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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

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Art

So, my Patreon site is live……

……and I’ve posted some things there, so that it’s not a blank canvas to newcomers.  It took some time to work things out to my satisfaction, but I’m excited by how I’ve got it set up.  As time goes on, I hope to add to what I’ve already established.

There are a few posts that I’ve made open to the public, which I’ve done as introduction to who I am as a writer and budding artist.

Then, in their own words, my cat, Henry the Gray, and my horse, Best Bud Mare, will narrate their daily lives for those subscribing to the $3 tier.  I’m approaching it as an on-going series of children’s stories or bits of levity in a world that feels a little dark.

In subscribing to the $10 tier, I’ve designed posts that focus on my love for traveling and how I use location as inspiration.  Subscribers to this tier will also have access to the $3 tier.

For the $20 tier, I’ve challenged myself to write two serial novels. One is a fantasy/mystery and will involve reader participation – there will be four options and whichever option receives the most votes will carry the story forward.  The second serialized novel is based on myself and my friends as kids and the true-life adventures we shared in that really actually, never happened (but should have).  There will be a few other things there, as well as access to what is posted in the other two tiers.

There are also some posts open to all patrons who subscribe.

Right now, the second serialized novel’s first entry is open to the public, which I will close on March 10, 2017.

This is my site on Patreon. I encourage you to stop by and take a look at it.

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So, I’m dabbling in art again……

……..which is something I did all the time as a kid and teenager. It’s a lot of fun, a feeling that I’d almost forgotten about. Over the years, my art output went from fully realized drawings and paintings to sketches to just random bits on scraps of paper.

I’m re-discovering the joys of allowing it to spread out all over the canvas (which is a new medium for me) and focusing on getting the picture out. If it’s not as detailed and precisely as I envision it, then I certainly work in the impression of what I want.

Go forth and find your creative spirit. Dive into the first artistic expression you can think of and move from there. Embrace all of it.

More importantly, have fun.

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So, I’ve been working on my Patreon page……

……….setting up posts so that when I’m finally ready to officially launch it, there will be things already in place for subscribers to enjoy.

It’s not quite ready for the public yet, but I’m excited about what I hope to accomplish. There will be a serialized story or two, one of which will have multiple choices to drive the plot forward. It will also have general posts open to all patrons, an occasional one for the public and some art work to go along with the writing.

It should be interesting.

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So, I’ve been having a difficult time with today’s post…..

…….and I’ve got nine minutes to get this one done. I’ve already started three and put them aside, primarily because I want to give them more thought and make sure I source the content properly.

Yeah, it’s that kind of day.

So, I’m going to dash this one off quickly and I apologize for the lateness of it. I had fairly full day – running errands with a friend, tap dance, trivia and horses took up most of it. Then the contrary blog posts and here I am, nearing midnight and this is the one that’s going to go through.

I finished a painting I’d started two weeks ago – I would have finished it the same day I’d started it, from the initial sketch to the final touches, but I needed a specific color that I neglected to buy and then life and play rehearsals happened and there the time went.

Four minutes left.

I hope all of you had a lovely day.

Best wishes to all of you.

So, I just wanted to point out……

……that I’m aware that a few of my posts regarding women transforming their lives are primarily white. I intend to correct that – I’ve read several books by women of color, like Alice Walker, Amy Tan and Maya Angelou, but it’s been awhile. I also plan to read and share more about men of color, like Sherman Alexie and Richard Wright.

I believe that strength comes from diversity and that representation matters, but I can’t espouse that and not show it. So, with your patience, I will be presenting posts that hopefully will be more diverse and representative of the world.

I would love it if you were to offer suggestions on writers and artists that you feel need more attention and their work showcased.

Thank you!

 

Recommended*:
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Lone Ranger & Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
Native Son by Richard Wright
The Color Purple by Alice Walker

*To be updated.

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So, Maya Angelou once said……

……“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.” If you go hiking in the woods, or sit at the beach (or wherever your favorite outdoor spot is), and you sit and be still, you can hear nature’s music. By music, I’m referring to the calls of animals and birds, the wind as it whispers through trees and the gurgling of rivers. That is the music of nature and it is that rhythm that grounds us once we stop thinking so much and just allow ourselves to be present in that moment.

I’m thinking about music as I write this. While driving along the freeway home from my favorite getaway spot, I had a CD of the Eagles’ greatest hits on. The last track on that CD is Hotel California, which was the inspiration for my writing a two-act comedy sending up the gods and goddesses of ancient mythologies. I hit Replay on that song several times, because in my imagination, I could ‘see’ the opening scene play out. Due to bits of dialogue and action later on in the script, I knew that these new details established immediately at the beginning would foreshadow what was to come.

Music has been a major source of inspiration for me – I would create soundtracks for my novels and screenplays. This helped me focus on what kind of story I was telling. Is it romantic? Scary? Funny? Dramatic? From groups like The Temptations and the Stray Cats to individual singers like Natalie Cole and Cyndi Lauper, I found my story’s voice. I would jump from rock and roll to jazz to blues to Big Band, searching for that right piece of music that fit the rhythm of my current writing project.

My most productive times as a writer is when I have music playing in the background. This is true for any creative endeavor, whether it’s cooking or sculpture or painting. Even musicians, I suspect, listen to music, to experiment on what they are hearing and give it their own interpretation.

Music is the muse that inspires. How do I know? The word Mus-e builds the word Mus-ic.

Find your muse-ical inspiration and go forth with art in your heart.

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Editor’s Note – this blog post is published concurrently on Citizens Journal VC

 

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So, sometimes when I write……

……I get songs stuck in my head. I’m not kidding – I have created soundtracks to several screenplays, mostly for my own amusement. There has been at least one occasion where the song inspired the story and I wrote the bulk of it in one sitting.

I love crooners, like Tony Bennett, and groups like the Temptations or the Flamingos. I love singers like Natalie Cole and Cyndi Lauper. Their energy, their voices, their artistry, often connect with my imagination in such a way that scenes will write themselves. Sometimes the style of music will surprise me, but the mood it conveys will always suit the scene I’m in the middle of.

Right now, I’m revising my two-act comedy, cutting out unnecessary words (boy, I can tell I’m a novelist – I’m wordy!). Lines still make sense, even when cut in half, which is good. Since I’ve not written a stage play before, this is a good exercise for me.

I haven’t been listened to music for a long time, outside of my car. I’m discovering that I need to start listening again. Especially when you’re writing a play about the ancient gods and goddesses of mythology. There is a Chorus, after all, who sing about what they witness or summarize what came before. And music is the voice of civilization – just as the written word allows us to connect with the minds of Herodotus or Shakespeare or Jane Austen or Mary Shelley, so does music give voice to that past.

When a particular style or genre of music starts nudging at you, trying to get your attention, or you have a song stuck in your head, listen to that. That’s your creative instinct telling you to pay attention, that there’s something there for you to hear, that it may add more color into your work, whether it’s writing a play or painting a portrait.

So, on that note, I need to go listen to variations of Your Cheatin’ Heart. Apparently, country music has become part of my Ancient Greek Comedy’s soundtrack.

I did not see that one coming.

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So, every time I write a book……

……..I go through the same process – I have an amazingly brilliant vision of the whole story (as seen from a distance); I start to put it down on paper and it dissolves like cotton candy on the tongue; I freak out and feel insecure about the tripe I’m writing; I console myself with multiple cups of coffee and tell myself not to worry about it; by the time I get 65 to 75 thousand words in, I wonder where the hell I’m going to pull another 20 to 30 thousand from; by the time I’m at 80 to 90 thousand words, I’m metaphorically pulling my hair out by the roots, feeling like Elsa Lanchester from The Bride of Frankenstein (1935); when I finally crack and/or surpass the 90,000 words mark, I feel like I went through a triatholon – three times.

I tend to do the same thing when I’m developing my character in whatever play I happen to be performing in at the time. Or the painting and sketch classes I’m taking. And it’s a process that I will endure when I finally focus on learning how to play the violin. I’m also currently at the Elsa Lanchester stage of my current novel in progress. It’s not pretty. If you have a creative person in your life, chocolate is a good choice in keeping the peace. Or hot cocoa.
What this means for me is that I’m wrestling past the obvious and mundane and aiming for the truth of the character, the story or the subject. So if you find yourself feeling frustrated with an art piece or a story or music, try not sweat it too much. What’s happening is that the goal you have in mind has a path far different than the one you had planned. That creative instinct we all have inside us is also the instinct that will push us further than we think possible. Trusting it is trusting yourself.

Creating, my friends, is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. But it’s a heck of a ride and a ton of fun to do. I can’t not write – for me, it’s another way of breathing. As Anais Nin once said, “Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”

Recommended Reading:
Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
Henry Miller on Writing – Henry Miller
Living and Sustaining a Creative Life – Sharon Louden

 

Editor’s Note – this blog post is con-currently published on Citizens Journal Ventura County.

So, I drew this in art class….

….this past Sunday, a past-time that I’ve always enjoyed.

Sketch
Sketch

I always have fun drawing or sketching, partly because of the images that spool out of my pen or pencil.  But mostly it’s because I get to have fun playing with art. And that’s the point of being creative.

Having fun and playing with art.

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