Friday, July 17, 2009

VW #5 -- Art vs. Life

The winners of the VW#3 giveaways are:

eBookWish: Natalie Hatch

Goodie Bag: Chris

Winners, when you have a chance, please send your full name and ship-to address to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your prizes out to you. Thanks to everyone for joining in.



I. Two Godmothers

The Publishing Fairy doesn't know this, but there are two other godmothers in my life. One is a beautiful, ethereal creature named Bliss who floats around me in a state of perpetual joy. She dresses in anything that sparkles and has four feet of pure white hair cascading around her pretty face. Everything enchants her: roses, clouds, puppies, fruit salad, sunsets, Clannad, crystal, violet silk, and the list goes on forever so just add on whatever sensory-rich object or experience you like. I will say that while she's a bit of a dingbat, and has no concept of time, she's pretty cool to hang out with, even if she can never coordinate her colors or find two shoes that match.

And then there's my other godmother, Olivia (she prefers Liv.) If I were to cast her in a movie, I'd get someone like Dame Judith Dench to play her, or that drill sergeant I had in the military. She dresses in permanent press, carries a day planner and wears three watches; two around each wrist and one cinched around her purse strap in case the other two stop. She keeps her iron-gray hair trimmed and pulled back in a neat ponytail. She has absolutely no time for roses or sunsets or puppies, thank you very much. They are not on the schedule. Her shoes always match.

Bliss and Liv don't like each other. At. All. Bliss thinks Liv needs to relax and unwind and take time to smell the roses. Liv thinks Bliss should keep her flowers and sparkles to herself and get a damn job. They can't agree on anything and if it were up to them, I'd kick the other fairy godmother out of the house. Bliss sobs in my right ear that Liv is going to kill my soul. Liv hisses in my left ear that Bliss is going to turn my brain into Jell-O.

I love them both, and I have tons of respect for both, but frankly? Trying to divide up my day so I can work with and please both of these women is an ongoing, gigantic pain in my ass. The only good thing is that I know I'm not alone in that. Every other writer I know struggles with their own variations of Bliss and Liv. It's the price we pay for being blessed with the fairy godmothers of Art and Life.

II. The Flower and The Flame

Liv, my fairy godmother of Life, has been with me since I was eight years old. My mother introduced me to her right before she started working a second job. Mom taught me how to clean, cook, iron and take care of the house and my younger brother and sister. Liv showed up while Mom was at work to make sure I did it. I used to think she was a creature of my conscience, as she always popped in whenever I was thinking about slacking off or playing, but now I'm pretty sure I timeshare her with my mom. She even sounds like my mother whenever she gives me a talking-to: "The laundry pile is starting to attract mountain-climbers. Don't throw away that old towel, you can tear it up into dusting rags. That chicken isn't going to walk out of the freezer and defrost itself, you know."

Liv and I have never really bonded emotionally in a big way -- she doesn't encourage that sort of touchy-feely nonsense -- but I respect her. The woman knows how to get stuff done.

I'm not sure when Bliss showed up; probably a little later than Liv. I was reading a story in a school about Dick and Jane at the toy store, and Dick picked out a (sail)boat while Jane went for the blue ball. I thought that was stupid; the (sail)boat was way cooler than that dumb ball. Boys always have the coolest toys. Then Bliss shimmered into being in a soft, sparkly cloud of flower petals on top of my desk and handed me my pencil and some paper. "Here," she whispered. "Write a story where Jane picks the (sail)boat, and takes it down to the canal behind your house, where a magical catfish turns it into a yacht and she sails it down to Miami."

I didn't write more than a few lines; the teacher caught me and scolded me for not being on task (maybe Liv ratted me out, not sure.) Bliss did stick around comforting me until it was time to go home, and then chased Liv out of the house so I could finish writing the story. Liv popped back in right before my mom got home, punched out Bliss (who exploded into a thousand sparkles) and then lit a fire under my butt. Liv nagged me the whole time while I raced to take down the laundry from the clothesline, get supper started and do the rest of my forgotten chores. She didn't leave until late that night, and even then she gave me another lecture. "You'll never get anything done if you listen to that stupid flower fairy," she told me. "Now be a good girl, close your eyes and go to sleep. You have to make breakfast for the little ones in the morning."

As soon as she was gone, Bliss popped into my bedroom and handed me a picture book and the flashlight she'd swiped from the garage. "Here, sweetie," she said, giggling. "The heck with that flame fairy. Hide under the quilt and read this while I keep an eye out for your mom."

And that's how it's been ever since, for the last forty years. Liv tries to run my life, while Bliss tries to make me forget about it. For a long time they hated each and bickered and whined and fought over who would have control of me. It was almost always a stalemate, although when I became a teenager Bliss and I started spending some serious time together writing and painting. Those were wonderful years. Then I went into the military, and Liv helped me cope while my instructors whipped my ass into shape. Those were great years, too.

I never picked sides, but I was often lost in the middle between Bliss and Liv. I've loved them both, and I've resented the hell out of them both, but after a while I realized (much to their disappointment) that I was never getting rid of either of them. It wasn't until I sat down with both of my godmothers in 1989 that things changed. That was the day I decided to quit bouncing between the two of them and instead make them work together.

III. Facing Your Godmothers

I think most creative people do have a variation of Bliss and Liv in their lives. They may also have other mystical creatures -- the sports gremlin, the fashion fury, the car or motorcycle demon. All of these imaginary beings live through us, and bring us a lot of happiness and satisfaction, but they're always wrestling for control. When they show up we can become so involved in whatever they want to do that we forget that we're in charge. Instead, we let them run the show. It results in a lot of great things, but it can also create chaos, mess with our relationships and wreck our homes, checkbooks, jobs, hopes and dreams.

Whatever godmothers you've been blessed or cursed with, the first step in gaining and maintaining control of them is to acknowledge their importance to you. I love Bliss; she's a lot of fun and we always have a good time together. She's also inefficient, messy and can't be trusted in the kitchen. Bliss has encouraged me and inspired me, but she's also made me misplace things, wreck my office, forget doctor's appointments and burn dinner. Likewise Liv has been my biggest ally in keeping my home and work space tidy, and doing whatever I must to care for the ones I love. She appeals to my sense of order and cleanliness, but she's never satisfied. She works me hard, often makes me resent all the time I give her and when that's not good enough to suit her standards, drives me crazy.

Once I knew I was stuck with my godmothers, and that I needed to somehow integrate them to work together as a team to help me get everything I wanted and needed to do done, I then had to work out a treaty between them and myself. I acknowledged that both of my godmothers had equal importance in my life (something Liv never really believed, considering how much of it I had wasted while hanging out with Bliss) and that to be a productive, happy person I needed both of them (something that made Bliss laugh, as her nickname for Liv is the Grim Sweeper.)

They really didn't like the idea of working together, either. Liv thought Bliss would make a mess of everything, and Bliss thought Liv would have me creating in a straitjacket. They only quit bickering when I told them that if they didn't make peace and start cooperating that I was going to kick them both out, run away from home and devote the rest of my life to living with the Tibetan Caveman.

(Liv is now reminding me that I've let Bliss help me write all of the above, and it's now her turn to have a crack at you.)

IV. Charting Your Time

Here's an exercise from Liv that you can use to figure out how much time you're spending on art and life:

1. Take a notebook or writing pad and use it to create a time log of everything you do in one day. You don't have to write down details, just put together an outline of your activities and the time you spend doing them.

2. At the end of the day, go through your list and mark each entry by the godmother who was with you (or the type of task it was): Art or Life (if you have other godmothers that don't fit under those two categories, create other categories for them.)

3. Add up and write down the total number of hours you spent doing things in each category.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 for a full week.

Using Excel or an online chart making generator, create a chart for each of the category totals from your week, like this one (click on image to see larger version:



(Liv loves graphs. If I let her, she'd pie chart my entire life.)

Now look at the results on your graph. Obviously art and life can't have equal time; it's just not practical for anyone to forgo the tasks and responsibilities of life to create 24/7. But neither should life take up all the space on your graph; there should be some time each day for art or life becomes dreary for creative people.

In the example from my time chart, I had to give up a lot of art time on Wednesday, when I spent more than fourteen hours taking care of some medical appts. for both me and my daughter, cleaning the house for a friend who is coming to stay with us, and taking the dog for his semi-annual checkup. That day Bliss and I hardly saw each other. But on the next day and on Sunday I devoted a little extra time to art to get things back in balance.

Your turn: go back to your notebook, and look at the details of what you did on each day when art or life got the least amount of your time. Was there a valid reason for chasing off the corresponding godmother that day? (i.e., working overtime at your day job or attending an all-day writing seminar.) Did you devote a little more time the next day to the neglected godmother? If so, your art and life are probably in good balance.

If your chart is severely out of whack, and there is no valid reason for the imbalance or you didn't make up the time, it's probably a good idea to start planning out your days a little more to set aside an appropriate amount of time for each of your godmothers.

V. The Godmother Cooperative

Getting your godmothers to timeshare you is more important than you think. Without Liv around to motivate me to get things done, my life would be in a shambles, and I'd be miserable. Liv and I are a lot alike in the sense that we both have a great need for order. I understand Liv, too; she cares for me and my family, has kept me employed, makes my work and living space enjoyable and has helped me through some of the worst times in my life simply by keeping me busy.

I don't always understand Bliss, who can be as mysterious as she is spontaneous, but I know that she's brought a lot of joy and beauty to my life. She's made me see the world differently and has gotten me to do some amazing things. Sometimes she scares me because I have no idea why I got stuck with her, but I basically trust her with everything. Except dinner.

I also believe that Bliss and Liv have to work together for us all to be happy. While we've been through some rough spots, my godmothers of art and life have also learned from each other (they'll never admit this, of course.) Bliss knows that if I'm going to write a book with her that Liv is going to be involved in scheduling my time and making my wordcounts and meeting my deadlines. Liv understands that basic tasks like vacuuming the living room or doing the dishes don't require that I listen to a CD that Bliss likes while I do them, but that I'm happier when I do, and the work seems to go more quickly.

(Liv thinks Bliss is hogging the workshop again, but Bliss is reminding her that everything cannot be numbered or charted.)

We often think of the creative existence as being caught in a perpetual battle between art and life, but the different godmothers in your life really shouldn't be at war with each other. The ones that should be a part of your life do want what's best for you, so it's good to look for opportunities to get them all involved in your daily life. You'll find that your version of Liv is a lot happier if you set an alarm clock when you sit down to write to remind you when you need to stop and start dinner. Likewise your version of Bliss will be more content if you carry a notebook to jot down some ideas for your current WIP while you're waiting in line to pick up the kids at school.

The creative life isn't easy, and sometimes it takes years to work a livable arrangement with your respective godmothers. They're selfish and demanding by nature, and they will always try to run your life for you. The most important thing to remember is that the life is yours, not theirs. The one who should be in charge is you.

VI. Related Links

EBSQ's post Finding Balance Between Art and Life has some insight how to handle the creative balancing act.

Bliss didn't like Carlin Flora's Psychology Today article Muse or Ruse?, but Liv thought it had some valid points.

Sharon Good earns her surname in advice with When People Don't Get You.

One of my favorite how-to authors, Dr. Eric Maisel, has some excellent suggestions in his article, Living the Creative Life.

For those who are juggling art and the day job, check out Pamela Mooman's article Writing and Working Full-Time ~ Striking a Balance Between Art and Necessity.

Today's LB&LI giveaways are:

1) An ArtWish (a $50.00 U.S. gift certificate from Art.com)

2) a goodie bag which will include unsigned new copies of:

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi (hardcover)

Way of the Cheetah by Lynn Viehl (author-printed, signed and bound in a three-ring binder)

Letters to a Young Sister by Hill Harper (trade pb)
The Write-Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer (trade pb)
Wild Wild West by Charlene Teglia (trade pb)
Sexy Devil by Sasha White (trade pb)

Amazon Ink by Lori Devoti (paperback)
Temptation and Lies by Donna Hill (paperback)
In Danger by Alison Kent (paperback)
Talyn and Hawkspar by Holly Lisle (paperbacks)
The Iron Hunt and Darkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu (paperbacks)
A complete set of all eight Dirk & Steele novels (Tiger Eye, Shadow Touch, Dark Dreamers [with Christine Feehan], The Last Twilight, The Red Heart of Jade, The Eye of Heaven, Soul Song and The Wild Road) by Marjorie M. Liu (paperbacks)
Kissing Midnight and Breaking Midnight by Emma Holly (paperbacks)

plus signed paperback copies of my novels StarDoc and Evermore, as well as some other surprises.

If you'd like to win one of these two giveaways, name one of your godmothers, or comment on this workshop before midnight EST on Saturday, July 18, 2009. I will draw two names from everyone who participates and send one winner the goodie bag and grant the other an ArtWish.

Everyone who participates in the giveaways this week will also be automatically entered in my grand prize drawing on July 21st, 2009 for the winner's choice of either a ASUS Eee PC 1005HA-P 10.1" Seashell Netbook or a Sony PRS-700BC Digital Reader.

As always, all LB&LI giveaways are open to anyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Other LB&LI Workshop Links -- new links are being added every day, so keep checking the list for new workshops (due to different time zones, some of these will go live later in the day):

E-publishing: From Query to Final Edits and Beyond -- Authors Madison Blake, Paris Brandon, Cerise Deland, Fran Lee, Afton Locke and Nina Pierce provide helpful insights and tips on e-publishing. Today's author: Madison Blake

Writing Transformative Sex - Part Two by Joely Sue Burkhart -- So you know you want to avoid Plot Interrupted and Tab A/Slot B mechanics, but how do you get “down and dirty” into the emotions of a really deep sex scene?

Birds and Language by Suelder -- second in a series of workshops on birds that will focus on the science as well as how to adapt this information to writing.

Why You're Not Writing by JM Fiction Scribe -- Examining the reasons behind your writing block - because the identifying the 'why' of the problem is the best way of getting past it.

How-To Books that Saved My Life by Alison Kent -- a look at the three how-to books the author can't write without, and why.

Break through your fears and write! by Tamlyn Leigh -- One of the biggest obstacles on a writer's path is their fear. It can be for anything: fear people won't like their stories, fear they aren't good enough. In my workshop I want to offer tools to break through that fear, and get everyone writing!

Writing Prompt Series - When? by Rosina Lippi -- Pick one of the time periods offered, and rewrite What? again to accomodate.

Writing in the Labyrinth by Marjorie M. Liu -- first in a series of workshops about different aspects of writing and publishing.

From Pantser To Plotter: How I Joined The Dark Side by Kait Nolan -- Friday's topic: Why Plot?

Writing Sex Scenes That Matter by Jenna Reynolds -- Readers sometimes say they skip over the sex scenes in a book. And usually it's not because they have a problem with the sex. It could, however, be because, other than the sex, nothing else is going on. This workshop provides some suggestions on how to write sex scenes that matter and that readers won't skip over.

What eBook publishers look for: Ellora’s Cave by Midnight Spencer –– Submission Guidelines, How To Submit, Ellora’s Caveman Anthologies, Ellora’s Cave Theme Series, Ellora’s Cave EXOTIKA, Re-Issues, and FAQ.

Left Behind and Managing Crazy by Charlene Teglia -- Sanity in a crazy business.

Epubs-wondering where to start? by Shiloh Walker -- Info for those curious about epubs and where to start.

Killer Campaigns: Volunteerism by Maria Zannini -- Passive promotion at its best

90 comments:

  1. Hi Lynn, your post strikes at the heart. It's hard to find balance sometimes, especially when your muse is egging you on to write write write. I'm still trying to find my balance, and hopefully, this post will help.

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  2. I got the Guilt Gremlin - for when I'm reading or watching the teev instead of editing or writing - and the Roman Cavalry who charge through crushing any sense of time, objections to their way of doing things and dictating terms.

    sigh No wonder the creative muse will sometimes lean back on the chaise lounge, sipping Merlot, watching the conflict like it's a blood sport...

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  3. Anonymous1:52 AM

    Another great post!

    Another set of awesome prize packs and good luck everyone.

    Congrats to all the winners so far!

    Terri W.

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  4. Thank you for this great post!

    I don't know that my fairy godmothers have such nice names, but one is definitely Money (Monet?) - between a part-time job and starting my own business, lately I've forgotten to sit down with a piece of paper and a pen. I have a stack of bookmooched books I need to get through. I mean need! I have started dreaming about curling up with a book, so something needs to change. I don't know that I can keep a log of my time for a week, but I do know that I can set a timer and turn off the internet or start my day with a little bit of word time.

    Thanks for this balance reminder!

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  5. Thanks for the timely reminder that life isn't meant to just be homework and chores. I'm definitely going to have to try to rectify that balance in my life. As soon as I find the time.

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  6. What a wonderful metaphor for creativity versus "real life"! It really struck a chord...

    *realizes I've neglected my bliss for too long*

    I'm gonna get some peanut butter ice cream and a stack of blank notebooks.

    Thanks!

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  7. I have two godmothers, too. Oddly enough, they named themselves after the artists they like best. Mary (after Mary Engelbreit)is all sunshine and housekeeping. Giger (after H R Giger) loves reading and writing dark fantasy, and could care less about the house. Needless to say, they get along about as well as your Bliss and Liv. Mary sweeps down spider webs from corners and Giger pouts, wondering if the spiders might not have made nice pets.

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  8. If I did the exercise I'd find I spend too much time reading blogs ;) Is that art or life, I wonder.

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  9. I've been struggling with this more and more as time goes by and I get more and more responsibilities. It makes me want to crawl under the cover and go back to being ten years old again.

    Your post and the others of managing Art and Life were really helpful! I have a feeling I'll be reading them more than once in the future.

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  10. I think I have an arts & crafts godmother. Sometimes this overlaps with writing, but mostly I think that's a separate godmother. The arts & crafts godmother is always intrigued my something new and would rather work on that than finish what she's doing. Luckily, I've gotten rid of this habit in the writing godmother.

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  11. I don't know if it's an inner godmother, but I find myself fascinated with creating a chart that illustrates the division of art and life. Should probably try it out.

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  12. my fairy godmother is Harry who seeing me still on-line on skype (my contacts list is 97% work colleagues) told me:

    go home Heather
    [5:38:11 PM] you should get a (company name remvoved)-free life
    [5:38:21 PM] like in your picture

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  13. I think I have three -- my Life godmother, my Bliss, and my Editor. Though Life and Editor godmothers both have the same crisp, no-nonsense voice, they are very different. My Life godmother, though strict, is still quite kind -- sort of like your favorite great-aunt, of whom everyone is afraid due to her sharp tongue (but deep down she has the most delightful sense of humor). Ms. Editorella is rather ... monstrous (especially these days), what with her snide, sarcastic remarks and harsh words that sting worse than being whipped with a metal hanger.

    My Bliss hasn't truly been around for a while. The last time I truly felt that light, fluttery, awesomely happy sense of artistic freedom was when Editorella hadn't gotten so abusive. I'm grieved that I let her become what she is, and that right now Bliss is probably crying in the bathtub, bruised and shaking, with a bleeding nose and black eyes.

    These days I find Editorella utilizing certain verbal techniques that a certain person in my life (who is no longer in it) used, in order to make me submissive, and afraid, and isolated. I need to make an effort to break free of her, as I did her real life counterpart.

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  14. Oh! Thank you! Email to be sent momentarily. :)

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  15. Oh I really love the idea of having two fairy godmothers. I shall have to find out what mine are called. I think my version of Liv definitely gets more time given the demands of my life, but she also helps me juggle to MAKE the time for my version of Bliss. Great and entertaining post!

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  16. I think I must have animal spirits rather than godmothers guiding me. My husband calls me a little ant because I never stop working unless I break off a limb or sever an artery.

    Hmm…he also calls me 'mule'. I don't think it's because of my sweet disposition.

    But for those few moments when I'm lost in story telling or painting, I am free of all tethers be they insect, animal or spousal snark.

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  17. Excellent post, Lynn. If I tried to chart where my time is spent, I'd have to leave too much room for television. We'll just call that Fairy Godfather Monty. Of course, these days I'm thinking about writing even while I'm watching TV, so Monty's a little annoyed.

    "You're totally missing that sitcom you love," he says, "and you weren't paying attention during that new show, so you'll never understand why the characters do what they do." Harrumph. He definitely wants to be more important than he should be.

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  18. I love the concept of naming fairy Godparents. My writing godfather is Hans, named in honor of that amazing storyteller Hans Christian Anderson, and he nudges me to write the best stories possible. My pragmatic, realistic, 'you need to earn a living' godmother is nameless, but sounds a lot like my late grandmother.

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  19. This is not the week for me to do chats on craft and life, because life would show up as 95% of my time. With hubby on holidays, grandson on school holidays (me being number 1 babysitting for the firtnight), a visitor staying with us, and reading all the great workshop blogs, not much writing or editing happening.

    Maybe I could do a chat and show hubby then say, "See this is why I'm not getting writing & editing done."

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  20. Hey Lynn! I really needed this post. I barely spend time on my writing lately because I'm so busy juggling the different aspects of Life, who is quite smug about it.

    I love that your godmother's name is Bliss. I need to reconnect to my version of Bliss. She's actually... shy! Imagine that! She's whispering "Quilla" to me, from tranquil and she's soft-spoken.

    No wonder I let my Life godmother push her around. Life says she has no need for a pretty name.

    If I think about it, Life is who I think I need to be, roaring and active and intense, and Quilla is who I want to be.

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  21. Thanks for this profound post which resounded with me. I will remember it for a long time.

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  22. I have 'The Economist' who tries to convince me that I, and the world at large, will be better served by me dropping all plans of writing to become an economist and strictly an economist.

    I also have 'The Irrationally Rational Writer' who pooh-poohed the idea of the muse until now, I no longer have one. That may be the only benefit of having TIRW that I can find. Otherwise, it's mostly 'you should write and get on the NYT list' (hence the irrational part).

    I think I strike a pretty good balance these days though.

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  23. Is there a procrastinating godmother? Because I think that might be mine. This was a great post. Helped put some things in perspective with the great balancing act.

    Thanks!

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  24. Wow! I just read almost all of the related links you posted; thanks so much for compiling them. A lot of them are helpful. :)

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  25. Reader cause where you write I read and I have to be careful to balance time doing that with housewifey or nothing would get done around the house. and My kids would starve and be raggedy and dirty. Just saying even though they can cook and wash clothes and themselves something about boys that they need reminding lol.

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  26. You must be psychic. A friend and I were just talking about this subject last night.

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  27. I love the whole theme in this post. Mine are not fairy godmothers. I am not sure how to explain them. maybe past, present and future. yes three.

    crazy I know
    :winks:

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  28. Anonymous11:46 AM

    Dear Lynn,
    Sometimes you write a post that really hits home. I've been going through a bit of a depressed period because my life for the last year and more has been all life, no art. I think about writing all the time but there is always something else, something practical that needs to be done. I know who my Life muse is but my Art muse has been stifled for so long I barely hear her any more. I have a spreadsheet for everything but I don't need to make this chart to know what it looks like. It is a really great idea to use the planner in me to make time for my art. Once I add it to her list, I am sure she will be as compulsive about ensuring I have time to write as she is about everything else.
    Thanks,
    V.

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  29. The best book I've ever read on training the two sides to work together is Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. I read that the year I got serious about writing for publication, and it's invaluable. When things go wrong, one side or the other has gotten out of balance. Weirdly it's usually the "Liv" side that takes over.

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  30. Another great post, although I'm afraid to start tracking what I spend my time doing - I'd get a big case of the guilts going for certain.

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  31. Two Godmothers - Awareness and Focus

    If I walked into a room with my two grandmothers one of them, Aunty Aw, would already be standing, a huge smile on her face, offering me a cup of coffee (cream, no sugar, barely warm – just the way I like it). Aunty Aw would talk to me for about 30 seconds, during which the topic of conversation would change 12 times, with a high-water mark of four topics in one sentence. Midway through a description of the color red she vanishes, reappearing immediately (no, wait, was she in two place at the same time for a moment?) at the window, chatting up the mailman.


    At that point I would be able to go see what my Aunty Foo was up to. She wouldn’t say a word. She’d probably be staring at something, possibly scribbling notes or shifting bits of whatever she’s working on around. She might be hunched over an ant hill, placing strong smelling tidbits along the pathways various ant’s follow. She might be fitting together bits of fabric for a quilt, or flashing through screens of numbers and the corresponding data visualizations. There would be no indication that she’d noticed me, but within a minute I would find myself holding the pliers or scribbling her words in a note pad that seemed to have just appeared in my hands.


    These godmothers are important to my life. Without Aunt Focus I would never get anything done. Without Aunt Awareness I’d never have any project _to_ get done. I need them both.


    Kris_W

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  32. If I had a godmother like Liv, her name would be Guilt. Somehow, no matter how hard I try, something somewhere is in desperate need of cleaning/fixing/taking care of.

    What about leisure time? Does watching episode after episode of Battlestar Galactica count as Art or Life or is that the Timesuck fairy coming into play? :D

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  33. Do you ever find that you need your godmothers to trade places? I'm slogging through the middle of my book and right now it's not Bliss. I make myself sit down every day, but the last several have been painful. It's bad when cleaning the bathroom is more fun than writing. I'm tempted to start another story that's niggling in my mind, but my version of Liv is telling me to finish what I started.

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  34. My other gremlin besides Bliss and Liv is named Connie. I am also a standup comedian and that damn Connie is such a stage hog, tries to get on stage whenever she can - so it creates a lot of tension when I'm supposed to be finishing a chapter surrounding the death of a character, and all Connie wants to do is dance and tell jokes :)

    I'm new to your website (about 2 months) and am enjoying everything you write!

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  35. I think I just may have to make such a graph like the one you suggested. That sounds like something the OCD part of me would do. I don't have names for my godmothers, but they're definitely there. :)

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  36. Name my muse? Hm, never thought of that before. I guess I'd have to call her Inspiration because she's certainly doing a lot of it lately!
    Margay

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  37. Thanks again for another great post. I have similar voices, but I thought maybe I was a few cards short! lol, good to know I can use the "voices" in a possitive way, since mostly they nag and guilt me into doing the housework instead of reading. Now I need to find my own "Bliss" to help me take more time and hopefully not feel so guilty when I do take some "me" time.

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  38. I have a procrastinator gremlin which is also the guilt gremlin, especially when there is a great book to read, and I put off laundry and housecleaning.

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  39. i love the Godmother analogy! I have to see who my godmothers are... the best I can come up with is the parent/child analogy for now.

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  40. Hmmmm Fairy Godmothers that rule our lives...I have one named Bob. He looks like Danny Devito. He is abrupt, rude, and wants me to spend all my time writing.

    I am obviously surrounded by too many men in my family.

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  41. I'm not sure what my godmothers are, but this was a really interesting post.

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  42. I like the idea of the fairy godmothers of Art and Life. I going to have to think about mine because right now my two forces seem to be money or poverty, which means no writing in my life.

    I'll have to think and write later about who I want my fairy godmothers/muses/crones names to be and how they impact my art and my life.

    gigi

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  43. My fairy godmother would be somebody like my friend Anne. Someone who wants me to do my best.

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  44. Fairy Godmothers-what a thought! I love your Liv but my Bliss looks a lot more like Bette Midler on a hormone rage! I'll try the chart this weekend-I think!

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  45. I love the Godmother analogy.

    If my Godmothers had a name one would be muse, because she inspires me to do everything creative.

    The other would be neglect, because that's her favorite word. "Don't neglect to do..." "Your neglecting your...."

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  46. This was in my head all day:

    "There she stood with her hand extended, palm is split - with the flower, with the flame"

    It's by Suzanne Vega and when I can remember the title when I get home, I'll let you know.

    Suelder

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  47. An excellent post.

    My g-ma is more like Liv than Bliss. I got a lot of things done thanks to her, but didn't have much fun.

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  48. Balance, ah, that art! *sighs* Thanks for the helpful post. I'll try to convince my fairy godmothers to cooperate instead of fight each other...

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  49. Anonymous3:19 PM

    I wish I had fairy godmothers like yours! Or perhaps this will be the inspiration to find them. They can keep procrastination and the guilt gremlins company!

    Thanks for the images and the chance to win!

    Patrice

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  50. Anonymous3:29 PM

    I enjoyed this post, love the idea of two very separate sides to inspiration. Certainly gives me something to think about when the terrible twins of procrastination and guilt come to visit!

    Thanks for more great ideas and the chance to win goodies! (I apologize if there are 2 posts, my laptop hiccupped in the midst of posting)

    Patrice

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  51. I figured out which song - it's Solitude Standing, from the album, Solitude Standing.

    Duh.

    Suelder

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  52. Thank you for this wonderful post. It's so easy to get caught in the daily grind and totally lose sight of other aspects --like creativity and dreaming.

    My fairy godmother or alter-personality is Elizara. She is the Warrior-Princess me --taller, more chiseled, wielding a sharp sword and fiery temper.

    She comes out whenever I get consumed by the "Life" aspect and ignore my creative self for too long. Whenever she comes havoc ensues --tears, arguments, sleepless nights. The end result is I realize I need to bring more balance to life.

    And so, thank Liv for the chart idea. I'll be trying it!

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  53. It's been a busy week and I haven't had time to sit and read. I think it's going to take me a month to catch up on all of this! : )

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  54. Wow, what a great post. I'm going to have to think about my fairy godmother's names--my life seems too disorganized to have any sort of entity (or pair of entities) in charge of it.

    I just do whatever shouts the loudest, and by the time everything else is taken care of, the writing muse can't get through to my exhausted brain.

    But somehow, I'll find a way.

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  55. Frank (my writing coach - left shoulder) and Bob (my freespirited sailing companion - right shoulder) said to say hi to Bliss and Liv.

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  56. I've been caught between my fairy godmothers for years without truly making peace with either of them. Your post has given me much food for thought on how to strike that accord I need between my fairy godmothers and myself in order to stop feeling like the pull toy in the middle. Thank you!

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  57. I don't have names for my godmothers.

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  58. I need to name my actual Godmother my aunt Laurie.

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  59. I don't have godmothers. I have a psychopathic infernal editor. >_<

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  60. Interesting post. I think I needed to be reminded that balance doesn't necessarily have to be about opposition, but cooperation.

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  61. One Godmother I call China Doll. She's beautiful, but her heart is cold as glass. She's spoiled and petulant and wants her way when she wants it and gives everyone grief when she doesn't get it. She also doesn't trust anyone and tries to keep everyone away. She whispers in my ear when I am hurting and trys to get me to engage in destructive behavior. She knows guilt well and uses it at every turn.

    Another Godmother is the flower child. She loves everyone and trusts way too easy. She says yes when asked a favor and goes out of her way to help anyone. She loves to write and listen to music and play games and reads constantly.

    These two fight a lot for some odd reason. LOL

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  62. Meggrs5:51 PM

    Lynn, thank you so much for this timely post! It's such a valuable realization to come to--learning that this mental balancing act between art and life is ongoing.

    The concept of balance is so vital--and so hard to find. My favorite anecdote about keeping mental balance comes from Hugh Jackman. He mentioned a few years back, when he first hit big in the US and was getting "Sexiest Man" labels thrown at him, that his wife kept his feet on the ground.

    He'd be lounging around the house, still in complete disbelief about his sudden worldwide popularity, when he'd hear "Oy! Hot stuff! Take out the garbage!" hollered at him from the kitchen. I think I love Hugh Jackman's wife.

    Anyway, my godmothers are currently called "Hey You!" and "Eff Off!"

    I'll leave which is which open to interpretation....

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  63. Thanks so much for your post (and the related links)

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  64. loved this post. balance is something that's almost impossible to achieve around here most days. And life Wins. (or is gonna kill me, somethin' like that)

    My muses? Tempest, who is a tempermental wench. When she gets her way, she's a lot of fun. When she doesn't she's a frustratating, fit-throwing menace, taunts with lots of ideas that she immediately hides when I have time to indulge her.

    Then there's Pru. who needs gagged once in a while. Esp. when she starts sounding too much like my mother who can spot microscopic dust at 50 yards.(5kids the youngest of which high needs, husband, dogs, cat...dust bunnine aren't as high on the priority list as Pru thinks they should be) But she pokes and plods along and makes sure things get done.

    (my connection spazzed, excuse me if this shows up twice *wince*)

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  65. I definitely prefer Bliss, but having too much bliss would get old quickly. Liv serves her purpose(s). No names for the godmothers here. I'll have to think on that.

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  66. Thank you so much for all of the info. I love this workshop. There's so much to learn!

    Anna

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  67. I think my fairy godmothers must be a lot like yours though they've not shared their names with me. Of course, it could be that I haven't been listening, LOL.

    A great post that strikes the heart. It's hard to find balance when the day to day bogs you down.

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  68. How nice to think of your art and life working together instead of hating each other. I feel more peaceful already!

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  69. Christina8:01 PM

    I love the fairy godmother analogy. Unfortunately, I need to work on my balancing act. It's not working as is.

    P.S. The Grim Sweeper nickname made me laugh.

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  70. I'm sometimes a little afraid I won't 'return' from the bliss part, at least not when I need to. Thinking of it as a godmother who would be interrupted by another godmother might be useful. Thanks, again!

    Trisha

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  71. I should definitely pie-chart my life...but I'm scared to death what it would tell me. Clearly I'm not writing as much as I should.

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  72. My godmothers for right now are nameless. However, I do believe one of them is the cousin to Liv. She ruled my life so much that it was scary. I would organize my vacations with my children down to how long we would spend at one attraction, the travel time to the next, amount of time to eat and amount of time for naps. Shortly thereafter I ended up in a divorce and my other godmother decided to step out and test the water. One day she took us (unexpectedly and without plans) to a zoo 60 miles from home. This godmother scare my sister and our children because they thought I had lost it. It was the best day and turning point of my life. On days when I get nothing done it is because they are feuding. Your article really helped. I will start tracking my hours. It is necessary especially when on vacation from teaching. I work better during the school year. Thanks for all of the info.

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  73. Love the analogy.

    My fairy godmothers don't have names, but I definitely have both of them.

    The art godmother is fluttery and likes to play, much like yours. She is also very sensitive and can be hurt by anything from a stinging remark to a book/movie we like ending badly. Too many hits and she'll lock herself up and refuse to come out.

    The life godmother is constantly telling me that I'm lazy and egoistical. She sounds a lot like my parents who also kept on telling me I was lazy and egoistical. She forces me to make my wordcount and keeps me writing when the art godmother has locked herself in her room, so that's a good thing, but otherwise she's not a pleasant person to be around. She's also a perfectionist.

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  74. I have two godmothers too. I have my muse, who's actually a unicorn, that gets off on anything creative. And then there's the Worker Bee, who's cheerful and productive and pleasant at the office. The Worker Bee has a hard time controlling my muse at work. And she only comes out Mon thru Fri.

    Loved this workshop. It was so enlightening.

    Cheers,
    Erin K.

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  75. Very creating way of thinking about your life. For me, I think I'm divided between:
    * Creative / sensory
    * Organized and practical
    * Addictive procrastination (like too much time on the internet or playing games)

    BTW, that complete set of Dirke & Steele books is an awesome prize!

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  76. I really like this post but it's also a little sobering to actually look at how little time I have to devote to the creative, more enjoyable aspects. It makes a lot of sense to look for balance and then work around the demands or normal living to carve out fun time.

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  77. Please put my name in the hat.
    Helen

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  78. Loved this post! I know I need more Bliss in my life.

    The notebook idea is wonderful. I think that's the only way I'll really be able to see where/how to get more balance. I'm very visual and like Liv I love graphs and charts.

    Thank you so much for hosting these workshops. I didn't get to participate as much as I'd hoped but will be sure to make time to read all the posts.

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  79. My life fairy is The Warden. Capital letters, she says, are a must. I haven't heard from my art fairy in nearly a year, but I believe she's named Joy.

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  80. My fairy godmothers are a bit untraditional and not always a woman. One is Marine, tough, in shape, and is always hanging around to remind me to work. I have a few others, but mainly I have my charcters knock on my door until I let them in and they tell me there story until listen. They are my most influencial godmothers

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  81. I'm not sure what all godmothers I have. Just wish they'd quit arguing all the dang time. :) Thanks for the post.

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  82. I need a Liv in my life. LOL. This is a fantastic post and I needed to hear it today.
    I tried to split RL and Author Life in two today....and gave half ass to both.
    This was timely.

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  83. Always a tough balance. I fear that I have fairy Godfathers and that one morning I will wake up with a horse head in my bed. Metaphorically speaking...

    I should visit them more often ;-)

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  84. GOOD GOSH!!! What a wonderful font of information you are. There's so much to look at just on this one post. Definitely being bookmarked...Thank you so much for sharing.
    Congrats to the previous winners too!

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  85. As always, you are masterful with the writing advice. Please throw my name into the hat. I'm going to catch up on the rest of the workshops I've missed. :)

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  86. Athena3:11 PM

    My godmother's name is something so embarassing that she refuses to tell me what it actually is. I've called her Minnie since I was a kid, and that's all she answers to! I've tried getting her licence so I could see what it is, but she guards it like its the holy grail.

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  87. I guess I have a few but the relaxed, go with the flow godmother is extremely dominant. ha ha ha I have no time management skills. I just go with what moves me at the moment. Less stress and less opposition. ha ha ha

    I love how other authors participate in your workshop and you add links at the end of each article.

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  88. I am loving these articles. Seriously, thank you, Lynn.

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  89. Rabia wrote: What about leisure time? Does watching episode after episode of Battlestar Galactica count as Art or Life or is that the Timesuck fairy coming into play?

    Bliss thinks Battlestar Galactica rocks, and made me buy the entire series on DVD for her to watch, so it's definitely art. Liv pretends she doesn't like it, but she always makes sure I get my work done during the week so I can watch my Friday night video, so I'm thinking life needs a little BG, too (or Liv has a crush on Edward James Olamos/Bill Adama, which wouldn't surprise me at all.)

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  90. kathy wrote: Do you ever find that you need your godmothers to trade places? I'm slogging through the middle of my book and right now it's not Bliss. I make myself sit down every day, but the last several have been painful. It's bad when cleaning the bathroom is more fun than writing. I'm tempted to start another story that's niggling in my mind, but my version of Liv is telling me to finish what I started.

    When the writing gets tough, Bliss pouts and wants to go paint or quilt or do something fun, and that's when Liv steps in and quietly reminds me that I have to get my scheduled quota done for the day or we're not going to finish the book on time, which means my D&A check will be late, which means I can't pay my bills. Liv is the travel agent of all my internal guilt trips, but she does know exactly when to intervene and keep Bliss from distracting me from the work of art. Which is a very long, roundabout way of saying I understand exactly what you mean, and yes, they do.

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