The Fog: Flash Fiction by Candice Coates

I’m not lost, I just don’t know where I am. I’m not lost, I just don’t know where I am…yet.” He whispered his mantra several more times over, hoping that if he said it enough that the words would become true. Still, the panic that tightened around his throat like a noose would not give.

This happened to him occasionally, the mental fog that dropped him into thick darkness only to clear when he was somewhere completely unknown to him. It was his fault, he knew that. He’d gone to a place he’d been warned not to go.

To him, however, the warning seemed more like a dare and just couldn’t resist the urge to rebel. “Put to death the flesh…” The fraction of a scripture he’d heard his father pray echoed in his heart, rippling against the pools of panic that sought to drown him.

Fidel had allowed his flesh to rule him that night, the night he’d first stepped into the fog.

The Stone Room. So many different hidden meanings the name of the establishment held. It had left his brain addled and his body a vessel seemingly no longer his own. A year and a half ago, the place had shown up in his stomping ground.

A friend of a friend, some shifty guy who was always on the verge of panic, was the one to see it first. He’d gone snow white and nearly stumbled into the path of a car in his attempt to go the other direction. Everyone laughed at him, thought he’d had one too many to drink when he begged them all to stay away from the place.

Fidel couldn’t resist. He wasn’t one for highs beyond those that were aged in barrels and gave a bit of a burn on the way down, but he wouldn’t be spooked by some greasy-haired punk who was scared of his own shadow.

So like a fool, he let his flesh take the lead and he stepped into The Stone Room. He’d been getting lost ever since; snatches of time that seemed like only seconds turned out to be days or even weeks. His first fog, he was missing for two complete months. The only thing was, on his side of time, he’d been wandering for just shy of three hours, lost.

“You should have listened to me,” the voice was disgruntled, bitter, but Fidel recognized it. The shifty, greasy, guy.

I should have, but I didn’t. He wanted to say those words, but his flesh…it always seemed to get the best of him especially when he was angry. “You weren’t saying nothing.” He narrowed his eyes, his jaw ticking. “What are you doing here?”

Shifty frowned. “The same as you, lost in this fog.”

“You’d both better figure out what you have to do to get out of it. The more time you waste, the more debt you pay.” I pretty girl, no more than twenty-two yelled from across the vacant street.

Fidel considered her, cleared his throat. The invisible noose on his neck was chafing. He’d never seen a soul when he was in the fog, but now he’d met two.

THE END…FOR NOW

*Time restrictions…I tell you. I feel like there is a story here. I don’t know how long or short, but I feel like there is something. I want to know more about The Stone Room, Fidel, Shifty, and Pretty Girl. Where are they? What is this debt they pay? What is this fog of time? I hope you enjoyed my results for Monday’s Muse February 19th, 2018!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: February 19th 2018

OPENING LINE (S): “I’m not lost, I just don’t know where I am. I’m not lost, I just don’t know where I am…yet.” He whispered his mantra several more times over, hoping that if he said it enough that the words would become true. Still, the panic that tightened around his throat like a noose would not give.”

RULES: 

  • Using the above line and the picture provided, (Or a line of your own choosing) create a story (or even a poem) within up to 20 minutes.
  • Once you have finished your super awesome masterpiece, add a link in the comments section of THIS POST to your story for others to read, as well as a link on your page back to this original post for others to follow along and write with as well. In your “tags” section, add the tag “Monday’s Muse.”
  • To get the Above Image follow this LINK

If you do not have a blog of your own, leave me a comment and send me an email to icameforthesoup@gmail.com and I will post your lovely words here on my blog.

(PLEASE KEEP ENTRIES THAT NEED TO BE POSTED ON THIS SITE WITHIN A PG13 RANGE. THANK YOU)

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

“Anything You Can Do I Can Do”…But Why Should I?: Creating My Way

First, the title of this article is not necessarily true in and of its self, but I am trying to paint a picture with words here, so follow along, will you?

I am not sure if you are familiar with the old musical “Annie Get Your Gun” starring Betty Hutton and Howard Keel. In the movie, there is a song that they sing to each other. It’s more two people shooting arrogant verse at each other as if they are bullets. “Anything you can do I can do better. I can do anything better than you.

As creatives, we are all looking for our own place in the world, our own voice. Even when and while we are inspired by and appreciate the expressions of others, we can sometimes find ourselves looking at fellow creatives with competitive eyes. “I can do that and I can do it better. Maybe I should try.

Being human, no matter what we are aiming to do, we can all go ahead and admit we’ve  done that once or twice. 

In an older post, I quoted Octavia E. Butler on how she became a science fiction writer. (Did I mention she is the winner of the Hugo Award and Nebula Awards?) Anyhow, she said that when she was twelve years old she watched a dreadful science fiction flick. It was so bad that she was determined to write “good” science fiction. And she did, obviously.

…I have to make art that I care about not just art that I can make. ~Candice Coates

But her attitude was “I can do better than that.” And that attitude paid off. (If you have not read any of her work, check out Wild Seed.) The thing is, not only did she set out to write ‘better’ science fiction, but she did it her way, in her own voice, without competing with the voices that were already out there.

Since ICFTS began, I have been on a constant journey to identify my voice as an artist. Truth be told, I have been on this search since I have been an artist. I have always been very eclectic. But one thing that has come to mind with all of this is that I have to make art that I care about not just art that I can make.

As I have said for years, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. That is when you get stuck in ruts of hollow, soulless work, be it writing, visual art, whatever it is. Always create what you care about.

I am on a hunt to find what it is that I care about. I love doing oil paintings, I love writing (writing will ALWAYS be my thing. I love to tell a story.) but with visual art, it just all depends.

I find that even with oil painting, though I have a talent for it,  I am exploring more pencil work, with ink and colored pencils. And there is always the option of mixed media illustration.  There are so many options.

…just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.” ~Candice Coates

I remember, years ago, in undergrad during a departmental review, my professors telling me “All your work is amazing, Ms. Coates, but it looks like the work of twenty different artists.”

On one hand, this is not a bad thing at all. It’s like being multilingual. I speak twenty different artistic languages. On the other hand, it begs the question, are you perfectly fluent in any of them? Jack or rather Jacqueline of all trades and master of…only a few.

 

 

 

We need to create on purpose, with purpose.”

CREATING WITH CONSIDERATION

There are 3 verses that come to mind in this regard. I will pluck at each. One is Philippians 4:13,I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

It is comforting to know that if I set myself to do things that He, Christ Jesus, has placed in my heart to do, that no matter what, if I trust Him, He has given me the strength to do them.

I want to make art. He has given me the gift to do so and also the strength for it.

I Corinthians 10:23,You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is helpful. You say, “I am allowed to do anything” but not everything is beneficial.

With the creative strength and gift given unto me, I need to operate in wisdom. So what I can, sculpt. I don’t feel ANYTHING when I am sculpting apart from a loss of time. Dash the great reviews of my audience. (Just using sculpting as an example.)

Where is the benefit of doing something just because you can? You won’t benefit from my efforts and in the long run, no one else will either. The work is void of any life because your heart was not in it. This is arbitrary actions at its best.

Both of these verses bring me to Isaiah 30:21,and your ears hear a word behind you, saying “This is the Way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or whenever you turn to the left.

BE CREATIVE, NOT COMPETITIVE

What is the point? The point is not to be arbitrary, not to be competitive. Art, to me, creation and creativity, is sacred. It needs to be treated with respect and care. We need to create on purpose with purpose. Not in a way to “out do” the person next to us. There has to be meaning involved. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

In conjunction with this, we should not only create what we care about, but we should create on subjects or themes that we care about.  If you are not interested in what you are doing your work “on” you are still going to get the same empty results, a pretty picture with no life to it, even if you are doing it in a medium that you love.

My creative path is still winding forward. I am discovering more about me and what I want out of my career as a visual artist. I am ever on the hunt to uncover my “niche” and voice.

But even where I stand now,  I can be confident in creating what I am curious about and care about, and leave all the competitive  “I can do better than you” mess behind me. And best of all, so can you!

*This article was originally published on February 12th, 2014 & Updated February 19th, 2018.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Do you ever feel like you could be making better use of your creative time, or that you’ve lost yourself in a creative competitive race? Talk about it in the comments below.

Creative High Places: Faith-Filled Encouragement for Creatives

For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall….He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my* high places. He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.You enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip.”~ PSALM 18:28-29, 33-36 NKJV *Emphasis added

Stepping out in faith is a privilege and an opportunity to see God’s Word made manifest in our lives. As children of the Most High God, our very acts of being creative, in whatever area we are prompted to create, are steps of faith.

The very places that we aim to step, the places that His Spirit is urging us to, are our ‘high places‘, given to us by His divine prompting (Vs 33). It is our right and privilege to take possession of them.

The glorious beauty of knowing that we have surrendered our hearts to Christ and are His beloved gives us the assurance that when we step in faith He will make our way straight before us and give us the strength to overcome any obstacles that may and likely will arise.

Psalms 18 assures us of several things:

  1. He will give us light for our way (Vs 28a, JOHN 8:12): He will show us where to step
  2. He will enlighten our darkness (Vs 28b, JAMES 1:5): He will give us wisdom as we step into new territory
  3. He will give us divine strength to overcome obstacles (Vs 29, 34, PHILIPPIANS 4:13)
  4. He will cultivate us and equip us to walk in new and high places that He blesses us to reach by His Grace and Faithfulness (Vs 33, PHILIPPIANS 1:6)
  5. He will guard us and make us great (Vs 35, PSALM 90:17)
  6. He will make our path such that we are unable to slip (Vs 36, ISAIAH 30:21)

See PSALM 18:28-36 

The Lord Yeshua-Jesus, Our God and Father, is a God of excitement and adventure, but every adventure will have its trials. There will be mountains. There will be valleys, but when we walk with Him there will be victory and such great reward.

Know that as you step into your vision that you can have faith for His protection, that not only does He equip you to leap over those mountains that may come to discourage you in your way but, in Christ, He has given you the divine authority to speak to those very mountains and command them to throw themselves out of your path and into the depths of the sea! (MARK 11:23).

We, as Creatives, are on divine assignment! Our Father’s desire is for us to flourish in our creativity and the vision that He has seeded in us.

So, step out in faith! No. Leap into it and know that He is with you every step of the way! He’s got you!

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: February 12th 2018

OPENING LINE (S): “Her heart nearly stopped at the sight of them. Just a few days away from Valentine’s and this is what greeted her.”

RULES: 

  • Using the above line and the picture provided, (Or a line of your own choosing) create a story (or even a poem) within up to 20 minutes.
  • Once you have finished your super awesome masterpiece, add a link in the comments section of THIS POST to your story for others to read, as well as a link on your page back to this original post for others to follow along and write with as well. In your “tags” section, add the tag “Monday’s Muse.”
  • To get the Above Image follow this LINK

If you do not have a blog of your own, leave me a comment and send me an email to icameforthesoup@gmail.com and I will post your lovely words here on my blog.

(PLEASE KEEP ENTRIES THAT NEED TO BE POSTED ON THIS SITE WITHIN A PG13 RANGE. THANK YOU)

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Can I Be Me?: The Conflict of Creative Authenticity

Authenticity. According to Wikipedia, Authenticity-Authentic-Authentication is ‘the act of confirming the truth of an attribute.

Truth, unlike ‘fact,’ is an unchangeable and consistent reality. While an attribute, in its noun form according to Merriam-Webster, is ‘a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.

As a creative, a being made in the image of the Master Creator, Yeshua-Jesus, you have the inherent DNA to create. (More on that in The Call to Create.) There are specific, unchangeable attributes about what you have been given to offer to the world, things that are waiting for you to discover and share, that are unique to you and unrivaled by others.

The struggle that we all face in our creative journies is summed up in one phrase; the urge to be a people-pleaser.

It could be in the way you paint, throw a football, run a boardroom, or even how you nurture children in your home or in an educational environment. Whatever it is, it is unique to you.

But, more often than not, the noise of the world around us, the shifting trends of what is acceptable versus what is shunned, tends to not only stifle our creative voices to near silence, but they also whittle away at, and shape our uniqueness into something that can seem like a carbon-copy of things already done or voices already heard.

Although we may find ourselves drowning in a sea of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ with our contributions flooding the shores of social media when we follow the creative-status-quo, something within us tends to groan with frustration, knowing that the high number of followers isn’t enough. The ‘likes’ no longer give us the buzz we craved.

Maybe you are a person who isn’t even abreast of the ebbs and flows of the social-media world or algorithms, but still, you find yourself inundated with the pressures to ‘be’ what others expect you to do and be, to cook that pasta sauce like Nanna always did it, to give of yourself in a way that is…expected.

The struggle that we all face in our creative journies is summed up in one phrase; the urge to be a people-pleaser.

People pleasing in all arenas, is a venom that destroys the true voice of authenticity. It robs creatives of their God-given seed to flourish as they were meant to, to create in a way that brings Him glory, and them fulfillment.

Pastor Craig Groeschel put it this way,

Living for the approval of people will keep you from living for the purpose of God.”

The book of Proverbs says it like this, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. (Proverbs 29:25).

When we allow our hearts to be moved by our fear of what people around us will accept or the thought they will shout ‘That can’t be done,’ or ‘That is impossible,’ we lose our divine authenticity. We lose the power to be who we were created to be. We fall into the snare of inauthenticity.

If you grew up in a Christian environment, I am sure you’ve heard the adage, “Less of me and more of You, God.” As ‘humble’ as that may sound, it goes against what God wants for you and from you.

Yes, He delights for us to do all things unto Him and for His glory (Colossians 3:23-24), but He wants us to do things in the image that He created us in. He wants more of unique you.

Just as He doesn’t want a rose to shed its thorns in order to be like a daisy, neither does He delight to see Rose attempting to do things like her friend, Daisy, just because that is what has gotten man’s stamp of approval. Nor does He want any of us to stop being who He has uniquely imagined and created us to be.

We are, all of us, fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together by His hands with divine, and awesomely unique creativity (Psalm 139:13-14).

Can you be you? Absolutely! That is what you were created to be.

Whatever is burning inside of you may require you to not walk a path created, but to be a trailblazer and create a new path altogether. In order to do this you have to be you … and no one else.

You are going to face opposition when you take the courage to be the creative you that you are called to be. You are going to face mountains and even have to walk through many sung ballets of how you can’t do what you are doing with your authentic voice. But the beauty is, you can win if you step out in faith.

So I encourage you to be your authentic self, confirming the truth of the unique attributes that define you and the characteristics of your creative voice. You will win if you determine to be you!

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” ~Oscar Wilde

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do CONQUER!

What are your thoughts about being an authentic creative? Share your wisdom in the comments below!

The Measurer of Our Success: Faith-Filled Encouragment for Creatives

Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Each day is a new opportunity to step out in faith and make strides toward your vision. Sometimes, the lens by which we rate our productive success, causes us to lose heart, and even drive, to continue with the work we’ve done or planned to do.

Other times, we find that although we’ve planned to-do a list of specific things, our hearts and minds are driving us to do something totally unrelated, and we struggle to stay focused on the well-rounded plans we set for ourselves.

We want to do our best, after all. We have plans for our future and that future can only be realized if we stick to the task.

Let us remember, that as we walk out of one week, and prepare to enter another, that if we have submitted to the trusting faithfulness of the Lord Yeshua Jesus, that He is faithfully guiding our steps (Psalm 37:23).

Let us meditate on the truth that we are not even in a position to judge our own success, nor are we in the position of being our own Lord. We work for the Lord and not ourselves.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be good stewards over the tasks and time He has given us, rather, that we should be cognizant of Who is guiding and blessing us with whatever measure of success our work produces at a given time.

To that end, let us do our best with each day and moment we have, to celebrate what we are blessed to accomplish when we step out as good stewards unto the Lord and call our truest efforts ‘good’ as we do them unto Him! (Genesis 1)

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

Round 2 of Face Drawing

Last week I did a sketch of a woman’s face. And although I was pleased with overcoming the challenge of handling graphite, I was not satisfied with the end result as it compared to the image I was drawing from.

Today, rather than lean on my crutch of colored pencils, I pulled out my Creta color graphite pencils, opened that same photo, and spent nearly an hour working on the image…again.

 

What I ended up with today, to me, is a giant leap of improvement compared to the first attempt. The proportions are in line with the original image, which makes my soul happy.

I am gaining more confidence with drawing with graphite alone, which in my humble opinion, is a good foundation for drawing. I am eager to dive in and try some drawings and illustrations done with Copic markers, of houses as well as people. but all in time.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: February 5th 2018

OPENING LINE (S): “His feet had gone numb from the hours of walking, but at least the sun was shining through the fog, giving light to a treeline that promised life was ahead.”

RULES: 

  • Using the above line and the picture provided, (Or a line of your own choosing) create a story (or even a poem) within up to 20 minutes.
  • Once you have finished your super awesome masterpiece, add a link in the comments section of THIS POST to your story for others to read, as well as a link on your page back to this original post for others to follow along and write with as well. In your “tags” section, add the tag “Monday’s Muse.”
  • To get the Above Image follow this LINK

If you do not have a blog of your own, leave me a comment and send me an email to icameforthesoup@gmail.com and I will post your lovely words here on my blog.

(PLEASE KEEP ENTRIES THAT NEED TO BE POSTED ON THIS SITE WITHIN A PG13 RANGE. THANK YOU)

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

The Call to Create: Taking the Steps to Walk in Your Vision

I had the pleasure last month of seeing a meme on social media that said something like, “My 2018 begins in February. January was just the free-trial month.” I, like you, I am sure, smiled at the sentiment.

No, we don’t really get to have free-trial periods for our civil new years, but we do get to take some time to plan out what we want to see in the months to come.

For many around me, January came with a punch that was comparable to galeforce winds. Many had continuous battles with sicknesses passed from family member to family member as if they were sharing trading cards. Some felt defeated by the reminder of failed goals that seemed to follow behind them like cans tied to their legs with strings. Many felt overwhelmed and disappointed that the ringing of the midnight bell did not wipe away the heavy demands that were still weighing on them from the year past.

Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

But one thing remained the same through the smoke, and that was the desire for change.

I believe that all of us are aching to create, to do something that makes our soul sing and shine like the sun with a glow and warmth all its own. I believe every person reading this, has a dream that is worth pursuing, no matter how big or small.

We are all created in the image of the Master Creator, Jesus (Genesis 1:27). Our need to see something born from our imaginations is embedded deep within our spiritual DNA and roles and kicks inside of us like a baby eager to break forth from their mother’s womb.

Many of us have dared, in the past, to take steps to bring life to our dreams, only to lose momentum along the way, direction, or focus. Life’s demands have acted as roadblocks diverting our creative flow into the drudgery of the mundane. We stop creating. We stop dreaming. We stop living our identities.

But the glory is, we can begin again.

My prayer for this 2018 year is for each and every one of us to dig our toes in the soil of purpose and let them take root. I pray that this year is the start of a not another 365-day calendar of empty plans and vague goals, but that it will be the catalyst to bring real creative and life change for you.

YOUR CREATIVE TOOLKIT 

pexels-photo-843224.jpeg

“Get yourself a journal!” I know. I know. It almost seems like a ‘fad’ similar to the unicorn trend that is overtaking just about every industry out there. But I promise this is a powerful tool.

Why do you need a journal? For several reasons:

  1. Keep track of your ideas: There is nothing like capturing a creative moment as it comes and there is nothing like paper… but an electronic journal like EVERNOTE works well too. The point is, our brains can only hold so much content without things becoming a tangled mess. If you want to see progress, you need to make sense of your creative chaos and a journal will help with that.
  2. Keep track of your progress and take note of changes that need to be made: Vision is indeed 20/20 in hindsight. Being able to look back on your progress and see what works for you and what doesn’t will help you build the creative momentum you need to keep pursuing your dream.
  3. Put into word and prayer how you are feeling as you go: I get it. This feels personal. Well, it is. Being a creative is personal. It is more than just writing a story or composing a song or even baking cookies that are so good they cause riots! What drives you to do these things is born of something personal to you. In order to wield that power to its fullest, you’ve got to get to know it. Pray on it. Meditate on it. Put it into words.

“Get yourself a planner!” 

Organization is paramount to successfully executing a goal.  No one goes on vacation without having a plan of action first. Even being creative requires that.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER AS YOU CREATE

Over the next few weeks, I want to dig deep and tackle some questions that I’ve faced in my creative journey. I invite you to consider them and dare I say, journal about them.

  • Can I be me? Can I be original and authentically me as a creative?
  • Can I do ‘it’ my way?
  • Can I make mistakes and still be confident as I create?
  • Can I learn as I go/Am I teachable?

No matter how your 2018 began, there is still so much, not only left to the year, but left to our lives. Every day, every step is an adventure waiting to happen. Let’s step out together!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!