Pressure-free creativity; New interviews! Upcoming classes View in browser
July 2019 Edition

In this Issue

  • Two new interviews
  • Upcoming classes: in person and online
  • COD Continuing Education Fall Sampler Day discount
  • Pressure-free creativity

Two new interviews

     I was honored to be among the authors Barb Szyszkiewicz interviewed for her article "Bring an Author to School" that appears in the Summer 2019 edition of Today's Catholic Teacher. You can read the article online here. If you know any teachers who may be interested, I encourage you to share the article with them, too. I'm currently scheduling both virtual and in-school visits for the 2019-2020 school year. 

     And last week, I was in studio to record an interview with my friend and fellow author Amy Cattapan for an upcoming episode of Shalom TV's BOOK.eD program. The interview focused on my latest novel, Playing by Heart. Some of you may have seen my Facebook post looking for Chicago-area readers who'd be willing to discuss the book on the program. Lucky for me, Dr. Roxanne Owens, Chair of Teacher Education at DePaul University and a great supporter of the novel, was able to join us. You can see her in the photo below, seated between Amy and me. I don't know yet when the episode will air, so I'll share the details in an upcoming newsletter.   

Upcoming classes      

In Person:

     This fall, I'll be teaching Beginnings, Middles, and Ends at the College of DuPage. It's a seven-week workshop for fiction writers that covers techniques for hooking readers, building drama, and crafting a satisfying conclusion. The required course text is Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress. 

     The class meets on the main Glen Ellyn campus Tuesdays, 7-9 pm, Sept. 10–Oct. 29, 2019. (No class Oct. 8.) 

      Note: class is limited to 15 students, so if you're interested, be sure to register early! You may be able to receive a discount on enrollment by attending the COD Fall Sampler Day described below. To learn more about the class, see the details on my website

     I've also been invited to present as part of the Catholic Writers Guild (CWG) Online Conference taking place Sept. 20-22. I don't have the details yet, so watch my Facebook page or the CWG website for updates. (My next newsletter isn't scheduled to go out until the end of September.) You need not be a guild member to attend. 

COD Continuing Education Fall Sampler Day discount

      The College of DuPage Fall Sampler Day takes place from 10 am-2 pm, Saturday, August 17, 2019. This free open house provides a sneak preview at some of their upcoming enrichment and professional development programs. According to the Sampler Day webpage"If you register for your Fall classes in our Online Registration Lab during Sampler Day, you will receive 10% off most enrichment courses." I'm assuming my fall class Beginnings, Middles, & Ends is eligible for the discount. You can contact the Continuing Education for confirmation. Their contact info is on the Sampler Day webpage.  

Pressure-free creativity

     Before I launch into this month's creativity topic, I want to thank all of you who responded to the survey in my last newsletter. The survey asked which of the following best describes you:

  • I never play background music while writing/doing creative work.
  • I often play background music while writing/doing creative work.

Several of you emailed to say that you actually fit in between, sometimes playing music. I should have included that as a third option! Of those who took time to respond to the survey: twice as many people do NOT play background music as those who do.  I found that interesting. I hope some of you tried the creativity tip I shared in the last newsletter, to try the opposite of what you're used to when it comes to playing background music. If you missed that newsletter, you can read it online here.

     Now, for this month's topic: pressure-free creativity

     After attending the SCBWI Marvelous Midwest Conference in May, I decided to try a new approach to my work-in-progress: revising the project to incorporate poetry. But I kept procrastinating on the revision. I blamed my lack of progress on needing to prepare and give so many talks this spring and summer. Then, about two weeks ago, I realized that what was really hold me back was fear. 

     I talked about Fear & Creativity in general,  and my fears regarding this project in particular, back in my November 2018 newsletter. After sending that newsletter, I managed to overcome my fears and begin moving forward on my work-in-progress--until I attended the conference. Sadly, I learned there that the approach I'd been taking was unlikely to result in a manuscript that would interest a traditional publisher. My odds for success would be better with a poetry-centered approach I'd considered in the past, so I decided to go back to that idea. 

     Not long after I decided to return to the poetry idea, though, a new fear reared it's ugly head: the fear that I’m not a "good enough" poet to make the revision work.

     Ironically, poetry-writing was my first love, from my junior high school days. My first published piece was a seven-line poem that appeared in an anthology of works by Chicago school students. I'll never forget the thrill I felt at seeing that poem in print, and I still have a copy of that book. 

     So this time, when fear threatened to paralyze me, I realized I needed to take a break from my work-in-progress to focus on recapturing my love of poetry. I began by reading a poem a day. I'm working my way through 99 Poems by Dana Gioia (Graywolf Press). I don't just read the poems, I study them, copying out the lines that intrigue me most. I'm also re-reading Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out by Ralph Fletcher (HarperCollins). Fletcher's book is actually intended for 8-12 year-olds, but that's one of the reasons I find the book so helpful. As the School Library Journal reviewer said, it's a "concise, nuts-and-bolts guide to creating poetry."   

     I'm happy to say, the strategy is working. Not only am I loving my morning poetry-study sessions, I'm feeling inspired by them. Last week, I wrote a new poem for the first time in ages. I had so much fun, I felt a little sad I didn't have anyone to share it with. So, even though I'm still tweaking that poem, I'm going to share it with all of you:     

The Cicadas Are Back

Stepping out into the summer sun,
I'm greeted by a shrill shriek
proclaiming your presence.
 Is this your first day back?
 Or did I venture out yesterday
 with my ears closed?

copyright 2019 Carmela A. Martino, all rights reserved

     The urge to share this poem now, even though it's still a work-in-progress, surprised me. Then, yesterday, I had the pleasure of seeing the Manet and Modern Beauty exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. There, I watched a video in which Emily Beeny, a curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum, spoke of Édouard Manet's extraordinary generosity. You can watch an excerpt from that video here and listen to the following words she said that particularly struck me:

". . . his art, too, is a form of generosity, a way of sharing
his own private delight in often quite simple things--a basket of strawberries or a bouquet of flowers--with all of us."

(I took the above photo at the exhibit.)     

     I think it was my own "private delight" in the process of creating the poem "The Cicadas are Back"  that made me want to share it with you. 

     The idea of finding pleasure in the process reminded me of a recent interview with poet and picture book author/illustrator Vincent X. Kirsch on our TeachingAuthors blog. When my co-blogger April Halprin Wayland asked Vincent what encouragement he had for "someone who's depressed about ever getting anything published," Vincent replied:

"Things never happen when we think they will happen.
The greatest reward for working in any creative area is the work itself.
To sit down and create is a treasure that nothing else in life can match." 

     I've talked about taking joy in the process before, but I hadn't been experiencing that joy myself very much until the last few weeks. So, if you're in a similar situation, for this month's creativity tip, I encourage you to: Practice pressure-free creativity. If you're struggling with a project, put it aside and spend time falling in love again with your creative outlet. Write, paint, compose, or whatever, for the simple joy of the process, without a care for what the outcome will be.  

        You may find, as I did, that the result will leave you wanting to share your delight with others, too.

    That's all for this month.

    Until next time, happy creating!


    Copyright © 2019 Carmela A. Martino. All rights reserved.

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