07 October 2012

Exposed Sunday: Switching Gears for the Art

You can thank paranormal romance writer, Jami Gold for this one.

Last Wednesday, she did a wonderful guest post (for PW Creighton) regarding when writers get The Block: Creative Outlets - Giving Our Muse a Different Playground to Play In

This is something I've been doing for a long time. Some might say (particularly my husband) that I've been distracted with Other Things (always the capitals for such a monumental avoidance), but really, this is clearly just another trick to get my muse to think about Writing, once more.

"Raining Joy" mixed media
As a child, I remember having a corkboard littered with sketches and free-handed copies of comic strips I liked (Peanuts and Cathy being my favourites, but I seemed to like the detailed illustrations of children's books the best; I was particularly proud of drawing I did of the giraffe on the cover of this book when I was nine or ten. I wish I had saved it). In school, I was the only girl in my grade who was known as the "artist" (normally, it was only the boys who drew). I sculpted with clay, once I learned how to sew I made doll clothes (poorly!), despite my serious lack of fashion sense, I rocked the 70's Fashion Plates like nobody's business. (I would later join the SCA and make decent garb, huzzah!) I also sang, did backstage theatre work since college and I still putz around with photography.

Years ago, I learned how to knit and I love knitting socks - nearly obsessed at one time. I suppose I could return to that obsession easily, if I weren't up to my eyeballs in Other Things.

My latest craze in other a-MUSE-ments (see what I did there?) is Artist Trading Cards, or ATCs for short. It's another medium that I can turn to when I'm not feeling particularly wordy. I actually stopped writing (gasp!) for years and kept to my knitting and ATCs, thinking I was never going to make anything out of it, so why bother? I could still be creative and do something.

Funny thing when you tell yourself "I'll never do that (again)" - sometimes you have to eat your words. If you're lucky, it's something that you should be doing and the Universe slaps you around a bit until you drag out your notebook(s) and pen(s) and story ideas start bubbling up inside your brain, demanding to be paid attention to.

"Two by Two" collage/mixed
When I couldn't write, however, dragging out my coloured pencils, fancy paper, random scraps (called ephemera by the ATC pros I traded with), beads and whatever else I had lying about to create "pocket-sized art" for my own entertainment was the way to go. They are simply cards made out of old playing cards, regular card stock, fabric, Plexiglass, wood - you name it - that are sized 2 ½ X 3 ½ inch (64 X 89 mm). They should fit this as close as possible, but I have cards that go over a bit, due to the embellishments added. The standard to keep them this size is to make them easy to store (like in baseball/collector sleeves). They are meant to be portable, of course.

They are trading cards, which means there are groups all over the place who are willing - in some cases desperate - to trade with other ATC makers. A quick Google search gives you access to groups galore, explaining how to go about trading and what folks were looking for, etc., etc. It's great fun and I have a binder filled will cards I've traded with fellow artists from all over the United States, Canada and even some from Scotland.

"Better World" I'm also a Firefly fan - Ni hao!
Long gone are my drawing days, but I do make the attempt every so often, as you can see. I mainly do collages/mixed media - anything to avoid drawing. I have done origami and abstract images, cutting and pasting pieces of paper with glitter and feathers and who knows what else! Somehow, words would creep into my ATCs and I would be moved by words, first - either as inspiration for the ATC I was working on or something to enhance the ATC overall.

I have a series that I've been toying with for a few months (!) where I considered writing some flash-fiction on the ATC, itself. I'm not sure how far I'll get with those, particularly now with my focus being on actually writing, but I'm still interested in the idea. I just have to find that slice of time to allow for it to happen.

The magic of this is that while I'm doing these Other Things, stories start to bloom in my mind and then I'm rushing to find me some paper and a pen before I lose the idea!

Your turn! What other non-writing hobbies do you have? How do you tease your muse out of Writer's Block? Have you learned how to channel your creativity down other paths? Has it helped and inspired your stories at all?


  1. Ooo, those are gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

    I can see the appeal. I've done very small amounts of scrapbooking, and I can see these as being similar but on a more manageable level of trying to finish a single card rather than a whole book.

    Maybe I shouldn't tell you this... :) But do you know that some romance authors have trading cards? They'll put their book cover or a character image on the front and a book blurb or character stats on the back. One Romantic Times convention, there was a whole group all passing them out (so I heard--I wasn't there).

    Anyway, maybe that's inspiration for you to finish your book, right? Then you could go to town and show those authors how to *really* do trading cards. LOL!

    1. I had no idea there were "Author" Trading Cards - another spin on the "A"! That sounds really, neat, Jami! I think that would a cool, quirky layer to add to a novel - having character cards or otherwise something about your book in this pocket-size format. Very interesting!

      Thanks so much for the comment. :) I can always use that REASON to pacify my husband if I'm sitting around making ATC's instead of writing!! LOL