There’s nothing like a cross-country move to raise one’s creative spirits. New words, new faces, and new ideas. But a big move also challenges order. Everything goes into boxes, and even when you bring it back out, it goes into a different room and belongs in a new place. Then everything in every other room is similarly displaced. And there are new restaurants and new people and new sights, and pretty soon, you’re hopelessly in disarray.
So last week, I finally fought back against entropy. For me, a good workspace has my favorite tools in arm’s reach, but never in the way. I set forth to accomplish that goal.
The ultimate test of a working space is simple—does it inspire work? Over the weekend, I tested my space. It does inspire. I made my first three books in New Mexico. They are relatively humble, but they are setting the tone for the work ahead.
When I released my collection of science fiction fairy tales, it was the start of a push to creatively engage with the world. I finally finished a project and put it out there, doubtless non-perfect like everything. Since then, I’ve submitted my short works nearly 90 times (with 3 acceptances). I’ve joined a writing group and participated in critiquing groups to work on my writing. I’ve studied Adobe’s Photoshop and illustrator, and recently painting, to improve my artistic skills. I’ve studied Indesign and book layout. I started posting regularly on this site, as I have for nearly two years now. The first set of fairy tales started all of this self-improvement.
I always intended to do another collection of fairy tales. I recently finished the first story, “The Lonely Man on the Ship”, about a man trapped alone for years on a spaceship during terrible storms. I did the art with Prismacolor color pencils (which I intend to use for the rest of the eventual collection).
Now I’m coding the fairy tale for the kindle. Once I do, “The Lonely Man on the Ship” will be available free on the kindle and on the iPad. Much of the last two years’ studies has gone into this work. I used Indesign and illustrator for layout work. I used Photoshop to make sure my scanned art work was as attractive as possible. I think the writing is stronger than in the first fairy tales. As the first fairy tales inspired new studies, to release this work properly I’m learning CSS and HTML coding.
So until I finish this last step, enjoy a couple of illustrations!
The value of play for adults is something I must believe in… or else I waste a great deal of my time. Last Monday I wrote about playing with dolls; not long after that, I saw an article on boingboing about the value of self-directed play. The article discussed what we understand about play scientifically, and its functions for children and adults.
One quote from the article I particularly appreciated: “The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.” For me, play is the remedy to worry, both at work and at home. As a scientist, the days that can feel like play are far and away the best and most useful. Sometimes I wonder if academia suppresses this needed time for play, as new professors are spending more and more time writing grants, which I cannot imagine as a play activity.
Play is also a reason I massively value unscheduled time. I like to have hours and hours of undevoted time. If my time is parsed and allotted, there is no time for valuable wanderings of the brain. In my unscheduled time over the years, I have learned some of the things I use a lot now, like sewing, bookbinding, drawing and painting.
There is also research that suggests that when play turns to work, creative output is damaged. For us many aspiring writers and creatives here on wordpress, I think that these are topics to keep in mind.