KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

Not Feeling Myself

There’s a silly commercial on television that shows children in Halloween costumes recommending a candy bar to a character, a giant head who claims to be the Horseless Headsman. After taking a bite, the character becomes the famous Headless Horseman. The slogan is “Because you’re not you when you’re hungry”.  Like I said, a silly commercial. Still, it made me think about the times that I don’t quite feel like myself.

I was taking a life drawing class a few years ago at the University of Kentucky. The instructor, Ross Zirkle, was an excellent teacher, involved and excited about his subject and his students. The first day of class, he handed out a paper listing all of the things that happen to artists when they don’t create. The list included such fun things as alcohol and drug abuse, depression, divorce; everything but the seven plagues of Egypt. I admit, I thought he was overstating the idea. After all, the history books are full of artists who struggled with depression, alcoholism, and other ills. What about Jackson Pollack, divorced alcoholic? What about Vincent Van Gogh? Surely cutting off ones ear is not the act of a happy, well adjusted artist.

However, the more I thought about Ross’s essay, the more I began to understand what he was trying to say. If we deny something as integral to our being as the urge to create, then we can’t fulfill our true human potential. We fail to become our best selves. Art doesn’t guarantee happiness, or even simple satisfaction, but without it, as artists, we are guaranteed unhappiness and dissatisfaction. I thought of all the years I had put my career on hold. Those years were filled with family obligations, excuses that I didn’t have the time or energy to devote to my own work. After all, it seemed selfish to put my own need for work above the real needs of my children and husband. I would have said at one time that they were busy, happy years for me.

It wasn’t until late in my life that I began to appreciate that my denial of self had cost not only me, but my family, the very people to whom I had dedicated myself. I had an obligation to be the best person I could be, to use and develop the talent with which I was gifted. To show, not just tell, my children what it takes to develop as a human being. While I was encouraging my children to realize their potential, I was ignoring my own. I was failing to become myself.

Now, when I feel disconnected from myself, out of sorts or depressed, I turn again to my art work. Realizing that I can find myself in my work is liberating. I won’t claim that I never feel guilty, or that I don’t worry at times that I’m neglecting my family, but I now feel that I’m ultimately doing us all a favor. I am myself again.











Comments (6) — Categorized under: Creativity,Mary Alexander

NaNoWriMo or NaNoReMo?

With National Novel Writing Month 2013 approaching in three weeks, you may be debating whether or not to participate.

A year ago I faced that same decision. I had a finished novel out for consideration and no new project underway. No enticing characters haunting my subconscious; no nascent story squirming under my skin, no pile of post-its recording quirky details; no overheard conversations lingering like earworms.

So I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

On November 29, 2012, I crossed the 54,000-word mark as I penned the last scene of my new novel. I had to crown myself a winner because there was no way for the folks at NaNoWriMo to track my efforts: a novel handwritten in a series of writer’s notebooks. Strangely, that official recognition meant little to me. After all, I had a writing group, a family, and an exasperated husband, all urging me to finish what I’d started.

Now it’s time to decide again. What’s the best way for me to spend my writing time? Should I sign up for NaNoWriMo and get a new project underway? Or should I return to my 2012 novel and devote the month to serious and disciplined revision? In other words, should November 2013 be National Novel Writing Month? Or National Novel Revising Month?

Here’s a synopsis of my ongoing conversation with self:

Reasons to spend the month revising:

• You’ll lose the soul of your 2012 novel if you abandon it now to start something new. All those threads swimming in your head, waiting to be tied—what of those?

•  You know how to create a revision protocol. You know what to do next. You need a timeline, a scene list, a verb list, and a couple of mentor texts that you study for clues.

•  You’ll be starting the month with SOMETHING rather than NOTHING. Move that second novel along! Finish it and see what you’ve learned! Discipline that mess!

Reasons to spend the month writing:

• You’ll share in the cosmic energy generated by tens of thousands of other working novelists.

• You can take advantage of the fact that Thanksgiving comes late this year. You could pass 50,000 words before it’s time to peel potatoes.

• You’ll make something new, bring an as-yet-to-be created story into being. Get out the glitter glue! Let that mess flourish! As Grant Faulkner said last November in a NaNoWriMo pep talk, “We set the audacious goal of writing a novel, not scrubbing surfaces clean.”

What do you think? How will you spend the month of November?

Comments (0) — Categorized under: Jan Isenhour,Uncategorized — Tags: ,

A Group “Artist Date”

It’s been years since our group worked through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way together, but we return again and again to some of the practices we learned from it. The “artist date” is one—time set aside to do something out of the ordinary, purely for the delight of it. The idea is that a creative life needs to be nourished, and that new experiences of beauty and art can infuse us with a sense of vitality that stimulates our own creativity. Ideally, we would have an artist date every week; in reality, it rarely works that way. But when life feels drained of its color, an artist date is pretty good therapy.

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Usually an artist date is an individual experience, but sometimes it’s fun to have one as a group. And because it’s harder than it sounds to take a break from our obligations, a group artist date helps make it happen when it seems out of the question individually.

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These are pictures from an artist date we set up for ourselves last week. It was time for a break from the routine, and we were captivated by the idea of a paper-crafting day. Maybe it’s the connection with the tools of writing, but making books and other objects with beautiful paper is like a mini-vacation for all of us. We have helped children and grandchildren with countless creative projects, and our group has even worked with a Girl Scout troop to make handmade books, but on this day we assembled all kind of papers, notebooks, stamps, glue, ribbon, awls, patterns, and scissors to see what we could come up with for ourselves.

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As we settled into exploring the materials our conversation quieted. We spoke in fragments when we spoke at all, absorbed in what we were doing. Even writers—perhaps especially writers—find it necessary to take a break from words from time to time. It was satisfying to work with color and texture, and to see the variety of results when we were finished. But the process must have been more important than the outcomes, because I forgot to take photos of the completed projects.

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What’s your idea of a good artist date?