Best Blog Writing on Creativity And The Arts: My 2012 Review

My 2012 was filled with literary opportunities and relationships, both here in Baltimore and around the world. Along the way, I learned a great deal from several writers who take great risks with their words and paved the way for other writers to do the same. I contacted 13 writers, and 7 responded with links to some of their best pieces published in 2012.

an eighth writer, Dan Cuddy, sent me some work that wasn’t necessarily published as articles on his own site; instead, he sent me notes and letters sent to other writer-friends. This sonnet, written in October 2012 to Clarinda Harriss and Moira Egan, struck me rather deeply:

Writing sonnets demands order, the kind
That assembles red-coated soldiers wearing
Black boots, polished like their obedient minds,
And having them strut cold regal bearing.
Writing parades its form, and in a sonnet
The tune is old indeed that the feet march to,
Though modern quirks appear, bees in the bonnet,
And maybe words like somewhat quaint “hark to”.
The discipline though is just surface order;
Within the uniform a human squirms and sweats,
The words’ emotion’s outline, purpose, border.
All is restrained, tamped down, the frets, regrets.
Quaint sonnet form sometimes girdles the heart.
The war within held so stiff, sedate, apart.
~Dan Cuddy

I am most grateful to Dan, Adam, Alyssa, Bernadette, Cara, Jodi, Laura, and Rob for answering the call to share their work. Please continue to support these wonderful writers and all they are doing to encourage us to write — and to publish — the very essence of what makes us uniquely human.

And now, without further ado, I present the writers who encouraged and supported me with their own words throughout 2012. Thanks, all. May you continue to do your service to writers around the globe.

 

Adam Byatt

Adam is an English teacher and occasional drummer sifting through the ennui, minutiae and detritus of life and cataloguing them as potential story ideas.  They are pretty much a pad of sticky notes on the fridge door.

Occasionally he finds loose change.

He inhabits Twitter as @revhappiness and writes flash fiction and blogs at A Fullness In Brevity

In 2013 he intends to continue the collaborative epistolary narrative, Post Marked: Piper’s Reach with Jodi Cleghorn, and has plans for a novella, a work of non-fiction on creativity and the odd short story or two.

Adam’s Links:

Don’t Wait For Permission

Tell Me Your Story

Confess Your Creativity

Creativity As An Adventure Of The Soul

Alyssa Bailey

Alyssa Bailey is a UNC-Chapel Hill December 2012 graduate who is preparing to make her move to New York City to start her career in the magazine industry. In 2012 alone, she studied abroad in Paris (her first time out of the country!), interned at Women’s Wear Daily in Paris and at ELLE magazine in New York over the summer, and finished up her French and journalism degree in Chapel Hill one semester early.

2013 Plans: To settle in New York and snag a job as an editorial assistant at a top fashion or women’s interest magazine. To truly embrace post-grad life and continue to learn from others around her. To be bold, a resource and just someone who takes chances and makes stories. Also, of course, to find time to write about what she takes in every now and then.

Alyssa’s Links:

Uncertainty— a post on uncertainty, probably one of the hardest things for me (and most people) to cope with and the journey to tolerating and even embracing it.

Someday— a post on the idea of someday people, that lost long-term love interest you play with the idea of ultimately settling down with, even though you’re in different places for the foreseeable future.

Hidden— a post on hidden interests and how they show there is more to people than we think and how that secret side is worth learning.

Spark— a post on sparks and the difference one person and chemistry can make.

 

Bernadette A. Moyer

For 2013, Bernadette will continue to fundraise for children’s causes and basic human needs like food, clothing and shelter for the poor. Her next book titled Just a Few Things I Learned Along the Way is expected to be published in the Fall of 2013. Her personal web site is www.bernadetteamoyer.com, and she can be found on Facebook; her blog posts can be found at redroom.com.

Bernadette’s Links:

You Need To Make Peace With Yourself

I Am A Writer

When A Man Loves A Woman

 

Cara Moulds

Cara Moulds holds a Masters of Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University and Administration & Supervision Certification from JHU, and is a National Board Certified Teacher.  As a former high school administrator, she is skilled at helping people set goals and achieve success. She is the founder of  The Spiritual Power of Creative Living, where she writes and vlogs on incorporating spirituality and creativity for success in your professional and personal life. Cara is also an accomplished  fine art photographer with a permanent exhibit at the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital in Howard County, MD. Most recently, she is the co-founder of the Creative Counsel For Artistry & Inspiration.

Cara’s Links:

The Courage To Write

Moodling Today

Grace And The Horse’s Electric Fence — or How To Identify Limiting Beliefs

Honoring Resistance To Do The Work

 

Jodi Cleghorn

Jodi is an author, editor and small press innovator with a penchant for the dark side of humanity. Published in anthologies in Australia and abroad, she was the 2011 recipient of the Kris Hembury Encouragement Award for Emerging Artist. ELYORA is her first novella.

Jodi’s Links:

How Truancy Taught Me the Importance on Endings

Friend or Foe: The Impact of Your Belief System on Writing

How I Catalogue the Chaos

How I Found My Way Back to the Light

Laura Shovan

Editor of Little Patuxent Review, Laura Shovan was a finalist for the 2012 Rita Dove Poetry Award. Her chapbook, Mountain, Log, Salt and Stone, won the 2009 Harriss Poetry Prize (CityLit Press, 2010). She edited Life in Me Like Grass on Fire: Love Poems (MWA Books, 2011) and co-edited Voices Fly: An Anthology of Exercises and Poems from the Maryland State Arts Council Artist-in-Residence Program (CityLit Press, 2012), for which she teaches.

Recent accomplishments: poems to be published by Quarrtsiluni and Seminary Ridge Review in 2013, reading at Minas Gallery January 6 at 4 PM, working on a children’s novel-in-verse. In February, participating in a literary exchange with poets from North Carolina. In March, attending AWP for the first time, representing LPR.

Laura’s Links:

Poetry Friday:  Now You Know the Worst” The recent post is a response to the Sandy Hook shootings. It includes a poem by Wendell Berry. The posts looks at children creating art as a means of coping with violent events.

The most popular post from my National Poetry Month series, “30 Habits of Highly Effective Poets” was Dennis Kirschbaum’s hysterical look at writers’ block. Dennis’ first chapbook is coming out from Finishing Line Press in 2013. I’m very excited for him! He’s a Maryland poet.

Last, I’d like to share a truly magical moment from one of my school residencies: “Poetry Friday: Mummy of Lady Teshat.” The post features an ekphrastic poem written by a fifth grade student. When she read the poem to her class, it was electric. One of the highlights of my entire teaching career.

 

Rob Diaz

Rob Diaz spends his days writing computer software and his nights chauffeuring his children around his hometown of Hamilton, New Jersey. Rob is a vegetarian, an avid organic gardener and a trumpet player; he is also a professional coffee drinker. He writes fiction in which coffee, vegetarians, the number thirteen and the natural environment play pivotal roles. For the past two years, Rob has been writing a regular column for Write Anything and starting in 2013 he will be writing for Today’s Author. You can also visit him on his blog: Thirteenth Dimension.

Rob’s Links:

Footprints

A Change In Perspective

The Advice Of The Old

 

Daily Writing Inspiration AND Providing Hurricane Sandy Relief

Today’s Smash365 creativity prompt, SPRINT, provides a quick tip to writers who are working on their November novels for NaNoWriMo. More importantly, it also includes a special offer that helps the families and animals who have been affected directly by Hurricane Sandy.

My creativity partner over at Smash365, Cara, has created 50,000 Words Or Bust, a 98-page ebook of writing and photo prompts for inspiration during the month of November, when over 300,000 writers are attempting to write a novel in a month for NaNoWriMo.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, she started looking for a way to help people who are still without homes, electricity, food, clothes, water. As an animal lover and avid supporter of animal rights, Cara decided to donate ALL of the proceeds from the sale of this ebook to The Humane Society of the United States for their Disaster Relief Fund.

Please take a moment to check out this invaluable resource for writers; for just $5, you get 98 inspirations to cheer you on in your writing, and you also provide some immediate relief to those who are struggling just to find a meal in the next few hours.

50,000 Words Or Bust. For $5, you can make a difference in your writing and, more importantly, in the lives of so many others.

Why I Wrote — And Published — Cold Rock

I am a writer, photographer, educator, and speaker. But more than any of those things individually or together, I am a strong advocate for all of us to accept the challenges we face daily and do our best to live an inspiring and fulfilling life.

I wrote and published Cold Rock because I believe in sharing this desire to live fully with as many people as I can. Everything about my writing, teaching, photography, and workshopping is meant to inspire others to recognize the beauty in living in the present; it is imperative that we embrace our individuality and be confident with who we are.

This is my latest book, first published in December 2011 as a print book. It quickly became an inspired reading shared across the country. I am really excited to release it as an eBook and share it with an even larger audience. It’s available on Amazon here, and I priced it as low as I possibly could (it’s just $2.99) to give everybody an opportunity to read it.

Many of the subjects in Cold Rock deal with really tough issues — bullying, sex abuse, depression and even suicide. I wrote about these topics because they are out there — not exclusively in the churches, or in our neighborhoods, or in our schools. They are in all of these places, and so many more. We need to have the courage to stand up to these atrocities, help those in need, and find the strength within ourselves to believe in Love, to believe in each other, to believe in living an inspired and fulfilling life.

It wasn’t easy to write about these topics, and I don’t mean to single out any single group (such as religious leaders) or mental illness (such as depression); rather, these are representatives of the larger issues we face every day. They are in our past, and they often reveal themselves in our present; we need to do our best to combat them with strength, self-confidence, and love.

Some of the incidents in Cold Rock did happen to me, on various levels. It was especially hard to write about them, but the driving force in me to do so was to open the door for others to do the same: find the courage, confront the obstacles and the atrocities, and live a fulfilling and loving life.

Many of the things I do today support this mission. I run a nonprofit group called LinesofLove.org, which is an outreach program for teens and young adults struggling with anxiety and depression.

Smash365.com is one of my latest projects. It is a culmination of decades of research and writing in spirituality and living life fully. My creative partner, Cara Moulds, and I write daily creativity prompts to help others just like you and me SMASH our fears and live inspired lives. Our prompts are challenging, but they are also free. And they always will be. We hope they provide individuals the chance to experience their journey through life with passion and happiness.

Finally, there’s MarylandVoices.com, an ever-transforming journal of literary advocacy focused on publishing cutting-edge creative nonfiction that tackles taboo issues like the ones I confront in Cold Rock. I encourage you strongly to get involved at your local level and advocate for fairness, equality, and social justice.

I received my MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College, and I am available for speaking engagements and workshops in writing (specializing in journaling and writing memoir), photography, publishing, and inspired living. Follow me daily at rusvw.net/blog, and feel free to contact me directly at rusvw13@gmail.com.

I believe in you. I believe in the power of Love. I believe we all have a chance to make the choices that will change this world. Contact me. Let’s get started on making a difference within ourselves first, and then with the rest of our communities in general.

Rus

Back in the Bliss

photo: rus vanwestervelt, 23 october 2011, river chase farm, aldie, va

Well, I did it again, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Not only did I leave Facebook and Twitter, I stopped my usual rounds of catching up on the latest football news, rankings, and predictions on the local news sites, not to mention ESPN, SI, Foxsports, and other national sports sites.

Finally, I feel like I can breathe again.

Not that I don’t miss chatting with my closer friends on Facebook, I do. But I imagine that, in the coming days and weeks (and it’s already started to happen with some friends), I will be finding other ways to catch up with them.

You know. In person. Face to face. Real time.

I don’t knock the social networks. They serve a purpose that can be both fun and meaningful for all kinds of relationships. But I know that, for me to be fully present for my family and still focus on my writing and photography, something had to give.

Already, I am writing more (I am here as well, which says a lot), my focus is better when spending time with others, and I am not glued to my phone or my computer.

None of these are any surprise to me. This is my third or fourth separation from Facebook, and each time I experience the same bliss.

Why even go back, then? Why return to the social-media time suckers that compromise the very things that bring me the greatest joy and allow me to live a most-balanced life?

I have no idea.

Maybe this time I won’t. I know that my book sales might suffer, and I might not have as many people see some of the photos that I have taken. As well, I know such a move goes against every marketing strategy that’s been devised in the last three years for artists who are trying to launch some kind of name for him or herself.

But my time with my family is too valuable to sacrifice for social networking and trying to “make it” as a writer and artist. I write and I take photos because it is in me; it is a part of who I am, and I cannot stop it any faster than I can stop breathing (thanks, Lacey, for that so many years ago). What is NOT a part of me is the whole selling of my work and playing some kind of game that gets me running with the creative consultants and gurus of the craft. Not when it comes at the cost of sacrificing time with my wife and children.

God bless the social gurus and network marketers. We need them, and they help so many undo the myriad blocks that have kept thousands and thousands from living a more creative, inspired life. I have family members and friends who are burning incredible new virtual paths in the connections they are making. These people are changing lives, and we are better off for their tireless energy and spirit.

Me, though? I need to do that networking at a distance. I will let my words and my images speak for me, and I will never turn down an invitation to converse about the things we love. But I cannot sell you me using social media as a device to further my passions. I just can’t.

So, you’ll see me around here more frequently. I’m still writing for Write Anything, I’m still working hard with my creative partner Cara Moulds at Cool Blue Souls on our daily Smash365 prompts and book reading club, and I’m wrapping up my book Cold Rock for release before the end of the year. I am looking for new venues for my photography, and I have a full line of competitions and deadlines for shorter writing submissions that I’m sending out on a biweekly basis. All of this is possible with the focus that is returning, thanks to my break-up with social media.

I’ll see you here and other places online and in print as well, but most importantly, I’d like to see you in person. Let’s hold on to the very things we should never stop cherishing: the embracing of life’s fragility, hand in hand, as we go along our way.