If you're a creative, you likely feel guilty when you take time "away" from "real life" to practice your art. This is an epidemic in the creative field and one that I am becoming more and more frustrated by.
Too few artists and writers and musicians have the luxury of doing their work on a full-time basis. When we talk about making our art as our career, it's often in awe-laced voices. Smile lines around the eyes deepen and a happy glow radiates from our faces. Phrased like, “Someday…" and “When I retire…" and “Wouldn’t it be wonderful …” are common phrases we too often mutter.
Why is the world set up in a way so that bankers and accountants and software engineers and business owners are lauded and given the head nod of approval, while those of us who create are told to “do it in your free time?” Where has the respect for art and creativity gone? Why do we as a culture no longer embrace the creative gifts the same way as we did in the Renaissance Period?
Maybe my view is skewed. I certainly didn't get enough sleep last night. Still, it irks me that creatives gifts are seen as “less than,” because our society views money-making endeavors as more important. But when did the dollar bill outshine the importance of creating? When did the banks become more important than the art galleries, and Wall Street more valued than creative expression?
When did we decide as a culture that working 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week in a cubicle or warehouse or office was more important than living a full life, one that includes creative expression and communication—not just as a “side hustle,” but as our life’s work?
This is one of the reasons that I recently joined Patreon. Unfamiliar with this community? It's a platform that allows art patrons to support artists and their creative endeavors. I've been thinking for joining for a long time, but that little voice in my head held me back.
"Who are you to think that people would want to support your writing?"
"Don't you think that people have more important things to spend money on?"
"Get over yourself. There is no way that you'll get anyone to take a chance on your work."
Of course, that sealed the deal. If I've learned one thing from that negative, critical voice over the years it's this: do exactly what it fears most.
So I created an account on Patreon. You can watch the video below for more information, or check out my page there right now.
I believe that creativity matters. I believe that people love books and stories. And I believe that my career as an author and writer will grow stronger with the support of a community.
Today is Wednesday, the 21st of February in northwestern Vermont...and it's nearly 70 degrees outside.
To say that we've had unusual weather this winter would be an understatement. But today's balmy temperatures have my mind turned to gardening and cleaning up the yard...and enjoying fresh, delicious strawberries straight from the raised bed. Mmm, along with fresh salad topped with dill and green-tailed onions still warm from the sun.
Obviously in summer months we eat differently than we do in the winter. Somehow sitting down to a big bowl of steaming stew or a plate filled with hot soup in the middle of July doesn't sound as appealing, does it?
This led me to wonder: do readers' tastes in books change with the seasons? You've heard the term, "beach read," right? It usually denotes lighter, fluffier reading fare than you might otherwise choose.
But what about suspense readers? Do we like to change to lighter, fluffier mystery/suspense novels in the summer as opposed to the darker months of winter? Or is the opposite true? Perhaps we gravitate toward heavier reads in the lighter months, when the world doesn't feel quite so oppressive.
I did a quick Google search but most of what I found was related to helping children find "just right" books (reading material most appropriate for their reading levels). I did, however, find this interesting article by C. Hope Clark on how readers tend to choose the books they read.
I'd love to hear your take. Do you find that your books change depending on the season? Leave a comment and get the conversation started!
You've likely heard that old adage: "the family that plays together, stays together," or some reiteration of it. But what about the family that reads together? Are they any better off than a family that doesn't?
The answer, according to C.W. Hawes, author and avid reader, is a resounding "yes!"
C.W. has kindly offered to tell us more about it here on the blog. Please settle in and grab your favorite beverage. Here we go...
Can reading together as a family be (gasp!) more fun than watching a movie together?
"There is nothing more enjoyable than a good book, unless it’s a good book shared with others," says C.W. "And the best way of sharing a book is to read aloud to each other.
"A book has a magic that just doesn’t exist with movies and TV. That’s because reading aloud is interactive in a way movies and TV aren’t.
"We talk about a movie or a TV show after-the-fact. Then we might re-watch it. But with a book we can talk about a concern or a plot point right there during the reading. We can re-read funny sentences or paragraphs. We can pause to digest a heart-wrenching scene. Confusing scenes or dialogue can be cleared up right away.
"Yes, we can hit the pause button or rewind button when watching a DVD or when streaming. But with a live show, that’s not possible. With a book, it’s possible any time.
"The other great advantage reading has over TV and movies, is that it stimulates the imagination. It’s not passive entertainment. It’s very active. And stimulation of the mind results in minds that are much more active and developed. Which is a very good thing."
C.W. reflects, "When my daughter was young there was no family TV. For entertainment we read books. And we read them together as a family, as well as individually. Harry Potter. Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy. Winnie the Pooh’s and Artemis Fowl’s adventures. Jules Verne, HG Wells, and Saki...among many others.
"We had great, great fun. And we also discussed the moral and ethical issues some of the books delved into. Fun and intellectually stimulating. What more could you ask for?
"I want to thank JP for having me on her blog to talk about one of my favorite hobby horses. It’s been a pleasure!"
Thank you, C.W., for making the time to be here. I appreciate it and your story!
Learn more about C.W. Hawes
You can learn more about C.W. Hawes and his work by visiting his website at http://www.cwhawes.com. He is the author of several books and short stories in the post-apocalyptic, mystery, alternative history, and horror genres.
His love of fine food, interesting locations, philosophy, music, art, books, and history can be seen in each of his tales. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, suburban Minneapolis, MN, has been his home for nearly 50 years.
Other ways to get in touch:
Readers: what is one thing that you'd like to know about reading together as a family? Please leave a question in the comment section below.
Today, I had the pleasure of guest posting over at the PacWest Bigfoot site. This is a really intriguing website, filled with first-person stories of Bigfoot encounters. David, the host of the website and head of the community there, notes that these stories are the perfect ones to tell around a campfire. He's also had his own Bigfoot encounter...
Please head over to check out the guest post and all of the interesting, spine-tingling stories that readers have shared at PacWest Bigfoot. You could even nab a cool Bigfoot t-shirt or some Sasquatch Coffee to really make your experience memorable.
If you aren't a newsletter subscriber, you may have missed today's big announcement: the winners of the (2) Amazon gift cards. Angela L., and Melissa B., were chosen at random from everyone who entered the "Sharing the LOVE" contest. Congrats, ladies! I'll get your gift cards out to you soon.
My Dream of Being an Author
"Did you always want to be an author?" People have asked me that question in recent years. The honest answer? No. But maybe not for the reasons you'd expect.
I dug out my "School Years" book today to see what I had aspired to be as an elementary student. You know, those funny little spiral-bound books where you glue a picture of yourself, along with the most important facts about yourself. Like, "best friends," and "hobbies," and of course the section for "what I want to be when I grow up."
While my book is somewhat ruined due to water damage, I could see a trend in my goals: a mother and a teacher (like my own mother). By about the sixth grade, I'd apparently lost interest in being a mother, and just wanted be a teacher. By high school I'd sworn off both. I was going to be a photojournalist for National Geographic who never married or had children...or a veterinarian.
As a kid though, no one ever suggested to me that I could be an author. In fact, the little boxes in the School Years book don't list that as a potential career. But I could have aspired to be a model, I guess, or an airline hostess (except I've never been thin or tall enough for either of those careers). Those options do have little boxes beside them.
Even though I've adored writing my whole life--starting with the stories I wrote in childhood, the "magazine" my friend and I created monthly, the embarrassing poetry I wrote in middle and high school and the constant, incessant journaling I've done since I can remember--no one ever said, "Hmm. Do you think you might like to write as your career?"
In fact, I never thought of writing as a way to make a living until 2007, when my oldest sister (who obviously knew something that the editors at "School Years" didn't), asked me why I didn't try freelance writing. Not as a hobby, but a job.
So, I did.
I had a writing business for nearly eight years and wrote hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, blog posts, website content for businesses and nonprofits, newsletters, four novels, and one non-fiction guide for writers.
I fell in love with writing novels
I'd love to tell you that once I wrote that first novel my path was set, the floodgates opened and the money and fame poured in. But that would be as fictionalized as my books.
In reality, it's been a long, slow, uphill climb. I nearly gave up completely due to a new, full-time job and the criticism of my books.
Thin skin + author = unhappy person.
Still, I've never given up on my dream. Someday, maybe five years from now or 10 or maybe 20, I want to make a living from my books. I can't imagine a better job than creating stories that transport readers. To bring readers to different times and places, and offer an adventure that they can take with them wherever they go? That's the best job in the world in my book.
Welcome to the website of author J.P. Choquette (pronounced, "show-kett"). Join the Reader Group and nab a free short story, along with the latest news, goodies, upcoming event announcements and more.
Already read a book? Have you checked out her other suspense novels?