Category Archives: Art
I spent the weekend in Toronto, Canada at the Canadian Writers’ Summit. Hundreds of writers from across the country gathered at the Harbourfront Centre to share ideas, learn from each other and evolve as writers.
Are you surprised I chose to attend a session entitled “The Biology of Story”?
At the session, Amnon Buchbinder, associate professor of screenwriting at York University, talked about the “interactive documentary” he created to explore the idea of stories as living things.
Buchbinder’s documentary, found at www.biologyofstory.com, outlines three principles.
1. A story is a living thing
“A story will choose to be with you, but you have to choose to pick up the story.” —Nigaan James Sinclair
If you want to drive a writer crazy, ask them, “Where do you get your ideas?” You might hear something like “Out of the clear blue sky.” Perhaps it’s a matter of writers choosing to pick up the stories—those living beings—that come to them.
2. Living is a story thing.
“Listen and you will see your own story will speak to you.” —Jean Pierre Makosso
Do you drift aimlessly from one event to another in your life? Are you listening for what your story—living being that it is—has to tell you?
3. Not all narratives are stories.
“A real story is the possibility of restoring the world.” —Deena Metzger
Buchbinder writes: “We live in a world crowded with narratives. Many of them lack key properties of story. This accounts for the lifeless and/or destructive forms that some narratives take.”
Watch: Stories are about wholeness
Buchbinder’s documentary encourages us to pick up the stories that come to us, to listen for what our own stories have to say, and to work with those stories to restore the world.
I just sent you a story. Pick it up, listen, restore.
The book, Hurry Up and Wait, is a collaboration between Maira Kalman, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) and the New York Museum of Modern Art. Described as an “anti-productivity manifesto,” the book combines paintings by Kalman, insightful words by Handler and photographs from the museum.
“You’re supposed to stop and smell the roses, but truth be told it doesn’t take that long to smell them. You hardly have to stop. You can smell the roses, and still have time to run all those errands before the sun goes down and it’s dinner time.”
I say, stop and read this book. Truth be told, it doesn’t take long. You hardly have to stop. You can read it and still have time to run all your errands before the sun goes down.
My favourite passage is this one:
“I’m just standing still, and then suddenly I think I am waiting for something. Once I’ve decided I’m waiting it’s like I’m not standing still anymore.”
The idea of idling transformed into action by mere choice appeals to me.
You know those times when you feel stuck? You know when you don’t know what’s coming next or what you’re supposed to do with your life?
No worries. You’re not standing still. You’re actively waiting.
So, what are you waiting for? Hurry up and wait, already.
I am at the Canadian Authors Association CanWrite! conference in Orillia, ON, surrounded by writers from every genre. We talk about the joys and trials of writerhood and our varied creative processes. Most of us share guardedly, wary of how others might judge the quirky things we do to get to the heart of our writing. This morning, a poet friend bravely shared the sketch book she uses every morning.
First thing in the morning, before she eats or showers or does anything else, she sits down with her sketch book. She writes the date at the top of the left-hand page and then on the top of the right-side page, she writes, “I am . . .” and completes the phrase with how she’s feeling. From a box of coloured crayons, she randomly selects three colours and draws a picture, a symbol, a pattern, or anything that flows from the colours and the phrase. And then (this is the part that boggles) she returns to the left-hand page and writes a poem, from start to finish. Boom, just like that. No stroke-outs or re-considerations. No pondering or hovering of the hand. Just a poem on the page.
She never knows what’s going to happen when she picks up the sketch pad or the colours. She never knows what the poem is going to be when she starts to print the words. She just “tunes in,” lets go and writes.
She receives daily emails from inspirational sources, and in this poetry sample, she writes about how often the topic of her poem and the topic of the emails coincide. (She reads the emails after she writes the poems.)
She calls it “collective consciousness.”
©2015 Jean Kay poetrytoinspire.com
After writing my morning poem
I read ‘Daily Word’ & ‘Science of Mind’
And very often the messages
Are of a similar kind
I call that collective consciousness
Some will say it’s coincidence
But whatever power is at work here
The messages are intense
Those articles were written months ago
But thousands are reading today
And I’m on a similar wavelength
To receive what is coming my way
I don’t preconceive morning poetry
I just write what comes into my mind
And yet often a word I seldom use
Will be in ‘Daily Word’ and/or ‘Science of Mind’
It makes me feel the path I’m on
Is the right one for me
I’m on track & tuned in
And living my eternity.
I’m celebrating 500 posts with a little of Bill Watterson’s genius. This is one of my favourites.
Carpe Diem. Make the most of your precious few footsteps.