Monday, October 31, 2005

cough cough

Sometimes you just have to put your foot in front of you one at a time and ignore the big picture.

Not been a good few days.

Cough cold thing seems to get better but then I get felled by excruciating tiredness. Ah and the coughing fits whenever I exercise or move from one atmosphere to another...

A very dear friendship of mine going back to university days might be over.

I've been adjusting to a new job with a long commute and an early start.

The clocks have changed! Winter is coming!

Yesterday I felt so overwhelmed. I could have happily crawled into a hole and hid there coughing away.

Not an option as I had to do two applications for this morning. After meeting my producer returning home at 11am and doing the next application I went to bed at 1.20am.

I know doesn't exactly sound like self care does it? But I cancelled a swimming date tonight. Promised myself to go to bed at a decent hour for the next week and rest properly next weekend. I also removed the anxiety about suspending my exercise programme until I get well. Just one thing at a time. And my big thing is getting better.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Start where you are

I once had a student in a group who burst out petulantly 'I can't be a photographer because I can't afford to go to Egypt'. Actually it turned out that these were the least of his troubles. Recently I saw a Craig's list posting from the US a publisher wanting photographs of the very city this person did not think worthy enough to photograph.

Start where you are. If you are a photographer carry your camera with you at all times and film and take photos of your communte. Join together with other photographers around the world about their commute and you have a website, a book, or an exhibition in the making. If you are a writer take a pencil and some index cards you can write notes on and stuff into your pocket - writer Anne Lamott does this - as you go around your daily business. Feed your writer side by asking the people around you about their stories. Other people's stories feed your stories. I'm working at the moment in a situation I'd rather not be in but even I manage to send an email or phone someone at lunchtime to inch a project along day by day.

Start where you are - do not put off what you want to do by imagining some perfect set of circumstances where by if they existed you would magically become creative.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ian Hamilton Finlay - Inverleith House RBG

I have a genius for visiting exhibitions on their last day or in their last days so it always seems a waste to blog them for people who can't then make them

Last Saturday while developing this cold I went to see the Ian Hamilton Finlay exhibition at the Botanics. I've been to ses Little Sparta the place he lives which has been turned by him in the last 30/40 years into a sort of living artwork due to diligent 'avant gardening'.

Here are some of the sayings I liked most on the walls.

Friendship is inclination
Aquaintance geography

The late night shipping forecast is a kind of High Church Weather Service for radio listners.

The art of gardening is like the art of writing, of painting, of sculpture, it is the art of composing, and making a harmony, with disparate elements.

He who lives alone is always on sentry duty.

The wind roaring in the night, is both stranger and friend.

Of course these were all beautifully typographically designed and painted onto the walls.

Earnest Duffer to Genius: Vincent Van Gogh

Did ever an artist have a less promising start than Vincent van Gogh? People love to imagine that if only they had had the chance to see Vincent's early work, they would have recognised his talent, coddled it, saved him from neglect and his famous suicide. His genius would have been - well, just obvious.

But if one thing seems apparent from the big show of Van Gogh's drawings that opened last week at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, it's that anyone could have been forgiven for looking at his early work and passing it by. Perhaps no artist who got as good as Vincent has ever started out so bad. Not just bad, but worthy bad, which is (if anything) worse. Even today, you'd hardly want one as a present, unless it was from someone you didn't want to offend. Those dogged, I-share-your-suffering images of ground-down peasant women and Dutch cloggies grouped around the sacramental potato, done in glum, awkward homage to Jean-Fran├žois Millet and English social-consciousness painters such as Luke Fildes, all testify that sincerity, on its own, is not an artistic virtue

Fascinating article on Vincent Van Gogh- the myths and the sheer terribleness of his artistic start

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

bits and bobs

"There's a secret. If you put in the effort, the universe has a matching grant program. And it'll meet you halfway every time."

From Crossroads Dispatches please go and read this great blog posting.

Discussion on Starbucks and fairtrade coffee.


Adjusting to my new job. Must must get camera fixed so I can capture this new landscape.

It amazes me how many jobs which are 'very busy' actually have vast swathes of free time. Busy? Snort! Not compared to how full on and in the moment being creative is or the way the phone rang off the hook in my last job... ah well will have to think of creative uses for these pockets of time.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Night People - free film screenings in Scotland

I just got this emailed to me from producer / director team Claire Kerr & Adrian Meade

Like to see a FREE sneak preview of a BAFTA nominated movie and get the
chance to win tickets to the glamorous BAFTA Scotland awards event on Nov
13th at The Raddison Hotel Glasgow?

HERE'S HOW - Attend a FREE sneak preview of "Night People" a new Scottish
movie being organised by BAFTA. Scotland.
(To see a trailer and for more information on the film please go to

Audience members who would like to vote for Night People also have the
chance to win free tickets to the Bafta audience awards night by texting
FILM NIGHT PEOPLE and send to 81800

IMPORTANT INFO: Screening Tickets can ONLY be purchased in person at the box
office. (It's not on their behemoth of a computer and phone system)

VENUE: Night People is playing at CINEWORLD cinemas at 8.00pm THIS WEEK in
Aberdeen Monday 24th Oct
Dundee Tues 25th
Falkirk Wed 26th
Edinburgh Thurs 27th
Glasgow Fri 28th

Mary Jane Butters

MaryJane Butters is a force of nature. She bought a farm in Moscow, Idaho in 1986, hoping to live the rural life of her dreams. It was tough going, but she found some unconventional ways to finance the farm: she started a “Pay Dirt Farm School,” in which would-be farmers can pay three grand to spend a week tending beehives, planting crops, and chopping firewood (you heard me—people pay her to chop wood); she began selling packaged, quick-prep organic meals, and she sold shares in her enterprise to a group of stockholders.

Oh, and she runs a bed-and-breakfast, grows her own biodiesel fuel out of mustard greens, and sells her eggs and produce through a community-supported agriculture program. And she publishes a glossy magazine called MaryJane’s Farm, which is a gloriously disheveled mixture of recipes, gardening tips, advice for decorating the henhouse, and ads for her organic food.

Sound familiar? Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, thought so, too. They ponied up $1.35 million for a two-book deal, and many in the industry speculated that Butters would be the next Martha Stewart—the organic, dirt-under-the-fingernails, version of Martha, the one who you believe might actually do all that cooking and farming herself. And unlike Martha, there’s no need to worry that an ill-advised call to a stockbroker would land her in trouble. MaryJane was recently quoted as saying that, much to her accountant’s chagrin, she hasn’t even opened a savings account. And she’s turned down TV offers so she can stay on the farm.

Her first book, MaryJane’s Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook, was published this summer. I was reading it in the garden last week when my chicken Eleanor jumped in my lap and stuck her beak right into the book as if she wanted to read along with me. That’s when I realized that I was having a farmgirl moment, and that between the egg-gathering, the worm-farming, and the berry-picking, I’ve been having farmgirl moments for a while now. Have I become a MaryJane devotee, or did she just happen to come along at the right time?

MaryJane’s world is not perfect, polished, or unattainable. (On the website she offers Farmgirl Chapter kits for people who want to organize local groups of farmgirls; those requesting the kit are warned, “The cover letter in our Farmgirl Chapter Kit says there are 10 posters included. We didn’t get around to making those posters, so please don’t think we left them out.”) So she doesn’t get around to everything. What do you expect? It’s a farm. She’s busy.

The new book, like her magazines, are an odd blend of clippings, stories, and craft ideas. Enter MaryJane’s world and you’ll meet a woman who embroiders pillows with the alphabet, in the style of an old-fashioned sampler, then underneath she stitches these lines: “My mama said for me to do this—it would be fun—it was not.” You can find out how to “sass up” flip-flops by adding old plastic clip-on earrings. There are ideas for making purses out of old calendars and contact paper, and lots of recipes involving Jell-O molds. MaryJane’s in favor of eating salad for breakfast (just add hard-boiled eggs and chunks of apple) and she likes to wear aprons because “they separate your outside self from your inside self.”

What I love about this book, and the magazine, is that woven through them I hear the voices of women like my great-grandmother, who was all in favor of darning socks and building your own “outpost” in the backyard where you can camp in the summer. She, too, would have called the campfire meal you’d eat out there—roasted potatoes and johnny cakes—a “hobo dinner.”

And when MaryJane wrote that women love chickens because “putting chickens to bed every night satiates our clucking, nurturing nature,” I was sure I was hearing one of my own aunts, who would have guessed (correctly) that I make a point of putting the girls to bed each night. They settle onto their roost, tuck their beaks under their wings, and let me scratch their necks and whisper to them for a few minutes before they fall asleep. Those are the kind of farmgirl moments I live for.

from dirt by amy

Mary Jane Butters

creative activism

from swirly girl

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Sit down with a big sheet of clean paper and a marker and write down everything that comes to mind. Don't dismiss anything. The stupidest of ideas often lead to brilliant ones; so just let it all pour out. (I make my living creating journals from vintage scarves. Imagine how stupid it might have sounded to someone the first time they heard: I think I'm going to make something out of old cloth that people have thrown away. But that silly thought might have led to: wow, old scarves are really beautiful, I wonder if I can figure out a way to use them for book binding?

Go shopping. Make what you don't see in stores.

Go shopping. Make a better version of what you see in stores.

Ask your friends, co-workers, strangers on the streets, anyone with eyes and a wallet what it is they'd like to spend their money on.

Go to the flea market and look for old ideas that can be reworked.

Go to the museum. Read magazines. Look at billboards. An idea can come from anywhere.

from Pamela Barsky's 'How to start a creative manufacturing business'

no guarantees and I'm staying in doors

it was a crazy idea the way I'm feeling to think of going outside so been living off leftovers and websurfing. I love this from Laurie R King
There ain’t no guarantees in the writing business. It’s scary even to mention the possibility, as if failure is a demon summoned by voicing his name, but it’s very true, it’s waiting just outside. I’ve got sixteen books out there, sold a couple million copies, had titles on the New York Times list, and still, every day I feel the cold draft at the bottom of the door. My accountant talks about SEP accounts, and I think, well, that may be necessary. My husband asks if we’re going to have the money for some project or another, and I have to tell him I don’t know.

You’d think I would be the last person able to function with that degree of uncertainty in her life. I’m a fairly structured person; I like things more or less tidy; it annoys me when people are late, and annoys me enormously when I am late. How can I blithely sail into the end of the year not knowing how many zeros will be on my income return the following?

In part, I think, it helps to sneak into the whole writing-as-income thing backwards. When I started, my husband was earning well, and my income was supplement—for example, my advance from Sweden bought central heating, so we only had to use the wood stove when we wanted to. (It was a Scandinavian wood stove, too: I liked the balance of events.) By the time he retired and I was earning with some regularity, it was too late to remember that my earning was at the whims of fortune.

So how do you keep on, feeling that cold breeze moving around your ankles?

You keep on the same way you keep on with whatever book you’re writing: one word at a time.

It helps a lot to be an efficient compartmentalizer, which I am. I focus on what’s at hand, put aside the less pressing and those things I can’t do anything about yet, and try to sweat about only those things I can change. I may not feel I can do anything about the quality of my first draft, but I can certainly move on with the quantity, so I keep writing. I can’t do anything about the state of the publishing market or the tastes of the reading public, but I can keep writing, so I do. I can’t do anything about the overall plot or character development on the manuscript that’s sitting on my desk at the moment, because my editor would kill me and the mortgage company would repossess if I said I needed another six months on it, but I can do something about the copy editor’s wrong corrections and the occasional clumsy phrase that catches my eye, so I do.

I suppose it’s something like the Wright Brothers must have felt. Long, painstaking, mistake-strewn months when you can’t even see the body of what you’re building; then the slow, exciting coming together of wings and wheels, props and flaps; and finally the moment when it’s all together, when you climb in, pull down your goggles, and mail it off to New York.

It’s an exhilarating fifteen-second ride.

And then you pull up your laptop and get started on the next one.

Pumpkin Mania !

over at Hoarded Ordinaries.

I'm felled by a cold. Its been raining for three days. I'm off to stock up on chocolate, buns, and sunday newspapers.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Wherever you are be there totally

Stress is caused by being "here" but wanting to be "there," or being in the present but wanting to be in the future. It's a split that tears you apart inside. To create and live with such an inner split is insane. The fact that everyone else is doing it doesn't make it any less insane. If you have to, you can move fast, work fast, or even run, without projecting yourself into the future and without resisting the present. As you move, work, run - do it totally. Enjoy the flow of energy, the high energy of that moment. Now you are no longer stressed, no longer splitting yourself in two. Just moving, running, working - and enjoying it. Or you can drop the whole thing and sit on a park bench. But when you do, watch your mind. It may say: "You should be working. You are wasting time." Observe the mind. Smile at it.

I know when I read that and then applied it, it truly rocked my world.

Wow... I've got to do something I don't want to do I will have to do it at least until Christmas (45 days) will this make it easier I wonder?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ivy is here

she is a writer and she has a blog.

I adore this quote from her blog

The purpose of our lives is to be happy.
—Dalai Lama





are sometimes a good thing.

I'm starting another temp job tomorrow so I've got a list of things to do TODAY while I've got the time. Julia Cameron is wise when she counsels against the belief that you need unlimited bolts of time to be creative because of course one doesn't cut into it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Crafty goodness

After my picasa strop I'd better post some links.

Angry Chicken makes me want to take up patchwork and quilting again. As I have bags of wool lurking around my sofa not a good idea.

The Quilts of Gee's Bend
- inspiration from the source of quilt making.

Perhaps because there is an autumn tang in the air my thoughts turn towards cozy quilts.

Wee Wonderfuls is full of wonder crafty wonder

Naturally Nice has a great blog entry about making fabby envelopes from magazines.

Words to Eat By makes me feel hungry.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Beware Piccassa upgrades. I clicked on the upgrade and now Picassa sticks a massive logo beside each picture. Sorry picassa you are going to have to go.

Friday, October 14, 2005

temp heaven and hell

Blog silence due to a two day temp job answering phones. My instincts twitched as I went in through the plush modern reception. My instincts were right - sick company syndrome! I spent my time inbetween phonecalls jotting down figures on post it notes for various job creation schemes pour moi which would not entail temping.

However I have had heavenly temp jobs with lovely co-workers. So its a toss up.

Temp jobs don't just stimulate thoughts of escape. I've been quite creative with mine. Free photocopying... knitting a blanket at lunchtimes instead of reading 'OK'. Meeting friends for lunch. Nipping to the post office to post off video tapes. Writing notes for articles and book outlines! Do do lists for creative work out of work hours. The trick is to remember that you are 'not just a temp' have a life and soul outside of the job.

In the end I discovered a fellow temp was an English teacher/photographer so inbetween calls we strategised on how to get an exhibition for her work. Even the most dire situation can bring up gems.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

But he's famous!

I've been running (up or down? I do not know) to London recently. During one trip we stopped at a restaurant and the children exclaimed that our waiter looked exactly like the lead singer of Belle & Sebastian. But that is impossible they added.

Why? I asked.

Because he is famous!

Lots of famous people have regular jobs.

But that is impossible!

I stared at them in amazement. They have met scores of people who are well-known for their creative work, but still need to keep their day jobs. I reeled through examples, and eventually they understood.

But if my kids don't get it, what about the rest of the world? This is a simple concept: fame and fortune are uneasy bedfellows. The amount of money a person earns from a book, album, or art very seldom has anything to do with the importance of the work.

from Bee Lavender

people marching to the assembly point on the Meadows. Note lack of traffic on South Bridge!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Faith, creativity, being in the moment and stirring the universal energies

This has just come out of having a coffee with my friend R in Starbucks yesterday.

At the end of August at the end of my contract for my summer job I decided to change the way I normally do things - to take a leap in the dark. I decided I needed to get a six month contract to support my lifestyle. To this end I started to search for jobs and contact agencies - inbetween I caught up on my social life (neglected for two months)and tried to get a creative project moving. So for 4 weeks I've been parking myself in my producers office 3 or 4 days a week - we with the help of Google puzzle over websites in Norwegian - phone people and in all have been working hard at every contact we've unearthed to get what we need for this project. Result bugger all. Of course things really are in the early stages and I'm still hopeful that something will happen - we have to keep on keeping on. Meanwhile I'm keeping body and soul together doing some freelance work for a friend. My underemployment being a boon for her trying to finish an important component on a project she has to make some headway on. But the uncertainty is getting to me, applying for jobs, not getting them, keeping going with the creative stuff with no guarantees. Then worrying that I will get jobs but then not have time for the creative stuff. You can imagine the onslaught of niggling worry.

My friend R is in a similar position. Former burned out silk painter she took a leap in the dark a year ago after doing The Artists Way with me and committed to a year long course to train to become a freelance photographer. She's just done her last session and all the students were talking about what stage their fledgling businesses were at. The course had a strong marketing element which is great. Many former students have gone onto make good livings but fitting all the components together and believing that there will be the paying customers out there and in the meanwhile keeping body and soul together is a huge matter of faith that 'everything will work out'.

I too need to just keep on putting one foot in front of the other and to worry less about the what ifs then whats and why whats which float around in my head.

In the meanwhile all my badgering of poor producer. Yes many of my meetings with S involve prodding him. Yesterday he gloomily said he'd applied for a course in high level training / networking which he heard about in the course of our international phoning/emailing but hadn't heard back and he was sure that he hadn't been accepted. So I prodded and badgered and made him look at the websites of the other courses available (I'm a strong believer that getting yourself out there is valuable and brings returns not always obvious ones). I left him in peace to meet R. Late last night I got an email from him saying he had been accepted on the first course!

I do believe that we have to go out and stir the universal energies. This has been in fact what we have been doing this month. The problem is that you have no idea of what the results will be when you do it. I know I've done things thinking 'this will be good for me' and they haven't where as others have had amazing results. By the way stirring the universal energies doesn't seem to be dependent on the 'upbeat positive attitude' thing. Doing it anyway - that application, email, phone call is the important thing. Doing the action and the mind will follow.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

National Novel Writing Month

is coming in November - yes the annual write a novel in a month challenge is back!

Dawn Revisited

Imagine you wake up
with a second chance: The blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading
glorious shade. If you don't look back,

the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
int he prodigal smell of biscuits-
eggas and susage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours

to write on, blown open
to a blank page. Come on,
shake a leg! You'll never know
who's down there, frying those eggs,
if you don't get up and see.

Rita Dove from On the Bus with Rosa Parks

Its National Poetry Day - if you send an SAE to The Scottish Poetry Library (NPD), Crichton Court, High Street, Edinburgh you will get a pack of poetry postards back.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bee Lavender great name great blog.

... the future for the art world is on the land. Don your cap and get your welly boots on, because it's the farmer now who holds the key to not just the countryside idyll, but contemporary art. The future for art galleries is now to be found in the huge expanse of grain stores and byres that litter the countryside of Scotland.

More at Artwork Scotland - I'm hoping to visit Skateraw this weekend. I've had a soft spot for Mr Demarco as an ex-flatmate of mine related to me that his rather stroppy cat called Anna got fed up with her humans becoming part time lodgers at her home so she put all her belongings into a kerchief and hopped over the wall to live with Mr Demarco and seems very happy and loved.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Like artistic and literary movements, social movements are driven by imagination. I am not speaking here only of the songs and poems and paintings that have always been part of movements for political and social change, but of the movements themselves, their political ideas and forms of protest. Every important social movement reconfigures the world in the imagination. What was obscure comes forward, lies are revealed, memory shaken, new delineations drawn over the old maps: it is from this new way of seeing the present that hope for the future emerges.

Susan Griffin

Everything is connected

For you, the brilliantly obvious theme of today's solar eclipse is self-respect, which is just the miracle you need. This is the one issue on which your whole life, and all its successes and failures, have hung in the balance. It's not easy changing our ideas about ourselves. They are written deeply in our character, often below where we can see them working. Often, we don't know they're there. Yet you really are being relieved of false information that simply has not served you. And this will make room for many possibilities that serve you very well - possibilities you have never considered before.

From Jonathan Cainer this morning.

Wow ! so relevant in the past year or so I have been shedding so many ideas about myself and turning so much of my past recieved wisdom on its head. One of the big things is I've updended my ideas about money and how much I need, how much I deserve, and how much I can get. I've only just beginning to peel away the limiting views I have about money in my own personal case. What has changed me hasn't been books but actually listening and taking on board what my best friends are saying. That is that I am valuable and have value to offer. So even though I am broke at the moment I don't feel broke or as broke as I would have felt previously because I have faith that I will find the right thing to earn me a decent amount of money.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

George Szirtes

the poet and translator has a blog - link from my friend R

Another writers blog Dogpoet.

lack of posts

can be blamed on 'Hello' I've been trying to finish posting my G8 photos and seem to manage to get one or two up per week.

In the meanwhile I've been busy slogging through the unattractive parts of being creative. The parts which people who sigh and say 'I wish I was doing something creative' don't want to be reminded of. In this case pouring over websites in Norwegian trying to make an educatated guess at the websites owners business and contacting them and then waiting and waiting and waiting for a response. My grumpy cynical and defeated side says 'And you know what we'll do all this WORK and then the reason why we are doing it will be taken away.'

Note to self devise a creative project which is not dependent on anyone else having to say 'yes' to. No permissions needed.

Inbetween I fill my days by looking for work, doing some freelance work for a friend, and sorting out the dreaded tax.

I've been consuming much culture recently and have decided that I need the input of the very best. Its all very well to see something and think 'I could do better than that' but its even better to see something like a magnificent meal and know its something you want to work towards.

To this end I saw 6 films by Eisenstein, Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition at the Modern Art Gallery and reading My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk.

I'm filling myself by walking beside the sea and today after seeing to my defrosting fridge I'm going to write a wish list of things I'd like to do before Christmas. This is the time of year which most feels like a new year to me.