Author Karen Ball

Let Creativity Flow (Part Two)

creativity

I love the ideas you all shared about finding and sparking creativity. It’s fascinating to see how we’re all wired different. My next few blogs will share some additional things you can do to refill the wells of creativity. Have fun!

1. Disconnect from technology. Okay, don’t hyperventilate. But think about it. We have to be the most connected, available, interruptable people ever! Give yourself a break–literally. Shut off the phone, the computer, and anything else with an on/off switch. Focus on the silence. And what God has to tell you in the midst of it.

2. Regain Perspective. Remember, it’s not about you. Sure, it feels like it is, but it’s really not. It’s about what God wants to accomplish. So step away from yourself. Got mountains close by? The ocean? Anything bigger than you? Look at it. Let the sight of something truly huge and majestic remind you of your place in the world. And then remember that the God who created ALL of that beauty and majesty, not only created you, but CHOSE you as his child. And breathed into you His Spirit. And His creativity.

3. Go the other direction. Study something smaller than you (on a physical plane, that is). To to a playground and watch the kids. Take closeup photos of flowers, insects, leaves…whatever is around you. Look at the intricate way they’re made.

4. Read the Hymns. Many of you mentioned reading Scripture, but I also encourage you to read the older hymns. If you want to see concise, emotive writing, that’s the place to go. Amazing stories told in just a few stanzas. Then try writing your own hymn.

5. Accept the emptiness. I know, I know, we want to keep going. Progress. Reach the goal. Push through the lack of creativity. But here’s what I’ve learned in the midst of my journey: the detours ARE the journey. All those things getting in your way, those obstacles keeping you from accomplishing your goals? Maybe they’re God’s way of putting the brakes on what you’re focused on so He can get you refocused. On Him. And His plans for you.

 More ideas to come next week, so stay tuned. And until then, write on!

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Let Creativity Flow (Part One)

Creativity.

There are days when it flows as free as the Rogue River (and anyone who’s ever been to Oregon knows that’s free indeed!) When ideas come so hard and fast you can scarcely keep up. When the words fly from your fingers, through the keyboard, and onto the page. When creativity happens, it’s electric, exciting, energizing.

And then there are other days.

Days when you sit at the keyboard, staring at a blank screen. When you type…delete…type…delete…and on and on. Every word is a struggle, every character wooden, every plot point contrived. And you ask yourself, for the 110th time, “Why?”

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Ready, Set…WAIT!

Ah, New Year’s. When hearts soar with best intentions and resolutions tumble around us like snow-melt waterfalls. Our hearts and minds surge with all we want to be, all we hope to accomplish, all we regret and want to change…

Okay, now, show of hands: How many of you make New Year’s Resolutions?

Again, show of hands: How many of you KEEP them??

If you were here, watching me, you’d notice my hand is down. I’ve made hundreds of resolutions over the years, and I’ve broken almost every one. It took me a lot of years to understand that this fact doesn’t make me bad or weak-willed or a failure. It took me several more years to realize that the new year isn’t, for me, about resolutions. It isn’t about saying what I will and won’t do.

It’s about listening.

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What A Year It’s Been…

2011 was a year for the books. In my household alone, we saw three job losses (two for my poor hubby, one for me), all to lay-off, a new career launched, job searches (which are still going on), loss of a beloved pet, the addition of a newly beloved pet, health crises faced and survived…and the list goes on. Add to that the upheaval in the industry where I’ve worked for over 30 years, well, everywhere we turned this last year, it seemed something else was going wrong.

I don’t know what your 2011 has been, what challenges or joys you’ve experienced, but I know that many today, yours truly included, wonder where the next year will take us. Will there be total economic collapse in the US? Will we find ourselves in some kind of sci-fi life where we’re fighting for survival?

In the darkest moments, when fear gnawed at the edges of our lives, it was easy to feel as though God had, somehow, glanced away. That He’d blinked of an eternal eye, and in that moment the enemy surged.

Thank heaven feelings aren’t reality.

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Before You Say “I Do”

Thirty-two years ago today I said those very words to my darling hubby, Don, in a candlelit service, surrounded by friends and family. Ours was a whirlwind courtship and marriage. From the time we met to the wedding was a total of 8 months—and we were apart for 3 of those months. Yes, we were young. And yes, in many ways, we were incredibly foolish. But now, 32 years later, I can tell you that though our journey has not been smooth or easy, it’s taught us more than I ever thought possible about love, about faith, about obedience, about grace. God has used two imperfect people to forge a strong, lasting bond, and He’s knit our hearts and spirits together as I once thought impossible.

As I thought about all this today, and about all it’s taken for us to not just survive as a couple but to thrive, it confirmed something I’ve heard and experienced: the author/agent relationship is very much like a marriage. There’s the wooing and courting, often on both parts. There’s trying to figure out how to win the heart of the desired. There’s that flush of excitement when you discover your interest is reciprocal. There’s the proposal, and the happy “I do.”

And then there’s the freakin’ hard work of the relationship.

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Threads in the Fabric (Part three)

Wednesday again! The days go by so fast this time of year! Well, my office Corgi, Mr. Kirby, and I are happy to welcome you inside once again.

Last week we visited the kitchen. Today, let’s meander into the main office, where, no surprise, you’ll see bookcase after bookcase, all overflowing. Oh, I try to decorate and straighten, but more and more I’m embracing the chaos. I’m persuaded true bibliophiles are seldom organized because there are always more books than shelves! And when you consider that I’ve been in publishing for more than 30 years, you KNOW I’ve got an abundance of books. And what a happy abundance that is!

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Threads in the Fabric (Part Two)

As promised last week, during this Christmas season, I want to share with you all the immeasurable gifts I’ve found in the wondrous world of words. So…

Welcome to my office!

The entrance is, as you can see, humble. But what delights I find inside! So let’s slip past my four-legged greeters (Kirby, our Corgi is welcoming you in today), to the first room, which holds not only a table for work and conversation, fellowship and study, but one of the most important elements of my office: the coffee corner! I start each day here, brewing some special creation that will not only energize me for work but fills my office with the delectable fragrance of dark-roasted coffee.

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Threads in the Fabric

If you came to visit my office, you’d see my walls are lined with bookshelves. Twelve in all—six ceiling-to-floor shelves and another six half that height. Plenty of room for all my books, right? Yeah, that’d be nice. I still have box upon box of books, all awaiting the day they can come out and play. Trouble is, I’m out of room for bookshelves. So I find myself faced with the painful duty of culling. I’ve done this difficult task probably 10 times since we moved here 8 Thanksgivings ago, and still the boxes aren’t empty.

What can I say? I love books. Always have. The feel of one in my hands, the smooth pages under my fingers, the welcoming typeface that works magic and brings worlds to life…worlds that sometimes are more real to me than the one I actually live in. Worlds peopled with characters and creatures that have become threads in the fabric of who I am.

Books are, quite simply, a miracle.

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How Things Used to Be

My family and I have discovered a new TV channel we absolutely love: ME TV. No, it’s not about being egotistical. ME stands for Memorable Entertainment, and its lineup boasts all the old shows that we used to watch when I was a kid. No fooling! It’s like my youth has been reborn! Everything from Rockford Files to Wagon Train, Perry Mason, to Dick VanDyke, Hawaii 5-0 (the REAL 5-0) to Family Affair, Columbo to The Guns of Will Sonnett…so many shows that, even at the earliest age, caught my imagination and introduced me to the power of story. Each show, in it’s own way, drew me in, making me a part of the drama, adventure, or romance. I knew, even back then, that I wanted to be a part of all that. Of weaving stories. Of letting them bring truths to life in a way that engaged the heart, imagination, and mind.

But as I’ve watched these old shows, I’ve discovered something. Something that absolutely astounded me. God is there. Up front and center.

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Beautiful Words…100 of Them!

As someone who has studied other languages (French, Spanish, and Russian), I love the physicality of words. When you speak either French or Russian, your whole lower face gets a workout. It’s as though you’re tasting the words as well as speaking them.

Happily, English has words like that as well. Consider the following:

• impecunious
• circuitous
• mellifluous
• exsanguinate
• ebullient
• flummery

Words like these are not only fun to use, they’re fun to say. The feel of some even reflect their meaning. Impecunious has a tight, stingy feel to it. Mellifluous rolls off the tongue. Flummery feels a bit foolish as it escapes you.

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