Creative Spirit

Articles abound about how schools stifle creativity by forcing children to conform to certain ways of thinking and doing things. Fortunately that isn’t always true.

Unfortunately what happens when kids get out of school, either high school, or college is devastating.

Doors are slammed in the faces of those who put themselves out there into the world where all things are subjective. The real world, especially the workplace, is set up to stifle creative thinking, the individual, and anyone with new ideas. Employees are hired for their creativity and drive, then that creative is beaten out of them, only to be replaced with the acceptable mediocracy of the prevailing management.

We’ve all seen how our government works with old men asking fear filled questions about the dangers of social media and other subjects they will not even attempt to understand. They are the same people who cut off funds for our arts and sciences because they do not trust what they do not understand. Unfortunately they do not want to understand – that would mean opening their eyes to new and different ideas. That would mean letting go of ignorance and opening up their minds and maybe even their hearts.

Friends and relatives can be the worst at killing the creative spirit in a child or young adult. They all have loud and negative opinions about hopes and dreams of the young people they know. They say things like, “only communists and socialists get Political Science degrees,” or “you can’t make a living as an artist (or a historian, a marine biologist, a fashion designer, a musician, a bed and breakfast owner, a baker, a vintage motorcycle mechanic, a poet, a writer, an art historian, a speciality crop farmer, or anything else where someone has new ideas, or ideas on making old ideas better.)

Dreams are easy to kill, especially in those who have had doors slammed in their faces  time after time after time. Even if you go around back there isn’t always another door or even a window to crawl into.

Don’t tell a young person that they are a failure before they have even tried.

I feel that individual sports and activities such as music and acting can help prepare a child for the negativity and judgments of adult life.

For example, my daughter roller skates. That is Artistic Roller Skating. It is like figure skating on ice, except on roller skates. When the skaters do their events, be it Figures, Team Dance, Solo Dance, or Freestyle, they are out there on the floor alone. They skate in front of a panel of judges. The skaters have specific requirements, but they are all judged individually on their own merits. That is a tough lesson for kids, and a good one. My daughter skated for years without winning. Finally she did win Gold at the National Championships – Twice. She got Bronze once. She also went to the National Championships and didn’t win. But she went. She went out of love for her sport. She did it because she wanted to do her personal best.

We should all strive to do our personal best even if there is no Gold Medal at the end. Even if there is no cash reward. Even if there is no fame.

Creativity in any endeavor is an act of love. Don’t stifle that love in the young people you know.

I have been writing this odd little blog since 2012. I haven’t received a MacArthur Fellowship. I haven’t received a penny off of my efforts. I has not made me famous (maybe a little bit.) But I continue to write this blog anyway. My thoughts on parenting, Vlad, Eleora and Tellias, Nigel the Ghost, and the rest of it are all stories that must be told. It is mine. I encourage you all to find what is YOURS and hold it close and keep doing whatever it is that makes you happy and creative.

Today the 2019 MacArthur Fellows were announced. Sometime this is know as the MacArthur Genius Grants.

Twenty six people from a variety of fields were awarded a $625,000 stipend that they can do whatever they want with.

From the foundations president John Palfrey: From addressing the consequences of climate change to furthering our understanding of human behavior to fusing forms of artistic expression, this year’s 26 extraordinary MacArthur Fellows demonstrate the power of individual creativity to reframe old problems, spur reflection, create new knowledge, and better the world for everyone. They give us reason for hope, and they inspire us all to follow our own creative instincts.”

They give us reason for hope, and they inspire us all to follow our own creative instincts.

I was so happy to see one of my favorite artist Lynda Barry on the list. I love her work so much.  Lynda Barry, 63, graphic novelist, cartoonist and educator
“Inspiring creative engagement through original graphic works and a teaching practice centered on the role of image making in communication.”

For years I had her Poodle With A Mohawk poster on my wall. I still have the poster. I’m going to put it back up.

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Congratulations to all of the recipients and to your creative spirit, and thank you for inspiring generations now and in the future.

So now, your assignment for today is:

  1. Encourage.
  2. Inspire.
  3. Support.
  4. Discuss.
  5. Hug.
  6. Read.
  7. Learn.
  8. Love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Dark Days, Ghosts, and Inspiration

coffee

Coffee with Vampires, Ghosts and Poe

I’ve been having a bad case of Empty Nest Blues lately. Yes, even without any kids in the house, or kids almost out of the house, I can do anything. Right? Yes, but like everything else it is always complicated with me. As I brooded about my lack of brood and lack of inspiration my brother Val stopped by for coffee.

As I filled the French Press with hot water, Val grabbed cups and poured in a shot of blood and half/half in each cup. He put two packages of Equal in his, one in mine.

“Dark day?” He asked.

“I feel frozen. But I’ll be fine. Tell me about your sorry existence.” That was a joke. Val has a lovely existence, especially for a Vampire.

We sat and talked about a lot of things. I thought about being inspired to be inspired.

I poured more coffee into my cup and posed a question to my brother. “What if Edgar Allen Poe had lived. He died in 1849, so he might have heard of the gold find in California. What if he’d live and come to California? What if he’d continued to write and eventually met Bret Harte and Mark Twain? What if he’d met Lotta Crabtree? What if he’d met us?”

“Imagine him on the ship with our parents. That would have been fun.”

“Poe would have loved them.”

“He would have ended up becoming a Vampire. Mom would have made sure of that.”

“Maybe,” I said. “He was so odd and broken, but he shouldn’t have died. I think he was murdered.”

“That’s the rumor.”

One idea leads to another, and I make mental notes for stories, books, and artwork that I think a lot about and might someday create, or finish, or forget. The thought is depressing, or exciting depending on who is thinking it. If I’m thinking it right now it seems vague and somewhat depressing, and impossible, and overwhelming. Tomorrow it might be another answer.

As we talked, and my mood brightened and became more hopeful, Val and I looked out the window into my back yard. We could see the ghosts, Nigel and Mary by the fence. They were dancing to music we couldn’t hear. Being ghosts, dealing with their own deaths, and murders, had taken a toll on both, but they pulled themselves out of their own broken fog and made a life after death for themselves. Love will do that. Don’t get me wrong, Nigel is still a major asshole, but sometimes I see that light I know he had when he was alive. Like with Poe, I wonder what he would have achieved had he lived. He’d be fifty-eight now, had he not died in 1986.

Nigel looked up at us and waved at Val. Then he looked at me. Our eyes locked, and he flipped me off. Then Nigel and Mary vanished, as she continued to dance, and he glared at me.

I can relate to the songs and dances of the broken. These are not all sad songs. They’re just songs of those who have maybe had more complex paths to wander along.

Val had always been along my path with me, but we’ve taken side trails alone.

But like with my brother’s visit, I always circle around and return to the joy and love of my family, my friends, and of my imagination.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

don't be a ghost

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/broken/

 

 

 

They’re fast, and they’re big, and they can’t see you.

Of course I’m at the roller skating rink, organ music in the back ground and hear the voice of the coach yelling at the other skaters to watch for the team dance in a lesson (my own sweet child and her partner.)

I liked what she said.

Watch for them. They’re fast, and they’re big, and they can’t see you.

What a great line to save and use for another time.

The teenage pair, on their roller skates, grace the floor as he twirls her around in moves that both scare and amaze me.

Then I get a vision of a thick forest. Someone is running. Two people. They are breathing hard. Their clothes are getting snagged. I see a glimpse of long sharp white teeth. I see a flash of claws. I hear a faint growl from a mouth dripping with siliva and blood. I see long thick fur. I see panic in their eyes. Then down from a tree jumps a figure in black.

“Follow me,” he says in a raspy voice, with a brief flash of fang. “I won’t hurt,” he says. “Follow me.” 

The organ music starts again in a walt. The team glides across the floor. Even in their plain practice outfits they are beautiful and elegant. Who would guess that heavy metal boy and the alternative girl would jump into another world with such grace and ease.

Then I see a ballroom. Couples dance with grace in beautiful clothing. The don’t see the glowing red and yellow eyes looking in from the window, waiting for the first couple to go outside for some privacy. A chance for a kiss will become a chance for a kill…

Small boys and girls twirl and jump on the wooden skate rink floor. The sound of wheels and the voice of the coach is all I hear. The record is over and the music is silent for now. It is Friday which means pizza after skate practice, or maybe a movie with the family and popcorn. It means staying up late and a lot of giggling.

Yes, staying up late and walking through the graves, with fog heavy in the trees. They hear a noise. Was it stone against stone? They turn and look behind them? Was that crypt open a minute ago? 

I hear the coach, “chest up, head up.” She praises them, then corrects them again. I can see the concentration on their faces. Both have dark eyes and intense expressions. Then they smile. They’re beautiful.

With dark eyes they stood on the top of the ancient tower, overlooking the ocean. The sound of the waves echoed in their ears. “They can’t get to us here,” she whispered. He adjusted his sword. “That won’t help you,” she said. “You must hold up your head and look them directly in the eyes and show no fear.”

Alright now someone is playing Frozen music. All of the little girls want to skate to Frozen music. Not too many dark thoughts with happy tiny children skating.

The snow is up to her waist. The beast is upon her. Grabbing a shard of ice she stabs it in the neck. It never saw her. She wraps her scarf around her face…

takes off her skates and drives home with her mom.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Write what you know…and make up the rest.

Common advice to people who think they might want to write is “Write What You Know.”

Then again don’t. Especially if you’re extremely anal. Then book stores and libraries would only contain autobiographies and technical manuals.

Don’t be anal. Write what you know and make up the rest. It’s OK.

In an alternate universe I’m associated with a society of amazing authors who mentor and encourage writers of all kinds. We are frequently asked “What should I write about?”

What do you want to write about? The human condition? The great angst of it all? Maybe not. Maybe that has been done too many times. Most of all maybe that isn’t where YOUR heart and soul is.

Or you might say “How can I write about Vampires? I’m not a Vampire.”

No you aren’t a Vampire. However, you know about relationships, you know about desire (I hope for your sake), you know about night, you know about being different, you know about fear, you know about the deep dark thoughts that you didn’t dare let out before NOW. So write what you know AND about Vampires (and zombies, ghosts, trolls, unicorns, talking dogs, dragons, cops, politicians, middle aged men trying to find themselves…)

Another example…

I don’t know first hand about trolls but I know relationships. So I could make up crap about trolls and write about troll romance and troll family drama and I’ve dated more than my share of scientists (in an alternate universe) so I could write about scientists who are tricked by trolls with complex romantic and family relationships. I know how wet dogs and skunks and goblins smell so I can imagine how bad trolls smell. And I know a few politicians so I could write about trolls who are criminals and compulsive liars. Or I could continue to just be silly.

Another example: If you’re writing about dragons write what you know. These are YOUR dragons so they can blow raspberry jelly at people if you want them to, or they can breathe fire. But what you do know is how they’ll react when they find love, or if they’re in danger, or the fear when someone steals their babies or invades their home. You know the feelings. Let your Dragons know your feelings and they’ll let you know theirs.

So what I’m trying to say is that I tell writers to tell their stories. If you can look into the night sky then you know the wonder of Science Fiction.  If you’ve ever loved anyone or had a friend or family you can write about relationships. If you’ve ever enjoyed figuring something out then you can write a mystery. If you know what terrifies the souls of men then you can write horror. The list goes on.

Don’t just write fiction. Write facts. Do research. Follow your passion and put it down on words. Share a story, fiction or non fiction. Just remember that in all fiction is some truth. In all fact is your voice, not just hard cold facts.

Fact or fiction it is your story. YOURS. Your reality, even if you are writing from an alternate universe or from your own desk or breakfast table or under a tree in a meadow.

This my dear readers is an example of a rambling dialogue about writing.  So your assignment is to have fun and start making stuff up – about what you know.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 Vampires write love letters too