10 June 2016

Day 30: On Setting Creative Boundaries

via wilwheaton.net

A sucker for blue eyes and mood lighting, I didn't need to see who was actually posting the link to this photograph to convince me to click

And then I saw it was Wil Wheaton. 

While I haven't been keeping up with Wil's life reboot as closely as my inner 9 year old fan girl would like to, I've always had mad respect for Wil's journey. He's a hero of sorts, even though he never really signed up to be.

What makes Wil an unlikely hero? 

  1. He knows his shit - Actor, writer, director, TV show host, gamer, geek, helped of humans, father, husband, lover of cool shit. 
  2. He does shit - Writing (this was book that solidified my nerdcrush), gaming on TV, creating cool resources for geeks and rebooting his entire life so he can feel better? YUSSSS!
  3. He makes times for shit - See reboot comment above, the post Wil wrote about his reboot and rest of blog post for deets
I'll leave it to you to take it upon yourself to read about his journey. I can only say it's interesting and inspiring as hell, especially from the standpoint of a fellow creative human in a similar struggle.


Being an adult means you have to do all these things you don't wanna do. When "old people" who were like in their 30s used to tell me to take care of myself cos it gets harder, I didn't wanna believe them. And I wouldn't have unless I lived with & cared for awesome grandparents with failing health.

Okay, adulting - you win.

Then I decided to live a life in which I also did creative schtuff. This is great when you have a supportive community around you (family, friends, Etsy homies). I was blessed enough to have that.  And like Wil, knowing that there's a creative community out there that enjoys and thrives off your contributions can make you feel a huge sense of duty to them... even to the point that you put them before yourself.

So when you start the inevitable burn out that comes with giving to a community, your friends who are going though some shit and your family, you start to think about who's gonna take care of you.  
Then, in a weird lucid moment that usually accompanies a pile of all-nighters you pulled to make deadlines, you realize that's YOUR job.

Whoops.

F*ck.

Taking care of other people is easy for me. I enjoy helping other humans and I don't suck at it. People have told me this. Should you need them, I am more than willing to provide several letters of reference. *cheeky wink*

But taking care of myself? NOPE! Gross.

Wil made a conscious decision to set creative boundaries when he said he wasn't going to cons this summer. And speaking from the nerd business perspective, this was a f*ckin' bold move on his part.


I have to stay home and write. I have to find my way back to the art. I have to find my way back to being a creative person who makes stories and characters and creative things, instead of being a person who hosts stuff, does things which are transactional nonfiction, and spends lots of time on the road talking about those things.

Ruh-roh! That highlighted line hit me deep in my guts. 

The truth is that I'm on a different creative level that Mr. Wheaton, but it does not diminish the fact that I spend time talking about things, gathering info, researching and planning out things. This all takes up about 99% of my time. The rest of it is devoted to family. So when I'm faced with DOING the actual creative things I set out to do... I'm burned out.

So - if I were one of my clients, I would tell myself to stop doing all the things and make time for myself. This is what my editor has been telling me for about 6 weeks.

Whoops.


It took reading about how someone else needed to set up his creative boundaries to get myself to the point where I could honestly say I needed to carve out personal time. I only didn't want to do that because all of the active socializing has been incredibly helpful thus far and has really started to shape how I approach this book writing process.

But then you'd gotta write.

So I will. I will schedule time and I will sit down to do that chunk of writing.

Then I will schedule in more time to set up nerd JERK patterns.

And then I will schedule time to snuggle my family. Okay - maybe I'll sneak in some snuggling.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog and/or peeking in to see how it's going. I truly appreciate the kind comments about enjoying this so far. 

I may not be consistent, but at least I do some of the things. I was setting some boundaries I didn't even realize I needed.

- Steph


08 June 2016

Day 28: Invisible Posts?

We're kinda making the same face!

I was trying to debate whether to use a picture of myself or this adorable cat laughing at the ridiculousness of this post. The cat won, so you're welcome, internets.

You may or may not believe me (and I shouldn't care because, really, I'm just failing myself), but I have outlined 5 other days of posts and not finished writing them all. It seems that something else always comes up. Whether it's an event where other writers will be hanging out or an appointment with everybody's favorite douchebro, I'm doing stuff that doesn't permit me to put words onto screens.

If Blogger had a decent app that just allowed me to email posts from my iPhone (*cough* tumblr! *cough*), I'd like to think we wouldn't be in this predicament.

But I'm probably kidding myself about that, too, right?

I also don't happen to have enough writing projects because I started another one up again...

Maybe I just need LOTS of different things to write ALLLLLLL of the time? Maybe I just think you're all bored with me? 

The problem with writing these blog posts is that I'm still shouting out into the abyss. I'm usually fine with that. I like shouting well enough. But right now, when I have to make decisions on how to use my time best, it's starting to back-burner itself hardcore.

What is the return on my investment with writing these posts every day? 

There are lots... hold on...

OH YEAH!

  1. Getting to practice writing everyday
  2. Finding my voice and a good balance on seeing what works and what's "rough"
  3. Building up a body of work that I can say, "See? I say words about stuff!"
  4. Somewhere in those words, people might find comfort and/or usefulness
  5. Somewhere in that comfort and/or usefulness, they might share it with someone else
  6. More comfort and/or usefulness potential

Oh, alllll right, you guys. You convinced me. I'll get to work.

- Steph

07 June 2016

Day 26 - On Taking a Compliment on One's Social Media Feed

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my face attempting to take a compliment. 

The first thing you may notice is the furrowed brow, usually reserved for disbelief in words coming out the mouths of well-meaning individuals. You would not be misreading that.


A raised eyebrow in further disbelief and possible accusatory "Dafuq?"-ness? 
Yep - I'm guilty of that as well.


This was my face when my friend, Natalie, gave me compliment on my use of social media. She didn't take me as a person who would have time to update her Facebook, as I'm usually pretty busy. But I guess I'd shared some fun things and she enjoyed them. When she shared this enjoyment, I reacted in disbelief.

I shouldn't do that and neither should you.

This is where the manners your mama taught ya come in handy and you graciously smile whilst saying, "Why thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed that!" If you're REALLY smart, you also ask what they enjoyed so you can engaged with your friends in a more meaningful way that you both enjoy.


(There was a lot of "enjoy" in that sentence - where's my Thesaurus-Rex when I need him?)

OH - THERE HE IS! 

YAY!!!

So let that be a lesson to you all. Take a compliment and think of ways to thank people for liking your work. 

PRO TIP: Ask your friend what kinds of things they like ready in their feeds and try to see how you can work that into your social media in a meaningful way.

I'm gonna try practising this move more often at social events. I'm also going to try spreading out the love on my feeds a little more. There's a bit in my book where I have a lot of research to do about social media automation in order for maximum audience engagement. We'll see how it works in the real world, eh?

- Steph

05 June 2016

Day 25: Little Love Letters of Fashion

Textile artist, Rebecca Saylor, felt inspired to sketch me in a dress with a pram. I love her.

Back when I was cool, I used to draw - A LOT! I would ride public transit around San Francisco and just sketch random humans. Sometimes they were hot and I was instantly in love with them. Sometimes they just looked so ridiculous, I *HAD* to get it on paper.

On one such instance, I was drawing a ridiculous hipster on the BART and the person sitting next to me nudged me, pointed at my sketchbook and nodded toward the guy. When I smirked and rolled my eyes, we both shook with silent giggles while this b.o. laden dude bobbed to his super hip music.

Those quick sketches made me so happy. I still carry around a tiny sketch book these days and sneak snapshots of people at events. There's something about listening to speakers while drawing them that makes me happy.

Photo by Rebecca Saylor
When my crafty twin, Rebecca Saylor of Oodle Ba Doodle, sent me a text on Sunday with a sketch of a pretty girl in a polka dot mint dress, I was instantly in love. When she told me that she'd sketched it because she missed me, my heart broke a little and I *almost* started tearing up.

Rebecca also has been sketching lately, mainly to unwind and  do something new. When I asked her what had inspire her to start this series of drawings, she said:

They are just for fun. I wanted to learn to do fashion sketching so I just started watching people around me and trying to interpret that onto paper - I'm a super beginner. I like to think of them as little love letters of fashion.

Getting one of her love letters made my day in a huge way. I'd been feeling a bit down as of late and she perked me right up. I mean, a PRAM in the background?! C'MON! I ***LURVE*** the idea of being British enough for a PRAM!

What can I say, the woman knows my taste. She did design & make my wedding dress, after all!

And then there are those love letters (YOU know the ones) for the folks that are just TOO good.


This hipster was so over the top, he was practically begging to be immortalized! I'd like to thank Rebecca for capturing his douche essence so perfectly, from his redonkulous hat to those tubes socks with sandals.

I can't wait to see whatever she draws in the future. You can check out her sketches by following her on Instagram. You'll also get sneak peeks behind the scenes of her lastest plsuh creations she designs and her cats! Oooooohhh, the cats!

Loves and sketches.

- Steph

04 June 2016

Day 24: Shutting Up to Write on Paper

The first completely full Shut Up & Write Boise event I've ever been it! - via
I've been experiencing the magic of Shut Up & Write for a while now. I'd like to think the sparkle hasn't worn off. And it hasn't. People keep coming in and contributing. It's a wonderful environment in which to steep, letting all the creative juices flow through you.

What's been wonderful to witness is the evolution of everyone's projects. Dick finished a book and is tweaking things now. Conda is working on another part of her series. Nick is trying to get people to back him for a indie publishing deal (like Kickstarter for books!) through InkShare. These guys are hardcore.

I didn't even mention Natalie and her memoir. She's in a tight editing crunch and I'm just in awe of the process. This weekend she posted that the Panic Monster was rearing its ugly head (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to watch this Ted Talk about what it's like to be inside the mind of a procrastinator). I suggested the following:


She never got back to me. She's very serious & probably hard at work now. ;)

But Natalie shared something with me that I'd heard before, but had forgotten (because we creatives only have so much bandwidth, right? Okay - we humans...).

Natalie wrote her book on paper.

Like, with a pen in a notebook.

I've heard of this. It's how I do ALLLLLLLL of my other writing. I'm super old school. I hardly ever take notes on my phone; I've always got my outlines and poetry done in journals. 

Seriously, I have at least 5 different notebooks with different purposes that I tote around with me everywhere. I totally get made fun of, but it works, because I know where my notes are, dammit!

Same goes for pens. I have no shortage of pens. I adorable pretty much any writing implement you'll let me get my pudgy little hands on. I have a denim pen roll that I squeeze two pencils and a Micron into sometimes. 

I really like writing and drawing, you guys.

So when Natalie and Lori from the group both shared about how they were transferring their books from their notebooks on their laptops and editing/adding things as they went, something inside me went, "Well, you've got nothing to lose."

I'm proud to report that after a week of only writing a post-it's worth of brilliance, I filled 3 (almost 4) pages full of delightful wisdom that I really am pretty proud of.

I guess I'm just had to put it on paper.

Thanks to Natalie and Lori for the inspiration and Greg, as always, for his patience and encouragement.

- Steph

03 June 2016

Day 23: Tiny Screens and Self-Esteems

"How ever will anyone find my hashtags on my authentically sourced manuscript?" she asked herself, hoping someone would notice how very early 90's "Blossom" slash Tom Petty she looked. (via)
 
On my way to work on a tiny screen, I started writing my book this week. The big book - the biggest thing I'll have ever created other than a human. (Humans count, right?)

It was going pretty well, all things considered. Sure - it was only 8 minutes with which to expound upon the joys of selling one's knitted puppy apparel, but those were 8 minutes I would've wasted staring at old farts in frumpy Fiats on the freeway.

Later on in the week, I decided I needed to do more than spend 8 minutes tapping at a screen. So I set up shop at a local coffeehouse/garage, treating myself to a mocha with whipped cream after an intense workout and got to work... reading things that would just make me hate & doubt myself for HOURS!


Lemme give you a pro-tip: 

Do not ask Louis C.K. if you're a writer, even if only through Google. If you do, he will tell you:
"I typically don't write out in the world. I think people who do that are exhibitionists, showing off that they are writers. And I say that because I've done it -- you want to be in a coffeehouse with your notebook and look really thoughtful."

And if you're procrastiworking by doing research for what makes a great expert, you could also twist in the winds of self-doubt for hours after reading the following super insightful article from the Editor-In-Chief & Director of 99U, Sean Canda:  

The Creative World's Bullshit Industrial Complex: 
Don't fall into the trap of being an expert before you're ready. We have enough of those.

Add in some insecurity and self-doubt and you've got the PERFECT writing environment in which to assure creative humans that they can achieve their dreams with a little help from a friend... moi.

Needless to say, at this point, I felt like utter shite. Who was I to advise them on how to be awesome? I was barely holding together my awesomeness... or what was now seeming to be perceived awesomeness.

As the post-punk bards started thrashing around loudly in the garage that was hooked up to the venue, I found myself surrounded by 20-somethings, hipster grab on parade, all trying to look thoughtful with their notebooks.

F*ck.

I wanted to grab a big chalkboard sign and put some other shit on parade for a minute:


I got 1.5 pages, 12 pt, double spaced. Basically, I wrote a little more than what would fit on a post-it. And I wanted to be proud of myself because I sat down a got words out. But there was this nagging voice int he back of my head:

Don't write because you want to be rich or famous. Write because you have something to say.

I have LOTS to say! I have sooooo much help to give. And yet, because in my intial project proposal (and on this blog) I openly stated that one of the goals of all of this writing is to be able to meet two people I super admire, Mindy Kaling and/or Tina Fey, this would seem to diminish my worthwhile goals?
I wanted to say that lofty goals are put out there because they keep you going. And just because I wanted cool things didn't mean I couldn't do a lot of cool things for cool people along the way.

 So, with those goals in mind, did that mean my meaningful contribution to the creative arena at large was a farce? Did I seem like I was just grubbing for gaudy homies?

No. No, it didn't. 

Reason: I'm willing to work my ass off whilst helping as many humans as possible in order to become a better human. 

If I wanted fame, I could find an easier way that staying up all night writing shit. If I wanted fortune, I'd go get a higher payin' job. If I wanted celebrity, I'd get my fat ass on a f*ckin' reality show! Lord knows I have the personality for one.

There are plenty of people who I admire that write things I enjoy consuming. But my favourite books are written with something to say other than "Look at me, I'm cool." They often say "I wasn't cool. I got a little better with a lot of hard work."




THAT, my friends, is why I kept typing. Those wise words from Mindy Kaling and my introvert twin, Meredith Smith. She's like the Amy Poehler to my Tina Fey.

I poured out my sad-faceness about my current inner dilemma and she did what she does best: present facts logically in order to prove a theorem. 

In this instance, her theorem revolved around me being a "crafty guru" that belonged in her circle of experts. 

Her logic for dismissing my insecure self-talk were sound. Her evidence regarding my methods and their effects on people who were trying to figure themselves out have been shown time and time again in people I have helped for almost a decade.

She was right. I wasn't doing this for money or fame (although I do want to leave a legacy for my son that shows his momma worked f*ckin' HARD to get him things by helping others), but it would be sweet if those things came along with it. 

I'm writing this book in spite of my puny self-esteem. I'm writing it on tiny screens and on pump-breaks at work. I'm writing and researching it while I work out 3 times a day and lull my baby to sleep. I'm putting in so much work on meeting people I can help and learn from, sometimes I forget I need to spend time with my kid!

When I realized how much of myself I've been pouring into this book, I knew Meredith was right.

Haters gonna hate, but makers gotta make, b*tches.

- Steph


02 June 2016

Day 22: I freakin' LOVE Quote Memes!

Ray Bradbury quotes

In an age in which we consume media at a the speed of light, yet lack the need to go more in depth than a passing glance, I believe memes are the perfect intellectual amuse bouche
  • We don't have to engage with more than a "Like"
  • We can share with our friends & look hella deep
  • We can absorb it for a second or two, go "Hmm" to ourselves thoughtfully and move on
Thank God I'm allowed to move on, cos otherwise I would be stuck reading for days!

[NOTE: I'd actually LOVE reading and reading for days. I wish I had loads of uninterrupted time to do that. But I also love being able to connect with some wisdom for like 2 seconds and then looking for more, soooooo...]

Good ol' Ray Bradbury has been my favourite giver of sage advice these days. Not only was I struck with his mastery of storytelling when I was a 17 year old and was assigned to read Fairenheit 451 for summer reading, but the guy dishes out some heavy knowledge nuggets.

If I had to pick a few people to invite to a tea party of awesomeness, it'd go down like this:

  • Pick out feather boas and frilly hats that each guest would have to choose one of and wear the duration of the party
  • Get out of mismatched "china" I'd collected from thrift stores
  • Make sure they had some top tier Earl Grey tea a-brewin' (cos, c'mon - WRITERS!)
  • Rent space in a fancy tea place's backroom with lots of sunlight, but where we wouldn't be disturbed.
  • If that wasn't possible, hold the tea party in a SUPER awesome and booky-smellin' library.
The guest list would transcend death and we would all just be able to hang out, yammering about shit like we've known each other for ages. No one would pretend to know that they know more about anything that anybody else. It would be grand.

I'd invite the following humans:

  1. Good ol' Brads (Ray Bradbury) - wise and direct. I like it.
  2. Neil Gaiman - brilliant & dark AF! Also, he'd appreciate the Brads.
  3. Roald Dahl - A good dose of silliness and wisdom never hurt nobody.
  4. Bill Murray - Cos - DUH! - brilliant in ANY scenario!
  5. Mindy Kaling - Cos - DUH! - she can keep a conversation going, no matter how awkward!


We would chat about everything, feathers and ribbons wiggling with every movement of our flapping jaws. Probably from the laughter, too. 

Yeah, we would definitely be laughing.

This list of guests are some of my biggest heroes that I've admired for far too long without properly acknowledging their influence on my life. And there have been plenty of people who have given me advice over the years. 

I learned at a young age that when a person older than you gives you advice, it's because they made a mistake; if I listened closely, I could hear in their voice how important it was to heed their words.

I think the same is true with there quote memes. They're just sitting there to be readily absorbed and heeded. Someone of us repost them just cos they seem cool or will make us seem cool. And, sure, that's aight.

But I think that when we really look at them, especially the ones from "the greats," there's so much more to be gleaned than a "like" or a "repost."

Unless it's a picture of a cat... you're probably fine just reposting or liking that cos I CAN HAZ CUTE KITTEHS!

Oh wait...


- Steph

01 June 2016

Day 21: An Excused Absence

Last night, my tiny family's end of day ritual was goin' strong. I had been toying with different ideas about what to reflect on in my post and I started mentally jotting down notes.

My glazed over, far-off expression was jolted back when Elliott started making tiny babbling coos at Roger and they giggled.

I had been missing these special
lost moments for a long time.

Somewhere along the way from giving birth to baby to him being 6 months (on the 9th), I stopped paying attention to them. I was telling myself I was busy building a legacy that would be worthy of them and, sure, I still believe that! But is a legacy worth it when you don't connect with those for which you're building it?

Probably not.

So I stopped brainstorming, I snapped a photo of exactly what I'd been missing and wrote myself a note for an excused absence:

"To Whom It May Concern -

Please excuse Steph for not making an entry today. She was busy admiring her lovely family."

And with that, I turned off my notifications on my phone and joined in with the giggles. Soooooo many giggles to catch up on and so little time with which to catch up on them with.

My giggle game is gonna need to be on point from now on, you guys. 

Creative people have creative uses of their time. Sometimes we even come up with
creative excuses for why we don't make time for everything. 

I usually feel pretty guilty about not getting everything done. Do you? No? Just me? SWEET!

So I decided to take an expert's word for it. In the wise words of a good friend (cos I read him whenever I get a chance and know he knows his shit), let us take some advice from Mr. Ray Bradbury:


Word, Brads... woooooorrrddddd.

- Steph

31 May 2016

Day 20: On Writing into the Abyss


Have you ever just wanted to do things the easy way instead? Me too, dude. Like, pretty freakin' badly.


The thing about writing this much all the time is that I don't always wanna do it.

SHOCK! HORROR! I don't always wanna write?! Say it ain't so!

Sorry, homes...

And, to be honest, it's not because I'm tired and I have a tiny family (although one could argue that those are pretty legitimate reasons).

The reason I don't wanna write is because I'm afraid it won't be any good.


Sometimes I don't wanna put in the effort of writing for an audience that may not even give any shits about what I'm putting out here. With the limited amount of resources of time and energy that my life is allotting me, would you write into the abyss if you were me?

The answer: We should. We totally f*ckin' should, dude!

Because, if we're doing it right, we're not writing for the abyss. We are writing for ourselves.

Write to put down words.

Write to speak your truth.

Write because you have no choice, but to let your words fly out of your body and into the world.

I've got to remind myself that writing is a chore I asked for. And really, I love it.


Sometimes there will be an echo back from the abyss and I'm really grateful for that.

Maybe there were more echoes that got lost somehow. Who knows? And if something I wrote resonated with something in you, I'm happy.

But in the meantime...

I'm going to find a way to do this, especially when it's not easy.

Whatever your choice of creative release may be, I hope you find ways to send it into the abyss as well.

May we all be surprised with what returns someday...


- Steph

30 May 2016

Day 19: Decorating my Creative Space with Inspirational Reminders

I thrive in space filled with organized chaos - it's the only way I can feel comfortable creating new awesomeness.

In the back room of a thrift store almost a year ago, I found a sewing machine. It was mint and cream colored and the wood was light and scratched up. Some drawers opened and were filled with even more treasures. Other drawers were missing handles; their treasures would be revealed later on.

Like any hipster looking to furnish their new space, I ran to it, claimed it by leaning on it (after taking pictures of course) and excitedly texted Roger. He needed to come now - I'd found the most perfect desk in the universe and it had to be mine this second. Nay - 30 seconds ago! 

I'm sure he rolled his eyes as he drove over to arrange the purchase. 
I was too busy clapping my hands, bouncing up and down, grinning ear to ear... 
you know how I get.

Then it sat in our living room for a year. We tried to make it desk-y, but failed over and over again. Mainly it just collected mail and dust.

Then today I noticed I hadn't done any real work all weekend. I turned to Roger and asked him to clear off my desk.

I got a face that was less than enthusiastic, but he lovingly obliged. 

We put away various pieces of crap from the last year and I got to decorating my creative space.

There's a tiny window I can look out where all I can see are leaves waving in the wind. Seriously - I don't even enjoy nature, but this is bloody gorgeous.

Sunlight through moving leaves with tiny birds flitting in and out of view seems something straight up outta Disney, yo! Nevermind the f*ckin' scampering squirrels! *dies of cute*

Little tokens of inspiration displayed on my window sill:
(right to left)
My lil Clyde, randomly thrifted chipmunk, Apple Hi-Chew from my bishop,
tiny vase with fake sakura blossoms, Ferdy the Felted Fox by Katy Kristin

The window sill proudly displays why I'm even creating. Clyde the Orange PacMan Ghost was one of the first things I've made and will be the first nerd JERK Crochet Pattern I debut in June. I know some of you are pretty excited for this. It's gonna be a minute (probably the end of June), but it's happening, dagnabbit! 

I gave Clyde as a gift to my autobio comic hero, Jeffrey Brown, back in 2009 at a comic convention for his son. I also left him my first comic book, Harry the Hipster Busts a Nut, to check out. I asked him to let me know what he thought of it, mainly because I didn't have much confidence in a comic I'd done in 24 hours. But he was gracious and wrote me a thank you card with a sketch of him and his son playing with my toy, which his son affectionately named "Orange Face." 

As my renewed entrepreneurial hustle is due to my own tiny son, Ellie, I wanted to look at "Orange Face" so he could remind me that when Ellie grows up looking at this in my space, there will be a meaningful story to go along with it.

The thrifted chipmunk is of no consequence. ;D I've just always felt he ought to be on my window sill, begging to go play with those other squirrely mo-fos.

The Hi-Chew is kind of a big deal. For those of you who know-know me, you know I'm LDS. Lately, I haven't been the best representation of a traditional Mormon. In fact, it has been said that I'm a bit of an "Oxy-Momon." I totes own that - I've never been traditional in anything I've done. But I also think that gives me some unique perspective in my beliefs. Something that LDS folks really like to focus on is service to others. My bishop gave me his favourite Hi-Chew to let me know he loves me and believes in me. I was super hungry, but I didn't eat it.

I kept that candy as a reminder that no matter how hard it gets and how much I f*ck up,
I still have someone who loves me.

Ferdy the Felted Fox was made for me as a gift from my good friend, Katy Kristin. I've always admired her art (even before I'd known who she was. She draws all the hand-painted signs back home at the Westlake Trader Joe's) and just worshipped the way she captured cute. So when she made me a bright red fox with a tiny mint collar complete with a teeny jingle bell, I just about bawled my eyes out. 

I have community of lovely supportive humans who want me to succeed.
This book is also for them.

This Book Nook is filled with stuff I love...
My tiny house is basically all cooking stuff and books. Any wall that has space for a shelf is taken up by a shelf & filled to the brim with old friends. Over the last year, I've organized the shelf immediately to my left with my very most favourite books (a separate blog post all on its own), but it seemed only fair to have a reference section on the desk for cool shit I would need to look at over and over.

When I saw Real Artists Have Day Jobs by Sara Benincasa on the shelf at Rediscovered Books (click link for Staff Picks) in Downtown Boise, I just about whizzed myself. 

The struggle of combining the 9-5 with creative business-ing is f*ckin' real, my blog-bros.

While I've only thumbed through and read random snippets, it's hilarious and perfect for my specific set of circumstances. Chin up, mon'amie - we can make things happen slowly, but awesomely. ;)

I already talked about how f*ckin amazeballs Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is in a previous post. I won't prattle on much more - except to say it gets even better and makes me wanna be a better human.

When I was in the middle of a consultation with my new client, Rochelle Cunningham, I was checkin' out her amazing little house. One of the things she had on her desk was "The Writer's Handbook." When I picked up her self-published paperback & started flipping through, I found several quotes that spoke to me. I had no idea it was a book full of daily inspiration for writers of all levels. THAT'S the kind of thing my mom would love... so now I love it.

Here were a few that jumped out to me:

"In writing, you must kill all you darlings." - William Faulkner

"Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay rent." - Neil Gaiman

"Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they have an excuse to drink alcohol." - Steve Martin

AND MY FAVOURITE (not only cos I'm a geek, but cos I'm emo-ish):

"Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke!" - Joss Whedon

Working happily in my cozy corner of cuteness...
Then there's Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist (cos what creative human's desk is complete without that?!) and a thesaurus-rex so I don't bore you with the same words over and over.

Yes - I'm aware that thesaurus.com exists. But perhaps you didn't notice the Polaroid camera post-it dispenser? Maybe you're not familiar with my obsession for ancient "tech"... so I'm not gonna judge. But seriously - you started it.

ANYHOOBITY -

I've also got my cute felt coaster from my sister from another mister, Rebecca Saylor, so I don't cause any additional damage to this poor ol' machine's surface and some tiny coloured pencils with trendy AF shades. It's a good time.

As you can see, I'm happy here. Like, SUPER happy in this tiny place. Surrounding myself with meaningful awesomeness actually made me work for the last 3 hours without complaining (which is almost unheard of)! 

More writing, more researching, more exciting/relaxing time ahead!

Love and hugs, home skillets.

- Steph

29 May 2016

Day 18: A poem I wrote called "Bruce Wayne: A Performance Review"

Remember how I said I'd never share any of my poetry?

Well, I'm BREAKIN' THE RULES!!!

I had brunch with my friend, Amanda Ranth, and we were discussing why we write poetry: to express ourselves. I was telling her about how normally my poetry comes from this deep, sad, twisty place of longing and that's why I don't share my work publicly.

But then I remembered going to a MeetUp group called "Poetry in the City of Trees" for #NaPoWriMo in April and using writing prompts for the first time. I started to tell her about this silly one I had written. 

"Dude," she smiled, "You need to POST that SHIT!" What can I say? The lady's got a point!

via
Writing Prompt 2: Write a poem about a superhero coming to your house and confronting you about something. Somewhere in the poem, you have to state what your superpower is.


"Bruce Wayne: A Performance Review"
by Steph Cortes

Somewhere on the ledge of the roof of my mind palace, there is Batman.
He moves through my dark yet illustrious city of shadows with nimble and ept precision
as if he's been there too long.

He appears at random, as a dark knight does
to bring to my attention the turn my Gotham-y mind has taken.

"It's far worse than it ever was," he rasps,
not quite a growl, but not far removed.
"No one should be expected to contain 
the havoc of this many villains!
Not even with my freelance vigilante brigade!"

The more he waxes on, the hoarser he rumbles,
the less patience I have.
No longer tolerating his nonsense, I turn toward him.

"You were brought in to protect, Wayne," I start,
my knuckle whitening, readying for battle.
"Are you not up to the task the headhunter
promised you were sooo qualified to accomplish?"

His mask hid his raised brow, but the micro-gesture of a lax jaw have him away.
Having pierced through his expensive armor, I went on:

"If I must, I can tell you in which order to 
bring each issue 'to justice'," I mocked his voice...
"As I know you won't kill them per your contract."

Smirking, I grabbed my phone to compile a list in a text.
"But make no mistake: if I have to use my deductive powers again to do your job for you,
I'm going with Joker."

- 2:54 PM
3 April 2016
depression/tackling issues

28 May 2016

Day 17: The Weird Living Arrangement with Fear, Desire & Success



In creating art, there seems to be this constant battle. Between what? - It could be whatever demons you choose, mon'amie.

For me, I've got a couple of monsters dukin' it out like that Imagine Dragons video

For those of you who haven't seen this amazing video (or don't click links, cos - duh DISTRACTION!), here's how it goes:

  • Illegal stuffed animal fights ref'd by maniacal Lou Diamond Phillips 
  • Bad ass chick brings her pink bear into the ring
  • Shit goes DOWN!!!

I'll just leave this riiiiiiiiight here...



So, I believe that as creative humans, we all kinda have this kind of a fight going on in our souls. Some good things trying to get out, some fear or doubt trying to keep us down. Some outside force seems to determine whether or not we succeed in the end.

My particular monsters are Fear & Desire. Both of them are scared of Lou Diamond Phillips (who plays the role of Success in my movie theater). Sadly, they all have to live in the same tiny apartment of my brain.

They're not into each other. It's like a Criagslist rental went horribly awry, but they're stuck in their lease until their landlord evicts them. But that greedy landlord don't give no shits.


Okay - that's getting a little dark, but "bear" with me...

Fear is really into controlling Desire. Like, obsessively so. He should probably get some treatment, but no one's really called him on it yet, so he's just gonna go with it.

Desire is a bad ass in her own right. She's determined to get the f*ck out of this shithole and is gonna do everything to make that happen. Or that's what she tells herself every time her eyes get all fiery and stoked.

But Fear knows her buttons intimately. He'll remind her of all the times her will wasn't enough to make things happen - because, y'know - life!

At what point does Desire make it happen? When does she go to Success and let him know she's gonna get her own apartment? He'd be into it - more money for him...

I don't know. But I suppose it starts with a conversation with ourselves.

The bigger the payoff, the more we're driven, right?

Or are we f*ckin' paralyzed at all the possibilities?

I'm currently staring a big pile of Success in the face. It's incredible and, frankly, against all odds of actually becoming completely realized. But there's no chance of realization without goin' for it, right?

But my feet won't move.
I open my mouth and words don't come out.
I stare at screens and hope 
something brilliant appears.

The only actual work I've done is transferred my book outline to index cards so I can get all crazy pants with it when I went to Shut Up & Write this week (which kicked MUCH ass as almost everybody was brand new)!

This Saturday morning's Shut Up & WRITE! Crew at the Roastere:
Not Pictured: Nick Szafranski & myself.

But it was something, right? There were a couple of steps taken in the right direction.

I suppose my wish for all of us is to be able to occasionally kick Fear in the balls and go get a room of our own. Then we can decorate that room and fill it with everything that makes us wanna create awesomeness.

Sure, that Fear-f*cker can come a-knockin'... but nobody's gotta answer.

- Steph

27 May 2016

Day 16: Mentors - Someone to Look Up To & Tell You "You Don't Suck!"

Greg Daniels yammering on about something super profound and Mindy Kaling hanging onto her mentor's wise words.

When you're in the throes of doing a bunch of scary things at once, your mind goes nuts with self doubt. This single sentence pretty much sums up my week. In the middle of that, all I needed was someone to look up to and tell me: 

"You don't suck. You're amazing and here's why..."

This is why mentors kick ass. 

One of my personal heroes (and, in my mind, future bestie), Mindy Kaling also has one such mentor. His name is Greg Daniels and they worked together on "The Office." She asked him to write a few words on what it means to be a mentor for her book, Why Not Me?, and he did.

In his essay for Mindy, one of my favorite tips Greg Daniels gave was how to approach getting a mentor. Insider info from the creator of the American version of "The Office" on how to succeed when I'm trying to break into writing? SIGN ME UP! He said:

"I have had the benefit of a lot of great mentors... I know a lot of people are probably thinking, good for you, but nobody has ever wanted to be my mentor. You take your mentoring where you can find it, even if it is not being offered to you.

"Have you ever used your neighbor's Wi-Fi when it wasn't on a password? If you have the opportunity to observe someone at work, you are getting mentoring out of them, even if they are unaware or resistant. 

"Make a list of people you think would make the greatest mentors and try to get close enough to steal their Wi-Fi."

I've been listening to Why Not Me? on Audible and I love how Mindy talks about Greg. I also love how Greg talks about Mindy. There's this level of mutual admiration that you can feel; this admiration is where the magic happens.

After a day filled with tiny panic
attacks, this was my face post-
nacho lunch with Liks.
Having come from a less than ideal childhood, I can vouch for the importance of having people around you who are looking out for your best interests, especially those pesky magical ones.

I've been blessed with more than a few people in my life that seem to take this role on willingly (why? I may never truly know). 

One of those people is my editor, Greg Likins.

The fact that anybody I just happened to meet at work wouldn't mind talking to me about his cool skills still kind of baffles me. But suddenly, there I was, talking about some amazing shit. And  in the middle of all that amazingness, I found out we have lots in common, but we're just on different levels on the ladder to where we wanna be.

That happens to be a great place to be when you're lookin' to up your game in huge and scary ways. And it seems that successful mentor-ships have a pretty decent amount of give & take.

This is how I imagine mentorship usually goes:
  • Meet a human
  • See other human struggle with something you've been through
  • Help other human
  • Get surprised when other human wants to help you, too

So when I was freaking out this last week, Liks calmed me down. He talked me through the things rationally, we brainstormed some idea for my book outline and came out with a solid focus. And it's usually pretty hard to get me to focus, so that's another skill he can add to the list.

Greg Likins Editor
Books on the brain? Always.
I hope that one day, when Mindy & I are downing a bag of chicharrones and gulping Diet Pepsi's on her couch, we'll both bring up something we have in common: We have mentors we look up to named Greg.

"The Gregs" (cos we're totally call them!) are crazy selfless humans who don't know how helpful they are when they encourage us to be ourselves.

"The Mindys" (yeah - I'd be open to changing my first name, if that's what it was down to) wouldn't be half as dialed in were it not for The Gregs knowing how to assist us without hindering us.

The benefit of the balance between a dose of reality whilst dreaming
is unparalleled... that is, if you're open to it.

Being able to take feedback well and really consider what your mentor is saying can be the key to whether or not they continue to put forth the energy in being your mentor. It's hard work, yo!

I hope to surprise Liks by introducing him to people who need someone with his particular skill set: thoughtful editing with an emphasis on encouragement.

May we all aim to be mentors with that kind of focus, especially when we don't realize our Wi-Fi is being tapped.


Love & junk,

- Steph 


26 May 2016

Day 15: This is my Excited Face!

Ha! I did the things and it wasn't a big deal. Well, it WAS, but I won't find out how big of a deal until I get my writing brutally pulled apart by new author friend.


I'm not sure if it's masochistic of me to look forward to this. I just know that after late nights, early mornings and hurried lunches, this was even better than the best I could do.

Writing a big book outline was the biggest thing I've done in my short writing career. 

I turned it into three editor friends and the first review is great.


  • I trust Liks when he says it's great because he's seen my shit writing & gives me helpful notes. I've also been kindly ordered to start writing chapters.
  • I trust what Mere says when she reads it because she was a more successful business owner than me and she will always call me on my bullshit. Her notes so far were awesome, but I asked her to tell me what's bad.
  • I will trust what Amanda says because she has not steered me wrong yet. And she laughs at my jokes. That part is kinda important for me. She also happen to know her shit.

So, you guys - wow. I'm kind of excited. 

You may not be able to tell, but this is a pretty big deal for me. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...