Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Filling the Well

by Christina Brooke/Christine Wells

I haven't been around the lair for a while and boy, have I missed you all! Especially the cabana boys and my dahling Sven of the Magical Hands. This latest deadline really whipped my hide and I had to retreat from the cyber world for a while to focus.

Writers often talk about the creative well--that there's a finite amount of creativity any of us have at one stretch. Once we've drained the well dry, we need to refill it by experiencing the world beyond our writing spaces and more specifically, other forms of artistic endeavour. I find amazing joy and inspiration in the product of other people's creativity.

At the moment, this is how I'm refilling my well:

The Russian ballet: I am not a ballet afficionado but I was transfixed by the beauty and athleticism of the dancers. And while I'm being highbrow about it, I'm also going to a performance of the opera Tosca this weekend, a birthday present from Husband. The piercing beauty of human voices gets me every time.

Interior Design: I'm in the process of renovating my house so I find a lot of inspiration in magazines and especially in blogs on the internet. I can spend hours at a time lost in Anna Spiro's Absolutely Beautiful Things, Ella and Baba and Driftwood Interiors. There's something very energizing about design and visual art, particularly when the designers use colour, textures and shapes in interesting ways.

My 4 year old son's art. Yes, I know, I am utterly biased but I find this talent truly extraordinary, not least because no one else in the family has the smallest amount of skill in this area. Regardless of talent, it's his obsessive passion for drawing that really enchants me. I hope he never loses it.

Cooking: With spring in the air, I'm trying to build up a repertoire of healthy, tasty recipes full of summer goodness. Baking is my weakness and my recreation. I love to do it but unfortunately I also love to eat what I bake!

Children's books: My agent sent me a set of Ursula Vernon's Dragonbreath books and I'm having a ball reading them to my sons. The vocabulary is quite advanced and yet the stories are so gripping, my 4 year old begs to go to bed early just so we can read the next chapter. I'm in awe of writers who can capture children's interest so thoroughly.

Fiction: You know I'm busy when I say I haven't had time to sit down and read! For me, that's pretty much unheard of. Luckily there is a solution--audiobooks! I am currently glomming Lisa Gardner. Man, the books are even scarier when they're read to you. I have also learned from experience not to listen to them when I'm eating. I know Lisa would be glad to hear me say that and think it a job well done.

Classic movies: As inspiration for the next romance, what could be better than watching An Affair to Remember for the zillionth time or snuggling down to watch every possible version of Pride & Prejudice?

Music: Yes, I admit, I'm an 80s/90s tragic. I load up the iPod and go walking or listen in the car and let my mind wander.

How do you re-energize after a particularly gruelling or emotionally draining time?

Do you use creative pursuits as therapy? What's your favorite Lisa Gardner book?


Mary Preston said...

I re-energize by taking some time out. I play on the internet or read or go for a long walk. I also knit, sew, embroider & crochet which I find relaxing.

A friend sent me a copy of THE PERFECT HUSBAND by Lisa Gardner because the title cracked her up. A great read.

Helen said...

Well done marybelle have fun with him

Christine we have missed you as well but I gotta say I am looking forward to January and the new book whoo hoo.

For me I read I just get so lost in the books I read they transport me to a different place and I can so turn off to everything and I also love playing with the grandkids and reading them books this Saturday we are all going to Taronga Park Zoo we haven't been for years and I know we are going to love it together.

Love the pictures you son has done a very clever boy

Have Fun

Christina Brooke said...

Yay, Marybelle got the rooster!

I'd love to be able to do all of those knitting and sewing type things, particularly embroidery! I now regret refusing to let my mother teach me. I'm sure all of those pursuits are very therapeutic.

LOL on THE PERFECT HUSBAND, Marybelle. It has an awesome twist, doesn't it? I think it's a great book.

Christina Brooke said...

Helen, lovely to catch up with you again! Thank you--I hope you enjoy MAD ABOUT THE EARL.

Yes, I love reading too and I have a TBR pile stacked a mile high at the moment! Once I get things under control around here again, I will dive right in.

Sounds like you'll have a lovely time at Taronga Park zoo. I adore reading to children, too. It's one of the highlights of having them, I think!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I mostly read to unwind, it just takes me away for a while.
Embroidery is easy Christine/Christina, my mother taught me when I was 5 years old, started out on handkerchiefs for her and kept graduating up until I was doing clothing.
Crewel is a variation of embroidery, same stitches just different material, it works very well for pillow (decorative pillows) tops. I don't think I have read Lisa Gardner, if they are the least bit scary I can guarantee I haven't.

Anna Sugden said...

Christina! Great to see you emerging from your cave into the light of day! Sven, quick, get working on easing out her kinks ... not those kinks! Well, okay, those kinks too ;)

I read to re-energise. I also watch favourite TV series, classic movies or hockey *g*. I love playing computer games (the adventure type) and can lose myself in those for hours.

I used to cross-stitch and have been gathering materials to start again. I also garden or go for a brisk walk.

Anna Sugden said...

Lisa Gardner - I'm a hopeless fan-girl. Love all her books!! Possibly my favourite is Say Goodbye, but I"m hard-pressed to choose.

If you like Lisa Gardner, you should check out Karen Rose - my other absolute favourite.

Mozette said...

Re-engergising isn't what I do... I chill out by painting. It's my way of re-organising what's happening in my books in my brain. However, my new neighbours over the back fence think I talk to myself; but really I'm thinking out aloud about my characters, plots, subplots and what stories I'll do next.
While I'm painting, I play a couple of vinyls on the turntable (and I love artists such as Cat Stevens, Jethro Tull, The Eurythmics, RHCP and INXS just to name a few) and sometimes I'll be singing the lyrics of the songs. Also my budgie does seem to love the music too. :P

Deb Marlowe said...

So glad to see you back, Christine!

It sounds like you'll have your well filled to the brim in no time!

There are several things I like to do to recharge. I read, I veg out with a movie--sometimes I like to listen to the director's commentaries of a favorite movie--it's a fun way to think about different paths to story telling.

BTW, I know Ursurla Vernon--she's a riot. My kids have her books too, even though they are officially a bit old for them. :-)

TrishJ said...

I usually turn to an old favorite, feel good book. One where I know the characters and know the HEA will leave me warm and fuzzy. All is right with the world.

Nancy said...

Marybelle, congrats on the GR!

Christine, I read, watch a movie, or have lunch with friends when I surface from a project. The dh and I go to bookstores to browse. Just getting out of the house and being among people perks me up.

We've missed you around here, but it was worth it if I get a new Christina Brooke story to read.

Demetrius reports overhearing the GR ask
Paolo (whom he must've pegged as a soft target) if you were away working on something for Friday's big announcement. Paolo, to his credit, responded by saying Sven was hoping for a new feather duster. The GR fled. Bwahaha!

But the lemon bars Sven had out back for the Halloween bash are missing.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Hmm... Russian ballet? Have you been spying on my You Tube viewing lately? Can you say 'Ivan Vasiliev'?

... 'Tosca'? My favorite opera? The same music which I used for the soundtrack of my fourth year film when I was in film school?

...Art? As in browsing through art work to put up my cyber art shows on my blog's sidebar?

...hmm...And you're still rather partial to Richard Armitage, I take it?

Jane said...

Hello Christine,
I recharge by watching my favorite comedies(The Hangover, Porky's, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 30 Rock.) I've never read any of Lisa's books.

Cybercliper said...

When I need to re-energize, I usually unplug - everything.

No internet, no cell, no TV or radio. Long walks out in nature, just sitting around listening to the birds, watching the antics of squirrels or rabbits, listening to the trees - for me, nothing puts things more into perspective than sitting under an 800 yr old oak or cottonwood tree and wondering who stood here before me and what their life was like. Nature restores me - leaves me with peace - faster than anything.

Anna Campbell said...

Mary, congrats on the GR. Hope you're feeling energized - you'll need it!

Christine, what a fun post. I love your son's drawings. Isn't he talented? I've started to factor in reading days. They really freshen up my mind and they're so relaxing. And it also means I take a few books off the TBR pile. Mind you, I then buy some more so that scheme isn't working so well.

I've never read a Lisa Gardner. Maybe I should. I've never listened to an audio book. They're not really something that fits into my lifestyle (I have a lifestyle? Who knew?).

Congratulations on getting your book off! I bet it's going to be another great read.

Donna MacMeans said...

Christina - Glad you're able to poke your head out of the writing cave. Turning in a book completely wipes me out creatively. I know some authors say they need a week inbetween books - I need more like a month - just to catch up on all the things I let slide while I was in that homestretch.

Refilling the well - Reading does it for me. I'm constantly reading, but usually nonfiction for research. Getting to read for pleasure helps nurture the muse, as does going to movies. Movies are especially powerful as I'm generally sitting in the dark next to the man I love happily munching popcorn. Life doesn't get much better. I always think I'll paint some in the downtime, but the downtime slips away too fast and deadlines require I haul my butt back to the computer. Oh well - enjoy this break.

Christina Brooke said...

Dianna, you say embroidery is easy but you probably have a natural aptitude for it. I'm too impatient, I think! My mother also tried to teach me things when I was five but it didn't take.

Yes, Lisa Gardner's books are scary. I don't normally read books that are so gritty but I listened to a workshop she did at RWA and got a lot out of it so I decided to give her a try. Really enjoying them!

Christina Brooke said...

LOL on the kinks, Anna! I just don't think of Sven that way. His silent dark and brooding brother Lars, now...

I never knew you were into computer games! I can see you doing Wii kickboxing or something though. Yes, a brisk walk is always a good idea, too. I need to get my body moving after sitting for so many long stretches.

Christina Brooke said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Anna! I'll try Karen Rose, too. Say Goodbye was just harrowing wasn't it? I think probably the one I found most powerful was the one with the "Burger Man". I don't remember the title now.

Christina Brooke said...

Ah, Mozette, I'd love to be able to paint! I think doing something with your hands lets your mind wander.

Nancy said...

Cybercliper, I'd bet the landscape in your picture is restful in real life.

Deb said...

I recharge by taking a very hot bath and having chocolate on hand. Sometimes I include a strong, very sweet, very hot cup of tea.

I tend to be a Facebook junkie and get on to check out what's going on in the lives of others and then play some senseless games that don't take too much brain power.

Cheryl Leigh said...

Hi Christina,
Love those interior design sites! I re-energize by reading, walking around a beautiful leafy park with ponds full of bird life or escaping on holiday (not as frequent as I wish!)

Looking forward to the next book and the next and the next...

Beth Andrews said...

We've missed you, too, Christina! So glad you're out of the cave *g*

I read and watch TV and movies to refill the well. I'd also like to get back to making jewelry but haven't had the time to buy what I need for those projects :-)

I've found that I'm more creative if I take Sundays off from...well..
pretty much everything *g* No writing. No internet. Just working around the house, reading and cooking and baking. Monday morning I'm ready to dive back into my work again!

Christina Brooke said...

Hi Deb, my sister! What a fantastic idea, to watch the director's version of a movie. I must try that.

Just one more thing we have in common--these Ursula Vernon books!

Christina Brooke said...

Trish, great idea! I love reading old faves too.

Christina Brooke said...

LOL, Nancy! I do need a new feather duster...

I haven't spent a good chunk of time in a brick and mortar bookstore for ages. Another great idea! Oh, and yes of course lunch with friends. Only all my writer friends are still on deadline!

Christina Brooke said...

Haha, Julia, we have a LOT in common! Yes, still partial to Richard. In fact, that reminds me: I must add North and South to my DVD play list!

Christina Brooke said...

Jane, great point--laughter is the best medicine! I could use a good laugh today.

Christina Brooke said...

Cybercliper, that sounds absolutely lovely, just uplugging and sitting in the outdoors. I need to do that more often.

Christina Brooke said...

Thanks, Anna! Yes I envy you those reading days. Quite understand you don't need audiobooks, but I use them to bribe myself to do boring chores or exercise. Music is good too but I think because books have always been my relaxation and entertainment it feels less like work when I get to do that at the same time.

Thank you for the compliment on Itchy's drawing! I hope he keeps it up.

Christina Brooke said...

Thanks, Donna! I'm getting back into it this week, now that my son's birthday is over. Yes, actually going to the movies is a transporting experience isn't it? Good luck with your next book, too!

Christina Brooke said...

Deb, I am always a fan of chocolate! Usually I've eaten it to get me through the deadline, though and I need a bit of a detox afterward!

Christina Brooke said...

Cheryl, thank you, you're a sweetheart! The walks and the holidays sound like heaven.

Christina Brooke said...

Beth, the jewelry making sounds lovely. I hope you do get back into it.

Taking Sunday off is such a good idea. I think as writers we feel like we're constantly working. Even though we're doing what we love, sometimes it seems like we never get a rest.

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats on the GR, Marybelle! You will definitely need something relaxing after dealing with him!

YAY Christine! Great to see you in the Lair again. And like everyone else I cannot WAIT to read your newest book!

Your son is quite talented. I can see where his creativity would help inspire yours.

At the moment I am writing one book and revising another and I feel like my brain is Regency fried eggs at this point.

I do, however, try to take at least a few hours a week to read in order to refill the well. And I love a good afternoon in bed with a stack of period DVD's and some chocolate.

I've recently started taking a long walk around my property every so often. The fall weather is gorgeous here and it really helps to clear my head.