Tag Archives: creativity

Making words happen

 

My puppy has decided he's a better writer than me.
My puppy has decided he’s a better writer than me.

It’s been a while. I’m sorry for such heinous blog neglect. Here’s a little update.

I’ve been working hard on my next novel, which is an extensive rewrite of a book I first drafted some years ago, called The Key of Alanar. I’ve already shared a little bit about this particular journey here. It’s a story that’s been with me since I was only about sixteen, and one that’s very close to my heart. I consider the version I wrote before to be a kind of skeleton version. I’m a better a writer now so it’s been interesting going back to revisit and resurrect it. While it’s the still same story with the same characters, I’ve added bits, taken bits away and endeavoured to make the prose tidier and the characterisation punchier.

I’ve found that it’s actually harder to go back and rewrite something from the past than it is to write something new from scratch. In many ways I’m a different person now and if I was to create it from scratch it would probably reflect that. It’s nevertheless something I’m very pleased with. It’s a real journey, a journey of the human spirit — from loss and lack through darkness and despair, to eventual redemption and wholeness. Sadistic as it sounds, I take my central character and torture him relentlessly, stripping everything away from him and putting him at the mercy of all kinds of demons, both inner and outer. I feel the ending is going to need some substantial adjustment to reflect changes in my own understanding since I first wrote it. It’ll be interesting. I’m looking forward to being able to share the book with the world, hopefully by the end of the year. It’s pretty epic in every regard.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time with my head down, studying, living and practising the teaching of vedanta, which is the most remarkable thing I’ve ever found in my life. Neither philosophy nor religion but a pramana, systematic and very logical means of self knowledge, vedanta has been leading people for thousands of years from the suffering to wholeness, simply by reorienting one’s point of self-identification from body/mind/emotions/ego/intellect (which are all objects perceivable to us) to awareness (that which perceives; the eternal subject). The moment I stumbled across vedanta, I realised I’d found what I’d been looking for for the best part of a lifetime. I knew instinctively that if this didn’t work for me, nothing would. And, assuming certain psychological qualifications are in place and one is committed to putting in the time and energy to make it work, it does actually work! I’ve seen it work on myself and others. It is the closest I’ve ever found to a science of consciousness and self realisation — and I speak as someone who studied psychology at degree level. It’s the greatest of gifts and I’m going to share some of my journey and what I’ve learned on this blog as and when I get the chance.

Until then I have a guest post to share on the nature of karma, and I will follow it up with my own post to clarify certain points and demystify something that just about every has heard of but which few understand properly, even in the world of spirituality. Hope everyone is enjoying the summer. It’s beautiful here. Every day is a gift.

 

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Rory’s Writing – Four Questions, Four Answers! – Blog Tour

Howdy! First of all, I know things have become pretty quiet and sporadic on the blog front, for which I apologise. There are a number of reasons for this, but  I will try and contribute more often to the blog, even if it’s just in the form of ‘baby blog’ entries. I also intend to get caught up with everyone else’s blogs as soon as I can.

Without further ado — I’m very grateful to Rohan Healy for awakening me from my blog slumber by tagging me for the Blog Tour! Rohan is a multi-talented guy, musician and author of several non-fiction books as well as an action-packed science-fiction novel called “Gyaros: The Mice Eat Iron”, all of which I have read, enjoyed and highly recommend.

As for the Blog Tour, I’m delighted to have been included. It’s quite simple — I have four questions to answer. So, here goes…

Question 1: What am I working on?

I am working on my second novel, The Key of Alanar, which will hopefully be published later this year or early next year. It is the second novel in The Alanar Ascendant series, the first being Eladria. This book has a long genesis; it’s a story I first started working on when I was only 16. I actually originally wrote the book between 2001 and 2007, but it was never published. I’ve gone back and rewritten it substantially. The story is the still same more or less (it’s a good story! haha) but I have added different elements and fleshed a lot of things out. It’s essentially a different book and I’m very pleased with it so far. I’m now about a third of the way through it. I’m several months behind for various reasons, but I am not rushing it. I want to do it right. I can’t wait to finally share this book with the world; the stories, world and characters are very special to me and have been with me most of my life.

Question 2: How does my work differ to others of its genre?

My books combine fantasy with science-fiction in a way that’s fairly fresh, I think. They also have a certain metaphorical, allegorical component to them. If you look beneath the surface, the stories I write deal with philosophical, spiritual and existential themes and issues. But rather than bash the reader over the head with this, I try to weave these themes rather subtly. For instance, when it came to Eladria, most readers just seemed to enjoy it as an action-packed adventure story, while others also picked up on and really engaged with the philosophical content. Someone actually told me the book had really helped them and changed the way they look at life. So, I think my work can be taken on multiple levels; the reader can engage with it on whichever level they want.

Question 3: Why do I write/create what I do?

I don’t know. Why do birds sing, I guess? It’s just part of me. It’s what I do. What I have to do. I’ve always had stories in me; stories that gripped, captivated and consumed me — and which wouldn’t let me go until I’d found some way to get them onto paper. There’s nothing particularly glamorous or exciting about writing. It’s a hard slog, to be honest but I couldn’t live without it. As Rohan said in his answer, it’s as natural to me as breathing.

Question 4: How does your writing/creating process work?

I come up with a story and spend a lot of time working out the details before I write my first word. I learned a long time ago the necessity of having a fairly clear blueprint before you start writing. That doesn’t mean I can’t make changes as I go along, but I always need to have a clear outline of the beginning, middle and end, and how I’m going to join all the dots. I like to be clear about what the story is about and why I’m telling it and how the characters change, grow and develop as the story unfolds. To me the plot and characters are of equal importance and are inseparably interwoven. When it comes to writing, I just shut myself away, sit and type. It’s helpful to have a daily page quota, which is usually 3 pages a day. Then when it comes to the endless rewriting, again I just have to shut myself away and go over it again and again until I’m happy. During the rewriting stages I often listen to music, usually ambient electronica or other instrumental music that enhances the mood I’m trying to create in whichever part of the book. It’s just really a case of write, write, write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

So, finally I’m gonna tag three other authors and invite them to take part in the Blog Tour, answering the questions themselves:

Adrian Lupsa

Julianne Victoria

Barbara G Tarn

Have fun guys 🙂

Writing, Drawing & Making Music! An Interview With Rory Mackay!

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Really loved doing this interview with Rohan from the awesome Rohan7Things blog! One of my favourites. Hope you enjoy reading it too 🙂

Interview with Rory Mackay, author of Eladria

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Thanks to fellow author Adrian Lupsa for this really cool interview! Had a great time answering his questions 🙂

adrian lupsa

I am really honored to have as a special guest the amazing author of Eladria, Rory Mackay. His book was released on 31st May, 2013 and it already conquered the hearts of the people around the world. He was kind enough to join us today and share a part of his life.

Rory Mackay

1.      Hi Rory! It’s a pleasure to have you on my blog. Tell us a little about you and your book, Eladria.

Hi Adrianit’s my pleasure, thanks for having me! I’m a 34 year old writer and artist from Scotland. I’ve been writing since I was in my teens, but ‘Eladria’ is my first published novel. It’s really exciting that, after so many years of work I’m finally able to share my work with the world. ‘Eladria’ is a fantasy/science-fiction novel which combines action and adventure with some elements of mysticism and philosophy woven just beneath the…

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Sunday Surprise: An interview by on Creative Barbwire

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My first blog tour interview! I had a great time answering questions from Barb from Creative Barbwire blog, check it out 🙂 Thanks Barb.

creative barbwire (or the many lives of a creator)

And it’s another guest! 🙂 Yes, I’m finding excuses not to write on the blog – I better write my stories instead! 😀 Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rory Mackay who kindly submitted to my writerly questions!

Where do you live and write from?
I live in a small town in the North East of Scotland called Cullen. It’s right at the sea and is one of the most scenic and picturesque places along the Moray coast. It’s a great place for an artist-hermit. Quiet, beautiful and inspiring.
(ahem… do you have a guest room? Just kidding! Or maybe not…) When did you start writing?
I started young. I first came up with the idea for a big fantasy adventure when I was only about six or seven, precocious child I was! It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I got back to developing my stories. At that…

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12 ways to kickstart and boost your creativity

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Creativity ought to be as natural to us as breathing, and when we’re in the zone it is: the ideas flow, we see inspiration all around us and solutions present themselves with effortless ease. When we’re in touch with our creativity — which is an innate part of our nature, even if we’ve convinced ourselves to the contrary — there’s nothing we need do but ride the wave and have fun seeing where it takes us. It’s a gracelike state requiring little effort on our part, and we usually feel invigorated, excited and buzzing with life (a pleasant byproduct of being creative).

But we all go through times when we find ourselves blocked, stuck and stifled. That’s when it’s necessary to shake things up, blast away the blocks and nurture our creative side. Here are 12 practical and time-tested tips for kickstarting our creativity.

1. Create the necessary time and space
In order to be creative, you need to make sure you have the time and space to actually be creative. It may be almost habitual to fill up every moment of your life with activity, both productive and unproductive. It’s necessary to take time out to flex your creative muscles, preferably every single day. Clear some time in your schedule, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes a day. Guard that time and be aware of any tendency to procrastinate. Procrastination is the number one enemy of creativity. Ask yourself why you’re procrastinating (often it’s out of fear of failure or not being good enough) and commit to overcoming it.

2. Keep a journal
This tip is from Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s Way’ which is well worth checking out. She calls them ‘morning pages’: every morning, you have to write 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. This can be about absolutely ANYTHING, from problems, ideas, grievances and annoyances, inspiration, plans for the day and all kinds of random and rambling thoughts. You have free reign to spill your mind onto the page. Essentially this works as a kind of ‘brain drain’, freeing up mental energy, relieving tension and enabling you to tap into your inherent creativity. Try it for a month and be amazed. It’s well worth getting up 10-15 minutes early to do this. I’m willing to bet that after a few days you’ll be hooked.

3. Seek inspiration — fill your artistic well
Julia Cameron also encourages us to go on an ‘artist’s date’. This simply means taking time out to give ourselves fresh creative input and stimulation. Creativity needs to be encouraged and nurtured and you can facilitate this by making a specificed time to do things that inspire you. Ideas might include going for a long walk on the beach, visiting an antique shop or old bookshop, going to an exhibition or having a latte in your favourite coffee shop while reading up on people who inspire you. It’s best to spend this time on your own, so you can give full attention to what you’re doing and not get lost in conversation and distraction. Creativity feeds on fresh input, on images, sounds, sensations and new ideas and experiences, so be sure to keep the well filled.

4. Unplug
Stop watching TV! Or at least limit the amount you watch. Television tends to dull the mind and numb the senses. Why it can be an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so, especially after a busy day, if you’re spending entire evenings (or perhaps days) zoning out, it’s probably time to take a break. Generally television is not designed to spark or foster creativity. It often does the opposite. Try also limiting the amount of time you spend on the internet, whether social networking or aimlessly surfing the net. This will free up time, space and energy which can then be channelled creatively. A 24 hour media/TV/internet fast every so often is immensely refreshing. Why not try it?

5. Take a walk
A 20 minute walk has a way of rebalancing the mind and reinvigorating the senses. A short walk is not only good for you physically, but can elevate your mood, free up creative blocks and get the inspiration flowing. It doesn’t really matter where you go, although I recommend being in nature if possible, for nature has a harmonising and energising effect, particularly if you spend a lot of time indoors. Why not go for a walk without a destination in mind and just see where you find yourself (a creative walk!) or take a camera and be on the look out for interesting photographs, which will help you keep you in the moment and paying particular attention to your surroundings.

6. Be quiet
It’s hard for creative ideas and insights to emerge when the mind is continually filled with thoughts and bombarded with stimulus. Creativity needs space to flourish, much like the sun needs a gap in the clouds to shine down. So sit quietly for a while. Learn to meditate, or simply relax. In our fast-paced culture our minds are conditioned to be constantly seeking input and stimulus and many people find it impossible to sit still for more than a few seconds without needing to do something. Try to overcome this urge. Sit still and just look around. Observe with vivid clarity, bringing your full attention to whatever your eyes rest upon. Even if you’re in a room you’ve been in a million times before, try to notice little details you’ve never before seen. As Pierre Tielhard de Chardin noted: “The whole of life lies in the verb seeing”. Another thing that can open the creative channels is to take a nap, especially if you are feeling stuck and uninspired. Often a short nap is enough to shift our thinking patterns and tap us into heightened creativity. It certainly worked for some of history’s greatest creative minds, including Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali.

7. Learn to bypass the inner critic
You’re probably already familiar with your inner critic or censor, the part of you that’s constantly judging, analysing and criticising your work — and everything else besides. The inner critic does have its function and its place, but given free reign will probably sabotage your creative efforts before you’ve even begun. The first stage of any creative endeavour is simply to create, to freely get ideas onto the page and canvas. If your inner critic is continually criticising every single word or brushstroke, you’ll quickly end up getting blocked. So learn to send the critic on an all expenses paid vacation to Bermuda until you’re ready for it. Create freely and without censor and don’t fear making mistakes (see the next step). When you’re ready for the next stage, which is analysing, editing and polishing up the work you’ve done, that’s when you can let the critic do its job. But remind it to do so kindly and constructively.

8. Be fearless
Let go of the need to be perfect. There’s no such thing. Relinquish your fears of inadequacy and your determination to create something that’s ‘worthy’. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, because that’s often the best way to learn. The need to create something ‘great’ can make it hard to create anything at all, so just surrender to the process and learn to enjoy it. Play around with ideas, words, paint or clay. Allow yourself to innovate, to think outside of the box and let go of any fears about what other people may think. Fortune favours the brave.

9. Explore music
Music has a way of loosening up the mind, allowing you to access heightened levels of creativity. It has to be the right kind of music, though; mainstream radio stations are unlikely to be of great help. Explore and experiment with different styles, including classical, world music and ambient. See what inspires you and compliments your creative process.

10. Observe, question, experiment
The key to innovation is to observe, question why things work they way they do and experiment to see how you could make them work better. This is a basic framework used by inventors and innovators in numerous different fields.

11. Hang out with creative people
Creative people generally love being around other creative people. If you don’t have many artistic friends, then consider joining or forming a group. Share work, discuss ideas, exchange experiences, reflect on what inspires and excites you. Creativity has a kind of resonance, and simply being around creative people and innovators of any kind can kickstart your own creative flow.

12. Take inspiration from the greats
Are there any creative geniuses whose work or lives you’ve always been fascinated by? Perhaps Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Tolstoy, T.S. Eliot or Thomas Edison? Why not adopt them as a kind of creative role model. Learn all you can about them, read biographies, view or read as much of their work as you can and learn how they functioned creatively. There’s probably a whole lot you can learn from their achievements, mistakes and methods of working. Heck, you might even choose a creative genius who is still alive and someone you might even be able to get in touch with. Having a creative mentor is a surefire way to spark your own creative fire.