Thursday, June 24, 2010

Inspiration: Vali Myers

Since hearing Anne Rice speak about surrounding herself with things that inspire her (I mentioned it here), I've been more conscious about what inspires me.  What tv shows/movies/books/music do I just kill time with, and which ones really spark creativity?

One artist that I've been thinking about a lot lately is Vali Myers.  In many ways, I think she must have been the exact opposite of me; she seems like she was just completely fearless, and lived her life making choices that were shocking to most people.  She spent years as a homeless ballet dancer in Paris, then several decades in a remote village in Italy, living with two men and countless animals, including her pet fox.

She tattooed her face.

She inspired, befriended and loved many famous artists, including Salvador Dali, Tennessee Williams,  Patti Smith, and Mary Ellen Mark and Annie Liebovitz, who took this photo of her in 1974:

Her artwork is unique and passionate, and utterly painstaking: She used a technique similar to pointillism, creating beautiful works of art using tiny pinpricks of ink.  It was an incredibly time consuming process, and could take months or years to complete.  She herself, her animals, and her lovers were often the subject of her artwork.

She lived her life with joy, and fire.  She was free.

She died after a short bout with cancer in 2003, back in Australia, where she'd been born.

"I've had 72 absolutely flaming years. It doesn't bother me at all, because, you know love, when you've lived like I have, you've done it all. I put all my effort into living; any dope can drop dead. I'm in the hospital now, and I guess I'll kick the bucket here. Every beetle does it, every bird, everybody. You come into the world and then you go." ~ Vali Myers, 2003

Monday, June 14, 2010


Here's another photo that I took in 1985? 1986? and never bothered to print, since it's blurry and obviously a mistake.  But looking at it now, I think it looks dreamy, and I kind of like it.

This is my friend's sister, the one I found on Facebook a few months ago, but I still can't get her to answer me when I ask about where/how my friend is.  I also still haven't ruled out her being too unfamiliar with Facebook to know how to use it correctly, since it's clear she only logs in every couple of months or so.   Hopefully that's the problem, and not that there's bad news.  Recently another childhood friend was here in Orlando visiting, and she told me that the last time she saw our unfound friend was in 1990, and the friend appeared to be paranoid; she was acting strange and said that she was afraid she was being followed.

That's certainly odd, and combined with her absence, somewhat concerning.  I've been thinking about her today especially, it's her birthday.  I always remember when Flag Day is, because of her.  :)

Hopefully she is just technologically awkward and not online, but still completely fine.  Hopefully one day her sister will answer my messages on Facebook and then my friend and I will be back in touch.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Header

I don't know, I started off with a perfectly lovely cell phone pic I took of a rainy night and some lights on a street, and decided to try to make it "arty" in Photoshop, and this is where I ended up.

I kind of like it, but it sure is a departure from my sweet kitty header.  I am not depressed, or about to throw myself in front of a truck, or anything... I swear.

I am just "arty".  :D

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Novel

Holy crapmuffins, those two little words make me so happy. :)

I am lost, though. Since I wrote the first 50,000+ words in November, I haven't been able to write more, and I haven't been able to write anything else, either. I've even had trouble writing this blog. And I LOVE writing this blog!

Also, since November, I haven't enjoyed reading, which for me is extremely unusual. I've started a bunch of books halfheartedly and then abandoned them fairly quickly, despite the feeling that I should have liked them.

I've only read two books since November (and, for me, that's practically like saying I've only had two baths since November); one was Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Loved it loved it loved it, I can see why it was a bestseller. It's a memoir about a woman's personal journey towards self-love and self-knowledge. That sounds like such a cliche, but it really came along right when I needed it and I just couldn't read it fast enough. And here's how much of a book snob I am: I bought a used but still pretty new-looking trade paperback copy almost a year ago at a flea market for $2. As it turns out, the previous owner marked the pages by turning down the corners, so there's dozens of pages that have those little diagonal creases that so offend my delicate book-loving sensibilities. When I finished the book, I waited for a good Borders coupon to show up in my email and then I went and bought a brand new, beautiful, uncreased copy.

The second book was Dead In The Family by Charlaine Harris, the tenth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. What can I say? Apparently I find southern people and vampires comforting.

I've been doing research about writing, and the various different processes that writers have for accessing and nurturing their creativity. In an interview Anne Rice said that her process typically is to think about and research her characters/plot for months and months, as long as a year, then to spend a relatively short amount of time writing very intensely and carefully, then one quick revision and she's done. She said she finds herself being very drawn to things that inspire her during her thinking period; movies, books, tv, people, places, whatever. Then during her writing time she isolates herself from anything that might be distracting, and focuses solely on writing.

Of course, there are many many writers - the overwhelming majority, I'm sure - who say that the only way is to write regularly, every day, like it or not. Elizabeth Gibert said in a TED talk that she thinks that creative brilliance strikes occasionally, but you can't control it or depend on it, so you'd better be there and be ready; if you do your part and show up regularly, it'll (hopefully) do its part and show up eventually too.

I've been trying to force myself to sit down every day and write, but I just have not been able to. I can't even explain it. Sometimes I'll look forward to it during the day, but then when I get home I just... forget, like it just falls out of my head. Sometimes I remember, but don't want to, and then I feel bad for being lazy.

I've been trying not to beat myself up over this. I've been trying to think of this as figuring out what my "process" is. I think part of my problem is the stupid voice that has lived in my head since I graduated college with a fresh naive enthusiasm for writing, and then failed to write, at all. The decades passed, and the voice got louder and more abusive. Really, thinking back honestly on this past November, and remembering how hard I pushed myself during NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words, I'm not sure I really gave myself enough credit. It was such a joyful and intensely emotional experience, rediscovering something so very dear to me, I'm not sure I really let myself feel it.

So I am trying to stop putting pressure on myself, and just give myself room.

Could someone please give me a guarantee that I am not going to die or become disabled in the next year or so, and that I do in fact have plenty of time? Thanks in advance :)