Archive | Through the Lens

Through the Lens: Tarot and Writing with Courtney Weber

It’s been nearly one year since I started my novel. Over dinner, I shared with my sister and brother-in-law a half-formed idea of “some novel I’ll probably write one day.” My sister’s face lit up and said, “I want to read that!”

When we were growing up, I would sit at the computer for hours in the summertime, writing away with the effortless ease of a twelve-year old who had yet to know an editor’s rejection. My sister would periodically come in and ask me to read to her what I’d written. She’d sit behind me on the piano bench and listen. My sister’s encouragement was key. I wanted to write more because she wanted to hear more.

Now, deep into my thirties, that dynamic has returned. She doesn’t sit on the piano bench to listen anymore—mostly because we living on opposite coasts and I don’t have a piano—but also because I’m now much too precious about my work to share it with anyone before I’m absolutely ready to do so.

Yet, it feels good to be back in my old seat.

Years ago, I abandoned fiction writing because I abandoned every project I started. I figured I just wasn’t cut out for fiction. I wrote two non-fiction books and was planning on a third, when I decided to work on this one for a while.

At first, it was exhilarating. It was not me simply creating a world on the page. It were as though I was chipping away blankness from a story already in there. But after all the chipping of the first draft was done, I had a mangled, wild beast of a manuscript that made very little sense to anyone except the voices in my own head.

This second trip through the draft is a bit like tracing the steps of a sadly deranged missing person, piecing together the clues they tried to leave as to their whereabouts with moderate success.

Sigh.

I know it’s a weird book. And it’s getting weirder.

My morning ritual involves getting up at 5 am and fighting the perfectly reasonable reasons as to why I should go back to bed. I don’t have anything to say. This novel is too messy. If I’m going to write, I should write something I know will sell and will bring in some income as opposed to simply draining my sleep and my time with Mr. Husband. I push through the fatigue and the “not gonna work” voices and settle in at my computer.

Recently, I’ve only been able to chip away at three or four paragraphs per day.

It’s not perfectionism holding me back. I’ve slayed that dragon many years ago. It’s listening. I sit with a sentence and I go into the story and I ask the characters if that’s what they really meant. What really happened? I ask them, as though I’m a technician in Westworld asking the hosts—my characters—to “switch to analysis” so they can tell me what’s going on with them. Sometimes they do. Sometimes, I just stare at the page, waiting for the words to materialize on their own. I’ll routinely resent Stephen King for his indefatigable production engine, JK Rowling for having all the brilliant ideas, and Neil Gaiman for having a finger on the pulse of that mysterious and  beautiful wellspring that spills out his stories.

I am thankful for George RR Martin because he understands me (no, we’ve never met…no, he doesn’t follow me on Twitter, but he understands me even if he doesn’t know I exist). He writes maybe a page or so a day. That’s his pace. I can’t imagine the pressure: millions of people tapping their feet, waiting anxiously for his next book. The only person tapping a foot for mine is my sister and I can handle that. She’s not millions of tweeters or bloggers pushing for my manuscript to be done, as Martin must contend with.

I’m also lucky to have my relationship with Tarot, which can be a true friend in a challenging writing period.

Dear Tarot, why is this second draft taking so long?

6 of Swords. Not a great card, but certainly an understandable one.

The tired, cold little family crossing a thick river in a tiny skiff—it’s simply a long and arduous journey and I’m doing the best I can.

But the good news in the card, which I hope is good news for my novel, is that the shore is in sight. Maybe the shore is in sight for me, too.

Tarot, is there something I should be doing differently to improve (but not necessarily rush) the process?

The Hierophant rests more on logic and structure than emotion.

It’s possible I could be more organized in my approach to the novel, focusing more on the technical pieces of it rather than the emotion.

Emotion ruled the first draft! Logic might need to rule the second.

I ask the Tarot what works about my book:

The 7 of Swords: I associate this card with organized chaos.

To the outside world, the little character in the card might seem overwhelmed, but they are smiling.

In fact, they’re looking over their shoulder at the two swords left behind as though they think they could pick them up and carry them along if needed.

Now, I ask the Tarot what’s not working about my book:

The 3 of Swords: Maybe it’s a little heavy-handed?

I did put a lot of some of the grief I suffered through losses in my younger life. Maybe I can take that down a peg?

Then again, I’ve also seen the 3 of Swords to mean “suffering over suffering.” I have driven myself a little crazy with this novel. Maybe I am what is not working in it.

But also, it being the 3 of Swords gives me a little comfort that perhaps I can take care of the final few things that don’t work in the third draft. I’ve got plenty on my editing plate at the moment!

One final card! Is there anything else I need to know about the writing of this novel?

This 10 of Cups is a triumphant conclusion card.

No matter how many sword cards are bogging me down in the midst of the process, the end product is coming and it’s going to make me very happy.

Hopefully it will bring in lots of money, as that will make my husband happy, too!

For now, it’s one sentence at a time. Those sentences become paragraphs, which become pages. Eventually, the pages become chapters and then books. That happened with my first two. I’m sure it will happen with this one, too.

About the Author: Courtney Weber

courtneyweber_bioCourtney Weber is a Priestess, author, Tarot advisor, and activist. She is the author of the newly released Tarot for One: The Art of Reading for Yourself and Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess (Both through Weiser Books). She produced and designed “Tarot of the Boroughs,” a contemporary photographic Tarot deck set in New York City. She blogs at Huffington Post and on her website: www.thecocowitch.com. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and cats.

Through the Lens with John Hulme

Through the Lens

 

It crept up on me, this love of the tide. You don’t see me out on the water much – I don’t go swimming or boating or boarding – but there is something about being on the shore that fits me perfectly.

Photo by John Hulme

There is something about this transition place, where the surf rolls its cargo of ocean heartbeat into the shingle. I have sought refuge in this place more often than I can remember, rebuilding myself in the tapestry of ripples, allowing the rhythm of crunch and splash to weave into my heart and stitch back what the day had tried to erode from my spirit.

Photo by John Hulme

Sometimes this soaking time is sufficient. Sometimes it is enough to reset the meaning of John to this tidal metronome. Sometimes, however, the restlessness carries me further, and I find myself lost in that strange “between” place where no destination seems to fit.

Photo by John Hulme

A few years ago, after my mum died, life seemed to be revolving around the car – the place I sat when there was nowhere else to go… the place I slept when nowhere else felt like home… the place I hid from the world and wrote masterpieces only the streetlight would ever truly understand.

Photo by John Hulme

Between them, these two halfway places have left a deep echo on my spirit, a love of the “between” place. Even as I write this, I am preparing for a journey with no fixed destination in mind – just a wandering wobble into the unknown, like some strange rivulet cut off from the tide. Perhaps it doesn’t matter if I ever actually make this journey, now that my heart sits so beautifully in the “between” place.

Photo by John Hulme

About the author, John Hulme

John HulmeJohn Hulme is a British writer from the Wirral, a small peninsula near Liverpool in the North of England. Trained in journalism (in which he has a masters degree), John’s first love was storytelling, trying to make sense of the world around him using his offbeat imagination. Since the death of his mother in 2010, John’s work has grown increasingly personal, and has become heavily influenced by Christian mysticism. This has led to the publication of two poetry books, Fragments of the Awesome (2013) and The Wings of Reborn Eagles (2015). A mix of open mike performances, speaking engagements and local community radio appearances has opened up new avenues which John is now eager to pursue. He is hoping to go on a kind of busking road trip fairly soon, provisionally titled Writer seeks gig, being John.  Find out more about John on Facebook.

Living Out Loud with Lawrence Davanzo

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”
–Rabindranath Tagore

When my husband retired four years ago, he heard the same chorus: “You’re going to be so bored!” I suppose I could see their point (sort of) – my husband was stepping away from a forty-year career, during which he’d built his own company, served as President of another, and was so respected in his industry that when he returned to work after a larry1three-year hiatus in 2004, he hired nearly a dozen former employees within two months. My husband’s identity is fueled first and foremost by his role as a father, but as far as making his mark on the world, it was his career that steered the ship.

So for those who knew him primarily in that universe, it shouldn’t have been terribly surprising that their reaction to the news of his retirement was an assumption that he would turn the corner away from his work life only to find a barren stretch of land where nothing more than a few lone tumbleweeds bounced by from time to time. My husband was driven, ambitious, and successful, so how on earth was he going to find fulfillment once he had all the time in the world?

Here’s the thing about my husband that might have surprised those who couldn’t imagine him living a happy life without his suit, tie, and title – work was never his number one thing. It was never all-consuming. It wasn’t even a part of him I knew much about during the first two years of our relationship because he was on a sabbatical when we met. I heard stories and saw glimpses, but it wasn’t something I experienced firsthand until he returned to work.

Even then, and over the course of the ensuing eight years before he retired for good, I never saw my husband as a workaholic. larry2Aside from travel and the occasional business dinner, when he came home at the end of the day, he was home. When we went on vacation, we were on vacation. He never brought his laptop to bed and he never spent a Saturday on a golf course with clients. So when someone proclaimed he would end up being bored without his work, we both laughed, knowing these comments were more likely a reflection of what the prospect of a life beyond work and career would mean for them rather than what was true for my husband.

Four years later, we’re still laughing – and slightly gobsmacked – to find he is not only not bored, but more active than ever. He has continued to do the things he could only do on the weekends while he was working – bike riding, playing violin, reading – and now has the time and space to dive deeper into other passions and interests that he’s had for most of his life. He isn’t merely taking more photographs – an interest that first took hold when he was given a camera as a ten-year old – he attended a photography workshop in Berlin, had a solo show in Los Angeles, and goes on photo shoots with Santi Visalli – one of the most renowned photographers of celebrities and public figures of the last four decades.

larry5

My husband is also on the phone a lot. Friends and former colleagues call him frequently for advice, guidance, and encouragement. He coaches and advises his son and son-in-law – both entrepreneurs with their own businesses – on everything from cash flow to employee relations. It also isn’t unusual to hear him perusing the pages of his favorite larry3cookbook while chatting with his best friend – a chef who helped ignite my husband’s passion for cooking.

Here’s another thing my husband (well, most of us, really) hears a lot: life is short. My husband happens to think the opposite is true. In his opinion, life is long. At first, I thought he had it backwards. Life isn’t long, I’d think, Life whizzes by faster than I can keep track of. But over time, I’ve come to appreciate his way of thinking. It might seem like the entirety of my life up to this moment has traveled along at warp speed, but when I stop and take a closer look at all the adventures I’ve had, I see how much is there. How could I have experienced as much as I have unless life were, in fact, long?

larry4

Boredom is simply not in my husband’s vocabulary, and because his approach to life is that there is plenty of time to do the things he loves, he has been able to find that elusive balance between exuberant creativity and much-needed, well-deserved downtime. In between his bike rides and photo shoots and music gatherings, he writes letters to his granddaughter and reads at least one book a week. He takes naps. He plays with our dog. He loves washing our cars. He is the same man he’s always been – curious, engaged, and eager to live out loud.

Learn more at www.lawrencedavanzo.com.

About the Author: Christine Mason Miller

christinemasonmillerChristine Mason Miller is an author and artist who just completed Moving Water, a memoir about the spiritual journey she’s taken with her family.

You can follow her adventures at www.christinemasonmiller.com.

Through the Lens: Hope with Paula Jones

Through the Lens

I am a visionary intuitive artist.

I paint the unseen bringing in messages.   I’ve tried going back to my traditional roots…but, my muse will have nothing to do with that.

So, I listen to her….and paint what I am being asked and led to paint.
PaulaJones_EmbracingHerDarkness

Embracing Her Darkness

We are equal parts dark and light. One could not exist without the other.  I received the message three times in the same day: it is important to embrace that which we call darkness. Be aware of it.

I traveled to Taos recently to rid myself of my darkness – to just radiate light, but, I realized that no one can lose all of the darkness, it’s a part of who each of us is. Now, I am to be aware of it. I’ve been fighting for about a month to lose an essential part of being human. To understand that it’s ok to be upset, sad, mad, angry…. jut don’t let it rule your life.

Believe it or not – there is beauty there.

PaulaJones_TetheredtoHope

Tethered to Hope.

She’s hanging on by a thread….a thread of Hope. It’s something that never fails her. Even in her darkest hours….there is still Hope.

PaulaJones_CagedAngelNoMore

 Caged angel….no more.

She’s starting to realize that she was a prisoner of her own mind, her own stories. Once she realized it, the cage started disintegrating.

Was she ready? Truly ready?

If she weren’t ready to face her fears, her cage would still be intact. Fly little one…you’ve had the power all along. Caged angel…no more

PaulaJones_LotsofHope

Lots of Hope.

She feels it. Hope…Lots of it. Even though she is working through so much darkness…she has hope….and she is clinging to it for dear life.  Lots of Hope.

About the Author: Paula Jones

paulajonesbioI started painting at the ripe old age of 45 (at the urging of a friend who was an artist) after a plaster ceiling fell on my head while I was doing what I loved at the time, which was remodeling houses.

I’m falling in love with my creative soul…my process, and my value that I bring to this beautiful world. I’ve found courage, strength, love and compassion in places I never knew it would come from. And, as a result…I have a story…I have a story of hope.

I am a visionary intuitive artist.  I paint the unseen bringing in messages.   I’ve tried going back to my traditional roots…but, my muse will have nothing to do with that. So, I listen to her….and paint what I am being asked and led to paint.

Connect with me: Website Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram

Poster Children of the New Apocalypse by Julie Terrill

Through the Lens

I placed some bills into an open guitar case and sat down on the pavement of Knoxville’s Gay Street to listen to a group of street musicians.

Beautiful chaos

I enjoyed the conversation amongst fellow creatives as we shared a quart of luscious lemon gelato that I had purchased a few doors down.  I asked the name of their group, they shrugged and quickly decided upon Poster Children of the New Apocalypse.

Teresa, on the fiddle, and Rocky, playing the washboard, were the most talkative in the group and most open to my presence and my camera. While we talked I occasionally took photos and paused to show them the images.

Teresa

Soon Nomad, the guitar player, asked for a portrait. He was pleased to have a photo for his family to see and know that he is well, happy and playing his music.

Nomad

I spoke at length with Rocky, who possesses a great deal of what I refer to as “uncommon” sense. She spoke of her faith that tomorrow will be safe; she will eat and will find a place not just to lay her head but to actually sleep. Two years ago she made a conscious decision to trade a traditional lifestyle for one of creativity and exploration.

“There are a lot of us,” stated Rocky, “that don’t think normal society is what is best for us. I have played with amazingly talented musicians and seen every corner of the country. This never would have happened if I stayed where I was.”

Rocky

At home while editing the day’s images, I noted the reflections of onlookers.  Many of them kept a distance, averted their gaze, or stood watching with closed-off body language. Somehow I had not noticed them in the moment. I can only hope that those casual observers recognized the creative joy and beauty that was in their presence.

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bio

Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

Experience Being Seen by David Lazarony

Through the Lens

I’m curious, it is part of my human nature. One day while looking at one of my paintings, I felt like the person was looking back at me. How is this possible? How could a few brush strokes of paint cause me to feel like I was being seen? Then it occurred to me that I was doing the seeing. Since then I realized that each of my paintings, whether it was a portrait, a still life or a landscape is really a self-portrait. You dear viewer are experiencing the world through my eyes and my hand. I hope my paintings are able to convey the feeling I was experiencing while I was painting them. Yet no matter how pure my expression once you view my paintings your life history literally enters the picture and your experiences reflect in how you experience the paintings. Let’s go on a little tour of a few of my paintings together and I’ll show you what I mean. But before I tell you about each painting, first just notice how each painting speaks to you. How does viewing the painting make you feel? What thoughts enter your mind?

2014-10-14-Fluff by David Lazarony

Fluff oil 30” x 24”

Fluff was an experiment in exploring textures. The smoothness of her skin compared to the softness and fluffiness of the coat and chair. I also was exploring creating a sense of depth. I wanted her to feel like she is sinking into all that fluff. She is there, yet not paying you any attention. Why?

2011-09-01 The Alluring Stranger

The Alluring Stranger oil 20” x 16”

The Alluring Stranger is all about creating a sense of intrigue with the peacock feather at her third eye. The third eye is usually about awareness, but here it actually obscures more than it enlightens. This adds to the sense of mystery. Yet the real surprise is how she appears when the painting is viewed upside down. Go ahead, try it!

2010-05-10 Contemplating Despair

Contemplating Despair oil 30” x 24”

Contemplating Despair is a true self-portrait composed while I was going through some dark times. Yes, it felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, yet isn’t it interesting how there is light all around me. I wasn’t consciously aware of the light at the time. Yet it was there. I painted it.

2009-03-10 Well

“Well?” pastel 18” x 24”

“Well?” was the painting I was talking about at the start. This was my first painting that was literally a mirror for me and my emotions. I’ve heard every emotional interpretation of this painting from angry to bored to seductive. How does she make you feel?

2002-08-26 Verenique

Verenique oil 14” x 18″

Verenique was the first portrait that I painted that really conveyed a sense of feeling and presence. This painting was the beginning of me exploring our human condition in paint.
As I continue to explore our shared human experience through my painting I keep running up against my own limiting beliefs about myself and what it means to be human. The more I simplify the expression down to simply light falling across the human form, the deeper I seem to be probing into our humanity. It is ironic that as I strip away the outer world and simply paint the stark naked figure bathed in light, I get closer and closer to experiencing what it feels to be human.

I hope you enjoyed this short tour of my paintings.

About the Artist: David Lazarony

davidlazaronybioDavid Lazarony grew up curious.  As a young boy, he was intrigued by the world around him, constantly asking questions and determined to figure out tangible solutions for everyday problems.

David challenged himself to build models, write computer programs, and explore his creative genius. When it was time to choose a profession, rather than becoming a “starving artist,” he choose a high-tech career instead.
Formally trained at The Ohio State University as an Electrical Engineer, he spent more than a twenty years working in computer graphics and technology.

In 1999, David answered a call from his creative muse, taking classes for seven years to move his art beyond craft to concept, as well as translate his view of the world into a tangible art form.

David believes that his paintings are the mirrors to the soul; and it’s his strong desire to evoke emotion in others that fuels his creativity. He also views the art of painting as a silent meditation, encouraging him to live a more authentic and elegant life, full of never ending curiosity.

Find out more – and connect at DavidLazarony.Com

Editor’s Note: Our Through the Lens series explores how the things we make reveal new and interesting things about us as makers. What does your creative work express about YOU, the artist? How are the things you make like looking through a lens into your heart and soul? What have you seen in your creative viewfinder that surprises, delights, or perhaps frightens you? As we follow along with you on that journey, we may be inspired to look at our own individual creative projects in very new ways.

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