Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Flick Merauld

Creative Spaces

I suppose, in many ways, my workspace is like an extension of myself – though I’m not the only person who uses it: my granddaughter claims the computer whenever she comes here, and my partner collects his email from it from time to time. It’s in the hub of the house as well, in the dining room, not in some cosy office or den tucked away from noise and disturbance. Consequently I have people stopping to chat when I’m trying to work (why is it nobody thinks a request not to talk to you can possibly include them!) But somehow this arrangement seems to make it easier for me to get on and write. There are no barriers to break; there’s no countdown to when I have to be there and knuckle down. I can wander off to the kitchen for coffee or a snack or out to the garden. I have dogs coming to lie at my feet and cats wandering across the keyboard. And, of course, the Internet is slumbering under my fingertips, waiting to surge into life whenever I get stuck and need a brief (or not so brief) distraction. Not only that, but the huge mirror behind the computer space reflects the garden, so that I can watch the changing weather and the wheeling seasons, comfortable and sheltered but still feeling connected to Nature and all her inspiring beauty – as I write this, I can see the frosty trees, while later in the year there’ll be daffodils, the unfurling of apple blossom and lilac, then roses, and the flurried activity of birds and squirrels.

Beginning work is easy. I kind of drift in and out, potter and do other things, slip into my space and get absorbed in whatever the current project is, drift off again to the shops or to read for a bit, make some food. I don’t write to music, though, as I find it incredibly distracting. While all this seems very casual and undisciplined, I actually do get a huge amount done when I’m in full creative flow. As I’m a photographer as well as a writer, and process images in Photoshop, my space isn’t for one activity only, and I think that makes my approach more fluid than it might have been otherwise.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Flick Merauld

Flick Merauld in her creative sanctuary

Thirteen years ago, when I first began writing for publication, I was quite superstitious about my workspace and wouldn’t move or change anything while a book was in progress. Between 1999 and 2004, I wrote a series of books on Paganism for the American Mind/Body/Spirit publisher, Llewellyn, using the pen name Elen Hawke; from the time each of these books was started till it was sent off to the publisher, I wouldn’t move so much as a pen from it’s place on my worktop. When my partner first came to live with me, he decided to tidy up around the computer and I went ballistic – I actually felt invaded. Nowadays I’m less pernickety. Since I began publishing onto Amazon KDP/Kindle, I find I’m quite happy if things get removed or displaced. Maybe it’s the nature of my novels, the Aunt Sally series (The Aunt Sally Team and Aunt Sally & More) and The Sacred Marriage, but I find the whole process of writing much more enjoyable now. Maybe it’s also because I can set my own deadlines, rather than writing to a publishing schedule as I did for Llewellyn. I’m even writing two books at once at the moment, a third Aunt Sally and a sequel to The Sacred Marriage.

I think kind of catching myself unawares — sitting down and looking at what I’ve written, making corrections etc. then deciding to write a bit more, rather than giving myself a strict schedule — works best for me. I love writing, whether it’s answering questions in email discussion lists, chatting on Facebook or Twitter or getting stuck into a new novel. I think I’m privileged to spend my life in activities that I enjoy so much: reading, writing, photography and illustration. So my workspace, where I do all this, is a happy place for me to be.

Bio: Flick Merauld is a writer artist and photographer and plonks around on harp and guitar. As well as training in photography and graphic design at art school, she’s travelled all over the world and done many different jobs including barmaid, farmhand and factory worker. She’s now very happily settled in the beautiful but eccentric city of Oxford (United Kingdom) with her partner and family.

Having had several well known non-fiction books published by the American publisher Llewellyn, under the pen name Elen Hawke, she turned her hand to writing fiction, resulting in novels that include the best selling The Aunt Sally Team (UK visit http://amzn.to/MgZRmW) based on a riotous summer spent playing the old fashioned English pub game of the same name, and its sequel, Aunt Sally & More ( UK visit http://amzn.to/12fQSIy) Both these books combine love, sex, relationships and humour with depth and insight. Her novel The Sacred Marriage (UK visit http://amzn.to/LhdwVm), set in Brittany and Oxford, is written in a more serious vein.

You can visit Flick Merauld‘s blog, cats dogs & eBooks: life love & having a novel published, and visit her Facebook page

Creatives Spaces by Flick MerauldCreatives Spaces by Flick MerauldCreatives Spaces by Flick Merauld

Creative Spaces is a new guest blog series that invites you to take a peek into writer’s special workspaces. Come back often to read the intriguing guest posts.

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.

Shopping For Writers (Or Anyone Else)

Wondering what to ask Santa for this year?  Or uncertain what to buy for your dearest writer friends?  I started compiling a visual shopping list on Pinterest to help friends who asked what they should buy for other writers and to assist those who were stumped when their spouses asked what they wanted for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or their birthday.  101 Gift Ideas for Writers and Book Lovers is my compilation of awesome literary gift ideas for anyone who wants suggestions to give to their loved ones, or find something unique for a writer or anyone who loves books, or to buy something special for yourself.  Are you the kind of writer who rewards herself for making a deadline, or for completing a first draft, or for kicking butt during NaNoWriMo?  If so, look to this list for that amazing reward.

I included practical items for those writers who are like me and are buried under mounds of paper.  We long to free ourselves of paper clutter.  I know others must also want to be more productive so I added a few gifts to aid a writer’s productivity such as Dragon dictation software.  What writer doesn’t want to be more creative?  I recommend fun items to stir the creative juices like a Shakespeare love pillow, a banned books bracelet, and typewriter tote bags.  Then there are health and well being suggestions such as a gift certificate for a soothing massage.  Count me in!   Any woman, whether a writer or not, wants to look and feel good, so I included a couple of  jewelry and beauty ideas, too.  But, most of the items work for men as well.

Writing Prompts and Story Cubes

Now, I do mention gift cards like iTunes, but it’s not a cop out.  Some friends love to buy apps or ebooks.  And if you include a printout of a specific app like the Note Taker HD as a suggestion, then that makes the purchase more personal.

I’ll continue adding to the list on http://pinterest.com/byvictoriaj/gift-ideas/ as I do my shopping and providing the links so you can easily locate each item.   If you have any suggestions for a great gift, let me know and I’ll add them to my growing ‘Shopping for Writers’ list.  What are you asking Santa for?  Let me know in the comments.  I hope this post and board will make Santa’s job easier this year.  Happy shopping!

Memorial Day Reflection

Memorial Day Reflection

 

For me Memorial Day is a time to appreciate this fantastic country we live in. Sure, we’re experiencing a rough economy right now and millions of Americans are feeling the pinch, myself included. But we’ll get through this.

When I think of Memorial Day, I think of freedom. That’s one trait that makes this country special. Of course there are many other amazing attributes to cite but for me, it’s freedom baby!

Freedom is the one thing I hope we, as citizens, never take for granted. As a writer I suppose the freedom I value most is having the ability to express my thoughts and ideas and stories; and likewise, the ability to read uncensored thoughts and ideas of others. But as a woman and mother I most value free will. That is, having the ability to make our own choices. In other words, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I am grateful for the patriotism and sacrifice of the millions of soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors who fought to give us that freedom. If you’re serving in the military now, or ever have served, thank you!!! If you have loved ones serving, I wish for their safe return.

Hello world!

I am a professional writer and a filmmaker. Above all, I am a storyteller. Whether I’m writing a World War II drama, a romantic comedy, or a thriller, my goal is to entertain, enlighten and surprise my readers. I write non-fiction, too. I write non-fiction to inspire, inform and help others. I am always learning, always stretching my boundaries creatively, and I consider myself a work in progress. I’m like a three-headed hydra, pulled in three different genres. If you’re curious about where my creative endeavors are leading me, Click one of my links in the sidebar to find out.