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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Sometimes, you just need a change of perspective…

The Eiffel Tower has long been known as grand and romantic, a symbol of France. Back in college, I was astounded to learn that, having been commissioned for the 1889 World’s Fair, the tower had never been intended to remain. As seeing this legendary icon had become the top of my bucket list, I feared it could only disappoint. And then there it was. Big and majestic and beautiful and certainly no more than a twenty-minute walk from our current location. Little did we realize just how big the tower truly was. What looked so close was actually a good hour’s walk away.

By the time we reached it, my feet were literally bleeding. One popped blister, two average-joe blisters, and one blood blister completely obliterated my ability to stand up long enough to take the iconic, long-distance photo of my dearly sought-after tower. So instead, as we half-teetered in line for the elevator, I snapped a photo upwards–catching the iron latticework in all of its true glory. And I realized that this was the photo I wanted. Not the photo the rest of the world would care about, perhaps, but the photo that would remind me of the hard, detailed, inspired work and the massive scale of my beloved tower. Then, together with my sister, I piled into two over-crowded elevators to get to the top of one of the world’s greatest structures. The view was breathtaking–whatever the guidebooks say.

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Before leaving for France people said all kinds of things. That the locals were rude, the sights overcrowded, the streets dirty, and the gelato good. I could have expected that France. Instead, I found my own France. Sidewalks with street-musicians. A collection of food trucks where we were the only foreigners. Locals down by the water playing hopscotch and strumming guitars. Streets far cleaner than New York City. Gorgeous architecture. Friendly people. A collection of shops and Starbucks and affordable eateries in my favorite neighborhood. And, yes, the gelato was good, but it was nothing compared to the fresh strawberries we bought on the Rue Cler. Paris became my own.

I could have felt disappointment in missing my long-distance shot of Gustave Eiffel’s greatest feat. I could have felt disappointment in getting only one scoop of gelato. I could have fought for the Paris I had heard about. Instead, I found the Paris that mattered to me.

The understandable tendency, when we miss out, is to feel disappointment, but the last few weeks have given me a different perspective. Of course, there is the part of me that wants to fight for the me that could have been without Lyme’s Disease: a fiddler, a missionary, a gymnast, a businesswoman… Instead, I have decided to revel in the me that is. Just as I chose to celebrate the close-up shot of the Eiffel Tower, I choose to celebrate the path I walk. It may not be the iconic life of our favorite characters on television, but it’s mine and it’s profoundly beautiful. Now, having set aside any kind of modern standard, I am thankful for the strange, yet powerful role I play in this world. As I continue to learn about myself, I have a new appreciation for the way God directed me. The passion developing for writing students, the creativity seeping out in play-dates with my nephews and in my novels, the true friendships now returning from across the globe… It’s all because my life didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Praise God for that.

Sometimes you just need a change of perspective.

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I’ve got a song about a zebra stuck in my head. (Thanks, Francesca.) Unusual, like the other songs on her album, is just that catchy. And believe it or not, I am actually making progress on my novel this rainy day. Despite the distractions. Of which there are plenty. Francesca Battistelli’s new album included.

I would like to be as profound as I was yesterday or as informative as I was about hipsters last year or even as funny as I was last month when I discussed bloopers, but, alas, all my creativity is being funneled into my novel today. You will have to take me as I am, rugged and raw and overtired from seasonal allergies that suffocate me nightly. I feel a little like Dug (from Up), my brain constantly shouting “Squirrel!” (or, in this case, “Zebra!”). Then again, creativity is often born out of insanity. For proof of that concept, just check out this video, featuring one man, twenty-one Disney/Pixar voices, and the deserved hit: Let It Go (from Frozen).

To return to the subject of the novel… My new character–Otis–is shaping up, finally filling in giant gaps that would make Maine’s frost heaves jealous. And if you’re not from Maine, those frost heaves are really, really, really, really big. Thank you, Otis. Your love of cheeseburgers, your beret-wearing head, and your healthy fear of Russian-spouting computer hacker Tasya are just what I needed to get back into my writing rhythm.

Until tomorrow, friends, I remain your overly-creative and slightly-zany author,

Jessie Mae

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I feel brittle. As if a little wind could knock me over. So I’ve invested in some much needed R & R, soaking in the saturating heat of a claw-foot bathtub and munching on my favorite lunch: green grapes, cheddar cheese, and Ritz crackers (with a little lemon-ginger tea for good measure). And its good to rest. Good to recover. But life presses on…

I’m still staring at 30,000 words to go, now with only eight days until my revised, revised, revised deadline. Oh golly. As I said before, this is a novel of fits and starts. My spirit, my creativity seem to have been put on ice. But I will conquer. It is a story worth telling. A story I–at the very least–need to hear. So back to work I go. And, if only in my mind and not quite in my frozen heart, I have a renewed sense of purpose.

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I suppose anyone who knows me wouldn’t be surprised to discover that my personality type makes up less than 1% of the world’s population (according to this website). But I was. When I took the personality test during my morning of self-education, I was enthralled by the description of the INFJ group, to which I belong. A year ago I would have been surprised to read ‘Introvert’ at the beginning of my four letter code. According to the test makers, “Their easy and pleasant communication can often mislead bystanders, who might think that the INFJ is actually an extrovert.” In truth, not so long ago, I was deluding myself into thinking I was an extrovert. But mere weeks away from my twenty-second birthday, I am not as naive as I once was. I’m deep into the process of discovering who I am and who I will become.

I bobbed my head as the test described the INFJ with an emphasis on creativity, independence, passion, beliefs, conflict-wary(ness? Can I make that a word?), mental and emotional depth, warmth, and insight. And I solemnly agreed with the weaknesses: a tendency to back away from conflict, to be hard to understand, to strive for too much perfection in myself and others, and to feel disappointment keenly. Yes. I may be in the shining 1%, but we INFJs aren’t perfect–mostly because we try too hard to be.

Yet, all in all, I’d rather be the INFJ God created me to be than any other personality type. Someone “Brimming with desire to make the world a better place.” And someone who has “a unique combination of idealism and decisiveness – this means that their creativity and imagination can be directed towards a specific goal,” allowing them “to make a lasting positive impact.” Can you blame me? That sounds pretty sweet.

The test certainly won’t be right about everything,  but reading through the sections depicting how I am likely to interact socially and in my career have given me good deal of clarity for why I am scared of certain opportunities, why I relish others, and how I can pursue a more peaceable, meaningful future.

Until next time,

Your friendly, neighborhood author.

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Have you ever had a slump of reading books? You have borrowed copies piling up high in your bookshelf, desk, cupboards, and eventually floors, but you still can’t force yourself to read those usually beautiful words on the page? I can’t identify why books seem to be a lost art to me, but they most certainly are.

I don’t remember ever having a slump like this before. Perhaps slumps occurred when I had nothing to read but non-fiction, but never when I have had exciting books in my possession. Really, I need to read them and give them back to their owners. But every time I open the page it seems as if they speak a different language. As if they no longer are meant for me. Even recently released books in series I love haven’t made it onto the Christmas list. I have truly and completely lost my love of reading.

Puzzling.

In the mean time my creativity, with nowhere else to visit, causes my dreams to get stranger and stranger. That horrible rendition of “I’m not going to graduate college because I forgot about one of my classes for a whole semester” felt like it lasted for more than an hour. That dream was followed by wardrobe malfunctions and surrounded by other, nastier dreams. Evidently, I need to find a positive way to release the creativity pent up inside me.

I remember falling in love with reading. It was Dickens’ fault, aided by my sister Julie who just kept pushing books my way until one stuck. Thank goodness for her. And for David Copperfield. Hours and hours of blissful escape followed, as I delved into works as weathered as Austen’s and as fresh as Riordan’s.These books taught me how to harness the imagination and their characters granted me some of my best childhood friends. So how is it possible for me to have lost the love of reading? I’m not sure, but here is the consoling and final word on the matter:

Slumps don’t last.

 

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It is amazing the diversity you can find even in Maine. Just walk into Starbucks and people watch for a few minutes.

You’ll get a range of people from those who wear sweat-pants to business suits. You’ll see the jeans, scarves, coffee-addict, tied to their headphones, and clicking away on their computers to race a homework deadline types (I’m one of th0se). You’ll meet the social type, who come to Starbucks mostly to interact, either with the staff or the people they planned to meet.

You can tell when people feel out of their element in Starbucks, but overall it is a fairly flexible place that welcomes those from all backgrounds, individuals and big groups, the rich and the poor. It is the new melting pot where up-and-coming business eople mingle and where friendships can be formed. It is Starbucks.

My thoughts tend to wander while I’m here. It is hard not to give into the creativity oozing from the music, energy, and thick smell of coffee. Writing tempts me, even poetry calls out while I’m here. Nonetheless, it is a good place to get down to work.

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What should I be doing right now? Writing my midterm paper or a variety of other school/work projects. I tried this morning. And I got some good work done. But my heart and my mind and my creativity are always with this novel I am working on. It is not even a book I want to release for several years, but my imagination doesn’t seem to care.

So as I listen to Pandora’s ‘Film Scores Radio’, I compose my own tale. The characters, the voice, the adventure, the mystery all seems to be falling into place in a way that it has not since I wrote Issym (or maybe never). What a joy to write on days like these!

I love connecting creatively with my nephew Silas. My winter village is still up since I have been gone, the snow has lingered, and the basement is not quite ready to embrace my pieces. Silas and I walked its center aisle yesterday and he asked me questions about who lived in the houses. We imagined together and it was sweet and good. Some moments you just want to stay in forever and that was one!

And in other news, the Bangor Public Library has purchased two copies of the Xsardis Chronicles. Hooray! So if you have been waiting to read them, request them now!

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