How to be Creative

Have you ever tried to solve a problem, write something, paint something, you think and think, but nothing comes? Then you take a shower or go for a walk and suddenly, flash, there’s a great idea in your mind? You try to get it down before it goes away and partly succeed? You have had an experience of your higher mind, what yogis call the Buddhi, and it is the place that inspiration comes from. In the Buddhi, ideas are whole, complete, but then they must be filtered through the lower mind which is the place of words so the ideas get chopped up into pieces.

We all have a higher mind and access it all the time whether we know it or not. The trick is being able to call on it at will, to get the idea when you need it. There are ways and, as a practitioner and former teacher of yoga for many decades, i’d like to share a few simple steps to creativity:

1. Get all the data you need for whatever you want to create. When i write magazine articles, this may be pages of technical data. For a novel, i do my research and outline my characters. The idea here is to have the higher mind flow by giving it the tools it needs to build the idea.

2. Do something else. Stop thinking about your project to the extent possible. The ideas may float through your mind. Let them, but go for a walk, take in a movie, have a nap, something. Showers are good, so is driving. Your lower mind will be somewhat involved and get out of the way of the higher mind. As you get better at this technique, the break may be shorter  — a trip to the kitchen for a glass of water.

3. With no real expectations, sit in front of your work site — computer, note pad, easel. Gaze at the screen or canvas and watch. Something will flash or float into your mind. It may be words, a way to start the article. It may be dialogue for a book. It may be colors or a motif for a painting. Go with it. It will take you forward.

I have worked with this technique for so long that, once i’m firmly on the right track for a magazine article, i don’t have to do much rewriting. Fiction, of course, is more layered. You come back in waves and add richness and detail.

But try this simple technique and see if it works for you. Let me know.Do you have other techniques for being creative on demand? Share.  :  )

Living in Book World

For the last year, i’ve been editing two novels. These were the first two works of fiction i ever wrote. When i submitted them the first time, the publisher gave me great encouragement but said there were problems with the books i needed to fix. If i fixed them, they would look again. Now, that’s HUGE motivation. Trouble was, i didn’t have the novel writing skills to fully understand what changes they wanted. So i took myself back to school (online) and submerged myself in craft workshops. I’m a quick study, so it became clear pretty fast what i needed to change — and it was a lot! So i did. Deep point-of-view, improved conflict. On scene after scene i went back to the drawing (uh, writing) board and rethought, rewrote. That, plus a sidetrack for some serious health problems, took a year.

So when i started the NaNo challenge this past Monday, i was actually doing the first from-scratch, original writing i’d done in some time. Wow! I forgot. Writing new material is so different from editing, even when the editing is extensive. Editing is serious work while new writing has a definite element of play, and like all good games, it sucks you in. I am now living in book world, that seductive other planet where writers go when they’re creating stories. I took a walk this morning and i couldn’t even listen to my iPod because music has its own story and i wanted to stay in mine. Every word the characters say takes me somewhere. I had decided long ago that my heroine would be working as a midwife in Africa. That’s all i knew. But i’ve been to Africa, and all of a sudden my heroine is talking about the people and the culture. How tall the men are, how they cook.

I’ve written over 8,000 words as of this morning and i’m through the initial part of the book where i was pretty clear what would happen. I had to get my two heroes on stage and then my heroine. I knew how i wanted to do that so the scenes flew along. But now i’m approaching the creamy center, that part of a book where everything gets a little mushy. I know where the high points are — yes, they will have sex soon, but how do i want to get them there? Last night my heroine told me she wanted to go to the gay bar with the hero. Bingo! There’s a fun scene — straight girl who looks like a boy goes to gay bar with gay boy who is oddly attracted to this girl. That’s a fun way to get them to bed. But as i’m doing this, i’m walking around with my eyes glazed in book world. When people talk to me i have to pull myself out of a deep well in order to pay attention.

Book world is soooo fun. Who needs drugs when you’re a writer?

The Gospel – According to Whom?

You may have read this many times, but it gets me every time. Hope it does you too. :  )

In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant
> > > > Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus
> > > > 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following
> > > > response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident,
> > > > which was posted on the Internet.
> > >
> > > > Dear Dr. Laura:
> > > >
> > > > Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I
> > > > have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that
> > > > knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend
> > > > the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that
> > > > Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination … End of
> > > > debate.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other
> > > > elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > 1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and
> > > > female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend
> > > > of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can
> > > > you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
> > > >
> > > > 2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in
> > > > Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair
> > > > price for her?
> > > >
> > > > 3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in
> > > > her period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is
> > > > how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
> > > >
> > > > 4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates
> > > > a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my
> > > > neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I
> > > > smite them?
> > > >
> > > > 5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.
> > > > Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally
> > > > obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
> > > >
> > > > 6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
> > > > abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality.
> > > > I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’
> > > > of abomination?
> > > >
> > > > 7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I
> > > > have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading
> > > > glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room
> > > > here?
> > > >
> > > > 8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
> > > > around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.
> > > > 19:27. How should they die?
> > > >
> > > > 9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes
> > > > me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
> > > >
> > > > 10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two
> > > > different crops in the same field, as does his wife by
> > > > wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread
> > > > (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot.
> > > > Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the
> > > > whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn
> > > > them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who
> > > > sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
> > > >
> > > > I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy
> > > > considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.
> > > >
> > > > Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal
> > > > and unchanging.
> > > >
> > > > Your adoring fan,
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
> > > > Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University
> > > > of Virginia
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian 🙂
> > >

Great First NaNo Day!

I managed to crank over 2300 words by dinnertime my first day, mostly before work and at lunchtime. I’m excited since 1667 or so will do the job each day. I want to get ahead for those days i can’t meet the goal. 

I’ve gotten our two heroes to meet in the Blue Flamingo gay bar and they’re now on their way to a motel and — ah, fade to black. Until tomorrow anyway.BTW, one hero is a soccer player.      : )

Boys Kissing Boys — Sigh

One of my most popular posts ever was the “Ode to Kissing”. Just to rest our eyes, i offer  a little variation on that theme. Once, when asked what it was like to be in intimate situations with Antonio Banderas in Philadelphia, Tom Hanks answered, “I now know what it’s like to be the envy of all the woman and half the men in the world.” Here’s a little more kiss envy.

Watching Adam Lambert kiss is always a treat — and he does so much of it. Above is one of the photos that outed him as gay during American Idol.  The photo below, is Adam doing his kissing thing with his bass guitarist, Tommy, who is reported to be straight. They kiss every night on stage during Adam’s GlamNation Tour and the audience goes nuts. 

Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr had no corner on the kissing-in-the-surf market. 

Have you ever seen My Beautiful Laundrette? It’s one of the films that put the brilliant Daniel Day Lewis on the map. In it are some truly steamy gay sex scenes that stand up even today as groundbreaking (and temperature raising.). :  )

My Beautiful Boys — Writing Heroes

All writers, especially those who write in romance genres, tend to specialize in either heroines or heroes. My friend Suzanne Forster is famous for her plucky, quirky females. Not to say that she doesn’t write great guys, she does. But her women sing! With names like Kate, Trish, Augusta Featherstone and the perfect Edwina Moody, Suzanne’s heroines are the catalysts of her stories. I’ve never asked her, but i’ll bet she thinks of them first and then finds a hero to offset these great woman. 

Not me. For me it’s all about the boys. I guess that’s why i’m a m/m and menage writer. But even when i dream up m/f stories, the heroine remains a bit a of a cipher until i flesh out the hero. What does he look like? I describe him in loving detail. (When you read Genetic Attraction in February pay attention to the way i describe Roan Black when Em first meets him. Yes, a definite wet dream.) What does he do for a living? Is he tough, sensitive, gentle? Once i have him with lots of flesh on his bones, i think about the heroine or maybe the other hero or both that will best suit him. It has to be someone who can cause some sparks and has the potential for conflict, otherwise there’s no story. But it can’t be so much conflict  that it can never be resolved, after all romance has to end happily. Think of a story we all know, Pride and Prejudice. When we first meet Mr Darcy he seems so unpleasant that he’s beyond redemption. Aside from being handsome, he has very little to recommend him. For the rest of the book, Lizzie learns more and more things about Mr. Darcy that redeems him in her (and our) eyes so that we are hyperventilating at the idea they may not end up married.

Some of my favorite EROM writers create the BEST heroes. Well, as m/m writers that is their stock in trade. Take a look at the wonderful Edward in Lynn Lorenz’ Edward Unconditionally, Johnny in Jet Mykles’ Heaven, Matthew in Sloan Parker’s More and the fabulous Adin in Z.A.Maxfield’s Notturno and now, the sequel, Vigil. Each of these men is completely unique such that they stand out in your mind in a sea of heroes. And i bet they haunt the dreams of their writers. I know my boys do.

If you write, who do you see first? Hero or heroine? And when you read, is the hero or the heroine the most important in making the book memorable? Share.