The Art of Stillness: Creative Motivation

 Sometimes using your time well or wisely is really just a matter of  being still.” ~Candice Coates via the Lord Jesus

I, by nature, am a woman given to hard work. I have an inherent urge and drive to be productive, to seize the moment and bear fruits from my labor. Being still, not producing, often leaves me with an anxious feeling that I have wasted my time, time that I will never get back.

"Rest at Harvest" by William-Adolphe Bouquereau c. 1865
“Rest at Harvest” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau c. 1865

The deception of that ideology is one that plagues many of us, I am sure; being still means you have wasted a moment.

Years ago, I was presented with the converse of that ideology. I learned that there can be great wisdom in resting…simply being still.

All too often we confuse stillness with the lack of productivity. We in the west have been conditioned to believe that if there is no movement then nothing has been done.

This is actually an enemy of faith. Faith, as the Bible puts it in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things NOT seen, the evidence of things hoped for.” Going a step further with faith, I am reminded of the beauty that comes from stillness especially in the face of my unfinished projects and art.

I have found that when I rest, when I am still and quiet, my creativity flourishes in a way that it does not when I am “trying to work” it out. In the hush of the still moments, the moments that logic says I should be moving, I find that the rivers of creativity flow, the sound of the stories play as music in my ears, and the colors of the art waiting to be made dance within my imagination with a clarity far more real than the world I live in.

I want so very much to produce without a break in the moment but these breaks, if treated right, if embraced with the full commitment of rest, produce such wonderful and delicious fruit.

It is in the stillness that I am able to take hold of the bouquet of roses without pricking my hands with the thorns of forced efforts…which ultimately equal wasted efforts. Wouldn’t you agree with me, that it is indeed a waste of time to force your efforts only to find that hours later you end up trashing everything you squeezed out of you? You end up far more stressed afterward when you do this.

Forcing the moment is akin to squeezing the blood from turnips.

Those years ago, as I sat on my bed, warm buttery sunlight pouring through my window and onto my face, I heard the voice of the Lord Jesus say, “Sometimes using your time well or wisely is really just a matter of  being still.” And this is the truth.

Being still in body and even in the mind allows your creativity to speak without all the commotion. Clarity comes, the vision is brought into greater focus. Strength for the next steps is also given.

I still have to be reminded of this truth. I have to keep myself from straining to “hear,” but to simply allow myself to hear when the time comes.

I want so very much to produce without a break in the moment but these breaks, if treated right, if embraced with the full commitment of rest, produce such wonderful and delicious fruit.

When I look at William-Adolphe Bouquereau’s painting, “Rest at Harvest,” I see the truth yet again. The woman reclines with sublime peace at a time when she should be gathering in the grain.

Had she done the logical thing, she would have missed out on the joy she so clearly was filled with by simply being still and I would reckon (using my imagination here) that when she finally did go to gather the harvest she was much more efficient.

This is what I want to be. Actually, in writing this article and looking for the perfect image to express my words I was made to really take a deeper look at Bouguereau, and I have to say I have fallen in love.

My prayer is that in the seasons to come, I will continue to authentically produce works that are worth posting and worth your time reading. Do bear with me, as I do not want to rush them only to have to backtrack later.

I humbly thank you all, all of you who have journeyed with me thus far in Following this creative platform,  those of you who have Liked the postings, and those of you who have participated in the writing prompts and have taken the time to leave feedback and comments. I can’t say thank you enough.

*Revised from July 14, 2014

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Advertisements

Taking the Scenic Route: Moments of Creative Clarity

“…The race is not given to the swift…” ~Ecclesiastes 9:11

I am, by nature, a person who is all about using every second of every day to my advantage, constantly working out in my mind how to squeeze as much into a moment of productivity as I possibly can.

I like to map things out in order to ensure that I have taken the shortest route but achieved the greatest return. I especially held this way of thinking in the world of my fiction writing.

So when I set out for the third time in my writing career to complete the writing of a novel in thirty days, the first thought, besides what I would write about, was in how many words would I need to produce in a day.

If you do not know, what makes a novel an official novel is the word count. This is the same with Novellas, Short Stories, etcetera. To have a novel, your manuscript must be made up of 50,000 words or more.

Trusting God often means taking the scenic route.

When I sat down on June 1st, 2014, I felt my nerves pinching away at me, screaming for me to make 3,000 words. Why? So that by the end of June I would not only have achieved novel status, but I would be finished the story I was working on in totality.

It sounded like a good plan, great plan if I am honest. But what I have realized is that rushing and counting does not for a strong storyline make. Actually, by focusing more on the word count goal and not the actual creative process, I felt my lines of creativity constricting under the unnecessary pressure I was applying.

Being a person redeemed by the blood of Christ, I often pray, and turn my movements over to Him and rest in His favor as a result. So from the beginning of that writing process, I could hear His voice saying, “Don’t force it. The story will come to you.”

My writing of  Ascension Graveyard (my still current WIP) ended up revealing to me that TRUST is a VERY large part of the creative process, and trusting God often means taking the scenic route.

My rushing was hindering me from allowing this story to truly tell itself. Cutting corners and cramming in masses of words for word’s sake was only making a mess. My rushing toward the goal was getting me nowhere fast.

Since then,  I have slowed down.  Ascension Graveyard has truly taken me on a scenic route, so much so that it is doing more brewing in my imagination than pouring through my fingers onto a keyboard.

I do not have the “desired” word count (yet) but what I do have is a solid plot that I am proud of. I can finally see the characters, get to know them and empathize with them in a way rushing would not have allowed.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because this is what the Creative process is all about. It’s not punching a clock, not compiling data, not reaching a status just so you can say you have one. Rather it is about basking in the picturesque natural beauty of what comes from within when you take your time and create something from your heart.

I have learned that this is indeed true. My art, my writing, is indeed witness to this and I have the Lord Jesus Christ to thank for that.

*Revised from June 2014

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: May 14, 2018

 

OPENING LINE(S): “I’m not going to let you drown,” he said, spitting out salted water. His/Her/My limbs felt like sinking lead in the water but the stranger’s grip on his/her/my collar was more than enough to keep them/us afloat. Solid ground was just in the distance promising safety, explaining why they’d/ I’d jumped in the water in the first place was another problem in and of itself. 

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 “MondayMuse.”
  • 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.)

*Originally posted on June 13, 2016

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Dinner Plans: Short Story by Candice Coates

Dinner Plans

She sat perched on the edge of the table, the tight fold of her interwoven fingers expressed the nervousness that had been concealed in the even tone of her voice and the placid look on her face. Turning fully towards her, he paid closer attention to what she was saying. 

For a brief second he hoped he’d heard her incorrectly, but gazing into her eyes he knew he hadn’t been mistaken. “Hannah, you didn’t.” He, unlike Hannah, didn’t try to hide his nerves, they flashed in the pale grey of his eyes and radiated clear to the tip of the butcher knife in his hand.

“Dad, the knife. The knife!” Hannah hoped off the table and pried it from his hands placing the parsley coated blade on the chopping block. Tanner wondered by her sudden stillness if she felt as if she were on the chopping block. He was certain she did. He had asked her to be at her best tonight, nagged really, and had been doing so for weeks.

It had been eight years since Claire, Hannah’s adoptive mother, died. He and  Claire had only been married for a little over three years. They’d dated for two. When he’d first met Claire he hadn’t thought he was ready to be a father, but Hannah warmed to him so quickly and got into his pores like the best of anointing oils. He loved the girl on sight as if she were his own flesh and blood.

Now she was barely twenty and he felt as if she were his whole life, his precious little girl…his precious little girl who’d gone against his wishes and had been secretly meeting with her birth mother.

He rubbed his suddenly damp forehead with the back of his hand. His gut felt as if it were filled with gravel. He was already extremely nervous about introducing Hannah to the new woman in his life. He needed Hannah to like her. He’d already purchased an engagement ring even in the face of awkwardness.

Hannah had made it clear she had no desire for a new mother and had not been a fan of his dating someone. He suddenly wondered if her going against his wishes and finding her birth mother was a simple act of rebellion. He also wondered if his hopefully soon-to-be financee was having similar problems of her own.

She had mentioned that she had been estranged from her daughter for years but they were making headway into a healthy relationship. She too had wondered how her daughter would react to him.

“I can’t believe you did this, Hannah.” Tanner whispered.

“Dad, why is it such a horrible thing that I want to know my own mother?”

“Your birth mother.” He corrected, suddenly feeling as if he needed to defend Claire’s right-hood to the title ‘Mom’. Hannah rolled her eyes. He touched her shoulder. “Honey, I am not trying to make this a difficult thing for you, I am just worried is all. She may not be good for you.”

“Us, you mean. You’re afraid that she will wreck your plans for a new family, aren’t you?”

He couldn’t resist frowning. “And I suppose that is why you not only contacted her, but then invited her to dinner tonight when you know how important today is for me, for us.” He wiped his brow again. He was already nervous, now he was just petrified.

What if the strange woman showed up at the door, right when his new love did? “Lord help me. Hannah, I love her. And I want you to at least give her a chance. I just want things to go smoothly tonight and if she shows up-”

Hannah took a bite of parsley. “It doesn’t matter anyway Dad. I invited her and she said she couldn’t make it, said she had a date or something.”

“Well, that is a relief that that person won’t be coming,” Why had he suddenly turned so territorial, defensive? He’d seen this behavior in characters in movies, but never thought it would happen to him; jealous of his daughter’s birth mother.

Hannah scowled. “Her name is–”

Ding dong! The front door rang, bringing the conversation to a halt. Again, Hannah rolled her eyes. It was going to be a long night.

“Going to get it, Dad? Wouldn’t want to keep your beloved waiting.” Hannah’s tone was laced with sarcasm and void of the former nervousness that had ruled her demeanor just moments ago.

He gave her a warning gaze before pulling the door open. Right then Hannah continued her previous statement, her tone shifting to shock that laced over Tanner’s joy right as his beloved passed the threshold and entered the apartment. “Her name is…Beatrix?”

Hannah’s face bloomed with a smile as she rushed forward and took hold of her birth-mother’s hands, jerking Beatrix’s delighted gaze away from Michael’s. “I thought you said you couldn’t make it tonight! I thought…you said you had,” Hannah’s gaze shifted between the ashen expression on Beatrix’s face to the even more stricken look on her Dad’s. “…a date…”

THE END…AT LEAST FOR US

I hope you enjoyed what came of this story and the twist at the end. I wish I could have sharpened it up a bit more, but alas we do have a time restraint. I do however wish Dad, Hannah and Beatrix the best of joy and a happy future 🙂 These are my results from MONDAY’S MUSE WRITING PROMPT APRIL 30, 2018.

*Revised post from October 22, 2015.

~Dream. Image. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: April 30th 2018

OPENING LINE (S): “She sat perched on the edge of the table, the tight fold of her interwoven fingers expressed the nervousness that had been concealed in the even tone of her voice and the placid look on her face. Turning fully towards her, s/he paid closer attention to what she was saying.”

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 “MondayMuse.”
  • 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.)

*Originally posted on October 19, 2015

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: April 23rd 2018

OPENING LINE (S): “Heat spread across my cheeks as Mama turned and gave me that look, the one that said, Don’t make me turn this car around, missy/mister.’ I choked on the angry retort that tickled my tongue and drew my clenched fist beneath my thighs in an attempt not to hit my sister Harriet across the back of her head. Harriet snickered. 

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 “MondayMuse.”
  • 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.)

*Originally posted on November 30th, 2015

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

 

There Was Room: A Short Story

The door whispered on its hinges as her fingers gently pushed it open, her stomach leaping as the light from the window washed over the scene inside the room. 

Tiptoeing as not to disturb the scene, Nyla eased forward. She pressed her eyes closed pushing away the tears that had misted over her vision. Cale, her young landlord, lay across her bed, his eyes racing back and forward behind closed lids, his lips framed with touches of a sandy blond beard, just slightly open.

He was sound asleep with Nyla’s baby boy snuggled against his chest, nestled within Cale’s large hands.

Nyla hadn’t been gone away that long, maybe an hour or two. She had to make the rush to the market before the sun dipped below the horizon. They were fresh out of flour and salt, and Nyla needed that in order to get supper ready.

That was part of her living agreement, she could stay on at Cale’s farm, as long as she kept the house clean, took care of the lighter chores in the morning, and kept hot meals on the table for when he came in from the fields.

It was a more than a generous arrangement for Nyla and baby Asher. No one else was willing to give a home to a woman and her fatherless child in exchange for a few small chores and meals. It was nothing short of a blessing for them even though she could tell it was very hard on Cale.

She had only been in the small town for a few short hours when the local gossip let it slip that Cale was a young widower who had lost his wife and son during childbirth in the winter of the previous year. The way that Cale had looked at her and Asher with such pained eyes made it clear he was making a big sacrifice by not only opening up his home to a stranger but opening up old wounds that had hardly had a chance to heal.

Asher was only three weeks old when they came to live on with Cale. Nyla’s Ma and Pa had put them both out without even looking back, told Nyla she and shamed the family for the last time and had done a fine job of it by her 20th year.

They let her stay at home until she was fit enough to move out, and become nothing more than a bad memory for them to think about every now and again. All of it had made Nyla so miserably sad that she couldn’t help but name her babe Asher; happy and blessed. She was determined that no matter what, she and her boy were going to be happy and blessed.

Looking at him now, chubby six-month-old cheeks flushed with the warmth of sleep, and mouth parted open like Cale’s, made Nyla happy in a way she wasn’t quite sure she had the right to be.

Cale was not hers after all. He had made it clear his heart was not interested in opening, and for the first few months Nyla could do nothing short of agree. Yes, she had determined to be happy with Asher, but that happiness did not involve a man.

Now, she just didn’t know what to think.

That wasn’t completely true. She was thinking, and at that moment the one thing that occupied her mind was the curiosity of how soft Cale’s lips might be, and how they would taste should she still a kiss from them.

Throwing precaution to the wind, reasoning that he would never know even though she was certain she would blush beet red every time she looked at him afterward, Nyla leaned forward and gently kissed his lips.

She would have ended the kiss just as quickly as she had started it had Cale’s hand not gently cupped the back of her head and deepened it sweetly. He calmly let her go, sliding his hand down the inner part of her arm, his emerald green eyes gazing curiously and contentedly up at her.

Nyla touched her lips with her finger’s as Cale laced his fingers with those of her other hand. His smile taking hold of her like nothing else had before. His reception had startled her more than her boldness but the welcome assurance of his warmth only served to drive home a point she hadn’t even realized she was aiming for. There was room in her and Asher’s world, room for another to join them in their joy.

THE END.

Love is obviously back in the air here. But it took five minutes past the 20-minute mark to make its statement. As always, I had a great time writing this. It gave me warm fuzzies! I did edit and add to the last chapter, as the previous ending was kind of abrupt. These are my results for MONDAY’S MUSE WRITING PROMPT APRIL 16, 2018.

*Originally posted July 2nd, 2015.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

 

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: April 16th, 2018

OPENING LINE (S): “The door whispered on its hinges as his/her fingers gently pushed it open, his/her stomach leaping as the light from the window washed over the scene inside the room.

 “The look on her face spoke volumes. Her gaze had more intonation and resonance than that which came from spoken words. Instantly she was understood.”

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 “MondayMuse.”
  • To get the Above Image click and copy the image below (It is a public domain image.)

1391647885yh5p4

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.)

*Originally posted June 2015

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Me Too: A Short Story

 She couldn’t stop laughing, not after the words that had just arbitrarily slipped from her mouth, and especially not with him laughing as well. 

It was an unfortunate nervous tick of hers–incessant laughter. She’d had it since she was a child. When she was nervous, she laughed. Scared. She laughed. Angry. She laughed. She even laughed when she as sad. Her round of giggles at her grandmother’s funeral had her ushered out of the wake and into the parking lot.

Sure, she laughed like most people, when most people laughed, but when she was undeniably embarrassed, she laughed non-stop with horrifying honks and snorts. She didn’t know if he was laughing with her, for nervous sake, or if her mortifying animal sounds were causing him to laugh at her.

But what if he was laughing out of pity, laughing because of what she’d said? The thought made her choke and pressed tears from her eyes. They tumbled down her cheeks into the chlorinated water between them. She pressed her eyes closed, too afraid to look at him anymore, even as red embarrassment crept up her neck and face.

She heard his laughter die, felt it really, and with the loss of its timber, she felt her stomach fall even more. As best she could, she suppressed the giggling that tickled her throat and covered her face with her hands. More tears pressed against the backs of her lids and for mercy’s sake, she prayed her palms would keep them hidden.

Her breath caught when she felt his fingers gently pulling against hers. She nearly fainted when she felt his lips claim hers with a sweetness that rivaled honey.

The tingle of his breath swirling in her ear caused her laughter to cease altogether and a smile to shape her lips.

“Me too,” he’d whispered. “I love you too.”

THE END

*I so enjoyed seeing this tale unfold. Romance, who doesn’t love the sweetness of love? These are my results for Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt April 2nd, 2018.

 

 

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: April 2nd 2018

 “She couldn’t stop laughing, not after the words that had just arbitrarily slipped from her mouth, and especially not with him laughing as well. ”

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 “MondayMuse.”
  • 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!