Welcome, Sunday readers. As you know, I’ve been preparing new art for the Arts off 84 art crawl coming up over Labor Day weekend. Well, I’m mostly ahead of schedule for once. I still have three paintings in process, four sketches that I might work up, and some larger pieces out in the shop drying. Oh, and there are plenty of older pieces to choose from as well. Yes! Fist pump.

 

Art - 2017 MEFuller 20170813_171111

Enjoy your week.

#art #painting #acrylics

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Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, come out to see me at Arts off 84, site #4. https://www.artsoff84.com/find-us/ Here’s a sample of what I’ve been working on.

Woman with Chicken, 2017 M E Fuller

Woman with Chicken, 2017 M E Fuller

 

#ampainting #art

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Not much to report this week. Just making a mess as I build the base for my Arts off 84 paintings. Themes are Relationships in Love, Conflicts in Nature, and some miscellaneous oddball images that strike my fancy.

Charcoal Sketch - Fox and Hare

Hope you’ll come out to the show on Labor Day weekend. You’ll get a taste of Minnesota’s Northland for sure.

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2017 BWA Writing Contest and Fall Festival

ATTEND BWA FALL FESTIVAL and BOOK FAIR

October 28, 2017

Where: Northland Arboretum
Time: 9:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.
See details on how to register, below.

Minnesota Writers – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Submit your original work to the annual BWA writing contest.
See details on how to submit, below.

Book Fair Vendors

$5 for 1/3 of an 8-foot table space to sell your books.
Space is limited. Be sure to mention you’d like a spot when registering.

2017 BWA contest guidelines

  2017-BWA-FestivalPoster

 

2017 BWA Fall Festival Speaker, Faith Sullivan

“Aiming for Excellence: A Little Better Every Day

Faith Sullivan was born and raised in southern Minnesota. Married to drama critic Dan Sullivan, she lived twenty-some years in New York and Los Angeles, returning to Minnesota often to keep her roots planted in the prairie. She is the author of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse (2015), Gardenias (2005),  What a Woman Must Do (2002), The Empress of One (1997), The Cape Ann (1988), Mrs. Demming and The Mythical Beast (1986), Watchdog (1982) and Repent, Lanny Merkel (1981). A “demon gardener, flea marketer, and feeder of birds,” Sullivan lives in Minneapolis with her husband. They have three grown children. For more information, please visit her website. Photo credit: Leila_Navidi   faithsullivan.com

Brainerd Writers Alliance 2017 Writing Contest

GUIDELINES and INFORMATION

This contest is open to all writers who are residents of Minnesota.

CATEGORIES

Fiction: 2500 word limit.

Tips: Stories need a strong hook to get the reader into the first scene; good development of character and scene interwoven with action; clear rising action to a turning point and resolution; consistent point of view; theme or story idea is clear by end.

Creative nonfiction: 2500 word limit.

  • Memoir stories use fiction guidelines above but are based on actual events.
  • Essay should concern an issue but still have a hook and be developed using examples, narrative, cause-effect, or comparison-contrast; rising action to a climax – arguments get stronger to the turning point; and come to a clear conclusion.

Poetry: 3 poem limit (each poem limited to maximum 40 lines).

  • Poems need strong imagery that enhances the theme or emotion. Robert Frost said, “Poems should begin with delight and end with wisdom.”

FEE TO SUBMIT

$15.00 –  entry in fiction or nonfiction categories.

$15.00 – one to three poems in the poetry category.

ELIGIBILITY

Contest is open to writers who are residents of Minnesota. Work must be submitter’s original, not previously awarded, and unpublished.

DEADLINE and NOTIFICATION

Entries due postmarked August 30, 2017 (no metered mail) or before; winners will be notified by Sept. 30th.

HOW TO SUBMIT

  • Cover letter, separate from entry, to include
    • Name and contact info (address, phone, email)
    • List entry titles with category and word count. Example: “Olivia” – creative nonfiction – 2,455 words.
  • $15 entry fee per entry check made out to BWA
  • Two (2) typed copies of each entry
  • All entries must be typed on standard 8 ½ x 11 paper
  • Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font or similar, double-spaced / Poetry may be single- or double-spaced
  • Fiction and creative nonfiction include – title, category, and word count on top of each page; double-spaced, DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME.
  • Poetry include – title at the top of the page, DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME.
  • Submit by August 30, 2017
  • Postal mail entries to: BWA Writing Contest, 30755 Old Hwy 371, Pequot Lakes, MN 56472

PRIZES

Prizes are $75 for first place and $50 for second place and free entry to 2017 Fall Writers Festival. Winners will be notified after September 30, 2017 and are invited to read at the festival. Prizes will be awarded at the festival or by mail after the festival.

OTHER NOTES

  • Winning entries will not be put on our website or published in any way, so that they may be submitted later as “not previously published” in magazines, anthologies, etc.
  • Our judges are skilled in the writing craft. We encourage them to attend the festival and give comments on the winning entries.
  • All contest entrants are encouraged to attend the BWA Fall Writers Festival October 28th at the Northland Arboretum.

ATTEND BWA FALL WRITERS FESTIVAL

  • A separate fee of $25 for the Festival includes a catered lunch.
  • Reservations are due on or before Oct. 25th.
  • To reserve your spot, send $25.00 check payable to BWA
    • Postal Mail: 6584 Parkview Circle, Baxter, MN 56425
    • Email: brainerdwriters@gmail.com, attn.: Bev, with your RSVP and pay at the door.

BOOK FAIR VENDORS: $5 for 1/3 of an 8-foot table space to sell your books. Space is limited. Be sure to mention you’d like a spot when registering.

Contact Contest Chair Bev Abear with questions at brainerdwriters@gmail.com

Check our website for updates on our Fall Writers Festival: www.brainerdwriters.com

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Welcome back! Yes, you’re right, I skipped a week. Sometimes life doesn’t fit my schedule. Sometimes I’m just along for the ride. I try my best to keep to what I promise. I try hard. I usually succeed.

After a week of recovery from Cirenaica which included organizing my workshop notes, followed by a week of fireworks and birthday candles and setting up for a new round of paintings, I’m back on task. Well, I’m back on task as much as my summer distractions allow. Squash is growing, tomatoes are showing up, and banana peppers scream, “Pick me! Pick me!” Flower baskets beg for water.

petunias2

 

The dog wants out to laze in the sun then wants in because the flies and mosquitoes are driving her crazy.

It seems a long time since I’ve devoted myself to my sketchbook. I’ve been preoccupied with the first novel and now writing the second, while still editing and revising the first. But I have to sketch because I cannot paint until I sketch.

Sketching

Sketching finds the feeling that feeds my wrist and fingers and brushes to make the paintings I want to produce. This year I’m concentrating on mixed media, stylized images that express comfort and love. I want to make things that make other people smile and feel good.

And more… I’ll see how far I get this week and what catches my interest.

2Sketches

See you back here next Sunday (or some day during the week). Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

 

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Welcome back!

I know, I know, it’s Tuesday, not Sunday. Before sharing my experiences at Cirenaica (sarah-neye-kah), I needed some thinking and recovery time. I’m awake now and exploding with thoughts and notes for you.

The intention behind this year-long weekly series, Greyhairs Rising, was to share with anyone – especially retirees – how I reconstituted my artistic career in both writing and painting. I’ve given you a lot of how to get started and stay in the game information. I’ve shared a load of resources to explore. I am now in a state of being with my work that goes beyond the nuts and bolts of how to.

I was ready to take a big leap forward and chose to apply to Cirenaica, knowing full well that I might be overwhelmed and overrun by REAL writers – educated, perceptive, smart, critical thinkers who know how to use their words in writing and speaking, offering up the very best of critique and support for their fellow artists. Truth be told, I didn’t know all of that going in. I wanted to have the experience of being in residency with other writers, in a teaching environment, without letup, but I was also worried.

My apprehensions were about:

  • Living among, young, energetic, creative types
  • Could I keep up?
  • Could I stay awake?
  • Would I have any “senior” issues that would get in the way? (You all know what I mean!)
  • What if I didn’t like the people, place, or any of it?
  • Would anyone care about what I had to say?
  • Would I have anything of value to contribute?

 

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

I can say to you happily, that not one of my concerns was an issue. When it came to keeping up with the lively younger folk, I didn’t have to. Eight or nine o’clock in the evenings, when I disappeared, they might ask, “Where’s Maggie?” but somebody would know and say so, “I think she went to bed.” And when I got up at 5:00 a.m., I had the quiet of the space to myself, got the coffee brewing, and went to work writing. It was glorious.

And everyone was good natured and unafraid to expose their work to critique. Each participant submitted 15 to 25 pages of writing for everyone else to read and critique before we met. Each day, about 11:00 a.m., we gathered with our notes and spent a good hour to hour and a half on one writer’s submission. The writer was not allowed to comment while we, one by one, responded to the work. Near the end, Nickolas Butler, our artist in residence at his own house down the road, made summary comments and then took the writer aside for a brief one-on-one. This process is referred to as workshopping.

Workshopping

 I admit to being confused for a day about the use of the word workshop in this context. I understood a workshop as an opportunity to work on a topic – like a class. I understood critique as a separate and more line-by-line approach to providing feedback. The workshopping we were doing was neither. This was whole-hog, educated reader, skilled writer, perspective on:

  1. Favorite sentence
  2. What’s working
  3. What’s not working
  4. Title – yes, no, middle-of-the-road
  5. What’s it about?
  6. Theme

I understand that this process will vary from artist to artist – everyone has their own way of doing things, right? I did find that limiting the comments to these points – especially the first three – and actively listening to what everyone had to say – gave me a deeper appreciation of every single story we were given to read.

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

Before the workshopping began, the writer chose a section of their own story to read aloud. I cannot stress enough, the value of reading aloud. Some stories I had no particular feel for, came alive for me when the writer read. The stories took on an entirely different dimension as I listened to others talk about the work. I realized, and I’m hanging my head in shame here, that I read too fast, with too critical and impatient an eye and mind. I need to change.

I could write about this experience for days, but I’ll stop now. Well, before I do, I have to give kudos to the chef, Brent. He went out of his way to accommodate my food allergies and served up some of the most delicious food ever to pass my lips. And BJ Hollars, the coordinator of the event, is a fabulous man.

I encourage you, one and all, to seek out a residency experience if you’re at all able. You’ll thank yourself after a day of recovery!

Photo credit: Justin Patchin

Photo credit: Justin Patchin

A note on Cirenaica

The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild is pleased to partner with Cirenaica for our second year of summer residencies!  Nestled on 43 acres of hills, farmland, and forest near the quaint village of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, our residencies promise participants of all levels and genres an intensive yet rejuvenating experience amidst an inspiring backdrop.

See you back here next Sunday (or some day during the week). Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

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Week 30. Cirenaica with Nickolas Butler

This week I will be in residency at Cirenaica, outside of Eau Claire, WI, with author Nickolas Butler and ten other fiction writers. This will be my first residency experience. I’m grateful to have been accepted. I’m eager to work and critique among other writers, off by ourselves in the wilds of Wisconsin farmland – eating, drinking, sleeping, talking, and working fiction.

Nickolas Butler, credit: Chippewa Valley Writer's Guild

Nickolas Butler. Photo credit: Chippewa Valley Writer’s Guild

Before I go much further, I have to thank the Cirenaica Residency Coordinator and author, B. J. Hollars, for his accommodating nature. It is a fact, friends, that we retirees have likely developed certain lifestyle sensitivities and limitations. We don’t want to stop ourselves from enjoying the most that life has to offer but face it, some of our choices may be relegated to the senior menu. B. J. – who I originally thought through email exchanges was a woman in her mid-fifties – is a bright and friendly young man who would do well in the hospitality industry. As my mother used to advise me, artists must always have a real skill to fall back on.

B. J. Hollars Photo credit: B. J. Hollars

B. J. Hollars Photo credit: B. J. Hollars

Listen to his podcast and be charmed. And listen to Nickolas Butler read from “Shotgun Lovesongs,” within the stunning review by Janet Maslin March of the New York Times.

I didn’t know that artist residencies were “a thing” when I stepped into my retirement career as a writer. Some people, I understand, spend their retirement jumping from cruise ship to cruise ship, or house sitting for professors on sabbatical in college towns. Others, writer and artist others, can be mapped across residencies – coast to coast – in country villages to western-ranging dude ranches.

Some residencies are in-house, pay-your-way workshops, offering teaching opportunities from an established artist. Some will invite you to stay as the artist in residency and provide a small stipend for expenses. All will feed you and house you and teach you in a pod of artists, charging the air you breathe with creative fire.

Length of stay varies. Do your research. Apply liberally.

A note on Cirenaica

The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild is pleased to partner with Cirenaica for our second year of summer residencies!  Nestled on 43 acres of hills, farmland, and forest near the quaint village of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, our residencies promise participants of all levels and genres an intensive yet rejuvenating experience amidst an inspiring backdrop.

Next week’s topic: Probably a review of the Nickolas Butler’s Theory and Practice of Fiction Residency

See you back here next Sunday (or some day during the week). Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

 

 

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You’ve all heard about – or lived through – the cold and snow and ice of Minnesota. It’s the land of endless winter popped by 3 months of summer that brings blowdown storms, tornadoes, giant mosquitoes, and biting black flies. It’s all true. But we also have, and I thank our Minnesota State Legislators (Legacy Amendment funds) for this, a supportive arts community through the Minnesota State Arts Board, Springboard for the Arts, and regional arts councils.

By the way, fellow Minnesotans, be sure to click the link to the Minnesota State Legislators. That will take you to the Legacy Funding Committee. Take time, please, to contact these legislators to tell them how arts funding is needed and thank them for their support.

Springboard for the Arts

I attended a series of 5 classes, offered by Springboard at no charge and presented in my local library, April through May. The title of the group of classes was “Work of Art. Business Skills for Artists.”

I had not planned to attend since I had been a freelance graphic designer for the better part of thirty years. I thought I knew… well, I didn’t. From a review of how to tailor the artist resume to legal considerations, pricing and time management, to funding options, I left with knowledge about how-to and artist resources, to build my retirement career into a solid retirement business.

I strongly urge you to visit the website and explore all it has to offer – even if you aren’t a Minnesotan. Download the 2017 class catalog pdf and dive into

logo

Creative Exchange, practical, artist-created toolkits to spark change and stories to inspire connection.

As with most things, 90% of achievement is powered by our own efforts. Not everyone is equally equipped for the challenges our goals require. Get help from a friend – you’ve got one in Springboard for the Arts!

Next week’s topic: (depends… it’s summer in Minnesota.)

See you back here next Sunday (or some day during the week). Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lesson learned today: Draw the sensual information out of the bullet points.

That’s the clearest understanding I have so far about the difference between showing and telling in literature. Back to writing. I have an entire novel to overhaul – an ongoing nightmare!

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Early on in this series we looked at our intention to create art and asked the question, “How serious am I?” The deeper I get into my own work, the more serious I am, the more driven, the more confused I am about the quality of my work. I’m talking about writing and how I’ve learned that there is a “best” way to tell a story. I’ve learned that I’m prone to leave out some important things – best ways to deliver characters and scenes – and I’m struggling to understand how to recognize and fix the problems.

I just heard myself saying to myself, “Maybe you’ve taken on too much with this book.” Maybe I have. Maybe I can’t learn the things I need to know to do this story justice. Maybe… and then I stopped. I reminded myself that I want to tell this story, this particular story because I believe it’s important. And I reminded myself that two years ago I didn’t know enough to know to ask the questions I’m asking now.

My intention has been clear from the beginning. I want this. I want this enough to work this hard at learning the craft. I’ve learned to ignore some input and some teachings and to embrace others. I’ve done virtually nothing but learn and practice and learn and practice. I tell myself, “This isn’t math. You can do it!”

So this week I’m going to take you back to the second week topic and ask you to review your intention to create. Are you any further along than you were six months ago? Does it matter to you?

How Serious Are You?

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being I’m all in!, where are you as we start this week and is it where you want to be?  Where you imagined yourself to be?

Pick Your Battles.

Everything we do that we do well requires some time and effort. Time and energy can be the two strongest forces working against us as we age. Can we ignore our obstacles? By this time in life, I think we’ve all come to realize that the adage, pick your battles, has real meaning.

I’ve always been a nap taker. On the days that I did not allow myself the luxury of an afternoon snooze, I felt restless and less focused. Rather than fight my nature, I succumbed and am much happier and more productive for giving in.

My husband listens patiently to my babblings about what I’m writing or what I’m painting. He’s supportive but not engaged in my enthusiasm. I had to seek out other creatives who would share my excitement. Rather than fight with my husband over my disappointments, I accept what he offers and appreciate him for who he is.

I have friends who are challenged by mobility and other health-related issues. They’ve had to accept their physical limitations but that doesn’t mean restrictions on their creative dreams. Tools at hand, inspiring videos and a willingness to embrace the freedoms a creative spirit affords, keeps the artist alive and busy finding new ways to accommodate first the artist, then the limitations.

Finding the time to work.

I found that I accomplished the most writing in the early morning. Fresh from sleep and dreams, I hit the computer keyboard and pound out the words. After about an hour, I have to take a break and walk around a little, feed the dog, have some coffee or tea. So I learned to set alarms on my phone to reflect my way of working.

I officially start work at 9 o’clock in the morning. I may be up at 4 or 5 and been writing and musing and planning. But by 8 a.m., I need to be showered and dressed and prepared for work as if I had an office to get to. It took me six months of retirement to realize that I work best with a schedule. So I created one. By following a schedule I found my level of commitment to the work was rewarded with pages written and paintings painted and boundless satisfaction and self-appreciation!

I also realized that not every day is a work day. Somedays I found I could not focus or settle down into the routine. I knew I was missing the element of pressure to achieve so I began working with deadlines. I entered art shows and writing competitions that came with a finish-by date. That gave me the extra nudge I needed to keep me going.

Deadlines and schedules may not be what work for you. I seem to get the most joy out of accomplishment. Many people find their joy in the process. Watch yourself, see how you work, notice what makes you feel good about what you’re doing and how you do it. Then establish working rules that fit you and allow you to get the most creative enjoyment.

Tips for the week:

  • Pay attention to distractions. What pulls you away from your art?
  • Take note of your personal work style. When are you the most productive?
  • Consider your workspace. Does it fit with your working style?
  • Make notes about the obstacles and challenges you find. How can you put your artist self first, before accommodating limitations or restrictions?
  • Keep sketching
  • Try a timed writing off of one of your sticky note thoughts from last week. Get a pad of paper, position yourself in a comfy spot, set a timer for 5 minutes and write without lifting pen from paper.

Keep building your bank of sticky note ideas.

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