Getting back to being what I should be doing…

Writers write… I once had a friend who always said to me that little two word phrase over and over. It echoes in my mind, and how I wish I could hear him say that to me now.  He is gone, on to another dimension.  That little phrase echoes in my mind, heard it many times before, and then I think it, because I got away from the writing, not that I wanted to get away from it… it just happened. I realized I had become so distracted by many other outside influences, mainly people who were crashing into my life, taking up my time… Perhaps I let them in to take up the time.

Writing has structure and words that create the home of the story. Writing is the same as fixing up a house into a home to have the ultimate charm of a comfortable living space. Writing for story has structure, the arch, the story, the problem, the solution and in writing children’s stories, the pictures carry the charm forward. These pictures are page turners, so that the book stands up and the story can hold water.  A good story is the home of a story.  It lives in our minds and it can live on paper too, as long as one has carved out the place for the story to exist. Pictures enhance the story through imagination and if the pictures are wonderful, the story leans on less words.

I miss those little moments when I could easily spin out a yard of words. Those moments are snaps of time and they bring me back to the moment I created them.  I had to decide a few things this year, with much cajoling from my daughter, who so wished that I would get back into the trek story and finish it. She told me she liked it best without all the flashbacks, because that was what confused her. She liked the straight story of what she knew from growing up in my family, listening to the stories from 1844. She loved her memory of going to our museum to be a part of the curating of our family things that were from an era that has to do with the settlement of early California.  She begged me to just spin out the story as she had heard it as a young child of seven and eight years old.

I AM writing the novel now. It is the first time that I have attempted such a thing outside of short stories and children’s stories.  It has gripped me for a very long time.  I wrote it seventeen years ago while my parents were living, because they also knew the oral history of the story.  It was a time when I could share that writing experience with them, as they eagerly awaited the next installment of the story.  At this same time, I wrote a column for the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum, sharing the family history written for publication every month.  They were excited that I was capturing those moments in time and that there was quite a following who read my stories each month.  Then in graduate school those folks wanted me to change the novel all up with flashbacks and it lost its dignity. I didn’t know how to bring it back to life. I felt that it needed to be shelved for it was developed into a different story that was stilted and confusing.  So I shelved it until January of this year, 17.5 years had passed.  In January when my daughter came out to visit me, she begged and begged me to find it and dust it off.  She and I found it in an old computer that I had lugged with me every time I bought a place, fixed it up, and turned that place into a home for me or a home for someone else. That was my life for the past twelve years in California and in New York. I thought I wanted to be a house renovator and I was doing all of that. It was stressful and satisfying to do, but it really wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing.

They say people innately know what the gift is that comes naturally to them, like a singer song writer, a mechanic, a builder, an excavator, and an artist.  Some people develop their gift early on and stick with it.  I often read or heard about how folks have developed their craft through the years, suffered setbacks and, how they kept going with their craft, through grit and grim, just because they believed in themselves. That is a very strong conviction to believe in your craft and have the courage to carry it forward.  I wish I had believed in myself all those years ago and kept trying to get Elephoot published early on. I always knew that I wanted to write, but I never actually had the confidence to do much beyond the work day correspondence for someone else.  Ten years ago after revisiting some of my early favorite authors, I realized that Beatrix Potter had self-published her stories and illustrations. It was after that when I began my adventure in learning to write for children and I carved out a niche for my drawings as they went hand in hand with my stories.  One story I had written and illustrated in 1973 while living in England, when I was 21, spoke to me to unleash her and let other children in the world get to know her too. I had read and shared Elephoot’s story with children that I knew for forty years, including my own daughter. The pages had turned yellow with age and so I ended up reworking Elephoot’s story and re-illustrating her story in watercolors, using the same pigments as before.  I learned how to self-publish it and it has been a great journey and a nice revival for me. Elephoot seeded me with hope to carry on with the stories.  I have loved seeing the smiles on children’s faces as well on the parents who read or turn the pages of this book and the sequel, Elephoot Returns, and Penelope The Tea Mouse, another book in the series.  Now it is my fervent hope that the Trek story will be finished soon.

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A Quick Little Thought

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something zip across the room and behind an old bureau that belonged to my parents. Seconds later, the gears in my head move ever so slowly in the morning, before my first cup of coffee, then I wondered, “What was that?” Before I could get out of my chair I realized I had a visitor… Penelope scurried along my desk and sat herself down right in front of my computer screen! She looked somewhat the same, she was still a medium size brown mouse, with an oval face, with large button-blue eyes, and she still had a set of long whiskers, however, these now were completely white. Bits of white tufts encircled and grew out of her ears, but she was just as spry as I remembered her from our old home in San Francisco. It wasn’t so long ago that we were all living in that old home on Filbert Street, all of us growing up there together. I think it is rather interesting that Penelope has turned up after much time has gone by! Her timing is impeccable, because I am just launching her story in a book called, “Penelope – The Tea Mouse” … Orders may be placed through Ingram, or through your local bookstore.

This book follows two others, Elephoot and Elephoot Returns…

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Unraveling the Basics

Reading, writing and illustrating… The daily do-list… It seems that all this comes naturally on the days and nights when I can pound out word after word and not worry which way it looks on paper or in the computer nowadays.  I look back on the dry spells and wonder what I thought about then, or what was I doing?  Was I gathering fodder or looking through scraps of paper reminding me of things to write about? Was I simply on a museum day with a friend, on an outing, driving somewhere to do an errand and/or taking a moment to relax?  We all have these days or nights. It is what we do with the time that we take when we aren’t crafting our crafts.  I used to write streams of stories and they came one after the other.  Then I turned my brain over to illustrating them, and those little pictures turn up when they do.  If I am not satisfied with the image, I don’t turn them away or throw them out- I hang on to them, because they can be used at another time. It can be an image for a card, or a baby’s room wall in a frame and so forth.  Then I started the book, now that is finished, so I started the publishing side and then I started to sell them.  Each day has flown into the next one.  Each idea developed another whole slew of ideas and they keep on coming… Trouble is finding the time to develop each one of those ideas.  From the first book came the next book in the series.  I re-wrote the second book to create the pathway for other stories… The ideas just keep occurring to me. I thought perhaps the characters live in my head, and now they want out, but in reality once a person starts something, then ideas can be grown out of what is started.  Now people are asking for more books in the series.  Everything has a time and a place, but who knew that these bits of imagination could start to rule my life.  It has been fun for me to see the actual book, and also to hear someone giggle when they read the book or look at the illustrations.  The simple basics we learned as children become the pillars of the daily do-list…  Repetition, thoughts, silly ideas, can work themselves into your craft. All one has to do is start, and then it just unravels as you go… one word, one link, one thought, soon a strand or a line, then a paragraph, then a chapter, then a book… !

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Life’s Turning Wheel

It seems we are all on a wagon wheel during our lifetimes. We strive to get to the center of the wheel where we can be our own boss, control what we can, and grow in any direction, with a purpose. Some days we see growth and other days it may seem like we are standing still. Sometimes we can spin out of control. Just pulling back and reflecting on where we have been and where we are going can be enlightening. I like to think of the spinning wheel as a place where we gather and store our threads or thoughts.

My spinning wheel from 2010 through 2013 was very productive in a new direction. I re-worked a story that I had written and illustrated a long time ago. It was so long ago that the paper had yellowed and the illustrations had to be redone, if I were to do anything with the story. I had read this story to children over the years, and eventually to my own child while she was growing up. As I started to redraw and paint the illustrations, I imagined a new story dimension and started recreating the story and illustrations to suit the new story. This wagon wheel kept spinning and spinning and I discovered that my illustrations grew more delightful and more whimsical as I recreated the rudimentary illustrations that I had begun in 1973.

In the middle of 2013 I went to another children’s book symposium and realized from the advice given to me there that my story pictures could stand on their own. (I didn’t have to explain the story with text). So I cut down the words of the story and soon my picture book spun itself into a picture book category. Out of that reality grew a thought to self-publish and test the market with it. The spinning wheel of ideas has never let me down because every day I devote some time to the story, by getting out there and meeting people who want to know about me, and how I came to writing it and how can they obtain a copy of Elephoot….. http://www.holdenswhimsicals.com

If you have a dream, just keep on creating your idea and don’t ever stop, keep working on your dream, and then take the reach that your spinning wheel leads you. One idea leads to another and once you climb aboard and let your spinning wheel take you where it wants to go, you will eventually see your creation come to life. My spinning thoughts are: keep on – keep on turning your wheel.

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one word at a time…

Just as the fish in my header picture, chasing one after the other, with a turtle sighing on the bottom of the pond, I wonder about many things when I can’t seem to spin out a story.  How does writing happen?  Do other people just get a quick idea and go with the flow?  Do the words come one by one or do they fill in the blanks as the thoughts come to them?  Sometimes I have it all worked out in my brain and things just fall down on the page like magic.  Other times like now I am wondering how do I get there?  Why are some thoughts and stories already worked out and they just come to me in a series of thoughts.  I guess that tonight isn’t the night to figure that out.  I am writing and illustrating again and perhaps that is all that matters.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

Dear All,

I have been writing and illustrating a children’s story for the past two years.  This has been quite a journey and very rewarding for me too.  Writing uses one side of my head and maybe the illustrations come from the other side.  Some days are dry and on other days the words and illustrations just flow perfectly.  At times I find that I will draw or paint way into the night when the phone doesn’t ring and at other times the daylight will be the right light to add the watercolors to the pages.  I wish I could control both of these entities and have perfect results each time I attempt something.

If you are interested in viewing or purchasing my whimsical illustrations, please visit:

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/helen-holdengladsky.html

 

About six weeks ago I had to decide who I wanted to give my time to.  Every day there were commitments and deadlines and people wanted my attention for all kinds of things. Then I imposed a self-appointed time for me and only me to do what I want to do.  I have labeled this time as My Time.  I don’t have to explain to anyone anymore that I need my time too.  It was concept that I had a hard time doing, parceling out time for myself.  I had to practice saying “No” and also I had to learn that I don’t have to give any explanations to anyone.  Mostly now I say I am working on my book, but it could be my blog, or my illustrations, but the end result is that I have had more time for myself and more time for developing my stories and art. And, I feel so much better!

We all need time away and if we can’t go on a vacation then taking one’s time down their own rabbit hole to a space far away from those who impose on us is the next best solution.  I come up for air and I go on walks and I hop along knowing that I am enjoying some free time away from the crowd!

 

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Living in the eye of a needle…

To our eyes there isn’t much room inside the eye of a needle. I am sure if we were a mere speck, the space between the eye of a needle would seem large enough or perhaps, on the other hand, it wouldn’t seem large at all depending on one’s perspective.  In this era we are preoccupied with the size of our spaces, our cubicles, our daily space.  While living in this economy we have had to pull back and live in less space, and some people have had to pull up stakes and move out altogether.  Could this economic disaster that we have been experiencing have been prevented if better rules had been set by our financial institutions worldwide?  This is a question that has been raised often and every take on it that I read in magazines, I realize that no one knows what will happen next.  There are predictions and trends that are written about, and there are vast opinions about how our markets will turn around. I am not an economist, I am like the rest of the world of people who have ever had a dream and invested bits and pieces into companies through the stock market with the hopes of having a retirement of safely invested monies.  One fear is that nothing is safe, yet we continue trying to believe that our markets will strengthen as more money is poured through the eye of needle into various fund manager’s fingertips within the confines of office space of large investment companies.  I’d like to believe that we are on the rising end of this economic wave and that new rules will replace the ones that were easy to get around. Perhaps someone will create an algorithm program to track the market and expose the threads that will likely cause rifts within the eye of the economic needle.

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