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When Words Collide 2015

ID-10020413I just returned home from When Words Collides (@WWCyyc15) in Calgary, Alberta, an award-winning festival for writers, bloggers, editors and readers mainly of fiction. It was three days of non-stop workshops, panels and lectures. Each hour participants could choose from eight or nine of these classes, depending on their interests and needs. Wow, what a weekend.

I really enjoyed volunteering because it instantly acquainted me with new people and made me feel like one of the group, even though this was my first time there. I came away having made some new friends, some of whom I hope to connect up with now that I am back in Edmonton.

People were amazingly friendly at the festival which is really interesting being that many of the people there tend towards being introverts like me. I can hold my own in a social setting but it can drain me and I enjoy being alone. I am sure this holds true for many of the attendants there.

The program really works because it is an intensive learning experience interspersed with short periods of time to connect with others and find out a bit about their creative lives. It also was a time of expanded thinking as I sat in on classes on how to use Twitter and how to self-publish as well as those of author’s like Canadian Sc-Fi writer Robert J. Sawyer who talked about his journey as an author and what has and hasn’t worked for him.

Now I find myself at home, with expectations for what I want to accomplish and instead there is work that must be done for the business, unpacking, tending a neglected garden, arranging a small birthday celebration for my husband, in short, life.

Last evening I spent a bit of my time trying out my new Twitter skills, thanks to help from Catherine Saykaly-Stevens (TheNetworkingWeb.com). Now I am writing this.

For those of you busy with life, a few minutes here or there to do even the smallest creative activity can help to make you feel like you are moving forward. In the end, that is all this creative life is, one moment, one hour, one week at a time.

Image courtesy of Paul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Warm Weather Creative Plans

I have been out at our lake property for nine days now. The purpose of the holiday has been to work on our cottage. Since we are at the stage of getting the foundation finished, which requires a lot of leveling and a considerable amount of backfilling done with a wheel barrel, I have found my main contribution has been making and cleaning up after meals. We have had the delight of friends and family visiting and providing physical help to my husband, Larry as he works.

The good part about this is that it has left me with a nice amount of free time to do what I want. I have had some great birding days, with dozens of birds dive-bombing our feeder and giving me another lesson in the aviary pecking order. It was also nice to see two young fledged Bald Eagles along with an adult at the far end of Lake Isle when we found time to go canoeing.

The time has also allowed me the opportunity to do some painting and some writing. I spent the first days here reading and writing out quotes for future use. Some of the books I have been reading have been pretty heavy in subject matter and others, like the short story Runaway by Alice Munro have been riveting.

Just being out here with a limited agenda has allowed me time for the kind of creative thinking that is often squelched when I am too busy. Austen Kleon in his book Steal Like an Artist says “Take time to be bored. One time I heard a coworker say, “When I get busy, I get stupid.”.” He goes on to say, “Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing.”

Interestingly, summer is often the time when those of us who live in northern climates are happily engaged in activities we can’t do at other times of the year. Summer is relatively short here, made up somewhat by the longer daylight hours. Still, many of us want to be outside, enjoying nature, having barbecues, going on family holidays, tending the garden, biking, spending time with friends, anything but sitting down and getting to our creative work. We postpone that for those cold winter days when we can’t do any of this fun stuff. Yet at the same time, getting outside and being in nature can facilitate our creativity.

How do summers work for you? Is summer the time you put your paints away until the days grow shorter and the yard takes up less of your time? Or is summer when you sit in your backyard and write or paint? Is it a time when you schedule plain air painting times with friends or do you retreat to your summer property for solitude? What kind of an impact do the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer have on your creative practise? Why not post a comment and get the discussion going.

Note: Check out this article on tips for plein air painting at Swinton’s Art in Calgary

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