August 2020, I’ve been moving towards a new job that allows me to create everything I need or want to create. I’ve created the group CreativiTea, and if you’ve followed the page, you’ll have seen that as an event—a tea time. It’s become a lot more random during these COVID times.
In the past month I’ve been doing work with Sound Maiden, who runs Blue Funk Podcast On this platform, she did the reading for the titular poem in Night of a Hundred Moons. She’s also the sound guru for If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) where I was one of the guest speakers a few months back. It was an episode that brought me a great deal of hope. Somehow, listening to our conversation—which also talked about creativity—just brought a huge sparkle to my heart.
It was then I knew I wanted to work with her. I got to see one of her short films, and… we seemed to want to support each other. Recently I gave her audio I’d recorded with Josh Shirley back in 2018. The series is about going outside one’s comfort zones. Very gently, over tea—most of it new for me—we talked about creativity. Her brilliance will allow it to become a short run podcast.
It’s fairly rough—Josh and I had no idea of what we were doing, and it shows. But that’s part of the joy of being outside one’s comfort zone. We grew a lot in that, and since.
That first podcast series rose from the tea time events with friends, CreativiTea. That it’s come back, with the potential of encouraging others, so many other things have come together. I’m pretty excited.
If you’ve followed me, you’ll know that collaboration is one of the things I really enjoy doing. Night of a Hundred Moons was a collaboration with the artist Calhoun. I shared the poem with her, and said, “Do what you want.” Her artwork is most of the reason I published that book. The first in my 1100 Creative Ways project.
Another project that looked so hopeful did not go as planned. The artwork was lovely, but discussing the story with the artist—reading it out loud—began to illuminate how seriously I needed to edit the story. When I saw her project, continuing to struggle with the revision… I came to realize that the collaboration was successful, but only as a learning opportunity for me. My story had some incredible scenes in it, but the story was written in anger and frustration. It couldn’t hold together. Parts of it, though, are being transformed into a novel series I’m slowly building up framework scenes, and character studies.
The collaboration where, “Do what you want,” has challenged more of my comfort zone is for my story “The Mud Woman.” My friend Judy Linn is not only a singer songwriter, with one of my favorite singing voices, but has been a visual artist, but also a puppeteer.
Judy focuses on shadow puppets, but if you see the picture above, you can see that it goes beyond the traditional shadow puppets. It’s as if shadow puppets and stained glass got together and made puppets. Getting together helped me write my first script.
If all goes well there will be more than all these fabulous puppets, there will be a short YouTube video as well, filmed by an up and coming film student.
To grow this joyous sense of collaboration, but more: To grow that sense of community where creatives help encourage each other’s art, I’m also creating a FaceBook group called CreativiTea. I hope to grow a sense of creative encouragement. I hope that if that happens that maybe we’ll see more 1100 Creative Ways projects come out of it. If not, it will be enough to know that artists and storytellers can encourage each other’s creative ventures.
As for the past few months, I’ve released not only Night of a Hundred Moons, but the novella Jewel of Gazanté. In a small way, there was another collaboration with the musician Jonathan Byrd, who is also magicflowercowboy on Instagram. I loved his work. It is so very different from my other covers, but I cannot help loving his work on this cover.
These two books have had NO fanfare, no release party, because they were published during COVID lockdowns. Much to my delight, a follower on Instagram picked it up and apparently fell in love with the book, claiming she could not put it down. I had to take a screenshot of that personal message, because it was unexpected.
I loved hearing from her, and I loved that we could talk more. I loved that the story seemed to reach farther. Those things, along with the joys of collaborations—when they seem to “fail” but are really good learning opportunities; when they fill a gap for another creative in their own kind of slump; when something surprising comes together, and one can see a story through other eyes in challenging ways. I’m hoping for another month of this type of sharing. I look forward to hearing from you as well.