Hurray for Art!

Florentine Scribblings

My muse has been a bit confused lately. To draw or to write?

This week, my energies are transferred to the first medium. One of the wonderful aspects about living in Florence is the numerous art museums, each begging to be explored. I find myself returning to the Palazzo Pitti at every chance I get. Why? It’s never as crowded as the Uffizi and there’s a rather large collection of Andrea del Sarto’s paintings, including one of my personal favorites, San Giovanni Battista.

San Giovanni Battista


Anyways, wandering through art museums always piques my creativity. Whether through drawing, or being drawn completely into the moment captured in marble or oils. There’s something contemplative about del Sarto’s works that makes me stop, stare and wonder.

I’m entering an art show in Florence. My submission is a ‘reinterpretation’ of this piece, a bust portrait in conte crayon. Plus, my paper is larger–100x70cm. My room has turned into a studio, with sketches and reproductions strewn across the floor.

I’ll post pictures after the show–I’m not sure what the rules are regarding photos of the work prior to the event.

The Fine Art of Bookbinding

General Geekiness

While my attentions should be turned to writing my WIP, sometimes outside projects have a higher priority. I happily engaged in this one because, well…its just another step in the book process!

I crafted this WWII alphabet book by hand. It was designed using Adobe InDesign CS3.

Image/Book by Beth

Image/Book by Beth

I bound the book using a stich called Japanese Stab Stitch. Beneath the cover, the stitches make a box pattern. I didn’t think to take a picture of the book before adding the finishing ribbon (instead of book tape).

I’m looking forward to one day crafting my own journals. It was a lot of fun (if annoying to my neighbors–I had to use hammer and nails to make sufficient holes in the paper). Painful, too. I hit my fingers a few times!

In the realm of bookbinding, I intend on doing another alphabet book, this time using my own illustrations. The theme? Mythological creatures. I intend on calling in the Alphabeast.


The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Last night, between hacking my lungs out and listening to my neighbors’ cheesy-awesome 1980’s tunes, I started writing Per Ardua ad Astra (bit of a mouthful, by no means is this the final title).

Beginning a story is difficult for me. I have no problem writing internal scenes, even endings, but the whole first-impression thing…I feel that if I can’t strike the right tone with the opening line, the rest of the book will suffer. Look at some of famous opening lines:

“Marley was dead to begin with.” A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.” The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.

“Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.” Inferno by Dante Alighieri.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.” Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling.

These opening lines capture the essence of the stories to follow. As for me, my opening line is pseudo-epic and quite frankly, reeks. It doesn’t fit with the vibe that I hope to achieve. Oh well. That’s what rewrites are for!

And I’m not going to rewrite a scene until I’m completely done. Unless I come up with a better beginning.


The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

On to part two of the advice I got from the Lehrer lecture, the lesson was daydreaming.

Lehrer suggested taking twenty minutes a day and just zoning out. Of course, he also included the important detail of not daydreaming while a) a work or b) in class.

Daydreaming recharges creativity. Simple as it sounds, I really needed to be told to daydream. The first few weeks of the semester had me stressed, so being reminded that just zoning out and letting my mind wander is good for me. Nay, great.

I’m sure the Swiffer people daydreamed a bit.

Wandering away (physically or mentally) is a good way for me to recharge, slip away, and come back with ideas for plots, characters, and just feeling more relaxed. The state of “chill” works wonders. When I daydream, sometimes good stuff pops into my head. Its when I’m most relaxed (except for when right before falling asleep…and that’s when I do most of my writing), and that’s when my best ideas show up.

I just need to remember to actually set time aside and daydream.

Libraries: What wonderful way to jumpstart the imagination!

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

I love libraries. Books spread as far as the eye can see, the quiet, the hiding amongst the stacks while perusing through an art book…ah! What joy!
To the library I went today, grabbing some fiction (Alexander McCall Smith, of course, along with some classic sci fi) and stumbled through the reference section.
Countless scores of topics live in the reference section, and from them millions of ideas conceived.
Research for The Continent commenced. I picked up a book on The Resistance during WWII, which I’ll attempt to read in the near future.

Visual aesthetics of a story

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

I’ve been thinking about the aesthetics of The Continent. I see it as a movie; I need to do the preproduction work. Location scouting and set dressing are high on the list.

The Continent has a muted, understated feel, like a war movie (Master and Commander, perhaps, or Band of Brothers). Lots of browns, visually, the colors not vibrant in the least. It has an odd feel in my mind. Historical sci fi, kind of steampunkish (I use this term loosely), but The Continent is set in the near future (of an alternate reality). There are computers, indoor plumbing, etc, but it has the stately ceremony of the 19th century. Warships are more stately and curved, less angular, and certainly smaller.





There’s a sort of grandeur and intrigue missing from our world that is present in history. Romantic I may be, but we can’t compete with ships of the line and crazy archdukes. There was speculation, guesswork, a delay of information where battles could be fought after peace had been declared; today everything can be found immediately online. We’ve lost that mystery and sense of wonder. I hope that The Continent evokes it.