Unique: Developing My Personal Style As a Creative #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter U post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I want to talk about developing my own unique style as a creative.

As a writer, I think I do have a unique style. I have certain words that I use often, even though I try to vary my language too. In fact, I may have so much of a specific word choice that it gets boring at times. I really want to step outside of my comfort zone where it comes to my writing more and explore styles that I don’t normally employ. This includes poetry and flash fiction.

As a polymer clay artist, I haven’t really developed my own style yet, in the sense that most of my current creations are still based on the creations of popular YouTubers. Some are actually pretty much copies.

An interesting exception may be my unicorns. I do give a specific twist to my designs, most notably in the twisted mane and tail.

Unfortunately, with respect to my polymer clay, I struggle to step outside of my comfort zone even more than I do in the area of my writing. I fear ruining my clay, even though obviously that’s no problem, since I can always buy new clay. Honestly, now that I think of it, I may not have a unique style in any of my creative pursuits at all, but may just be sticking to a particular comfort zone. I really need to start experimenting more!

It may all be related to the fact that I’m not as imaginative as I’d like to be. Then again, Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way (I think) encourages her readers to explore creativity by experimenting. She also says that, to be a good artist, you first need to be a bad artist. In this sense, maybe I should really start making my own unique creations rather than copying from YouTube more. They may turn out rubbish, but so what? Some famous quote I think said that something’s better well stolen than poorly created. I think I disagree.

Goals I Have in the Area of My Creativity #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone! Welcome to my letter G post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I want to talk about goals I have related to my creative process. Here goes.

First, I obviously want to improve my skill and learn new techniques. With respect to polymer clay, I would really like to learn to make jewelry, such as earrings or beaded projects. I would also love to improve my color mixing skills.

I also may want to learn macrame, although I’m not 100% sure about that yet, as there’s still so much I can learn with respect to polymer clay and I’ve discovered I may not have reached my full potential after all.

With respect to my writing, I want to learn to write poetry that doesn’t look like a teen on drugs wrote it. I would also like to learn more about fiction writing. Of course, practice makes perfect, so I’ll really need to write more.

Secondly, my goal is to share my projects, when appropriate, more than I do now. I may really want to work on creating an Instagram profile. Either that, or I should share my projects on this blog or my personal Facebook profile more often.

I would also someday like to exchange my knowledge and skills with other crafters or writers. Of course, I do so online already, in Facebook groups, but I’d love to join a writing or crafting club or something. I’m not sure I’ll ever fit in with the polymer clay guild, as I need too much support with my craft. However, maybe I’ll someday be able to join in with some crafting workshops either online or in real life. I heard the American Council of the Blind organizes them online. Not for polymer clay specifically, but for crafting in general.

Lastly, I hope to continue enjoying the polymer clay art. This may seem obvious, but it can be quite the challenge, because due to my combination of perfectionism and impatience, I often give up when I don’t move forward in a craft quickly enough for my liking. I also dabble in quite many hobbies at once. Now, I really need to stick to just a few.

Childhood Creative Endeavors #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter C post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I initially wanted to write about cardmaking, but I don’t feel like that now. Instead, I’m going to talk about my creative endeavors as a child.

As a young child, I had a bit of useable vision that allowed me to use colors sort of appropriately (that is, as appropriately as a sighted child my age could). I loved learning about the names of unusual colors. I remember, in particular, learning that the sixth color of the rainbow is indigo, which I was fascinated by.

I could do some basic drawing too. In Kindergarten, I went to mainstream school with hardly any accommodations. I remember having to color inside the lines of a piece of paper, giving each little shape within the drawing a different color and not leaving any white. When, several years later, I looked at it, I saw considerable white. I have no idea how I compared to the other kids though.

By the age of eight, I’d lost the ability to tell most shades of green and blue apart, but I continued to love drawing until I was about age twelve. Then, I realized I’d lost so much vision that it’d make no sense. Even so, before then, my drawings up till that age remained comparable to a Kindergartner’s in quality.

When I went to special education, I was taught other creative activities. I remember making at least a dozen origami frogs in second grade. However, my teacher did at one point write on my report card that she wished she were two teachers so that she could teach together. In other words, I required so much attention that she’d really need to split herself in half to be able to teach the class too.

My parents bought a pottery kiln when I was about eleven, so I also tried my hand at ceramics. I wasn’t too good at it, leaving fingerprints on my work all the time, but at least I enjoyed the process.

Writing also was a lifelong passion of mine. I can’t, in fact, remember a time when I didn’t enjoy writing. At first, I’d make up stories to go along with my drawings. As a tween and teen, I wrote stories that were somewhat or very much related to my real life. My greatest achievement is a work in progress, a young adult novel by the working title of “The Black Queen” about a teen whose mother has multiple sclerosis. This story, though it had autobiographical elements, was inspired by a conversation I overheard about a classmate.

Did you love creative activities as a child?

Artistic Self-Discovery: Am I Even an Artist? #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to day one in the #AtoZChallenge. I have been uncertain as to what topic to choose for my first post. Last year, I chose to use my letter A post as an opportunity to introduce my topic. Today, I’m doing something similar. My topic this year is creative self-discovery and self-expression. A question that’s always been on my mind though, is: “Am I even an artist?”

When I joined some groups for creatives and artists on Facebook, I initially wasn’t sure whether they would be for just visual artists like those using paint or drawing as their primary medium. I mean, even “mixed-media” art usually includes some aspect of visual art. Thankfully, the members of most groups have been able to reassure me that, as a polymer clay hobbyist, I am more than welcome.

Then comes the question of quality. I mean, does my work have to meet certain standards to be considered art. I am still in many ways a beginner and, in all of the creative pursuits I have made, never got beyond that level, if I even got beyond the level of a 3-year-old.
Then I am reminded of Julia Cameron’s words in The Artist’s Way that you need to be a bad artist before you can be a good artist. In other words, no-one really is naturally good at art. She in fact seems to go as far as to say everyone has the ability to be creative within them.

The thing is, I am both rather impatient and perfectionistic. This combination means I feel easily discouraged by negative feedback on my first attempts at something creative. I really want to skip the “bad artist” phase and, especially when I know other people move on from that stage more quickly than I do, I feel disappointed in myself.

That being said, I realize now there is a reason Julia Cameron says you shouldn’t show your Morning Pages to anyone and shouldn’t even reread them yourself until week eight of the program. Wanting to share your creativity too soon, may lead to negative feedback and this in turn may lead, as it has with me, to discouragement.

I am learning this as I start to explore macrame, first learning the knots quite well before I’ll even think of showing anything online. That way, I am still trying, might still fail, but the chances are less that I’ll make a fool out of myself on Facebook.

To get back to the question that sparked this post: yes, I am am artist, just like I am indeed a writer even though it’s been nearly seven years since that one little piece I got published in an anthology. And even if I had nothing published in print, I’d still be a writer. Similarly, just because I don’t sell my artistic creations, doesn’t mean I’m not an artist.

#IWSG: Feeling Conflicted About Writing

IWSG

Hi everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I didn’t do as well on my writing in February as I’d hoped. In part, I blame COVID, because over the last week of the month, I felt too blah to write much. I’m still not feeling 100%. Truthfully though, that’s not all. I’ve also just not felt as inspired as I’d hoped.

I’m feeling really disappointed in myself with the fact that I didn’t complete #Write28Days. I know the idea of keeping a landing page was frustrating me from the get-go, but I could have written the posts and not linked them up, I guess. Instead, I gave up after three or four days only.

With this being the case, I’m feeling kind of conflicted about whether to sign up for the A to Z Challenge in April. It was a huge success in both 2020 and 2021 and I know from those years that I can make it work. That being said, I’m so scared of yet another failure and disappointment.

This gets me to this month’s optional question, which is about feeling conflicted about adding a scene to a story or writing a story at all. Since I write autobiographical non-fiction, I feel this sense of conflict all the time. When I was younger, I didn’t feel it much at all, but this led to extreme oversharing. For instance, I remember in 2007, when I’d been in the psych hospital for a month, posting the graphic details of my suicidal crisis to my blog. I later felt the need to erase the most triggering aspects.

Other than that, I’ve not felt conflict about adding scenes into stories or writing a story at all. I mean, my fiction, which I also wrote during my teens and early twenties mostly, was also hugely personal. However, at the time, like I said, I wasn’t really concerned with this.

If you write personal stories, how do you find the right balance between oversharing and not sharing enough?

Sunday Ramble: Creativity and Imagination

Today, I am a little uninspired with respect to my blog, so I thought I’d join in with E.M.’s Sunday Ramble, for which the prompt, interestingly, is creativity and imagination. The idea is that we answer E.M.’s five questions on the topic and ramble on as we see fit. Here goes.

1. When did you first discover your love of writing?
I honestly don’t think I ever knew how to write without loving it. That being said, I didn’t start writing stories or poems consistently until the fifth or sixth grade and I didn’t start a diary that I kept regularly until I was thirteen.

2. Would you say that you found your imagination at a young age or when you became older? If you want to, share something you discovered with your imagination.
Imagination? What imagination? I honestly don’t think my creative writing is particularly imaginative. My parents used to say I was a good writer, but they probably never meant it, as they too recognized my writing was full of plagiarism and, if it wasn’t, was pretty much a retelling of my own life.

That being said, when my sister and I did pretend play together, I was always the one making up the stories. I guess back in those days, they were imaginative enough for someone at that age. My imagination just never developed; it rather regressed.

3. What is your favorite genre to write about? (Example: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, True Crime, etc.)
Other than blog posts, I mostly write poetry and flash fiction. My poetry is just word vomit I guess and with respect to my flash fiction, the advantage is the fact that I don’t have to finish the story I started in an original way.

When I still wrote short stories and even a few novels-in-progress, my favorite genre was realistic young adult fiction. I did attempt to write a few short stories in this genre again recently, but really they got nowhere.

4. Do you ever get “writer’s block”? If so, do you have a reason of why it happens?
Sure I do; that’s why I’m writing this post rather than an original blog post. I honestly don’t know why it happens. In my case, my writing inspiration just tends to ebb and flow.

5. Can you tell me something that I do not know that you do not mind sharing about your style of writing?
I always write with an audience in mind. Even when I write in my private diary, I explain stuff that I myself know and write in a style that is “censored” in a kind of way. It didn’t use to be this way when I first started keeping a diary. In fact, when first starting an online diary in 2002, I was reminded that I had to explain things to people because they weren’t in my head like my private diary’s inner companion was. Now, nearly twenty years on, it’s the other way around.

#IWSG: A Tribute to My High School Tutor

IWSG
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Badge

Today is the first Wednesday of the month and my regular readers know what this means: it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I just got an authorization for the latest JAWS, my screen reader, which turns out to support the WordPress block editor, so I’m trying that out now as I type.

I did quite well in the writing department over the month of January, having published 29 blog posts, including a poem and a piece of flash fiction. For February, I signed up for #Write28Days, so my main goal is to write a post for that challenge each day.

Now on to this month’s optional question. For the month of February, we are asked to share about someone who supported or influenced us in our writing who isn’t around anymore. Immediately, my thoughts went to my high school tutor. Even as I type this, I am still not sure whether I want to name him by his full name, as in general my relationship with him was tainted by the many conflicting interests he had to juggle as my high school tutor and the assistant principal, with me being the only student with a major disability in his mainstream school. That being said, he was a major supporter of my writing.

I must explain here that he wasn’t originally my tutor from the start, but my original tutor went on long-term sick leave, never to return, shortly before winter break my second year in this school in the middle of eighth grade. The teacher I talk about here became my tutor shortly after the winter break. In one of our first one-on-one tutor-student talks, he asked me about my hobbies I think and we somehow got talking about writing. He asked if he could read one of my stories and I eagerly agreed. I think I even wrote an original story specifically to show him.

This story was rather autobiographically-based, but not so clearly so that it could be transferred one-to-one into my school situation. My tutor did immediately notice the autobiographical elements though.

I was quite a troubled teen and struggled greatly, being multiply-disabled in a mainstream school. Sometimes, I struggled to speak. Over the years, my tutor encouraged me to write things down when I couldn’t speak, be it in fictionalized form or not. Once I got a public online diary, which later morphed into a blog, I permitted my tutor to read it, reasoning that, since it’s public, he shouldn’t even have to ask my permission.

He remained my tutor until I graduated high school in 2005. He also was the one arranging for me to go to the blindness training center after graduation, even though he full on knew this meant I couldn’t go to university right away then.

Sadly, about a year after my graduation, my now former tutor was diagnosed with cancer. He did live for another about ten years and did make it to the reunion in celebration of my high school existing 100 years in 2013. I, though, did not. My tutor died in 2016.

I am not sure whether my tutor felt I was a good writer per se. He might have thought, like my parents did during my teens, that I was overly self-centered in my writing. If he did though, he didn’t say so. In any case, he was one of the people who, whether he wanted to or not, influenced me to be a regular blogger.

Share Four Somethings (January 2022)

Hi everyone. Can you believe it’s almost the end of January already? I can’t wait for this month to be over with, honestly. February can be depressing too, but not as depressing as January. At least then the weather may start to warm up a little. Let’s hope! Anyway, today I’m joining Share Four Somethings. I think I joined this link-up once before, but am hoping to make it a regular habit now that it’s a new format. Here goes.

Something Loved

Essential oils. Yay, my three new oils arrived today! Though I haven’t tried them out yet, I will certainly be doing so soon. One, lemon, isn’t really new, but I’d had to throw out the old bottle because it’d gone past its shelf life. This really should be a motivator to use my essential oils more often. The other two, spearmint and sweet marjoram, I haven’t used before.

Something Gleaned

Honestly, I had to Google the definition of “glean”, so I could say I gleaned the meaning of the word. I guess my English isn’t as good as I’d like to say it is.

Seriously though, I have been reading the Bible everyday since January 1. While 24 days isn’t my longest streak ever by far, I do find that the more I study God’s Word, the more I learn. My most recent realization came from the story about the Bible passage I mentioned yesterday. The pastor sharing the story about the passage said that “favor” in Psalms 30:5 could also be translated as “grace”. This, until then, I’d always seen as a decidedly New Testamental term. Then again, I now am beginning to see that the Bible isn’t really strictly divided between OT and NT, but it’s all one story leading to Jesus. To those of my readers who’ve been believers for longer than I have been, this may seem obvious. To me, it’s a big eye-opener.

Something Braved

Well, as regular readers of my blog will know, this month was quite hard. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and PTSD symptoms. Even though one of my medications, topiramate, which specifically works to combat trauma-related symptoms, was upped earlier this month, I’m not yet noticing the change. On the contrary, in fact, it looks like I’m doing a little worse. That is, I might be noticing a slight positive change over the past few days, but it’s so early on that it’s hard to know for sure and I’m not sure whether the change is positive compared to how I did on my old dosage too. I thankfully will have an extra appointment with my nurse practitioner on Thursday to discuss how things are going.

Something Achieved

Two somethings here, is that okay? First, I have been writing more frequently and more widely than I did before. I am really proud of myself for this, as it is actually one of only a few ways in which I’m still staying active lately. Due to my anxiety, after all, I’m struggling to try new things such as crafting or even to go for a walk. However, I do try out new writing techniques and that’s something at least.

The other achievement is my diet. I started on a healthier eating plan with the help of a dietitian early in the month. Not with the aim of losing weight, although it would be great if I could lose the 1.5kg I need to lose to no longer be obese. My main goal is to experience less inner conflict about eating, as I have a history of eating disorder symptoms. So far, I’m sticking to it pretty well. More importantly, the one day when I couldn’t fully stick to the plan, because we had Chinese takeout, I didn’t resort to eating disorder behaviors. That’s quite an accomplishment!

#IWSG: My Biggest Writing-Related Regret

IWSG

Hi everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I have been doing pretty well in the writing department over the past month.

My Morning Pages, which I started last Saturday, are going strong so far, although I’m resisting getting up for writing them sometimes. I am not as strict with myself as Julia Cameron expects. I mean, I can’t handwrite at all, so I am typing up my pages. I am also not being strict about the three pages (750 words) per day. So far, yesterday, I almost got there. The other days, I barely got to 500 words if even that.

Then again, I’ve been blogging quite consistently over the past month. I wrote 23 blog posts in December, which means I reached my goal of publishing 300 posts in 2021 (in fact, I published 303). In January so far, I’ve been posting everyday and I am still quite motivated to continue doing so. There are a few blogging-related challenges that provide prompts, such as #Bloganuary, #JusJoJan, etc. I don’t intend on participating in any of these challenges every single day, but to use them as springboards towards creativity.

Now on to this month’s optional question. This month, we are asked to share our biggest regret in our writing career. I don’t quite consider myself as having a writing career per se and, as such, my biggest regrets involve things I didn’t do rather than things I did. Like, in late 2020, I fully intended on writing a story for Chicken Soup for the Soul about the impact of care homes closing to visitors due to the pandemic on me and my husband. I never did. I could, of course, still write the story and share it on my blog, but that would be different to submitting it to Chicken Soup.

Behind the fact that I never wrote, much less submitted the story is a fear of rejection. I tend to think my work is not good enough. Then again, if I don’t try, I will never succeed.

In my Morning Pages, I keep writing that maybe I am not supposed to do The Artist’s Way at all, because I am already public with my writing and my crafting. I am not a shadow artist in this respect. Furthermore, as Julia Cameron says, it is audacity, not talent, which gets some people to become published creatives and others to stay in the shadows. I tend to interpret this to mean that, if I am audacious enough to publish my work online without having done the program first, it must mean I’m not talented. That’s probably not what she means.

Things I Am Passionate About

In today’s Sunday Poser, Sadje asks us what we’re passionate about. Passions can be defined in various ways. They can be things we enjoy doing, but also societal issues we hold strong opinions about. In the below list, I am going to go into both, because I do enjoy talking about the issues I feel strongly about.

1. Writing. My greatest hobby is certainly writing. I’ve always enjoyed it. It is definitely something I do with a passion. I don’t talk about my writing that much though.

2. Crafts. Another of my hobbies is crafting. Unlike writing, I do talk about my crafting a lot. I love to infodump about my latest crafty hobby, be it soap making, polymer clay or whatever.

3. Autistic, mental health and disability activism. Back in the days of my first WordPress blog, most of my posts were opinionated and related to disability, neurodiversity or mental health. I no longer write as much about autistic advocacy, disability rights or the like, but that doesn’t mean I no longer feel passionate about these issues. I have always considered myself a moderate pro-neurodiversity activist, in that, though I side with autistics and the neurodiversity movement, I do feel that most neurotypicals are well-intentioned, though privileged.

4. Calendars and timekeeping. I just need to mention this. I used to love calendar calculation, ie. calculating what date March 25, 1955 was or the like (it was a Friday, by the way). Now, though I’m no longer as interested in or competent at it, I do still feel passionate about issues relating to it. Never tell me that because it was New Year’s yesterday, there were “really two Sundays” this week. No, New Year’s is a bank holiday and this year it was on a Saturday, not a Sunday.

There are probably other things I feel passionate about, but these are the things I can think of right now. What do you feel strongly about or what do you enjoy doing very much?