Exploring other media to conquer writer’s block

So, earlier this week, I had a case of the blahs. I suppose I didn’t technically have writer’s block–the problem was more that I didn’t want to do anything, not that I couldn’t write–but the results were the same.

My muddle

My best friend phoned. I told her my sad story. I didn’t want to write. I felt uncreative and just foggy in the head. She suggested I do something different, maybe go for a walk. Just don’t even try to write. Reboot.

The way out

For some reason, I’ve been getting back into art gradually over the last year. As a child and teen, I loved art, but like many people quit when I realized my mediocrity.

poem collage

My collage poem.

I’ve been taking a lot of photos lately, even framing them and displaying them in my home. I’ve done a bit of sketching, as well, although that tends to send me back to a place where all I see is my lack of skill instead of getting pleasure from exercising what skill I have.

Anyway, after my phone call, I was itching to make a collage. I didn’t give into the itch right away, but as my kids settled in for homework this evening, I grabbed a couple magazines and a pair of scissors.  Continue reading

The Post in Which I Confess Again My Love of Sharpies & Probably Ruffle Some Feathers

Today is Hoshana Rabba, the last day of Sukkot, the Jewish Festival of Booths. In keeping with the more lenient final days of the holiday, my family has been trekking all over Southern California on outings. Today, I’m cooking, so between the challah baking and the vegetable roasting, I’d like to share a few thoughts with my readers.

A Writer’s Quandry

el pueblo de los angeles

The Avila Adobe, the oldest building at the Pueblo.

Yesterday, we visited El Pueblo de los Angeles, the original non-Indian settlement here in L.A. Last year, the Pueblo welcomed a new addition to its site on Olvera Street — an interpretive center for the América Tropical mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros that appears near the roof of what’s known as “the Italian Building.”

When the mural was unveiled in 1932, it immediately fell victim to controversy because of its anti-imperialist sensibilities. The most “offensive” images on the right half of the mural were quite literally whitewashed not long after it’s first exhibition, with the remainder of the mural being painted over four years later.

I was aghast as I listened to and read the details of the story. A white socialite pushed to remove an artist’s genuine expression of the Latino experience because it offended her political and social sensibilities.

Now, here’s the seemingly ironic part of the situation. I have a web page devoted to a “kosher reading list” and elsewhere have confessed to censoring my kids’ reading materials. My husband and I have effectively banned TV, Disney movies & Romeo and Juliet from our home because we don’t like their effects on children (see my comment in this link to the excellent post by Pop Chassid).

Yes, I am a self-described censor. Continue reading

Try this wacky avatar hack!

As part of a course I’m taking through Carol Tice’s amazing website Make a Living Writing, I received the following homework assignment: put an avatar up on Gravatar to pop up whenever I comment on blogs, etc. Now, I could use a photo, but that would just be no fun, so I decided to create my own Gravatar.

avatar

Me, in black and white and nothing on my head to cover my hair. For shame!

I started off by googling “free avatar tools” and discovered a lot of nifty links to different programs to help you make your avatar. The best site I found was Digibody. The results of a picture created with their Avatar-Maker tools look much nicer and more professional than those created with other programs, I found.

However, that left me with a small problem. Or rather three:

  1. The pic was black and white. I thought color might be more eye-catching and engaging.
  2. I don’t leave my house without a hat or headscarf on my head. There was no way to put a hat or headscarf on the picture using Digibody’s tools.
  3. I don’t leave my bed without my glasses. (2 a.m. trips to the bathroom don’t count.) No one would recognize me without some glasses on my face.

Here’s what I did:

becca avatar with color

Thanks to Microsoft Paint, I added my headscarf, glasses, and a touch of color.

  1. I saved the image to as a jpeg onto my computer.
  2. Then I pulled it up in Microsoft Paint (how I wish I had Adobe InDesign or something fancier, but alas, no) and started sprucing up my avatar.

This is my DIY avatar. It’s recognizably me.

What do you think of the end product? I’d love some reviews in the comments.

Why you should do what you love to do, even if you’re no expert (and never will be)

I am no Picasso.

I am no Michelangelo or deVinci.

And I’m never going to be.

My girlfriend at MoiMeMoi posted last week about doing things we love even when we are less than expert at them. Her words struck a chord, because recently, I’ve started drawing again after years and years of avoiding it.

For my entire grade school career, I was considered “artsy.” I drew and painted better than my peers, mostly out of a smidgen of natural talent, but also because I applied myself in art classes and loved to read art books. It was a hobby that I hoped might turn into something more.

Then I hit 12th grade and had the sudden realization that I was good, but I wasn’t great and might very well never be great. That smidgen of talent was just a smidgen. So I threw my hands up in the air and gave up drawing and painting and pottery–the whole shebang.

Occasionally, I’d startle my husband when I had to draw something to show my kids how, or my students would respond to a diagram I’d drawn with admiration. At such moments, I felt like my past was leaking out. My family knew about my “artistic” past, and even suggested I illustrate my books, but I’ve always felt like I’m not good enough to do it and never will be.

Maybe that’s true. However, lately, I’ve gone back to drawing. At times, I sketch still lives, other times, I draw my kids while they sleep, or from a photo (because they are rarely still). I’ve also drawn a couple cartoons. I mourn years of no practice–my skills could have grown, but they didn’t. Sometimes, I get very frustrated. But it’s fun. It’s a hobby, and it’ll probably stay that way.

G-d-willing, I’ll share some more about my renewed hobby soon, with the help of my handy-dandy scanner.

What skills and hobbies have you neglected over the years?  Would you ever go back to them?

A seriously creative Jewish mom!

Happy 5773, everybody!

The L.A. Jewish Journal is profiling an acquaintance of mine, Leat Silvera, this week. See the article here. As readers of my blog know, I’m very excited to see anyone use their talents to bring light into the world, and I’ve long admired Leat because, (B”H, bli ayin hara) she is one of those people! First as a teacher, then as a homeschooling advocate, she’s tapped into her out-of-the-box thinking and skills to connect to children.

In her new project, Leat’s using her talents to bring beauty into one of the chief mitzvot of the Jewish holiday season: dwelling in a booth throughout the holiday of sukkot. Check out her website at leatsilvera.com.

Do any readers out there have plans to use their talents–artistic or otherwise–to bring light into the world this year?