Doing the Groundwork: Week 6 in Sow the Seeds & Seize the Dream Free Creative Course #MondayMotivation #SeizetheDream

Hello Creatives and welcome to Week 6 of Sow the Seeds & Seize the Dream 12-Week Creative Course.

This week’s module is designed to help you begin to do what it takes in order to bring life to your creative dream and vision.

In order to do anything, we must accept the fact that change is required. Many of us balk at the very word ‘change’ because it generally means that we are going to enter into a season of discomfort and the unknown, which requires a greater level of faith on our part.

Change in life requires decision making, which means we have to be decisive. If we want to live and seize our dream we have to make the necessary changes and stick with them.

In our creative process, and dare I say life in general, vision is where you take stock and figure out what it is what you want, the voice is the sound you want to make, the impact you want to create, the identity, if you will, of how you want to present this vision that you have.

TAKE HOLD

Doing, at this level is more pragmatic and mental than it is a physical action. Your ‘doing’ is not just found in the tools or the actions that you use to implement what you want to do. This level of doing begins first with:

  • Seeing what you want to do
  • Acknowledging what you have on hand or available to you (Your current tools)
  • And then determining what you need to let go of in order to obtain what it is that you have coming in your next level of creativity

LETTING GO

You need to determine what it is that is holding you back, and there are things that hold us back like weighing anchors. Here are some things that could be blocking you from taking hold of your God-given dream:

  • Relationships: You will only be as strong and capable as what you are connected to.  Being linked with people you’ve considered ‘friends’ whose aim is only to discourage instead of encourage, will always keep you down. We do ourselves a disservice when we allow others to constantly speak death over us and our dreams. Wisdom urges us to create distance from such relationships. (Proverbs 12:26)
  • Wrong Thinking: Wrong thinking which generally is the greatest culprit, will always keep us down. Yeshua Jesus tells us be it unto us as we believe, and His word further warns us that as we think in our heart so are we. What are you allowing your heart to say? (Matthew 9:28-29, 8:13; Proverbs 23:7)
  • Old Wounds: It could be that we are holding on to old wounds that we have not allowed the Lord to redeem in us.
  • Tangile Blockades: Or it could be something as tangible as living in clutter. Cluttered environments easily stifle our movement since we have limited space to move. Decluttering is a big part of letting go.

The root cause of many of these “blocks” tend to be the words of others. Hence why we must be diligent in guarding our dream. Everyone can’t be trusted with your treasure and some ‘friendships’ or romantic relationships could really be the toxins that are preventing your growth. We need to be willing to prune even if it hurts.

NOTE: I am not speaking about marriage, here. For goodness sake, do not leave your spouse in order to become a painter, or cut your mother completely off because she thinks being a writer is a waste of time. These relationships are sacred and require a completely different level of wisdom to work through. 

Simply put, you need to take stock and decide what or who it is that you need to let go of in order to take hold of what it is that I have in mind for my vision. This is the biggest part of doing. It is not easy but it is worth it!

As Tamara Lowe put it:

If people don’t respect what you bring to the table, let them dine alone.” ~Tamara Lowe

CREATIVE FAITH IN ACTION

Whatever medium or creative path you are embarking on, determine what you currently have available to you.

  • Artist: If you have paper, paint, ink, clay, etc, take stock of it
  • Writer: If you have an idea for a story, write it down
  • Begin to make a dedicated create space for the road ahead

Also prayerfully consider what is holding you back. If you need to distance yourself from relationships, receive healing, renew your mind, or declutter, now is the time to do so.

SCRIPTURE FOCUS

ADDITIONAL READING

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS

  • What have you found is the most difficult part about change?
  • Is making a decisive decision something that you struggle with especially when it means change will be a result. Why?
  • Out of the list of ‘blockers’ which do you think has been your greatest obstacle?
  • How can you begin to see Christ as being bigger than this obstacle, today?
  • What advice do you have for other creatives struggling with similar challenges of change and creative blockers?

Please share your wisdom and advice in the comments below.

FOR MORE INFO ABOUT THIS 12 WEEK JOURNEY, SEE Gearing Up to Prepare for Your Creative Success: Seeds We Sow

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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He Bought the Farm: Flash Fiction Results for Monday’s Muse April 18th 2016

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He Bought the Farm

He wasn’t hiding. He wasn’t the type to do so, but he was the kind to slip away to think. He needed to think.

Milo, his four-legged shadow followed him, nestling close by, gazing back at the house as if he too was weighing his options. Blake scratched behind Milo’s warm fuzzy ears earning himself a grateful dog-grin.

“What do you think, buddy? What should we do?” As usual, Milo had no answer. He only licked his chops, gave a contend yawn, before bedding down deeper into the grass.

Blake smiled. Maybe that was Milo’s answer. He was happy right where he was. Truth be told, so was Blake. They’d, Blake his wife Paisley and Milo, had happily moved out to the quite country nearly five years ago.

Happy may have been an overstatement. They not so simply needed a change of pace, a change in their reality.

Past decisions had caught up with Blake leaving an unrelenting stain on Paisley’s career. Her employers had said as much, she was guilty by association. She needed to distance herself from the blight that was darkening the glow of her pristine name.

In other words, she needed to leave her husband or leave the company. Pressure from the top demanded it.

Praise God, Paisley loved Blake more. She’d made a sacrifice for him, one that he would never forget. The woman truly loved him…and he loved her.

Having that knowledge was what kept Blake on his feet. His past, the stain he’d made was nearly a decade old when it had finally come to light. He’d been a changed man since then, but his grandfather…he just couldn’t let up. He wouldn’t forgive. He cursed Blake with ugly words and a cutting dismissal that left room for no misinterpretation.

If it were at all possible, the old man had fired him from the family. It only burned his Grandfather’s hide to find out that Paisley wasn’t the ambitious woman he’d thought she was. The old man loved her as if she were his own flesh and blood.

Leaning on their fledgling, but solid faith, they took what they had and moved upwind of the city stench, leaving Grandpa and the mistakes of yesterday behind.

They bought a farm.

Life had been sweet and silent for the last few years. Mom and Dad visited regularly and Paisley and Blake’s roots grew deeper. Now it seemed it was all for not because Grandpa had bought the farm as well, just not the kind with acreage. His lot accommodated a pine box and a hole in a stone wall fitted with a plaque that would make him out to be a trophy.

The old man had gone to the grave, had settled his accounts, and although Blake had forgiven him the man had not seen fit to do the same for Blake. Worse, he hadn’t seen fit to change his will either.

Those oversights tend to happen when you swear off a person’s name.

Now the city beckoned again with shiny lights, smoggy air and nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in shares and a seat on Grandpa’s company board. Blake was now one of the majority owner’s. The money and future earnings would be his no matter what he decided.

Leaning his head back against the tin siding, still staring at the house. He knew what he should do, he knew what Milo wanted and with Paisley’s sudden habit to keep her swollen feet in fresh grass slippers, he knew what she wanted. They weren’t going anywhere.

Grandpa had bought his farm, but Blake had one of his own to tend to.

THE END

*Flash Fiction results for Monday’s Muse April 18th 2016. To see the original posting and rules, and to give it a try yourself, do so by following THIS LINK.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Marching Forward: Taking Hold Of My Goals

I know what it looks like. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, and have noticed the trickling away of my post, you are probably thinking that I have in someway lost my ‘shine’. That, or my muse has broken up with me. Neither thoughts are further from the truth.

I still love blogging, I’d like to think I still have shine, but when growth takes place we have to be maturer enough to recognize when we need to make hard choices. Are we facing a moment of ‘both and’ or ‘either or?’

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Currently, I have been working on 3 different manuscripts; our beloved Ascension Graveyard which looks slightly different from how it currently appears on the blog, a piece called Warden, and another titled Nexus Gate 4037.

All 3 are very different stories and are in different stages of their process which enables me to work on all three at once. Yey!

That being said, for me, this is an ‘either or’ scenario.

EITHER I continue to blog everyday and miss this awesome moment that I have DREAMED about having since I was a girl of 13, to focus on becoming a professional novelist, OR I spend less time on other projects like the blog while nurturing others.

With that being said, the blog has been sorely neglected…I am sorry, but I aim to change that by putting forth some effort for a ‘both and.’

I will BOTH work on my three manuscripts AND blog. The catch is I will only blog 3 days out of a week.

HERE’S THE PLAN:

  • Day 1: Flash Fiction/ Short story/#Blogbattle
  • Day 2: Art (Should any have been created) or Random post
  • Day 3: Quote of Encouragement…I like these

I aim to keep things simple. I aim to keep them true. I aim to keep progressing!

Remember the Novel Progress Planner sheet I created a while back? Well I’ve made lots of progress there, and managed to keep my goals thus far, whilst adding new ones. (The goals are slightly different from what appear on the image, here.)  God has blessed me to gain great momentum and drive!

Novel Progress Planner.jpg AG

To that end, I am pressing forward with my writing goals, giving my longer bodies of work the attention they need, but I will drop by during the week and say hello as I march forward into new territory. I hope you will go along with me.

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Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

News for a New Month: Actions and Progress from June 1st NaNoWriMo and Such

Happy June 1st, lovelies!

I don’t know about you, but I, since 2013 have held a great anticipation for this month. Why? Because I since that year have been using this 30 day period as my own NaNoWriMo.

No, I have never participated in November as I find June to be the perfect mid-way mark of a year to focus on such a task as writing  a novel in 30 days. Here in the States, June, unlike November has not national holiday, so there is not a single day that must be dedicated to any other celebration besides being creative.

Still now idea about the final cover BUT that will come along as I near my final draft of the novel.
Still now idea about the final cover BUT that will come along as I near my final draft of the novel.

With that in mind, I have to mention that today is the one year anniversary for Ascension Graveyard. Bless that novel, it is a year old and still not finished. That being said, I have decided to not use June to write anything new BUT to correct the errors that I have made within the plot of Ascension Graveyard.

This month (should other plans tarry) shall be used in trimming AG’s fat and cutting out the crap…getting the novel back on track. Gosh it sounds like I am trying to create a poem here.

Cutting the CrapAnyhow, within the next 30 days I will be setting my heart to making my blog novel everything it is intended to be…for a first/second draft that is. This means that in the coming weeks those of you who have been following the Blog Novel will begin to see old chapters disappear from the blog menu, while new, tighter one’s show themselves in all their glory.

I am pretty excited about this!

What else? Weeeeellllll, I have found a home for the second face of Asaph Timby and it is in the place of a villain for another novel that I came up with years ago called Thief or Blur…still undecided about the title as of yet. I actually spent sometime last night doing a bit of writing for that story line so that is something to be very excited about as well.

Prismacolor Pencil and Acrylic
Prismacolor Pencil and Acrylic

This is not to mention the two other manuscripts that have begun to speak their pieces into the ears of my imagination and thus my fingertips have been on fire. I have also been living in my head a lot as a result which doesn’t make me a good candidate for a phone conversationalist.

I am okay with that.

I am also seeing flashes for new art that is begging to be created. Asaph #2 is the catalyst for that. Which brings me to my old, neglected Etsy store front page. Five years ago, around the time I opened my Ketubah shop, I opened an original art shop as well.

It was a great idea, just before its season. I really wasn’t in the right place to focus on that kind of creative expression, until now. That being said, my plan is to start making prints of my original art available for purchase by this coming fall.

Here is the link to the page since we are talking about it: www.thecandishop.etsy.com. Asaph #2 will be one of the images made available for purchase as an archival giclee print.

So that is it in a nutshell, a very delicious nutshell at least in my opinion. I am excited for the month of June. I am excited about new art and new adventures. And I am very much excited about writing new novels, whilst getting older ones back on track.

Cheers!

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Three Stones

The starch of his collar scratched raw the flesh beneath his neck. He ran his finger around the stiff edges and tried to swallow but chocked, feeling as if he were trying to swallow down cotton balls.13634522628lufp

“Are you nervous, Young Spirit?” The Path Keeper asked, her voice gentle as the rustling wind through the summer leaves.

He nodded his head and managed to answer. “Yes. Yes, I am very nervous.” He let his eyes meet hers but quickly pulled them away and put them back upon the path before him. Looking into the Path Keeper’s eyes was like staring into the very rays of the sun for some, for others it was like watching the very sun fade into darkness as if drowned by raging waters. Young Spirit didn’t hold his gaze to her’s long enough to find out what he would find when he looked at her. He was already afraid.

“You should not fear, Young Spirit,” Her hand stilled his quaking shoulder. “You have already chosen your stones. Your next path will lead to beauty whichever you choose, all that is left is to choose.”

Young Spirit flexed his sweaty palms. Choosing the stone he would carry onto his next path was what frightened him the most. Middle-aged, 15, suspended between childhood and adulthood. If he took with him the wrong stone for this stage it could have dire results.  “What are my choices, Path Keeper? Can you remind me again.”

The Path Keeper laughed out her answer and her voice, the word “yes”, sounded like birds singing at the dawn. “Your three stones are, Joy, Dreams, and Hope. Which will you carry with you?”

They were all good choices indeed and that was the hardest thing. He could only have one for certain, only one until the day he turned 30 and stood at the mouth of another path with another Path Keeper. He chewed upon his lip and thought aloud. “If…If I choose joy, I will be content.”

“Indeed, whether you encounter the good or the bad, joy will keep you. Joy is a very good choice.” She smiled again.

“Yes, joy is good, but dreams, without dreams I will have nothing to reach for. Contentment is good but it can become a trap without dreams even if there is joy. And then there is hope…” He wanted to look at her face again, for assurance but could only manage to look down at where her feet should have been. Instead at the hem of her flowing gown, where he should have seen ankles and feet, he saw grass growing into golden-pearl flesh that disappeared beneath her gown.

Young Spirit’s heart quickened in his chest.

“You have made your choice, Young Spirit,” She slid the stone into his palm and closed his finger’s securely around it. “You have made the wisest choice.” She extended her long arm in a slow sweeping movement and the path before him opened up, narrow and yet broad, dark and yet light. His heart drummed heavy in his chest. Yes he had made the right choice.

Stepping on the path, he felt the strength of hope and then joy and then dreams building within his very skin and bone, deep into his marrow and clear into his spirit. Hope. He had chosen hope and in so doing he had been blessed to carry all three of the stones with him. For with hope there was always an expectation for good, a promise of a better dream, and with that expectation and promise of a dream came the birth of joy which only gave him greater hope.  And like a ring of burning fire the circle of the three kept building within him until he was securely on the path and on his way to his future.

Decisions part II…More on Chopsticks

It amazes me how something so simple as Chopsticks can actually hold very profound power. After all, basic chopsticks are fashioned from two pieces of wood. They are nothing more than sticks, but to use them, to be able to feed yourself with them takes practice and elegant form.

When thinking further about the analogy I made between Chopsticks and Time management, I realized the same holds true with creativity as a whole. I briefly mentioned it at the end of the previous post, but I wanted to take some time and expand on it.

Your art is a living, organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.”- Crystal Robinson Clark

Over the past few weeks of blogging, there have been a few reoccurring themes; time, control, and of course, creativity. Years ago, I was having a conversation with my eldest sister about my art not doing what I wanted it to do and certainly not doing it within the window of time that I had set for it. My sister’s response was that, “Your art is a living organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.” Referencing chopsticks made me think of this yesterday. Ruminating on the connection gave birth to the image below. (It’s more a diagram really)

Vector Drawing by Candice Coates
Vector Drawing by Candice Coates

A few years ago, while having lunch with some of my friends who are Korean, I learned that a person who holds the smallest amount of their chopsticks happens to be very proficient. In other words the person who takes up the LEAST of controlled space, actually has the MOST power and control. An employer who able to have friendly relationships with his/her employees but still receive the utmost respect and honor from them is a person who takes up the Least but has the Most.

This comes from confidence. You can hold the reins with a lighter hand when you are confident in your position.

When it comes to time management, writing, creating visual art, I, like many others, have strained to make things happen in the exact way that I envisioned because of some type or form of fear. I was working out of a place of low creative confidence.  I shook those shackles off of my writing years ago and I am so glad that I did. My fiction has grown much stronger because of it. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be in the midst of typing and your main character suddenly makes a shocking decision that makes you gasp because you didn’t even see it coming. I remember the first time this happened and me, shaking my head saying “Octavia! Why did you do that?! You are so stupid!” This is true organic creativity in action or writing with chopsticks.

I always have a “recipe” for my plot lines but I do not marry myself to them…I hold my writing chopsticks covering as little space as possible, leaving the rest to organic growth. Some might be thinking, “Well, Candice, what do you do with ideas that pop in your head about a particular storyline you are working on?” Simple, I write those ideas down and keep them in a separate file. I very rarely trash an idea all together. Even if in the present moment it doesn’t seem to have a place, that does not mean it will not have a place in the future.

I like to think of these files as my “literary spice cabinet.” When I come to a place in my manuscript that needs a little something special, I open up my file and I find the right plot twist, add it to my story and see if it works. I am guiding my creativity this way, not controlling it.

The same holds true for visual arts. I was taught in undergrad over a decade ago, that ratio of time for drawing is 30 to 70. I am to spend 30% of my time looking at my canvas or paper and 70% of the time looking at the form that I am capturing. This way I “draw what I see and not what I think I see.” This is only relevant if you are creating from life, the 30 to 70, but it speaks again to being confident in your skill. Control says look at your paper more than the object you are recreating, while organic process says just flow.

In closing I want to encourage you to be free with your process. Be confident in your ability and hold your chopsticks with a sure and steady hand, but only cover what is absolutely necessary to guide your art but allow it to become what it is meant to be.  Art is after all a lot like children. Children raised with overbearing, overprotective, controlling hands, never really grow up to become confident, able adults. Their potential gets stifled. They are birds with fragile wings or trees that never reach the sun. But children guided with a hand of confident authority typically end up being well rounded adults, given just the right balance of boundary and freedom to become what they were meant to be.

Chopsticks…the certainly are more than just two pieces of wood.

Decisions

I read, the other day while at a Thai restaurant,  noshing on some amazing Pad Thai, the history of Chopsticks. In short, some guy in somewhere around 250 BC decided that since knives were a tool of violence that they should no longer be used at the dining table. Thus the birth of Chopsticks.

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As I sit here and type, that little historical tidbit makes me think of schedules and planning. Me, I am a planner. Some would say that planning is a great way to do things. My response is yes it is and no it is not. Planning, or rather, “rigid planning”, robs you of spontaneity. I am easy bait for that kind of robbery. I am not the person to call out of the blue and say “Hey! Do you wanna come out and we can (fill in the blank)? the weather is nice. We will have a good time.” Because immediately I start thinking about the schedule I have made and how I did not make time for this fun activity.

Recipes are more suggestions than rules.”

Its funny how I can look at a recipe and think of it as more of a suggestion and not really a set of rules to be kept, but when I make a plan or a schedule I can’t seem to break myself from it. I HAVE to keep it. But do I really?

The answer to that is NO! If I don’t paint for leisure tomorrow, even though it may be on my schedule, the world will not end.  If I skip out on everything I have planned to do, folding laundry included, life will go on. I have to use my schedule wisely, not as a tool of violence but something that takes practice to manage…like chopsticks.

Exploration is like chopsticks, creativity…chopsticks.

So I have plans for this new week ahead. I have plans to write, to learn French, to keep up with my Telanovella (I love my Spanish Soaps) , I may or may not keep up with the 365 Days of Writing prompts, but I am deciding from here on out that these plans of mine are no longer a schedule. Schedules are no fun. From here on out I will be making Recipes for the Week! These recipes are my suggestions on the road to creative fulfillment but not rules. I will honor my quarters but I will not hold them with tight, white knuckled fist.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to have a good time…with my chopsticks 😉