Lifeink

The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

And the third to go … LifeInk List Maker Blog February 21, 2011

Filed under: Introduction,Life in General,Writing — Erin Joy @ 12:44 pm
Tags: , ,

For those of you who were wondering, yes, Erin is still alive. And yes, I am going to separate off onto my own blog as well.

So, here it is: LifeInk List Maker (http://lifeinklistmaker.wordpress.com).

Follow the above link to learn more about why I decided to become the LifeInk List Maker.

 

Balancing Accountability and Creativity July 15, 2010

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — michellehuegel @ 7:59 pm
Tags: , , ,

vs.

In my mind, the words “accountability” and “creativity” fall at opposite ends of the scale. Creativity is supposed to be spontaneous, carefree, spur-of-the-moment. Accountability evokes structure, to-do lists, calendars, and rigidity. So what’s the problem with being a “creative” person? Too often, nothing actually gets created. Maybe I don’t “feel” like it, or there’s no “mojo,” or time just slips away. Sometimes I wonder how I made it through college with a near-4.0 GPA, or succeeded at my various office jobs – and then I remember. College and work had deadlines, expectations, daily structure, and accountability.

I think my creativity often “falls down on the job” because there’s no one expecting me to turn in a new scrapbook layout or article. No consequences if I put off yet another blog post. No deadline to complete that album, finish some research, or organize those photos. I only have myself to disappoint, which is a vicious downward spiral of disappointment, guilt, and resultant total lack of motivation. I’ve written about this before, and tried a variety of tactics to motivate myself. Rewards (think Starbucks, a new book, watching a TV show, etc) sometimes work. For a little while. But with no accountability other than myself, every system eventually fails. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people simply require outside motivation, either all the time as part of their personality or maybe only during certain times of their lives. I’m under a lot of stress right now with a young toddler, new baby on the way soon, moving across country, and struggling financially to make it all work. I know theoretically that creative pursuits like writing and scrapbooking are crucial to my emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, but “in the moment” I’d often rather take a nap or just zone out. So I’ve finally decided (yes, I’m a little slow sometimes) to create accountability in my life – or more specifically, in my creative pursuits.

Getting down to business – I’m going to begin balancing creativity with accountability in my digital scrapbooking. I can’t focus on every area at once, and I’m still pondering ways to create accountability in my writing. But for now I’m going to focus on my scrapbooking. I’m going to stop making excuses like “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t have time” or “I can’t create on command” and actually, FINALLY, apply for some creative team positions. Because really, those are pretty pathetic excuses. I’ve learned a lot over the last two years, I do have time, and I need that pressure right now to create.

By the way, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a “creative team” works for a designer or scrapbook store to create layouts with new products. They help showcase a designer/store’s products and provide inspiration for projects created with those new products. That’s my definition in a nutshell, anyway! I’m being a little choosy about which designers/stores I apply at as they open up “CT calls,” because I want to make sure I’m a good fit for each one. And I’m extremely nervous about the whole process. I don’t have a gallery full of brilliant layouts (mostly because I’m terrible about remembering to post them!) or experience on other creative teams. I’m struggling with feeling “good enough.” But I’m doing it anyway, letting my “accountability” side triumph over my “creative” touchy-feely side because I know I need this, and I know I have something unique to offer these designers. I’m in the process now of applying to a couple, so hopefully soon I’ll have some good news to share!

Have I inspired you to balance your creativity with a little accountability? Or do you have a tried-and-true technique already for attaining this balance? Please share! I’d love to hear your ideas, and what you think of mine!

 

Lists of Lists June 9, 2010

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — Erin Joy @ 8:57 pm
Tags: , , ,

I love lists.

I know, that’s kind of an odd thing, but I find myself making them all the time! I have grocery lists, lists of what I need to do in Photoshop, lists of people I need to send cards to, lists of people I need to get stuff from, lists of people I just need to get back in touch with, lists of things I need to clean in our house, lists of where I could possibly move, lists of things I need to do by the end of the week, lists of places where I plan to go in the next month, lists of whatever comes to mind.

Once I even started making a list of “100 Things That Make Me Come Alive” on a challenge from a friend in college. I think I failed that one because I’ve only managed to get to maybe about 10 … because I wanted to write explanations for them all.

Seriously, I make too many lists. I think I write bullet lists in emails for work almost a dozen times a day. I have a list of all the different ideas for blog posts—just ask Ashley or Michelle! And look, here I am making a list of all the different kinds of lists I make. I’m out of control!

And now I have another list.

Yes, I know the idea of a bucket list has received a little bit of overkill since the movie came out three years ago, but it’s only recently that I’ve started having ideas of things “I want to do before I can’t”. I have so many places I want to visit, so many adventures I’d like to embark on, so many things I’d like to be a part of, but right now, they’re all just ideas floating around in my head. None of that’s ever going to happen when they’re only ideas.

That’s why I’ve decided to make a list of what I want to do.

Normally I’d ask for your opinions and suggestions for what to add to the list, but I’m not going to ask that. This list is a list of things that I personally need to create. I’m not sure how long of a list it will be or if I will ever stop adding to it.

All I know is I need to write things down in order to not allow these ideas to escape while I turn my back to work the extra half an hour at the end of a work day.

 

Writing Prompt: Write a poem about a hobby May 3, 2010

Hi everyone!

Some of you may know that it’s the beginning of garage sale season. I’m a particularly big fan of garage sales this year because I need things for my house, but I also need to eat and pay my electric bill. Already, I’ve found some great deals and I’ve seen some interesting items and people.

After returning home one day I realized that browsing garage sales is a very concrete sensory experience and so I though I’d try to capture some of those details in a poem. So here it is:

Browsing through Garage Sales on a Friday Morning

The sunlight glints off the asphalt

and people wearing sneakers and sunglasses,

some with plastic car seats at the crook of their elbow,

walk into the shaded garage, or stand in the driveway,

peering into plastic totes.

Some breathe heavily and push with their elbows,

but most make polite conversation and examine bowls and stuffed animals with a smile turning at the corners of their mouth.

So here’s your prompt: Write a poem about a hobby or any activity you do that has some concrete sensory details, especially if it’s an everyday activity like shopping, doing dishes, or yard work.

Then, if you feel inclined, share your work here!

 

Wedding Salutations April 28, 2010

This past weekend I was part of a wedding party. It’s always an honor, and this was especially exciting, as I introduced the bride and groom. (I made sure to brag about it, too!)

photo by Anne Harrigan

After having been in so many weddings (this was my sixth) and having been a guest at many more, I have yet to find a go-to wedding gift. I’d written earlier about finding the perfect go-to shower gift, but weddings are a whole different animal. Usually, I resort to something off of the registry.

But then there’s a new problem: what do you write on the card?

It doesn’t help when you leave to the last minute (even during the reception!) and you brain is so mushed you can’t think of much to say beyond something generic like, “Congratulations! God bless!” But when you’re at the wedding of a writer, that hardly seems to suffice.

So, I’ve tried to come up with some creative wedding salutations since then. Here’s what I have so far:

  • For those Dr. Who fans: “May your love be like a tardis, normal to the typical passersby, but unbounded by time and space by those who enter in.”
  • For those Creative Memories scrapbookers out there: “May all your memories together be creative.”
  • For all the Photoshop lovers out there: “May your love for one another be like Photoshop: able to turn a grey sky blue, a frown to a smile and change your focus to what matters most.”
  • For those supermodels who marry each other: “May you love looking at one another as much as you love looking at yourself.” (Okay, I don’t have any friends who are that vain, but I was trying to think of something out of the box.)

How about you? What creative wedding salutations can you come up with?

 

Writing Prompt March 22, 2010

Filed under: Journaling,Writing — ashleybarrett @ 11:04 am
Tags: , , , ,

Hi everyone!

I’m still doing the Spring Cleaning Challenge at Nourishing Gourmet but for me, the challenge this week did not merit a post.

So here’s a new writing prompt. This prompt is somewhat adapted from From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to write excellent fiction.

Take some brief anecdote from your life and write it the exact way you would narrate it to a friend. Let it sit for two weeks. Then pick it up again and try to make everything as concrete as possible, don’t name emotions, show them. Ruthlessly edit generalizations. Wait another two weeks, do it again.

Here’s my first-time results:

I didn’t learn to drive until I was 18 and I probably still wouldn’t have a driver’s license if  various members hadn’t taught/forced me to drive. One night in the summer, I was hanging out with a two of my cousins and a group of family friends around midnight, everyone decided that I needed a driving lesson and we went to the parking lot of a nearby middle school. My cousin, Amber* had her car, a Chevy Impala and her friend Lucy, had a blue Saturn. I started off with Amber in the Impala. She showed me stuff like how to change gears and how to put my foot on the pedals and stuff. I was puttering around the parking lot at about ten miles an hour, things were going pretty well, but I was still terrified. My other cousin Tim*, was driving Lucy’s Saturn. He was two years younger than me and had just gotten his license. He was showing off by driving circles around me, honking and flashing the lights.

Amber yelled at him out her window, “Stop it, jerkface, you’re scaring her!”

After a few more minutes of puttering, Amber thought I might do better if we switched cars, the Saturn was a lot smaller.

Riding in the Saturn felt much safer. The car was smaller and less powerful, so I felt less likely to crash into something. I could even accelerate to twenty miles an hour. After puttering around for a little bit Lucy said, “Ok let’s graduate from the parking lot. Turn onto this dirt road up here.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what she was talking about, but I turned onto what looked like a dirt road.

Suddenly, the car thudded and the front end dropped several inches. I thought Lucy was going to yell at me but she didn’t. Her and our other friend, Sarah just busted out laughing at the same time.

Kelly said, “Lesson Three: How to back out of a ditch.”

So I got out of the ditch and drove around a little more, I did eventually venture onto the road. As I was confidently circling the middle school, we passed Amber and Tim who were stopped and standing beside the Impala.

The Impala was stuck. It had been a long, wet summer and the car sat up to it’s bumper in mud.

At first we all cheerily tried to help. Some pushed from the back, others pulled from the front and visa versa. The mud was slick and thick. It sucked out shoes off our feet as we tried to push the car. Then we tried digging it out, it took forever and our moods turned sour. We were all covered in mud, except for Amber who wouldn’t help us dig because she had worn her flip-flops with the big red flower. I wasn’t allowed to help dig, my cousins said if I came home with filthy clothes my mom might not ever let me see my cousins again. So I stood by a tree and tried to boost morale by commenting on the irony of the two licensed drivers getting the car stuck. Few were amused and Tim threw mud at me.

We called multiple people for back up. Amber’s brother came with a pull chain but no one had a hitch on the back of their vehicle. Sarah went back to her parents house and got a van which had a hitch, but the Impala was in too deep. Finally, it was like two in the morning by now, Amber called her friend Chelsea who had a big yellow F150 and rescued the Impala.

We were relieved, but tired and dirty. Amber took her car to an automated car wash. One of the ones with the hoses and washed her car again and again. Underneath and everything. Tim and I were quiet while we helped her. Then we went back to the apartment and everyone cleaned up. Stephanie’s bathroom was filthy by the time we were done, but no one cared. We were all happy to be clean and dry and we fell asleep eating Cheez-It’s and watching infomercials.

*Names changed to protect the guilty, but you know who you are. 🙂

Your turn, feel free to share your early drafts and how they progress!

 

Facebook Fan Pages March 9, 2010

Filed under: Writing — michellehuegel @ 5:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’m quite proud of my most recent technological accomplishment – publishing a Facebook fan page! The page is for published author Patricia Strefling, who I’ve been working with lately on some editing projects as well as computer projects, such as setting up this Facebook fan page and her Etsy shop (she makes and sells beautiful crocheted baby afghans).

Creating the fan page took me back to my days at Davenport U as a marketing major, as we discussed ways to drive traffic to the page, links to other authors and sites, and choosing photos and blurbs for different areas of the page. The fan page is really all about marketing, but on a “grass roots” level – focused on connecting personally with your target market (your “fans”). The end goal, however, is still to drive sales/traffic/readership/etc. I think it’s a great idea and I’m excited to build my editing business to the point where I need a fan page!

I wish Facebook would build more customization capabilities into their fan pages. For example, I’d love to put up a sidebar box with all of Pat’s favorite links – to fellow authors, her publisher, etc. The link box available now will only show 2-3 links and I don’t think there’s a way to choose which ones are displayed (although I could be wrong).

I think the Discussion board area has great potential especially for the creative arts people like Pat. She can create a post for each of her books, and hopefully get some thoughtful discussions going and ideas for future stories! Check her out – her inspirational romance books Edwina and Cecilia are available now!

If you have any sort of business I encourage you to create a Facebook fan page. Seems like everyone is on Facebook nowadays, and it’s a great way to touch base with your friends and clients, and hopefully reach new ones! If you have a page already, would you mind sharing it with us in the comments? I’d love to see how you’re using this great feature!

So now I have a question for our LifeInk readers – do you think LifeInk needs a Facebook fan page? Would you be our fan? If we do launch a page in the future, what would you like to see on it? Besides, of course, blog post updates (because I know you never want to miss an episode :))!! How about additional links and info about posts? Updates on past posts? We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

PS – Of course, you can always find the three of us on Facebook! We are all on pretty frequently posting insightful and witty status updates (HAH!) and we love to chat!