Tag: author

I’ve abandoned my posts recently – okay, it wasn’t that funny – for good reasons. The garden vegetables needed to be harvested and processed and packaged and frozen for deep winter consumption. Home-grown veggie lasagna with eggplant noodles tastes like sunshine on a dark and frigid January night. Pans and pans of lasagna and squash gratin were prepared, cooled, tasted, tasted some more, then flash frozen. And I’m not done yet. No.

Now come the winter squash bakes and apple cakes, sauce, and crisp. And the pumpkins – not just for carving – are better in pie and cake and pudding. And then the gardens have to be put to bed.

Pumpkin

In this year of learning about being a full-time creative, my intended work-a-day schedule has been blown over and over. I may not go to an employer’s office any longer, but the household demands continue to fight me for time and attention. How can we ever find the time to do our creative work when there is so much else to be done, that has to be done?

Do the work when the work needs to be done.

I suspended writing for the summer to prepare work for the Arts off 84 art crawl on Labor Day weekend. I discovered that I missed sketching and drawing and painting and that I love it as much as I do love writing. This past year, painting had its season during the summer months. The upcoming year will find a few hours each week – maybe even every few days – set aside to plan and prep and start the next collection of paintings.

Worried Boy and Kitten

But I also have self-imposed deadlines to meet. My first novel, “Saving the Ghost,” was sent out into the world as a finished work in search of an agent. It received the attention of a small press and an agent – which in itself for a first work is an achievement. The agent provided feedback which let me know that the book is not quite where it needs to be. Thanks to the Five Wings Arts Council and the McKnight Foundation, I’ve received a 2017 Artist Project Grant, to go back into editing and revision. I also have a second novel in the works. Both projects need to be off my desk by April 30, 2018.

blankpage-pen

And that’s how getting things done works. If I hadn’t picked the tomatoes and squash at the right time and done the work to turn them into meals at the right time, all my soil prep and seed planting and garden tending would have been wasted effort. I love my writing and my painting as much or more as I do my homemade marinara sauce. I won’t waste my creative efforts by wondering when I might find the time to do the work when the work needs to be done.

NEWS!

You can read my latest flash fiction piece, “Abel March,”  in Talking Stick 26.

The Talking Stick is a Minnesota literary journal published by the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc. Produced entirely by Minnesota writers for Minnesota writers since the beginning in 1995.

Buy it now from Jackpine Writers’ Bloc or on Amazon

 

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Hi, everyone. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that writing a novel is a new enterprise for me. I’ve always written stories and poems and ad copy. I’ve never attempted anything like assembling words into a flow for a reader of a novel. It’s hard work.

I see people all day long, launching their 2nd and 3rd and more in a series – mostly romance and dystopia – and self-publishing on Amazon. They’ve got giveaway programs running and pleas out for reviews. I have trouble believing that there can be much value to this material, and yet, this is exactly how Andy Weir published “The Martian.” http://www.npr.org/2015/09/27/443192327/sandstorms-explosions-potatoes-oh-my-martian-takes-its-science-seriously It’s being done right and well, but I am not that writer, not yet.

Going into this, I knew I had a strong story but to create a novel from a good idea requires some talent, dedication, education, and great editing. I received a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, my regional arts support organization, for an online class with Mary Carroll Moore on how to write a novel. I also received money for a first draft edit. This past May I began to send the book – finished as I thought it to be – out to agents and publishers. I wanted the validation of acceptance by a traditional channel.

I got lucky. I was right. The story is strong. The writing is good. But I lost out on a deal with an agent because I still don’t know how to write a novel. I’ve taken a lot of classes and workshops. I’ve been dedicated. I’ve done a good job as far as that goes. But there was something missing.

I know I need a new editor. I know I need to work a little harder. I know I’ll have to ask for more funds to complete this book. As of tomorrow, I’m diving in with an application for a writing residency and an application for editing help and a little more education tied to networking.

Turns out, writing a novel is as much work as any job I’ve ever done. It is the most satisfying and exciting work I’ve ever done. I believe in my story. My writer community believes in me. It’s a new day to learn a new way to get this book done and in your hands via traditional agent or publisher.

The new editor I will be working with has given me these notes – followed by 6.75 pages of all the work I’ll need to do.

Let me begin right off the bat with yet another testimonial to the power of this book. The soul, the heart—it’s strong. These are some of the realest and most compelling characters I’ve ever met. That, by far, is your strongest talent as a writer. And on top of it, you’ve created an emotional journey for these characters that is fraught with pain, yet it leads us toward healing. It’s one of the most universal human stories, with the power to change the reader’s life—even if it’s quite difficult to face this particular topic of sexual and physical abuse.

As I keep saying, our goal is to make sure the story’s bones and muscle and flesh are as strong as its soul. So let’s dive into how we might do that.

I’m going to start again, again. Follow along for weekly updates. But you’ll have to wait until October. I have a lot of reading to catch up on in September.

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I’ve heard a lot of frustration from writers and artists about time – how can a working, mom or dad, or anyone, find time for creative writing and art?  Having just taken a course in time management from Springboard for the Arts, offered at my local library, I can say that a time audit will help you find that time.

Participants were asked to keep track of what they did for 24 hours in each of seven days. After each activity, we were asked to note if the time was Alpha, Beta, or Art time. Alpha is any time spent on art related activities and Art itself. Beta is time not spent on art or art related activities. There can be overlaps.

At the end of the week, it’s easy to see how much time is actually spent producing art. That may be only 20% of your time in a week. The time audit will document how your intentions to work are interrupted and will be useful in creating a space in each week that is devoted to your creative work. Following is a repeat of steps you can take to make creative time a priority:

Focus.

Focus is the key to making time to do the work. You may need to focus first on all the reasons why you are dragged away from the work you start. Keep a sticky-note pad handy and make note of each time you’re interrupted.

  1. How many times were you interrupted by someone else?
  2. How many times were you interrupted by your phone?
  3. How many times were your thoughts interrupted by (fill in the blanks)
    1. ______________________________________
    2. ______________________________________
    3. ______________________________________
    4. What else?

By Wednesday, after taking notes on interruptions, it’s easy to see why we can never find a decent amount of time to grow as an artist or writer. Now it’s time to focus on solutions. Review your sticky-notes and write on each one a possible solution to the problem. Example: Phone interrupts. Turn off the phone during work time.

Set Limits.

If you were on the job, you would not be allowed to entertain all the distractions you do allow when you are on your own time. Understanding how to set limits will be key to making the time you need to deeply focus on your creative work.

You have your notes in hand that illustrate how many distractions you allow. You’ve made notes on possible solutions. Now is the time to implement the solutions by setting limits.

Limit your workspace – keep distractions outside of your workspace, even if that means closing the door or wearing noise-cancelling headphones. Your workspace must become sacred space – yours – where important work is done and others are not allowed to intrude during work hours.

Limit your time – allow yourself enough time to get into deep focus and produce work, but don’t take so much time that everything else goes to the wayside and becomes an excuse for not getting back to work the next day. Make a schedule.

The most compelling distraction is the one that opens the gate for all others to flood in and overwhelm your best intentions. What is that one thing that overwhelms your artistic practice? Faith in yourself to do this work.

 Have faith.

You’ve made the decision to explore your creative self. Don’t judge your successes and failures. Judge only these things:

  1. Adequate workspace
  2. Adequate work time without interruptions
  3. Whether or not you did anything with the workspace and time you created.

The lack of belief in the work and you as the creative spirit will undermine every effort you make or think you want to make.

This entire process is about YOU and no one else. Only you can make the time and make that time what you want.

Prompt for the week. 

  • Keep those sticky-notes handy so you can keep track of your interruptions and plan for solutions to distractions.
  • Create a cheat-sheet using your distractions/solutions notes and post it above your work area where you can see it for quick reference.
  • Make sure other members of your household who feel to interrupt, refer to the cheat-sheet before breaking your focus.
  • Post your work day schedule for them to see.

Next week’s topic: Steps to publishing a story.  

See you back here next Sunday night! Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

 

 

 

 

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It’s late! And there’s your prompt. What is late? Late for what? Or wait – is it latte?

Write it. Paint it. Scribble on a wall. #amwriting #ampainting http://mefuller.com

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The most beautiful word in your world.

Write it. Paint it. Scribble on a wall.

#amwriting #ampainting http://mefuller.com

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I like it and that’s enough.

With the advent of the World Wide Web as a marketplace for all, there is little need any longer for excellence in craft or practice. All you truly require is an internet marketing genius to bring you sales and a reputation as an accomplished artist. Does that mean that you could become wealthy selling scribbles on napkins over the internet? Very likely.

If you are one of the above, wishing to gain fame and fortune via marketing tricks, then I wish you all the luck in the world. You probably won’t need it. You’ll do fine.

For the rest of us creative types, however, who want to gain an audience because of our artistic efforts, we need to do a better job of presentation. It is a fact, still, that word of mouth is the most effective sales tool. If your work and presentation are sloppy, your audience reviews will reflect your lack of effort.

 Review.

Last week we took a tour of some art galleries. Are any of you ready to present to a gallery for an exhibition? I hope so. Keep last week’s post bookmarked, so you’ll know how to begin your inquiries.

 Tools.

You’ve all seen the pencil drawings that are executed on crumpled paper, smudged, and drawn with a hard graphite pencil. Not only is the work difficult to see – the harder the lead, the lighter the line – but there’s no dimension. How does our work come to life? By using the right tools and media on the right base material.

There are proper materials/tools for every job and there are hundreds of videos on the internet to teach you which to use and when. I praise the skies for the internet for all the educational opportunities it offers.  From blogs to video instructions, you can learn anything about any artistic practice.

There’s no excuse for not planning ahead to create a piece ready for public presentation.

These are the first few articles I accessed with ease, that are free of charge to use. Know your tools and materials well, and know how to use them.

Protect your work.

Creative prompt.

Draw a tree on proper pastel paper, using charcoal or soft lead colored pencils. Be careful not to smudge your work unintentionally. Be sure not to crinkle up the paper edges as you work. Fix it. Mat it. Share it with the world!

Next week’s topic: How to approach a publisher.  See you back here next Sunday night!

Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

Join our Greyhairs Rising Facebook group.

 

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Is there an art to it?

I do not have my artwork in a gallery.  I’m still slogging away on my first novel. Until that is in the hands of beta readers, it consumes my every day, and I don’t have free time enough to begin developing a basic concept for a show. But I’ve made a few tentative inquiries and I’ll share here, the little I know. Maybe we’ll get some gallery owners to share their insights with us.

Review.

Last week I detoured into the realm of possibilities. No matter what we’re focused on, it’s so important to remember that all of everything exists first, as a possibility. It’s true with objects and relationships, feelings and thoughts. I recommend a daily dose of meditation on possibilities. Ohm.

What are galleries looking for?

Galleries are not only looking to support talent, they’re looking to stay in business. That means they need an inventory of work that will sell. As creative artists, we like to be free to create and not be bound by formula or consistencies in concept. We don’t generally aim to be production artists, producing the same thing in the same style, over and over. That’s fine if you don’t want to exhibit in a gallery. You can sell your work online, in gift shops, and to interior design studios. There are lots of outlets for art sales.

But, if you want to exhibit in a gallery, and grow a following for your work as a known and respected artist, then you need to be identifiable as THAT artist – the one whose work we do know and recognize. For that, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Eddie Hamilton artwork

There’s no mistaking Eddie Hamilton artwork

Presenting the work.

  1. Create a body of work – at minimum, 20 gallery-ready pieces – that is consistent in
    1. use of media
    2. technique
    3. style
    4. theme
    5. presentation

And be prepared to show a concept portfolio of your “next in the series” work in process.

  1. Presentation to the gallery for consideration

Regardless of the format you use for your presentation – digital or tangible representation (photo) – each of the 20 or so pieces you are proposing for an exhibit must include:

Title   /    Media   /    Size   /    Price

Put a well-designed, but brief, bio at the end, supported by any news clippings about you as an artist or the work (limit to 2). Don’t overwhelm. If the gallery wants more information, they’ll ask you for it. If you have sold any of the series pieces, include that information along with at least one image of an installed piece if you’ve got one.

Do not overlook the value of a well-presented body of work. If you need help covering the costs of framing or containers or stands or what-have-you to present your work in the best way possible, contact you local arts organizations about available grants to cover these costs.

Research.

Now you have a portfolio, who are you going to show it to? Research galleries who consistently represent artists with themes or styles that are similar to yours. They wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t know their buying audience, so find galleries that appear to be a good fit with your work. Look online. Here’s a terrific resource to get you started: http://art-collecting.com/index.htm and also check in your town, city, region, and state directories. Oh, and don’t forget to contact your local arts organizations. They may have gallery space for members. It’s a great way to get your foot – er, artwork – in a gallery door.

The approach.

Know the gallery’s guidelines for proposals before even thinking about making a personal visit.  Every gallery will have its own artist selection process for exhibitions and there are many artists, equally talented, in line for consideration, ahead of you.

Don’t be discouraged.

Gallery exhibit schedules can be 2 or 3 years out, so keep your eye on the prize and not on the calendar. Also, keep a record of who you’ve approached and which portfolio of work you presented. If you get that call, you’re going to want to know, right away, which series they want.

Just a few other resources.

http://art-support.com/exhibitions.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Your-Art-Into-a-Gallery

http://reddotblog.com/how-galleries-select-artists-how-galleries-work-2/

Creative prompt.

My body of work is…

Next week’s topic:  Art presentation.  See you back here next Sunday night!

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Write it. Paint it. Scribble it on a wall. What is freedom for you, for others, for the environment, for anything or anyone? Please post your freedoms. #amwriting #ampainting #freedom http://mefuller.com

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Possibilities. We need them!

This week I was going to talk about how to reach out to galleries with your work, but I’m going to shift gears. I had an experience earlier in the week that so completely altered my mental and emotional direction, that I want to share the payload with you.

Review.

The purpose of this year-long blog series was to share with others my first year as a full time creative person. It was a year of possibilities. I leapt out of my employee cage and roared forth with ferocity. I did not sit back and doodle or look for writing prompts and encouragement. I went to work. I went after what I wanted. I got tired. I kept at it.

Winter just before spring.

We often hear the rah-rah speeches about “You can do it!” and “Dream it and you can be it.” The action part of the encouragements is where most of us fail. We stall. We forget how to access the possibilities.

Seedlings

The stall.

For many of us, on both sides of the political and social diatribes that are erupting everywhere on the planet, this is a great time to stall. What’s the point to your work if everything you’ve known to be a certain way is changing and changing FAST?

And so we wait a day or two or a week or a month. We’re stuck. What should I write about? What should I paint? When an artist’s inner world is in turmoil, he either stops creating or madly creates, hoping to be part of some change that the artist recognizes as emerging possibility.

Watercolors in process

The vision.

Close your eyes. Still your heart. Silence the noise in your head. Breathe. What do you see, feel, sense? That is the essence of your creative vision. Keep living with it. Give it space every day – even every hour if you need to do that. Find the vision. Feed the vision. Tell its story.

The possibilities.

I’m one week – seven days – away from completing my manuscript for “Saving the Ghost.” I was one week away, three weeks ago. I stalled. Who will care about this in these turbulent times? My inner language was far more colorful but brought about the same result – I stalled, I had no vision for the work, I had forgotten about possibilities.

We do not know the future nor do we fully understand the moment we’re living, so there’s no point in trying to tie a future to our work. Our work is every possibility until it is defined by a publisher, a reader, a gallery, an art lover. We simply create, we do not define. Our creative process allows us to engage with possibilities and see where they take us. That’s all we need to know.

Everything is possible.

Creative prompt.

Contemplate and express possibilities.

Next week’s topic:   How to approach a gallery.  See you back here next Sunday night!

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Good grief! It’s week 14!

…and nearly February 14 which has been set aside as a day for love. Spring fever is sneaking up behind the faltering frigid temperatures up here in the northern lakes country. I can feel it. More, I can believe it! This week, love of your creative spirit and your works must play a leading role as you approach the building of your resume.

"Comfort," M E Fuller, 2015

“Comfort,” M E Fuller, 2015

Review.

I hope you took some time to gather information on residencies and retreats that might help you escape the day-to-day distractions from your creative work. Please share your retreats and residency experiences with us. Thanks!

What can I do to make my resume/Curriculum Vitae work for me?

If you’re resurrecting an established artistic practice, then constructing a resume, or Curriculum Vitae, should be fairly easy for you. However, if you, like me, were not able to earn a living as an artist or writer earlier on, you may not have a lot of direct education or work experience to catch the eye of a potential buyer or client. What to do?

First, know the difference between the two. Here’s a helpful website resource: https://www.thebalance.com/cv-vs-resume-2058495

For creating your artist resume, I’m going to refer to another helpful blog: http://blog.creative-capital.org/2013/03/page-from-our-handbook-artist-resume/

Resume Basics: An artist’s resume is a listing of your professional experiences, achievements and credentials, organized into categories for easy scanning by the reader. A resume lists the facts that place you in your discipline and reflects where you have already received support.

Read through the page for quick and concise information on what to include. Make notes on your own background and compare.

"Big Love," M E Fuller 2016

“Big Love,” M E Fuller 2016

If you feel that you don’t have enough experience to reference, here are some other suggestions:

  1. Be honest! Provide an opening paragraph that explains your background in a nutshell then close with a statement about what you are doing now and your most recent work.
  2. Locate a writer’s or artist’s group near you and learn from members what free or low-cost classes and workshops are available near you.
  3. Take as many classes and workshops as you can. List them on your resume.
  4. If you have been published anywhere, even a local magazine or newspaper, be sure to list and credit the publication.
  5. Start a blog and add fresh content no less than weekly. Show examples of your work or talk about your creative process. This gives potential clients proof that you are actively working at your craft.
  6. I recommend using WordPress. (You can get a free blog if you don’t purchase a domain name. With a domain name, you’ll want your blog to be hosted – in other words, you’ll pay a fee to host your blog on a commercial server that will use your domain name, not theirs, as the url.)
  7. Use Social Media and be active! Make reference to your social media accounts on your blog.

Once you’ve got your resume put together, remember to update it regularly. And, you can tailor the resume to the client’s needs.

Good luck!

First Kiss

First Kiss, M E Fuller, 2014

Next week’s topic: How to approach a gallery.

See you back here next Sunday night!

Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

Join our Greyhairs Rising Facebook group.

 

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