By Milli Thornton. Photos Copyright © Brian Williams and Milli Thornton
SO MUCH OF the writing advice out there is about actual writing. I think it’s too easy to forget that what we do with the rest of our lives counts toward how we feel about our writing.
This is already obvious to some people (I have family and friends whose entire lives are an expression of creativity) but I’m usually not smart like that. When I’m heavily into my writing, everything else pretty much gets neglected.
Lately I’ve been trying to correct that balance. Not purposely; it’s just been unfolding with a mind of its own—which feels more fun than planning to be creative. Here are some of the things I’ve been up to that feel like care and feeding of my muse.
I got a new hairstyle. So what? Everybody does that. But it was special for me because I’d been hiding out. I had a Bad Hairdresser experience . . . so bad that for a long time I’d been afraid to look for a new one. I’d just been letting my hair grow willy-nilly and it was a mass of split ends. Yuck. This did not feel good in social situations.
When I found Shannon at Raphael’s I was only going to let her trim off the dead growth. But she made me feel so comfortable with her skills, I let her do some layering as well. (Plus, she was a student so it only cost me $6.50!) I feel so much better about my appearance now. My muse thrives on a little self-confidence.
My friend Julia Munroe Martin of the wordsxo blog did a post called Putting Pen to Paper, where she talked about inking up her long-neglected fountain pen with ink she bought from a stationery store called Papier Gourmet. At the end of the post she asked, “Are there specific writing tools that make your job more fun? Have you ever used a fountain pen?”
I was given a beautiful marbled-blue Waterman with gold trim back in 2004 by my Santa Fe Fertile Material Writing Circle but I had not used it in a long time. Julia’s post inspired me to look for it. As soon as I get some new ink cartridges, I plan to write with it in my Andy Warhol journal.
I’ve attended two wonderful Christmassy-type events that I hadn’t been to before: Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill and Open House at the Village Pantry. The Village Pantry is a quaint and yummy store run by my friend Joanne (story coming soon on Milliver’s Travels).
While my mother-in-law Sandi was visiting from Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday, we took her up to see Niagara Falls. I had already experienced it during warm weather and it felt markedly different (and creatively inspiring) during the autumn season. See Milliver’s Travels > Niagara in November for photos.
We also took Sandi walking in Mill Creek Park, but instead of taking our usual route we drove her over to Lanterman’s Mill so we could take the boardwalk next to the creek. The trail near our house is lovely, but it doesn’t give you a sense of being in the wild like you get from the boardwalk. (It was hard to remember we were in the middle of a city!) During the walk, Sandi collected some fallen pine branches and she made a table setting from it for Thanksgiving dinner.
Learning About Gemstones
I’ve been enjoying learning about gemstones and acquiring some of the ones that most interest me. My main interest is in their therapeutic value (every stone has its own healing properties). I have loose tumbled stones and gemstone necklaces and bracelets. My most treasured piece is an opalite necklace—the best thing I’ve ever found for relief from insomnia.
I recently joined our local fitness and wellness center, chiefly so I could take water aerobics classes and then relax in the sauna and hot tub. But then I discovered Zumba Fitness®: an aerobic mix of belly dance and Latin moves. I love it!
After seeing our instructor and a few of the students wearing belly dance-style coin belts, I dug out the one I’ve had for years and wore it to my lesson yesterday. I also wrote a post called ZUMBA® and Writing: How They Compare.
Adventurous Cooking and Grocery Shopping
We’ve been in a rut. Eating the same routine of meals and shopping at a chain grocery store, both for convenience. But then I started participating actively over at Cookinghealthyforme.com. I love the way Ann continually posts recipes that are easy for someone like me (i.e., someone who is usually too impatient to submerge herself in the joys of cooking!).
After gaining confidence with a few of Ann’s dinner dishes, I decided to take the plunge and make the entire menu from her Deconstructed Thanksgiving Dinner.
Most recently, I made my own chicken stock and then used it to make Green Chile Chicken Soup, with New Mexico chiles roasted by Brian.
Brian and I have been reading cookbooks with our morning coffee and we found a way to spice up our grocery shopping too. We’re now shopping at The Village Pantry (Joanne carries a beautiful selection of bulk herbs and spices with amazingly low prices), Rulli Bros. (established in 1917 so you know without seeing pics that it’s not like shopping in a chain) and Catullo’s Meat Market.
We’re over the moon because Catullo’s carries lamb—something we normally can’t get here in the chain stores. We’ll be buying some ground lamb to use in the Moroccan dinner we’re cooking for our friends Ron and Joanne this weekend.
Estrella’s Seasonal Photo Challenge
My friend Estrella from the Life’s a Stage Weblog recently posted Estrella’s Seasonal Photo Challenge and it sounded like so much fun I decided to participate. Estrella made the rules very easy (more like suggestions than anything you have to stick to) and that encouraged me not to worry about being picture-perfect but just do it and have fun. Here’s the Picasa album for my first collection of seasonal pics.
How to Coax a Hummingbird
Among other things, Andy Warhol was renowned for his illustrations of fashionable shoes. On the inside cover of my Andy Warhol journal, it says
You can lead a shoe to water but you can’t make it drink.
I think this is a fun way to remember that care and feeding of the muse can be like coaxing a hummingbird (forgive the mixed metaphors)—by offering it plenty of sweetness instead of trying to grab it rudely with both hands.
Thanks to j for this month’s j’s Journey (In Search of the Muse) for inspiring me to write this post.
P.S. I was trying to get in the shower and get my day rolling when this blog post overtook me and I just had to write it that minute. I love it when my muse takes control!!
Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse Coaching.