Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Christy Birmingham

Creative Spaces

Ah yes, creativity.

I have come a long way since I played with my dolls as a young girl as I taught them what I had learned that day at school.

Today, I am proud to call myself a freelance writer and an entrepreneur. While many of my days I sit on my black leather chair and fill word documents with sentences, I know I am a part of something so much greater. I am a part of a creative process.

At the end of an hour, I can see complete paragraphs on my screen. Add another half hour or two later in the day and I have a new poem to publish on my website. I write down information and ideas that have potential to teach and inspire readers. What a powerful, fantastic role I have as a writer! Best of all, I love what I do.

I start with a blank page most days. I fill the page with words that I string and tie up with a ribbon of punctuation. I proofread, edit, and publish. I do all of this, often, from the desk in my home office.

My writing space is a place where I work on technical articles as well as crafting poems. My desk is the hub of activity in my home (it is a home, not a house). I read emails there, write posts for Poetic Parfait, and conduct research for articles.

My writing area has many unique items. It is likely unique from other writers because of the thank-you cards and notes from clients that I display on my desk. The notes remind me of work I have done that people enjoyed. I read the notes to motivate me when I need a push to start my next assignment or reminder of how far I have come.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham meeting deadlines and creating poetry in her space

You see, this space was not always a work area. I had office jobs and did well, but a dark period brought turbulence to my life. My work soon became about healing myself, rather than working in an office. After soul searching (that soul was hiding for some time), I made the decision to write as my career. I do not look back, but instead look to my desk and gaze out the side window in my home office.

When I turn my head to the right, I see out a large window into the backyard. I see trees, birds, and a neighborhood cat saunters by at least once a day. I often look outside as I write a poem, gaining inspiration from blue sky or the sound of the rain against the windowpane.

I always have a few articles on the go. I consistently have deadlines to meet and searches to conduct for the next client. I write posts for my site Poetic Parfait, where I share poetry and music. I write articles for several sites and private clients, as well. 

I often have a cup of tea nearby. My readers know I love chocolate! I often have a chocolate bar or bag of M&Ms nearby. As I reach for the M&Ms, I often get a surge of inspiration – so having chocolate on hand is crucial! 

The chocolates and tea are comfort for me as I constantly strive to strengthen my writing techniques and me. I am beginning work on a poetry book. I hope to share that soon. Publishing a book has been a dream for so long and I would love to make it come true. We can accomplish a lot when we are positive and have focus.

What is my advice for writers? Write, even when you do not feel like it. Set time aside every day to write at least a few hundred words. If only ten of those words are worth publishing for your article, poem, or short story, at least you can end the day with a sense of accomplishment. In addition, the more you write, the more refined your writing style becomes. I truly believe that and follow that strategy. 

Bio: Christy Birmingham is an avid freelance writer and blogger who lives in British Columbia, Canada. She writes extensively about social media and technologyChristy is also the proud owner of Poetic Parfait. The site is the playground for poetry, music, and smiles. New faces are always welcome! http://poeticparfait.com/

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Barbara Froman

Creative Spaces

Necessities

Assorted family photos and a poster-sized framed print of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Music, Pink and Blue #2, painted in 1918.

Classical music from all periods. Today’s selection: Prokofiev’s 3nd Piano Concerto, 1st movement.

I’ve learned to rely on the smiles of those I love for encouragement, and the sights and sounds of other artists as inspiration.  I’ve grown used to the comfort of my soft brown chair, its throw pillows at the small of my back, its hand-tatted antimacassars—elegant lessons on the value of diligence and patience—behind my neck and under my forearms. And I’ve become spoiled by how rapidly and simply lightweight technology saves and edits and puts a wealth of sources at my disposal.  I’m always amazed by how helpless I feel when the electricity goes down—which it does far too often—and all that remains is the glare of night on glass, and the sound of my own breath, At those times, I think wistfully back to my early childhood, when the only encouragement I needed was an idea and the only inspiration, a chunk of free time, As long as I had pencils and paper, and a private space in which to work, I was set.

Because we lived in a small two-bedroom apartment in New York, that space was the bathroom. I didn’t care that its furnishings were cold, its decor spartan, its scent antiseptic; it had what I wanted most: privacy. And so, I would take the tools of my trade inside, and lock the door behind me.

The first time I did this, my mother, who deemed any trip to the bathroom longer than three minutes a sign of trouble, started knocking on the door and yelling, “Are you all right? What are you doing?”

Of course, I told her.  But I might not have, had I known she would share my choice of workspace so proudly:  “And this is my daughter, who writes in the bathroom. Read the nice people a poem, honey.”

Eventually we moved into a bigger apartment where I had a room to myself, without porcelain fixtures. I furnished it with a desk—although I quickly discovered that I preferred the comfort of my bed for creative work, a floor-to-ceiling bookcase (which my brother and I built and painted), a record player, and prints I picked up at the Metropolitan and Guggenheim museum stores.  And I wrote.

Creative Spaces guest post by Barbara Froman

Barbara Froman inspired by music

These days, I feel very lucky to have a room of my own, where I can put tchotchkes, photographs, prints, and animation cels on every surface and wall. I wrote class lectures and screenplays here, and started my blog, Beyond Willow Bend.

This is where I finished my novel, Shadows and Ghosts, and composed a set of pieces for piano duet entitled, Six Variations in Search of a Theme.  And now, I’m digging into an historical novel about two pianists. I have a feeling it’s going to be a difficult book to write, much more so than my last, because of the research involved. But, as long as I can sit in my soft chair, look into the eyes of those I love, see O’Keeffe’s swirl of feminine possibilities, and feel my pulse and spirit quicken to Prokofiev, or Brahms, or Ravel, or Bach, I know the words will be there.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Barbara FromanBio: Barbara Froman received early training in music at the Juilliard School’s preparatory division before going on to earn degrees in Music Composition at Ithaca College and Northwestern University. She was the Director of Mundelein College’s Creative Writing Program, taught Literature and Creative Writing at National-Louis University, and acted as a consultant to National’s graduate program in Written Communication. She is the author of published essays and poetry, is the recipient of the Serving House Books/Fairleigh Dickinson University First Book Award in Prose, for Shadows and Ghosts, has placed in screenwriting competitions, and was nominated for a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Fringe. She continues to compose music as well as work on a number of new writing projects. Visit her website at: http://www.barbarafroman.com 

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Ksenia Anske

Creative Spaces

My writing space is more than just a physical place. It’s my pattern, my routine, my specific mood to settle into when writing. You know how when you put on your exercise attire, you’re more likely to actually exercise? Yeah, same with me and my writing space. When I’m in it, with the door closed, I’m more likely to do actual writing. It’s nothing special, really. A typical desk with a lamp and a stack of books in the corner. And an exercise ball instead of a chair because I like to bend back, crack my back and hang with my head upside down when thinking. I imagine because of all the blood rushing to my head, when stuck, within a few minutes of inverting myself I usually get an idea or two on how to proceed.

And I like my space clean, orderly and spartan. When it’s organized, I feel like my mind is organized. I tend to outline my novel before diving in, and I like tracking my character’s journeys on a map, so I have maps on both walls facing the desk and small square sticky notes with scene reminders and character traits. I also pin index cards corresponding to each Chapter next to the map and like to rearrange them when early in the Draft. It felt so awesome to get rid of them on Draft 3!

Another thing I like doing is gazing out the window at the woods that are usually pretty foggy and creepy looking in the winter, but also very green and full of squirrels in the summer. Plus, our house sits really high on a hill, so the whole neighborhood is sort of below us. I love it. It’s quiet and serene and very much ME at the same time. By that I mean, the stranger a forest looks, the more I would want to go in and attempt to get lost in it. So I constantly take pictures of the trees and bushes around my house and post them online as inspiration, be it sunny or rainy or foggy or, you guessed it, creepy.

Creatives Spaces by Ksenia Anske

Ksenia Anske in her creative space

I usually go in my space and close the door at about 8am and do about 2 hours of social media, then at 10am turn everything off except my Sigur Ros or Bjork or Radiohead radio station on Pandora, play my 6 or 7 Words with Friends games, and then start by reading out loud what I wrote the day before, typically 1/2 of a Chapter, correct minor details as I go, and then seamlessly drift into new writing, next 1/2 of a Chapter. I don’t let myself out unless I either wrote for 4 hours or wrote at least 2,000 words. Oh, and I have a large cup of black coffee with me!

I’m currently working on my 1st novel, SIREN SUICIDES, Draft 5, which should be done by April of this year. It’s a story about a teenage girl, Ailen Bright, who lost her mother to suicide by drowning, hates her controlling father and decides to escape reality in the same way. On her 16th birthday she attempts to drown herself, but instead of dying turns into a siren and discovers that her father is a siren hunter. She also discovers that she wants to eat the soul of her best friend Hunter Crossby, because it sounds irresistibly delicious. To figure all of this out, she dives into an adventure akin to Alice in Wonderland, except it’s all things water, rain, songs, and magic that’s both sinister and dreamy.

Despite my beautifully set up creative space, many mornings I go through crying bouts of anxiety before starting, usually lasting 30 minutes (it’s getting better now that I’m gaining confidence), typically being afraid that what I write is complete shit and nonsense and horrible absurdity and nobody will ever be interested in reading it. I have to drag myself through these either by breathing or by bugging my boyfriend over Skype (while he’s at work), sending him messages like “I CAN’T DO THIS, I SUCK!” and him calmly responding, “YES, YOU CAN. YOU DON’T SUCK.”

And in I go, into my daily pattern. Write. Read. Repeat.

BIO:

Ksenia Anske was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to US in 1998 not knowing English, having studied architecture and not dreaming that one day she’d be writing. She lives in Seattle with her boyfriend and their combined 4 kids in a house on top of the hill that they like to call The Loony Bin. Visit Ksenia’s website or her facebook page.

 This post marks the launch of the Creative Spaces 11 part series.  Come back to hear about other writers and their creative journeys.