concussion he suffered, during which time he spent a lot of time thinking about his role in the world.

The title comes from a letter prolific author G.K. Chesterton wrote in response to a query from The Times: “What’s wrong with the world?” Chesterton’s one-word reply was apparently, “I am.” Shadyac traveled the world speaking to leaders such as David Suzuki and Desmond Tutu, as well as various scientists. The resulting documentary is compelling as he explores the connections between science and spirituality. One fascinating scene shows a scientist placing two electrodes (hooked to some sort of meter) into a dish of yogourt. Each time Shadyac has a negative/stressful thought, the needle on the meter moves dramatically, even though Shadyac isn’t connected to the electrodes or the meter! We all give off energy all the time, both negative and positive.

Shadyac’s conclusion is that everyone and everything across the centuries is intimately interconnected, even physically thanks to the inert gas, Argon, part of every breath we take.

Astronomer Harlow Shapley calculates that the Argon you exhale will have spread across the country within a week, and within one year the same Argon atoms you exhale will have travelled around the entire earth, some of them making their way back to you (maybe as few as 15) to be breathed again. Shapley says that your next breath will contain 400,000 argon atoms that Ghandi breathed during his long life, argon atoms from conversations at the Last Supper, and from recitations by classical poets like Shakespeare.



Kind of boggles the mind to think that we’re breathing in molecules shared by Beethoven, Gandhi, Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, and everybody else who ever existed, isn’t it?shakespeare

The problems in our world began when people stopped working collaboratively and cooperatively, as animal species do, in favour of competing – basically trying to accumulate the most stuff in our pursuit of “happiness.” In nature, the film points out, everything, every creature, takes only what it needs to survive; there is no accumulating of stuff. In the end, Shadyac reveals that he has given up his own lavish Hollywood lifestyle and moved to a small, simple house, in hopes of pursuing a more meaningful, mindful life, in spite of his wealth.  His hope is that his response to a letter asking, “What’s right with the world?” may eventually become, “I am.”

Something else I’ve been thinking about this week after reading a blog post somewhere, is the idea of solitude as being necessary to creativity, as eloquently expressed here by Albert Einstein:

On the other hand, although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.download (1)

Maybe that’s why my creativity seems to peak when I’m near water… So much to think about… Guess it’s time to sit down, seek some solitude and write! What do you think?