Practicing Creativity

We are in the middle of a move, well more than in the middle. We are moving next Sunday, May 28th to a new place in Oak Bay, Victoria, BC. I am sad to be leaving our current home, it’s in the heart of a unique area called Cook Street Village, an 8 minute walk to the Ocean. It is quiet, peaceful and down right fantastic for what my husband and I needed in this moment. My husband actually found our current home, he has this great talent to find what we both need with ease. It’s one of the many great things I love about him.

Our goals have shifted and our move came at the perfect time, like every manifestation, you have to be ready to receive once you put it out there to the universe that you are looking for a change and you provide some guidelines. You may not get what you first put out there, but you will get what you need.

During this transition I feel a bit in limbo. I’m not writing as much as I intended to and I feel the effects. I’m a bit more snappy with people when normally I’m pretty calm and like a duck let the water roll off my back. Somewhere the ego wiggled its way in as I have put creativity on the side lines for a brief moment; Seriously only a day or two I haven’t been with my writing as much as I usually am and bam, the ego finds its way in and I am reminded everything happens for a reason. I look around my writing room and notice the books that I have left out for comfort as we pack up our home. I pick up Natalie Goldberg’s, Writing Down the Bones and flip through and stop at a page that I have underlined and probably have used in a previous blog post.

Writing as a Practice; Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run. It’ll never happens, especially if you are out of shape and have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. That’s how writing is, too. Once you’re deep into it, you wonder what took you so long to finally settle down at the desk. Through practice you actually do get better. You learn your deep self more and not give in to your voice that wants to avoid writing. 

Thank you Natalie. I needed that reminder. Not that I don’t know this very concept of practicing your craft to enhance your skill levels. I am also a runner and when I was training for my first marathon there was training, essentially a lot of practice that made it easier each day to get one more kilometer in than the day before. When I sit down to write my true self and the practice of being here on the pages takes over. I am the vessel of creativity to share a story.

I am the only one who can change my habits and I am aware that the practice of writing every day, beyond my morning pages, is essential to the craft, to creativity. Do you have a daily practice of writing? How do you get yourself to the page each day? Is it for ten minutes, a half hour, or half a day? Today, I’m writing for the morning and then spending time with my husband, it is the Victoria Day, long weekend, the sun is out and it’s a perfect time to take my artists on an artist date.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

Top 4 Places to Write

A busy cafe on Cook Street in Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island. This cafe has been a host for myself and award-winning author, Jacqui Nelson, for over three years now. The cafe has a great energy that sync’s with our creativity. Many other people come to the coffee shop to hold meetings about photography, art and of course other writers typing away stories that need to be released onto the page.

Besides this one particular cafe I have a three other places that I find myself gravitating to write.

  1. My Writing Room: Stephen King shared in On Writing about a writing space. The space can be humble, and it really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut. The closed-door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business; you have made a serious commitment to write and intend to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

Exactly! This is what I thought of when I first read this page over fifteen years ago as I sat in the passenger side of the car while my partner at the time was driving from Jasper to Edmonton one afternoon. The magical mountains were passing me by as Mr. King evoked my creativity. Even before that moment, I had a feeling of my own writing space. I was privileged to have some great places to write when I was younger. My family had a finished basement suite in the duplex we lived in and when I walked down the stairs to the suite I pretended I was going to work to write, funny thing, I was writing and it wasn’t work at all. I wrote my first dramatic romance story down in that basement from a broken heart at the early age of fifteen.

2. My Bed:                                                                                                                                 There is something about being in my bed wrapped in my duvet and pillows all around me. I wrote my first 3-day novel contest in bed. I wrote an off beat romance based in Halifax, Nova Scotia during the 2010 Hurricane Earl. I was living in Campbell River, BC at the time but I tend to listen to Nova Scotia CBC and I had no idea what I was going to write about when I signed up for the 3-day novel contest only five days prior to the start of the contest. I was sitting in my writing room working on a version of the first memoir that I wrote about my family and I turned on the radio and heard the weather for the Halifax area as I listened to the descriptions of intense rain and wind, I saw a flash of a tree top smashing through a window as two characters were in a heated debate about I have no idea what, but it was something I wanted to know. There came my idea of a love story within another story. I sat myself in our bed and kept the Nova Scotia radio station on from midnight on the Friday night until 11:59pm of the labour day Monday evening.

My story may have not been novel worthy, but it was the first time I sat down and wrote a 50k story from start to finish in three days, in bed. Okay, I did move to my  writing room once in a while, but there was something about being cosy under the covers writing a romance novel. I wondered if Danielle Steel wrote in bed?

3. Other Coffee Shops: I am very loyal to a particular coffee shop but I also linger around other cafes and diners. Julia Cameron shared in the Artist’s way, if you are going to write in a coffee shop or restaurants please be respectful, buy a coffee and lunch to show your commitment to not only the writing but the place that hosts your creativity being taking up a seat for more than two hours. I fully agree.

I have been in many cafes over the years, and not just Starbucks because that’s what non-writers think. Writers lined up with their laptops and half cafe, half whip capa/mocha/lattes. I’ve spent some afternoons in a Starbucks and a green tea is my best friend as I watch people sipping coffee and typing away.

I like a hole in the wall diners that have virtually no one else in the place. I love to people watch and sometimes that helps the writing process, but sometimes I like to be alone but not at home. I know that may not make sense, but it works for me. When my server brings the order and we have an understanding, they leave me be as I hang out and write. I always leave a generous tip, that’s karma my friends.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

Back to the Writing

A week has gone by where I wasn’t sitting with my laptop close by to make sure my A to Z challenge posts where being worked on. Making sure the pictures were set and saved for the next day and all those other little things that we writers tweak to drive ourselves to the breaking point from time to time. I feel this a good obsession.

This week I’ve been provided with new ideas, character names and a writing project that has been waiting for me to start. My life is about writing. I am writer who is a manager at a hotel where the situations on any given work day provides me with a lot of material  to draw from. Working in an industry with a lot of different around makes it easier to get to the page and put those words down. Then there are times that it’s not always that easy. I can count on many occasions when I had every intention to do some work on my writing and I end up sitting on the sofa binge watching NetFlix, or down the rabbit hole of Instagram. It amazes me how quickly an hour flies by when you are procrastinating. Then on the other hand when I’m writing and an hour goes by and it feels like a minute, that’s where I want to be, in that writing zone, in the gap of true awareness, the place that I know I need to be in. It feels like, Home.

I have been packing for our upcoming move and usually my books are the last to be put away, but this time I’ve packed up the books that I know won’t feel so desperate to be close to and keep the ones I need out within arms length. Natalie Goldberg’s, Writing Down the Bones is sitting on my writing desk and I stare at it, I must have kept it out for a reason. I flip quickly through the pages an there is what I need to read;

Writers end up writing about their obsessions. Things that haunt them, things they can’t forget; stories they carry in their bodies waiting to be released.

Ummm, hell yes! I am obsessed with writing about writing and the pure act of writing. When a new name for a character is revealed to me, I can feel myself becoming obsessed about them. Who are they? What do they look like? Where do they work, live. Are they in love, have they loved, are they falling in love? So many questions run through my mind all awhile I’m doing a new employee orientation at the hotel life. It haunts me that I can’t let go of this new character in my life. I’m obsessed to find out about then and how they fit into my work in progress, or are they for another writing project? They are here for a reason and I’m here to figure that out, or at least be part of the process of finding out why. I love the creative process.

What are you obsessed about? What are you carrying around that needs to be let go?

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

How I survived the A to Z Challenge

This years A to Z challenge, where you write a blog a day for the month of April using the alphabet is now complete for this year. Much like last year I joined the day of the challenge, no theme revealed a month prior, no thought into what I was going to write about, I was knee-deep in the hotel life and working on revisions on my latest work in progress. I only thought about the challenge because I was focused on how to share my blog with more people. Then I as on a run on April 1st and without any distractions I was able to remember the writing challenge. Running does that for me, no thoughts, just me and the road. Much like writing I have a clear mind to focus on what matters.

I had no idea what I was going to write about. My first two blogs were posted and a friend of mine suggested I write about something I haven’t written about before. I’m passionate about writing about writing and can get hung up on the topic, but I believe it’s important to discuss, to share our experiences, to let every writer out there know it’s okay to have those days where you can’t seem to get yourself to the page even though your creative self is crying out to get the words down. No one ever said being a writer was easy.

Like my muse, my friend has been whispering in my ear for years to write about something I haven’t shared and now it was coming to the forefront. I was working on my work in progress which is a hotel memoir series of working in Luxury Hotels and Resorts in the Canadian Rockies. Why not write about my hotel life? The light bulb was now on and I shook my head thinking, why didn’t I think of that before?

 

Then came the actual writing. I sat down and plotted each letter, how was I going to thread my hotel life with this challenge. Once I got started it all came to me and I sat down and wrote at least three posts in one day for the upcoming week. I would write the last two posts for the week during the work week, and usually when I work at the hotel, I don’t feel like doing much after work. There were some days that I wanted to come home, lay down and hope the hardwood floors would swallow me whole. My job isn’t necessarily difficult, but it is emotionally draining from time to time and sometimes the last thing I want to do is dig deeper for more emotions to write. But I did. I wasn’t going to let the hotel life take over my creative life and this was the other thing that became more clear to me. They are one in the same, the hotel life and my creative life.

I knew that my two worlds were linked but I didn’t really want to look at it on a bigger picture, but guess what? During this challenge I was lead down a path to see that my creative self grew as did in my hotel life. Each new hotel was a chance to reinvent myself, to get the balanced life I had craved for. I was working towards my passion of writing and through each new experience I was getting closer to the version of myself that I knew was there. I just needed to let it unfold when it was good and ready.

This years A to Z challenge for me was a great experience. Each post pushed me closer to the other side of creativity, where I have no fear, where I’m not keeping anyone, especially myself at an arms length. I’m letting down my walls and wanting to share more and more. Isn’t that what creativity is about, to learn, to share, to be.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

Zealous

It’s the last day of the 2017 A to Z blog challenge. I’ve had some fun with this years theme there have been some posts about writing but they are connected to my hotel life. I believe everything is connected.

When I first started to serve and became comfortable with my serving style I became a bit zealous with my guest service. I was passionate about providing good service, I didn’t want anyone to have a bad experience. There is nothing wrong with that, right? Well there can be. I fell in the trap of caring too much about the people who were sitting at my tables. At first I looked at everyone as a tip, I was working to making money to pay for university which happened for the first two summers I worked at the Luxury hotel and resort. Then after university when I was going to take time off before I decided what I was going to do next. When I started to pay more attention to the guests I was serving there was more of a connection. They gave a higher gratuity because they said I was engaging and interesting. Really? I needed to know more about how to connect with people. I decided I could be a great fine dining server and was eager to learn as much as possible.

I was the first to sign up for any new wine tastings, whiskey seminars, food knowledge, anything that could help me wow the guests, I was there. Then as I started to learn more I saw the potential of advancing to possibly a host, a supervisor and eventually a dining room manager. I was committed to this serving life now, whatever I could get my hands on I wanted to learn. I asked more questions and thought that if I could get more knowledge I could work my way up the corporate ladder.

The problem with being this committed to one thing was forgetting about the one things that actually gave me joy, not just the rush of getting a better tip, a better position in the F&B food chain. Creativity was left by the side stand where I placed my drink tray to pick up the silver water jug to make sure my guests where well taken care of. I was becoming overzealous with a job that I said I only wanted to be temporary so that I could write full-time. Now I was working full-time and writing very part-time. I had to change my way of thinking and be just as fierce with my writing as I was with the serving.

As I started to move around from property to property, gaining more and more experience, advanced in my hotel life, I’ve complained and struggled that I am working more in the hotel world than I do in my writing life. Geez, who made those decisions? That’s right, me. I then realized that the hotel life is part of my writing life and I can be just as committed to both, but lately it’s more about the writing and that’s okay – the hotel life is there to support me and maintain this beautiful creative life and for that, I am deeply grateful.

Thank you for joining me on this years A to Z blogging challenge. If you ever want to connect to talk about writing, get together to write, please drop me a line. You can find my email in Contact Me. Thank you again and I hope to see you soon.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Renee Silverman for the jumping photo

Yearning

Yearning: a feeling of intense longing for something.
he felt a yearning for the mountains~
What do you yearn for? As you can tell I have a very intense longing to write, to share what creativity wants to share with me, to work with me. I long for creativity as much as creativity desires to work with someone and I am grateful it has chosen me.
 
I know I trying to keep on track with my theme of the hotel life this year and I as I have shared before and will again, everything happens for a reason. My deep sense of yearning to create has guided me along this path to the hotel life for a reason. I had to learn a few things and I’m still learning, growing, being. The hotel life has fulfilled some of the things that I longed for. When I was younger it was to get out of my parent’s house, experience new and different things, travel, fall in love, write about falling in love, write about the experiences I’ve been graciously provided.
I have been blessed with experiencing great adventures, I’ve fallen in love, gotten my heart-broken only to move forward and connect with my soul mate. The theme that threaded together the stories of my life has been hotels and writing. Wherever I’ve been there has been a place to stay that has given me the inspiration to write.
The sense of longing is within all of us. Deep down we have this knowing, this sense of ‘wow, I’ve gotta try that’ and once you start in motion, there is no turning back. I know for me when I started to sever, I had this sense of wanting to share my experiences. How could I teach my techniques of how to serve with less stress? I wanted to teach? What that little niggle was a deep seeded craving of wanting to help people and not just serving dinner to people, it was bigger than that. A year later I was on the banquet training team, I was training new servers which put me on the path of what I really wanted to do. To coach and mentor people in the service industry, what I didn’t know what this path of becoming a trainer was going to lead me to what I really wanted to be doing. I use to say ‘we are already there, we are just catching up to it.’
I yearned to write and bring people together that wanted to write and to share our experiences to help one another grow as writers. I had many versions of this idea show up until I was able to bring people together at the right place and time. I still dream of running writing retreats for people from all around to join together and write. I am working on this, I’m already there, I’m just catching up to it.
Until next time, Keep on typing. . . .

Xtraordinary

I know it’s not the traditional way of spelling of xtraordinary but I’m scraping at the bottom of the barrel for an idea for the letter X. Last year I wrote about xylophones and I didn’t really know anything about them.

Xtraordinary has been used by many businesses as a marketing tool, which is cleaver. To keep in line with my hotel life theme, I have, and many of my colleagues, have provided remarkable guest service has been provided to thousands of people over the years.

When I first started serving at the luxury hotel, we were given the tools to do our job and follow the standards of the hotel on providing the best possible guest service ever.  The hotel on top of a mountain in a unique setting was not enough, people had to feel like they were being pampered, no matter what. That was when I learned that I always had to be “on”, I had to smile like a fool even if I was having the worst day. It didn’t matter about me, it was about the guest. This was before the awareness of work-life balance. I didn’t mind, I wanted to be part of the guests great experience during their vacation. I always thought if it were me sitting at the table and being served, I would want the best service possible.

The sales team at the hotel was amazing and provided extraordinary services. One wedding I didn’t get the privilege to assist with made me shake my head and say, yeah we are on another level here. My friend who did work the event was in awe. The couple wanted to get married at the little beehive, it’s about a 9km hike to the area. This was late September, so it wasn’t as warm and as you get higher in elevation, the temperature drops. So, up they went, couple, two servers, a chef and a justice of the peace. Everyone had a backpack filled with wedding supplies; champagne flutes, Coleman stove to prepare appetizers for their small intimate reception with the servers and justice of peace, cameras, change of warmer clothes. No fancy wedding dress or tuxedo which I thought would have been over the top if they pulled that off. My friends shared, they arrived, quickly set up the altar, they said their I-do’s, took some amazing pictures, drank champagne had some warm food, cleaned up and hiked back down and headed to one of the dining rooms to celebrate their wedding. That blew me away – I loved that we did everything we could to help with such a special day.

When I worked at another property in Jasper, we had a group that pretty much bought out the resort for up to three days. One year during one of their golf tournaments, there were ice-carved bars at every other hole with their choice of beer, wine or high balls. I knew I was on my way to seeing more levels of xtraordinary service.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

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