For years, I felt completely creatively blocked. These days, ideas flow through me faster than I can harness them. Although I’ve continued to quietly work away on my novel, Life By Fire, I’ve also ventured into other works. In August, I started to write a middle-grade chapter book for kids around age 10 called Genevieve’s Worlds. The book has several purposes:
- To speak to kids my eldest daughter’s age.
- To give kids an appreciation of math and physics that I did not learn in school.
- To teach kids how to dream big and set goals.
- To provide me with a short-term project and experience publishing, before I venture into publishing Life By Fire.
Here’s a preview of Genevieve’s Worlds:
“My name is Genevieve Harris. I’m 10 years old and I’m an oddity. At least that’s what my Granny calls me pretty much everyday. Why? Well, lots of reasons really: I’m really smart (although I have trouble focusing). I love numbers (although not really what they do with them in school). And I see things that other people don’t see. I see energy (although I can’t really prove that because nobody else I know can see what I see so I try not to mention it most of the time).”
The year is 2022 and Genevieve’s life is about to change. The mine her father works for is closing. Her family is moving from a tiny satellite town way up north to the busy city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As Genevieve approaches her 11th birthday on November 11, 2022, her ability to handle life in this new, noisy city reaches a breaking point and she collapses into a coma. What happens after that will change her life, and yours, forever.
December 10, 2082, Stockholm, Sweden
Imagine a world with free energy. Imagine a planet unblemished by mines or oil rigs and even a horizon uninterrupted by wind mills or solar panels. What if an abundant, ever-flowing source of free energy existed? Energy that did not use up the earth’s resources or the galaxy’s? How would that change the world? How would that change your life? Think about it for a moment. Or a few moments. Or maybe even for a few days. I’ve thought about it a lot.
Do you know what a Nobel Prize is? I do. Do you know how I know? I just received a Nobel Prize in Physics—a month and a day after my 72nd birthday. I received the Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering and harnessing a new form of energy—free energy. I know it will change the world for the better. Does that make me an amazing person? Maybe. Maybe everyone is an amazing person, in their own unique way.
YOU are an amazing person. You have the potential to do incredible things. Only you can find and fulfill your unique Purpose in this life. Explore new ideas. Search for new truths. Ask for help and the answers will come. They may not come the way they did for me, but they will come. I can’t wait to read your story in the history books.
Here’s my story—the story of my worlds—Genevieve’s Worlds.
Several years ago, after watching a documentary about a child who believed he was a reincarnated monk and returned to monastic life, I wrote a short story called The Littlest Monk. Then I buried it with other neglected files.
Several months ago, I reincarnated the story and edited it fairly extensively with the intention to illustrate and publish it. In line with my experience as a website usability professional, I recognized the need to complete some informal usability testing to assess the success of my story with my intended user group—six-year-olds. So, I arranged with my daughter, Tessa’s, teacher to come into her classroom to read them the story and ask their feedback.
A Little Monk
Since I had not yet completed a worthy illustration, I showed the Grade 1 students a number of images I had “pinned” on Pinterest then proceeded to read them the story. Ahh, the joy of asking six-year-olds for constructive criticism…they have no hesitation giving it freely!
The story was too long. Their squirming toward the end of the story had already told me so. But, I confirmed it by asking them “was it too long or too short or just right” and receiving a chorus of enthusiastic “toooooo looonnnngggg”s in reply.
In reading the story aloud, I also noted a number of unnecessary expletives that needed to go. Upon return home, I immediately weeded the story further, including removing an entire section—a section that my gut had told me needed to go earlier, but which I hadn’t had the heart to chop until seeing it flop with the audience.
At this point, the story awaits worthy illustrations. I can see them perfectly in my mind’s eye. But, I experience acute frustration when I pick up a pencil and realize just how rusty my drawing skills have become. A few people have recommended I don’t even try to illustrate it myself but to find an experienced local illustrator to take on that task for me. But, they don’t know how stubborn I am—slow I may be, but persistent I am. I want to complete my vision myself.
So, I ask for divine assistance—to unleash my creativity…on little monks and other six-year-olds.
Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) in Bhutan.
Creative Inspiration. A Maxfield Parrish painting.
Last summer, we cleaned out the loft of our barn and found many things, both animate and inanimate (some of the inanimate having been partially eaten by the animate). Our found treasures included a book called Cordelia and the Enchanted Forest, which I had written and illustrated as a project in high school.
My girls, ages 9 and 5, found the book suitably enchanting, leading me to consider resurrecting it. Both the story and the illustrations need work but have potential. I typed the story into my laptop to begin the editing/re-writing process. And, I pondered: how can I enter back into the habit of drawing in preparation for re-illustrating the book?… Enter Zentangle!
A short while later, I received an email from a local couple seeking my website services. They told me about their businesses. Patricia is a Zentangle instructor. What is Zentangle, you ask? Well, it is great fun! Google it and you’ll find lots of examples. As the name suggests, the practice of Zentangle acts as a form of meditation in which one gets lost in the “tangle” of an intricately patterned ink illustration.
Tonight, I attended an introductory Zentangle class! You can see my first official Zentangle square above. But, really, I think I started zentangling before it ever became Zentangle®. I also found the sketch of a bird I completed as a teenager hidden in a sketchbook. Look Zen-like? I have always reveled in fine pen and ink and intricate organic pattern. So, Zentangle just fits.
Since writing a novel and publishing it in progress isn’t quite challenging enough, I’ve added writing and illustrating a children’s book for publication to the works. So, as my Life by Fire continues to burn, expect some enchanted tangles of zen on the side.