Topic Resources

MACreative References
A look into what lurks behind the topic…

Past MACreative Events:

Artistry Explored – Topics about Artistic Expression
10/5/21

Author’s Forum – Author’s from all genre’s are interviewed
6/2/21, 1/28/20, 10/17/19

Empowered Voices – Guest speakers from various cultures are interviewed
9/1/21

Philosophical Musings – Concepts of Philosophy are explored
11/3/21

PhotoMACraphy – Photography concepts and tips are discussed
2/3/21

Vibe Scribe – Creative writing, poetry and short story composition
3/3/21



EVENTS LISTED BELOW ARE IN DESCENDING CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

November 3, 2021

MACreative Welcomes Special Guest Ivan Phillips

“Critical thinking refers to corrections we make to human thinking to get back to the ideal rational path. Critical thinking is a very good thing, and we need much more of it in our schools. However, teaching critical thinking without teaching rationality is like teaching only the errors of thinking. We should also teach the ideal.”

Ivan Phillips

Curiosity and learning are driven by questions, but how do we know what to ask in order to get the most effective answers? This is where the skill of critical thinking becomes so important.

Tonight, our special guest Ivan Phillips will give us a gentle introduction to rational thinking. Ivan earned his doctorate in theoretical physics from Northwestern University studying methods for detecting differences between matter and antimatter at colliders. He is a Rationalist and the author of Textbook Rationality and a frequent speaker on science and rational thinking. Ivan advocates for the teaching of rationality in high schools, where a course on rational thinking can tie together topics in science, critical thinking, and statistics. He applies his professional knowledge to every topic he specializes in, and The MidAmerica Club and MACreative welcome him as our special guest this evening!
  
Links to his book: https://books2read.com/textbookrationality
Some of his past articles: https://rationalfuture.org/wp/author/rationalfuture/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/dr.ivanphillips
Twitter: @ivanphillipsau1

For information about past and future MACreative events: macreativegroup.com

GLOSSARY OF IMPORTANT PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTS

(In alphabetical order, all definitions taken from Wiki and Webster)

Cognitive Dissonance:   The mental conflict that occurs when a person’s behaviors and beliefs do not align. It may also happen when a person holds two beliefs that contradict one another. For a comprehensive list, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

Epistemic Rationality: The part of rationality which involves achieving accurate beliefs about the world.

Fact VS Value:  Statements of Fact are based on upon reason and physical observation, which are reasoned via the empirical method. Statements of Value encompass ethics and aesthetics (branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste), and are studied via axiology (philosophical study of value). The Fact-Value Split is the view that the empirical sciences give us knowledge of the facts, whereas religion and ethics give us opinions, preferences, and opinions.

EXAMPLES OF FACTS AND OPINIONS:
The MidAmerica Club is located on the 80th Floor of the Aon Building. – FACT

The best ClubCorp/MAC Membership to invest in is the ONE Membership. – OPINION/VALUE JUDGEMENT

If I would order the Seafood Tower at The Standard, I would love every bite. – OPINION/ASSUMPTION

MAC Membership numbers probably dropped because of the Covid Pandemic. OPINION/HYPOTHOSIS

Examples of Values include:

Efficiency, Hard Work, Safety, Honesty, Cooperation, Creativity, Love, and Resourcefulness.

Ideal Reasoning: There are four basic forms of reasoning/logic. DEDUCTIVE (reasoning from one or more statements to find a conclusion), INDUCTIVE (inference of a generalized conclusion from particular instances), ABDUCTIVE (the major premise is evident, but the minor premise and therefore the conclusion are only probable), and METAPHORIC INFERENCE (the cognitive act that enables a description of an object or event, real or imagined, using concepts that cannot be applied to the object or event in a conventional way…metaphors and symbolism are examples).

Inference: To make a guess based on facts and observations; To make a conclusion.

Instrumental Rationality: concerned with achieving goals

Irrational: lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence. Irrational decisions are made in haste and no outcomes are considered.

Nonrational: Nonrational decisions are based on intuitive judgment.

Philosophy: The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence

Rational: Based on facts or reason and not on emotions or feelings

INFORMATIVE QUOTES FROM IVAN’S BOOK:

“Critical thinking emphasizes a broad set of cognitive virtues, including the ability to look at systems and problems from new perspectives, intellectual humility, fairness, and communication.”

“We are all much better at finding the flaws in the arguments of others than our own.”

“In everyday judgements. We typically use our background knowledge in conjunction with new pieces of information to update our beliefs.”

“In common culture, there is a grey area between facts and opinions.”

“Give up your fear of ‘hostile’ facts. Recognize that your deeply held opinions often do not depend on facts, but rather on moral feelings. When you give up your fear of hostile facts, you will reduce your anxiety, and science will become your friend. You will comfortably accept good studies that pose a problem for your opinions, and honestly critique weak studies that seem to support your point of view.”

“Stereotypes are a hazard to rationality. They are offensive to the stereotyped group and cause us to prejudice people in irrational ways.”

“Combine gut impressions with irrational escalation, and you will soon find yourself defending a faulty belief just to save your ego and social status.  Treat your intuitive reaction as merely the starting point for rational investigation. Do not commit your ego or status to them. Instead, look at the statistics and the uncertainties.”

“A true rational revolution will be more democratic. Everyone should be inoculated against marketing designed to exploit our biases.”

“One cannot maintain a rational conviction that a proposition is true when the expert consensus is that we do not yet know. The law protects our right to say and believe anything at all, but our culture should not welcome such an assault on rationality. We should accord our confidence with the consensus of experts, not with our fantasies or with those who will tell us what we desire to hear…on the opposite end of the spectrum, we should regard our fetish for absolute certainty as equally irrational.”

Lastly, a quote featured in Ivan’s book that resonated with the MACreative Head Chair and something to always keep in mind when trying to be a more productive critical thinker:


 “This is one of the most powerful ways being wrong can transform us: it can help us become more compassionate people. Being right might be fun but, as we’ve seen, it has a tendency to bring out the worst in us. By contrast, being wrong is often the farthest thing in the world from fun—and yet, in the end, it has the potential to bring out the best in us.” 

Katherine Schultz, Author of Being Wrong

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The Grand Opening of the MAC’s new dining room THE STANDARD.
MEET THE ARTIST: Mark Hersch

Time irrevocably draws a distinct line between then and now. The passage of seconds creeps into decades, and if we chose not to look too closely, the juxtaposition of past and present may seem trite. Yet true visionaries realize the value of when deeper concepts coexist, and appreciate those comparisons in a creative sense.

Our guest speaker and Artist for this evening is skilled at these observations. Mark Hersch is an Artist who applies his talents in a way that honors the historical as well as appreciates the aesthetic of our beautiful, ever-changing Chicagoscapes. Antique vs. Modern, he values both with an artistic lens, evaluating architecturally significant landmarks with a keen eye for details and underlining themes that link the past and present together. Using his skills of comparison and juxtaposition, he’s perfecting the art of re-photography and sharing his talents with the world.

Just as art imitates life, so too does our guest visionary relay the transformative power of new beginnings. Choosing an Artist whose work would grace our walls of the MidAmerica Club was no small feat. Perched atop an iconic Chicago Landmark, with views spanning the boundless vistas of our vibrant metropolis, the MAC continues to set a new standard for quality, culinary delights, hospitality, and community, Time After Time – the fact that Mark Hersch’s impressive collection also bears this title illustrates the synchronicity that defines the timelessness of human innovation and progression into an exciting future, as we modernize and bound into new opportunities as well.

The MidAmerica Club and MACreative thank you for joining us as we set The Standard into motion, and celebrate our City Club’s past, present and exciting future with an Artist whose purpose equally celebrates and embodies the spirit of innovation and foresight.

Here are Mark’s additions to The Standard at the MAC:

 

Mark’s various creative endeavors can be found at:

www.markhersch.com

Wednesday, September 1st, 6pm

     Creativity is often a solitary endeavor. It’s a process that can be insular, sequestering artists of all kinds from the world-at-large. It’s challenging for an artist to find a gallery to show their work, or a writer to find a publisher, or a poet to find a safe space to perform their feelings in a way that will be valued. It’s a trial every creative faces … Who will see what I’ve been working so hard on? Who will appreciate my hard work? Who will realize my value and buy my art? How can I find a mentor or someone to collaborate with? Where can I feel supported, relate to others, and have a safe space to share and celebrate my ideas?

     These are all challenges every creative endures, but even more-so for Black innovators. Access to opportunities are often held out of reach. Not only must they navigate the daunting landscape of prejudicial judgement and exclusionary practices of gallery owners, theater companies, art schools, and other spaces where creatives hone their skills – they must also fight an uphill battle for coveted spots in the spotlight that will showcase their talents. This fact hinders upward movement. It’s why a creative community has value and is sought after. Building that kind of inclusive community is why MACreative was started for the diverse population of The MidAmerica Club, and it’s why we celebrate Rachel Gadson’s vision this evening. We want to showcase the lengths she’s going to in order to facilitate inclusion in creative spaces around the world.

     Rachel has experienced the difficulty in finding a community to support her own endeavors, yet she hasn’t let this fact stop her – overcoming disparities has inspired her to not just seek out a community to support her journey, but create and nurture a new one for herself and others.

     Strength in numbers is such a powerful motivator. Rachel embodies this fact. She has found her purpose and is using her voice to enact beautiful changes in this world, and we’re honored that she’s sharing her wisdom with us this evening. The MidAmerica Club and MACreative thank you for joining us!

Rachel’s various creative endeavors can be found at:

www.ilacreativestudio.com

www.weareblacc.com

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 2021 – 6pm

MACreative Author’s Forum
Topic: The Power of Resilience and Creativity with Guest Speaker/Author Eileen Robertson Hamra

After the tragic loss of her husband due to an airplane crash just days before Christmas, Eileen and their three children had to learn how to cope in ways none of them could comprehend. Her book, Time to Fly, was a product of the ingenuity she discovered within herself, as she tapped into resilience and creativity in ways that helped her heal, fostering new wisdom and innovation despite fear of the unknown. Join us for a powerful evening of insights, and meet this extraordinary author. It’s time to light your own creative spark and be inspired!

https://www.eileenrobertsonhamra.com/

MACreative’s Vibe Scribe March 3, 2021

The MAC’s resident Thespian, professional story-teller and former English teacher Darrelyn Marx helped guide us through some fun mental exercises to get our right brains activated. Opening exercises focused on noticing sensory details and descriptions of environment. We then completed a five minute Zen writing task based on favorite woman in our lives starting with “I remember…” — Finally, we took the International Women’s Day theme “From Challenge Comes Change” and wrote flash personal narrative stories based on three separate prompts, all focusing on the women in our lives. Darrelyn skillfully led participants on a journey through the evening, as we explored new ways of expressing our creativity. We all enjoyed sharing our thoughts and questions with each other, fun had by all.

Here are pictures from the evening. We hope for a repeat class from Darrelyn very soon!




PhotoMACraphy – February 3, 2021


Link to Ivan’s Photographs

Topics: RULE OF THIRDS, SPLIT TONING, SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD

RULE OF THIRDS – All info taken from LearnPhotography, a very helpful website for anyone interested in learning more about Photography. Here is a mirror of their website for quick refresher:

The rule of thirds is one of the main “rules” in art and photographic composition and stems from the theory that the human eye naturally gravitates to intersection points that occur when an image is split into thirds.
I’d like to note that I’d rather define this compositional technique as a guideline rather than a rule, but for the sake of consistency with other photography sources, I’ll continue to call it the rule of thirds.

Rule of Thirds Definition: In the rule of thirds, photos are divided into thirds with two imaginary lines vertically and two lines horizontally making three columns, three rows, and nine sections in the images. Important compositional elements and leading lines are placed on or near the imaginary lines and where the lines intersect.

When taking a photograph with the rule of thirds in mind, it’s always best to compose the photograph in the camera. This is so that you can avoid cropping later to retain as much of the image as possible and avoid reducing the quality of your photographs. However, I encourage going back to some of your older photography and seeing if you can improve them by cropping in a way to make them use the rule of thirds technique.

Rule of Thirds Grid
Rule of Thirds Grid

Rule of Thirds Example: Landscapes
When taking a picture of a landscape, it’s natural to want to center the horizon in the frame. However, pictures often look better if the horizon falls on the upper or lower horizontal dividing line. If the focus of your image is on land (i.e. mountains, buildings), the horizon should fall near the upper third and if the focus is the sky (i.e. sunsets, sunrises), the horizon should fall near the lower third.
Here is an example of the rule of thirds for a landscape photo. The focus is on the land area rather than the sky so the bottom two-thirds of the photograph is filled with land and the top third is the sky.
Rule of Thirds Landscape
Rule of Thirds Example: Portraits
Here is an example of a rule of thirds portrait. As you can see, the eyes are lined up with the upper horizontal line and each eye is where the upper horizontal line intersects with a vertical line.
Rule of Thirds Portrait


SPLIT TONING – An excellent resource by Jaymes Dempsy can be found here. All info below is mirrored from his website for easy review:

While split toning may sound like a complex technique, it’s really not. It simply refers to pushing one color into the shadows of your images, and a different color into the highlights of your images.

This can result in all sorts of cool effects, like this:


In fact, while split toning is a great way to give your photos a unique look, its effects aren’t generally repetitive or cliched.

Split toning is a great tool for three big reasons.

First, as we emphasized above, split toning is a great way to give your images a unique look or style. So by applying the same split tone combination to a series of images, you can make them instantly recognizable as your shots.

Second, split toning allows you to introduce different moods into your images via carefully-chosen colors.

For instance, if you add blue into the shadows of an image and purples into the highlights, you’ll get an image that feels very moody and cold:


Whereas if you add oranges into the shadows and yellows into the highlights, you’ll end up with a different shot entirely:



(Of course, these color effects aren’t completely reproducible; you won’t always get the same look from a warmer or colder split tone, because different tones and subject matter work together with the split tone to create the final effect.)

Here’s the bottom line: Color is a great way to influence mood. And so by carefully choosing colors while split toning, you can create a more focused, effective image. 

Third, split toning can create (or reduce) contrast in a scene. By using contrasting split tone colors, you can add contrast into your images. And by using similar split tone colors, you can de-emphasize contrast, so that the image feels more united overall. This all has to do with color theory. Another excellent explanation of Color Theory can be found HERE.


SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD
 – All information below mirrored from Jenn Mishra’s ExpertPhotography website:

Depth of field will change depending on how close you are to your subject and how far your subject is from the background.
If you’re not getting a shallow depth of field, step closer. If that doesn’t work, try moving your subject further from the what’s behind. There needs to be some distance.
Close-up photo of a fabric with colorful stripes
Notice how the cloth becomes more blurry with distance from the focal point. Settings: 126mm, 1/800@f11. ISO400. Photo by Jenn Mishra
Portrait photo of a woman with shallow depth of field
This portrait was taken in front of a busy store front. Shallow depth of field hides the uninspiring background. Settings: 50mm, 1/2000@f1.4. ISO100. Photo by Jenn Mishra
Blurring the environment allows the viewer to see the context without distracting from the main story.
Photo of a man on a gondola in Venice shot using a shallow depth of field

Venice as background to this gondoliere. Settings: 240mm, 1/500@f8.0. ISO640. Photo by Jenn Mishra


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

AUTHOR’S FORUM STARING LB DUNBAR
Topic: Finding your niche and self-publishing tips


A note from this evening’s special guest, LB Dunbar:

Why not me?

In 2018, that’s a question I asked myself repeatedly. Why not me? I’d been publishing for years but I wasn’t getting where I wanted to go, professionally. I was frustrated and falling behind my peers as they made Best Seller lists and I did not. I didn’t understand what I needed to do in order to catch up. And then a few things happened – I decided to quit. I decided I wasn’t going to write to publish anymore. I’d finish my final book, publish it as scheduled, and walk away. I was tired. Exhausted, actually. As a firm believer of signs from the universe, I felt the universe had spoken. It wasn’t going to happen in the way I’d dreamed. Whatever IT was, it wasn’t happening for me. I was calm and complacent in my decision, so I finished a book I’d loved writing, hit publish, and sat back. 

Then something happened. That final risk I took? That book which would be my last … it took off.

What? What was happening? I asked myself. It wasn’t going to hit any of the coveted lists authors dream about being on. It wasn’t going to be a Bestseller. But this new story was getting so much love. Readers were thanking me for writing about older couples falling in love, finding first love or getting a second chance at love. Even with the success of my new release, the question returned to haunt me: Why not me?

The old adage is: if everyone else is doing it, should you be? In many instances, the answer is no, but in this case, in deciding whether I should continue to write and publish even if I wasn’t where I wanted to be, professionally … the answer was a resounding yes. Yes, I should be doing what others have done. While I had much to learn yet, I also had much to gain … I also had something to offer readers, even if I fell short of coveted list status. The universe had spoken again, giving me the gentle nudge I needed to realize that questioning why not me was not the best way to look at my creativity – doing the things I want to do, doing the things I love, writing the stories that bring me joy, and turning that joy it into my career was answered not with a self-doubting question, but rather a resounding statement: It can be me. And to every author with a dream of your own, it can be you

Thank you for inviting me to participate in your special evening!

Finding Your Niche (By: Becca Vry)
NICHE is defined by Webster Dictionary as “a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted.”

Life experiences have taught you already what you find disagreeable, or enjoyable. Give your energy only to what you imagine will bring you joy! Also consider, and then prioritize:  

What are you passionate about, or what continually interests you? 

What are your strengths? 

What are you confident in doing, creatively? 

When you visualize your future, what do you see yourself doing? 

You know your weaknesses, but what do you believe is your potential, things you believe you’ll thrive writing about?
In a quiet moment, close your eyes and envision an activity or topic that calls to you. It will be something that touches you, makes you excited about working on. THAT is your first step in establishing your own niche.

Self-Publishing Tips (from L.B. Dunbar)

A book’s first impression includes: COVER and BLURB. The inside is actually the third most important thing someone will notice. You need someone to buy the book first and it starts with:

A COVER: Like it or not, covers sell books. As much as it’s said: don’t judge a book by it’s cover, we do. It’s not recommended to use professional software to create a cover unless you are 100% comfortable with the program. PhotoShop is the most reputable and most recommended, however, free software companies, such as Picmonkey and Canva offer standard Amazon only pre-sized images for electronic books. This won’t help you for paperback cover which include detailed sizing, contingent on physical size, paper weight within, and the total number of pages. Make certain you have legally purchased any images you use and have the correct credentials to use said images for commercial work. Stock sites offer a variety of affordable images. Most recommendable are Shutterstock, Depositphotos and iStock image sites.

A BLURB: A blurb is the back of a book. For electronic books, it’s the part you hope will capture the reader’s attention second. (Remember first was the cover). A potential reader reads the summary, minimized to under 300 words. It’s daunting to consider shrinking a 300-page work to mere sentences, but it must be done, and done concisely. A good practice is to read the blurbs of your favorite work. What elements are included? How is it structured? What tense? What format? Follow the pattern and fill in your information for your work. There are also blurb experts out there. A quick google search might result in hundreds. Verify credentials. Check out their work. Who did they help mold the perfect blurb?

THE BOOK (and the EDITS within): Finally, we’re onto the actual work itself and the number one thing of importance here, after writing the best darn story you could write OR creating the most compelling informational text you could, is EDITS. Editing is priceless. You cannot self-edit. Even if you have a strong command of the English language, you can’t edit your own work because you know your story too well. And just because your best friend’s mother used to teach English doesn’t mean she can do it either. Depending on the genre, different standards in writing style apply. In addition, you have a style and a voice within, and you’ll need a proper editor to understand your genre and edit accordingly. Most writers have three types of editors: Content or developmental, line edits (for grammar and sentence structure) and a proofreader, because many eyes matter. Grammarly alone is not enough to proof your work. 



Interview Opening and Questions answered:

Over two years ago, I was attending Book Bonanza in Denver Colorado as Shay Savage’s assistant. Many of you met Savage here at the MAC in October, so you are familiar with our association already. After the stressful process of setting up Savage’s booth, arranging pre-orders, and the other challenges that go into organizing a booth at a huge event like the Book Bonanza Conference with thousands of fans hot on our heels for autographs and pictures, I walked into the private Author’s Lounge in order to have a rest. As I sat down on the couch, I was greeted by a beautiful smile so wide that I immediately felt at ease, and welcomed into the fray. That smile belonged to the lovely LB Dunbar, a new author who was becoming well known in the Romance world, a talented and prolific story-teller who writes compelling stories about and for people over the age of Forty.

Our conversation began with pleasantries and getting-to-know-yous, but soon led into an unexpected yet much welcomed hour-long conversation about writing what inspires, what draws readers in, and the joy that comes from the adulation of readers who beg you for more. The positive tenor of LB Dunbar’s anthem was amplified by her willingness to encourage me, someone who she’d never met before, who was there to assist but not showcase my own work. Essentially, I was there as a “non-published no-namer” or “nobody” yet she made me feel as though I could be “somebody,” too. The fact that I was there in an administrative role didn’t matter to her at all. In fact, she kept on pressing me about WHY I hadn’t published yet, inspiring me to delve deeper into my own hesitations to put myself “out there.” She helped me feel so motivated after that conversation that upon parting ways, I returned to my hotel room to plot out my next novel on the hotel notepad, a feat achieved in the little time we had to get ready before the welcoming reception that evening for the Authors and their assistants.

LB Dunbar was the impetus for me to start that daunting process of believing that I not only could, but WOULD “do it” … that it could be ME, too.

Years later, I was reminded of that conversation LB Dunbar suffused with such encouragement and kindness. As the MAC Authors Forum participants were discussing potential guest speakers for future events, I knew, unequivocally, that LB Dunbar was the right Author to invite, because if she was able to touch me in such a positive way, in one conversation as she did … I hope to allow the rest of us to be inspired in the same manner. After reading the personal letter on your seats, addressed to all attending this evening, I’m sure you’ll agree with my appreciation for her wisdom and encouragement when we are done this evening, too.

As she puts it, we all can do THIS. Instead of asking “Why not me?” she inspires us to instead believe in ourselves and think along the lines of positivity, focusing not on the whys, but WHENS.

We all have our challenges with creativity. Each of us deals with self-doubt and finding our creative niche. For many of us, we dream of publishing our ideas and sharing them with the world. I believe that LB Dunbar is the perfect author to help us all realize our own potential, in various ways. With over 30 novels self-published, she has breadth and scope of experience to help us learn and get inspired. Please join me in welcoming LB Dunbar!

Questions:

NICHE

Tell us a little about you. What did your do before you got bit by the writing bug, or were you always creative?

What inspired you to not only write, but become brave enough to publish your first book?

Many authors focus on the market draw of romances between young people, but you have discovered your niche and thrive at writing about older couples. How did that happen for you?

You write under three pen names. Can you tell us a little about each, and is that because you have found your niche in three separate genres, and it’s beneficial to keep those genres separate?

Is there a marketing advantage to having separate identities in the publishing world?

In one of your most beloved books in your Silver Foxes Series, titled After Care, you tackle the tough feelings of self-doubt regarding a Breast cancer survivor who has gone through so much, yet is ready to leave her health ordeal aside and finally live again. Can you tell us a little about how that story-line came to be?

On your website, you blog about the fact that we are our own “brand,” and the importance of being as authentic as possible when dealing with social media or readers at a book-signing event. How has that mentality played a part in your publishing experience so far?

You have an active Personal as well as Author Facebook Group, and also maintain a blog and other accounts, too. In order to maintain interest in the Niche you’ve established in the romance market, how much time do you spend every day interacting with readers on-line?

What are the sites you use to touch your audience?

Do you use a promotion company or other services to help stay on top of the demands of this interaction? If so, about how much does that cost a month?

SELF-PUBLISHING TIPS

You’ve stressed the importance of a great Book Cover and high quality Editor, even if those two things will cost a lot more money initially. I think we all agree that as potential new Authors, we also want to make the very best impression on an audience as well as appeal to as wide an audience as possible. What factors play a part in how decide the best cover and Editor?

Do you have Betas or trusted people to pre-read early forms of a new novel?

What does the average book cover cost?

What’s the average cost to Edit one novel?

What are some websites or resources that you recommend to newbies like us, to find help with Book Covers or Editing?

Do you have any advice or parting thoughts to share with us?


October 17, 2019

An Evening With USA Today Best Selling Author SHAY SAVAGE

OWNING YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS

Introduction written by: Becca Vry, Member of the Mid-America Club Author’s Forum

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” It’s such a simple concept, the symbolism implied in the birth of a larger concept from a single source, and yet that simplicity is perfectly succinct.

Our guest speaker this evening, Shay Savage, is a prime example of what it means to embrace creativity in a way that slowly populates a diverse and thriving forest, yet her creativity can also be compared to an angst filled journey walking through a dark forest on a moonless night. She never promises a happy ending, and she’s unapologetic about making her readers uncomfortable – it’s a fact that her fans adore her for. In this way, she earns her well-deserved moniker:

Agent of Angst.

With over thirty books written, spanning many genres and series, she has learned to embrace her own creative process in a way that allows her to tap in to her uniquely powerful creative voice. It’s a voice honed by a background in psychology and a genuine respect for the plight humans face as they push through the trials of life. She focuses on the failures of her characters just as much as she does their successes, allowing for a more realistic reading experience. The dregs of society don’t escape her incisive narrative, and yet she’s also willing to celebrate the best experiences of humanity, too. Her clever balance of angst, action, drama, erotica and romance makes the depth and breadth of the forest she’s cultivated into something I’m so proud to showcase tonight with the Mid-America Club Author’s Forum. Her generosity and excitement to join us this evening is testament to her willingness to help other burgeoning creatives discover their own voice and creative process.

We all come face to face with creativity in our daily lives, even when we don’t know we are doing it. Harnessing our imagination to produce a new story-line idea, fleshing out plots and/or characters, coming up with a new design for remodeling our home, preparing to take on a new art project, or creating new ways of impressing a boss or client with a proposal … Creativity helps us make intentions and dreams a reality. In keeping with Emerson’s theme, here are four ways to grow our creative process:

  1. Embracing an idea that appeals to you. This is the acorn you need to plant into the nutrient-rich soil of imagination. What interests you? How can you frame your idea into a workable concept?
  2. Germination Period. Hours, days, weeks, months, and even years … we will each follow a different path, but given time and nurturing, the acorn will sprout once plated. Where do you feel most creative? Make time to till that soil and work in that environment of preference. Water regularly, and nurture that area often.
  3. Breaking through the soil. It’s exciting to watch a treasured concept grow into something new, something that may eventually stand on its own. How do you feel inspired to become rooted in your creativity? Once your concept takes root, so does your resolve to keep it growing in an upward momentum. How can you facilitate continued growth?
  4. Skyward! The roots of your concept have firmly taken hold, and you can see progress as you watch it stretch towards the limitless sky, and in possibly unexpected directions. This can be a daunting time for creativity. Just as a trunk widens to support the weight of growth, so too does perseverance and belief in the idea once planted.

Here are some additional recommendations by artist Melissa Dinwiddie that I have found helpful:

HOW TO BREAK THROUGH A STAGNANT STATE OF CREATIVITY

  1. There is no “wrong.” Which also means there is no “right.” Do what feels fun for you.
  2. Think process, not product. It doesn’t matter if you like or hate the product; all that matters is that you’re having fun.
  3. Think quantity, not quality. Don’t focus on quality at first – it will come in time.
  4. Think tiny and daily. Baby steps still get you to your destination over time. Forward movement is key.
  5. Just start. Anywhere. Taping into creativity and new ways of thinking require you to just begin.
  6. When in doubt, ask “What if…?” Creativity isn’t about perfection, it’s rooted in experimentation.
  7. Take the riskier path. Try new ways of approaching a new project, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
  8. Dismiss all gremlins. Try not to be too self-critical or listen to negative feedback in your mind. Focus on a positive, goal-affirming internal voice.
  9. Spring the Comparison Trap. Don’t compare your project to anyone’s work. Don’t fall into this creative-destructing trap.
  10. Treat yourself with compassion. If you stop for a time, just try to get back into the groove once again. Life may get in the way, but creativity has a way of flourishing, if you allow it to.

I hope these tips can help each of you own your creative process. Thank you for joining the MAC Author’s Forum celebrate the visit, guidance and expertise of Shay Savage. Wishing each of you a joyous experience as you express your own beautifully unique creativity!

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