Saturday, 22 January 2011

Writing retreats and this will be our year

Last night my friend Joey and I had a writing retreat in my living room. It was great! We set the table with water, chocolate and laptops and fired away.

Joey and I are both working on manuscripts for books and have the philosophy that though tapping away on a chapter is a perfectly legitimate way to spend a Friday evening, tapping away next to another human is even better. We like to call this side-by-side working parallel play.

I think I've written about my obsession with parallel play in the past. Joey, mother to one-year-old Avonlea, coined the phrase last year. Technically, parallel play is a phase in child development when kids are able to play next to one another without actually interacting. For little ones it's a season they'll move on from, but for busy writers it's a luxurious regression.

We're not legalistic parallel players by any means -- we do interact at scheduled intervals. In fact, we use a tomato timer to let us know when we can stop, share and put the kettle on.

While last night was amazing (we got so much done, even with a dinner break courtesy of the taco truck), we're going to level it up soon by taking the retreat on the road. That's right, we're going to do a full weekend of writing in a barn loft on Orcas Island! A wood-fire stove, garden and sea access -- it's the stuff of writers' dreams.

Now, if I could offer one tip for successful parallel play it would be this: make sure you're both on the same figurative page. It's always awkward meeting someone for what you think will be a parallel playtime and noticing they've brought nothing to work on. "Oh, so you wanted to to talk while we drink this coffee?"

I think that since Dan is working tonight I'm going to hunker down for another evening of writing. The gift of time is something I rarely take for granted, so this weekend I'm making full use.

Are you getting time to work on the things you want to? The year is still young, and I love the sign I saw in the shop front of Assemble Gallery and Studio the other day on Phinney: "This will be our year."

I hope this is our year!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Wednesday buoy: beautiful things

There are lots of things swimming around in my mind, but instead of even attempting to create order from chaos I thought I'd just share some of the beautiful things that have inspired me this week. I hope these photos inspire you too!

Oh, wow. My heart skipped a beat when I saw these pictures in an article about designer Ashley Meaders. I thought, now here's a woman who gets my coral obsession! Photos by Our Labor of Love via design*sponge.


I just ordered this gift wrap from Smock Paper with the goal of using it to cover the inside of a Billy Bookcase. Their paper products make me drool and are eco-friendly!

Fiona Douglas' beautiful Paris apartment, photos from Fiona + David Cadzow via design*sponge

And finally, this is my great-grandmother's brooch and earring set. My grandma gave it to me for Christmas -- what a precious gift!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Just show up (or how to get where you need to go)

I have a little encouragement today, and it's as simple as three words:

JUST   *  SHOW   *    UP

I've heard these three guys a lot this past year. Has this become a buzz-phrase, or am I just especially tuned in because this is what I need to be doing?

I first heard Elizabeth Gilbert talk about showing up to the pen and paper, consistently, and waiting for creativity to follow. Maybe not that day or the next, but eventually, it would come. She says what artists have been saying for centuries I imagine: you can't control creativity, what you can control is if you give it time and space.

Last week I heard it at church. Very admittedly, Dan and I had not been showing up at church in the last six months since moving to Seattle for a host of legitimate reasons. It was good to get in the doors again. The pastor mentioned that a lot of the spiritual journey is about showing up. The experience might not be amazing every single time -- in fact, it may often be frustrating -- but in the bigger picture, growth happens when you put time in.

I was thinking about it at work today, how some important conversations and relationship building can't be scheduled in -- it happens when people are working late together, both putting in extra hours or are just there for what turns into a great conversation in the middle of the day. I hate the idea of office "face time" and having to be somewhere just to show that you're there, but I think there's merit in certain types of this time. You've got to show that face of yours sometime.

Showing up has definitely got to be a key in relationships. Even scheduling in down time of doing nothing, together, is so rewarding.

This morning, Dan and I popped down to the ski lodge-esque Java Bean in Ballard where I worked on a chapter for two hours. It felt so good to show up to the page, again. I have a February deadline for a competition I'm entering with the first thirty pages of my manuscript. Talk about incentive! This is how goals are achieved and books are written: in blocks of time and showing up, over and over.

Local author Janna Cawrse Esarey came to speak with a group of us writers a few weeks ago. She told us that if we all kept writing and kept submitting for publication, eventually, we would be published. Or we could very well quit. But if we didn't quit, we'd get published.

I hope that with whatever it is you need to be showing up for in this season, you do. It's not glamorous or exciting, but it's beautiful and necessary.

{Photo by Kerry Ball}
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