What’s going on…and what’s next…

Oscar Outside Door

“What’s going on in there?” Oscar asks from the other side of my office doors. He might also be wondering about the explosion of boxes and activity and energy that’s filled the house, and my mind and soul, over the past few weeks. Truth be told, I’m almost as stunned by it all as he!

No, we’re not moving. But things are moving…clutter, blocked energy, preconceived concepts, old ideas about myself and my creativity. “Hindsight is 20/20” and I can look back now over the past couple years and see the subtle awakenings and shiftings in myself; the emerging longterm effects of living in a politically-ravaged nation…a fire-ravaged community…an expectation-ravaged creative soul; and the chance encounters with people and places that weren’t chance at all but the Universe nudging me a new direction. And when I look back as far as hindsight will allow, I see my husband standing in the kitchen saying to me, “Maybe you’re not the writer you think you are.”

Those words sound harsh, and they were, but not for the reasons you might think. He had been sharing with me the surprises of his own creative journey. He had suddenly realized after so many years of thinking he was one type of musician–that played a certain type of music on a certain type of guitar and equipment but with little creative fulfillment–that he was really a different type of musician altogether. By abandoning these preconceived notions and allowing himself to gravitate toward what felt good and got him excited, he’d found joy and fulfillment where he would never have expected. So, in that moment in the kitchen, as I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to write, to finish current projects or move forward on new ones, that creativity felt like an anchor rather than a sail, he said, “Maybe it’s the same for you, thinking you’re one thing when really, if you give yourself the freedom to just experiment, you’ll find you’re really something else. After all,” he ended, “it shouldn’t feel like work.”

It took two more years of creative anemia and frustration to let that idea sink in…to be fairly considered and processed. Because the realization, that what you’ve painstakingly shaped yourself into isn’t necessarily who you really are, is painful. Now, don’t feel sorry for me! This soul-searching and journey has been such a blessing. Because what I’ve realized is that while I love mysteries and I loved writing one, I don’t necessarily want to write another one. At least not right now. And I don’t want my creativity so narrowly defined. For some time there have been other projects and other types of writing that have lived in my heart and imagination, but I’ve pushed them away because they didn’t fit into the mold I’d squeezed my creative self into. I’ve finally realized that not only is it okay for me to pursue them…I’m supposed to!

So what does this all mean? It means, I’ve burst from a box I didn’t realize I’d been confined to…a box I’m not trashing, but lovingly setting aside for awhile. It means that I’m finally giving attention to the fights and passions that get me energized and speaking and creating rather than pushing them away. It means I’m walking forward…with baby steps and fewer expectations and more joy. And in the most concrete terms, it means I’m working on a new website and project to be launched on Earth Day! Don’t fear…this site, shelleymasini.com, and its blog will remain active as my author’s website and voice, though it will also be revamped to be more inline with these realizations and new path.

And that, dear Oscar and dear friends, is what’s going on in here! Stay tuned with me.

 

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The tomato vine…the Maltese Falcon…the process…

Desk

A check-in is long overdue! Summer, recently filled with eerie orange skies and hot nights, devastating California fires and Texas floods, a personal call to action and unanticipated foray into gardening, lots of exercising and even more revising, is (thank goodness!) almost over. But before the bluebird flies and my favorite season arrives, what news do I have for you…?

IMG_9161First, in very old news, I’m trying a new creative experiment: associating specific creative ideas & projects with specific scents. The goal…? Twofold. First, I often can’t sit down and write when I’d like to…namely, mornings, when instead I’m heading off to work. And when I do have time to write, I don’t feel like it. So just maybe, in those moments, if the story had a certain scent…like yummy vanilla sugar…and I took a deep inhale, the urge to write might be rekindled. Second, I’d like to successfully work on more than one project. It’s not always easy to shift between worlds and characters, so I thought perhaps if I had a trigger…tomato vine for this mystery, coffee for that short story, etc…I might be able to jump in and out of multiple worlds more easily. As I say, it’s an experiment…so I’ll keep you posted.

Second, in not-quite-as-old news, as you can see from my new favorite glass above, I recently went on a walking tour of Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco, organized by the Northern California Sisters in Crime and conducted by Don Herron, who’s been leading these tours for 40 years…since the year I was born! Don describes the nature of the tour best on his website:

Shadow Sam Spade in his quest for the fabulous figurine of a mysterious black bird. Prowl the back alleys where the Continental Op, Hammett’s longest-running detective, faced down the opposition over the barrel of his blazing .38. Follow Hammett himself as he works for the Pinkerton Detective Agency on the infamous Fatty Arbuckle case. See the spot where Spade’s partner, Miles Archer, with a smile on his mug and his pistol buttoned away under his overcoat, met swift death in the night-fog.

It’s always a joy to see a familiar place in a new way…and I certainly saw San Francisco cast in thrilling, noir shadows that revealed places and things I’d never noticed but passed by many times. Just a few photos of some of my favorite parts…

 

(And if you don’t know who Dashiell Hammett or Sam Spade are, or what the Maltese Falcon is…get thee to a bookstore now!)

Lastly, the latest news. I’ve remembered to enjoy the process! I owe this reminder to my husband…photographer, musician, and all around creative-being-extradonaire! I watch him spend hours at his arts…chasing tone, crafting songs, creating images…for the mere pleasure of it. The joy and energy he radiates after spending an evening on one guitar lick or one portrait should be bottled up and prescribed to overwrought, cynical artists of all types. Being around him has reminded me that if you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, then you’re either missing the point or aren’t doing what you really love. (That said, I’ve also observed that by following his bliss he has courted success and opportunity…new band mates, music gigs, photography assignments…proving Julia Cameron’s point that the Universe loves happy artists and wants to help them!)

And that’s it for this summer. I’ll leave you in the pub with a cold beer listening to my inspiring husband…

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The true leap…

After ten days of glorious winter sunshine, the rains have returned. And after ten days of luxurious winter break, I must return to the real world and a new position! Somehow, despite the moments of anxiety and trepidation that have punctuated my vacation whenever I considered the leap I’m taking, quite unexpectedly, today I find myself ready for the challenge. In fact, I’m even preparing…

getting-ready-for-work

But preparations are not just about getting my notes and supplies in order, or cleaning out my bag and doing laundry…it’s also about putting things in perspective.

Meaning…no matter how I earn my keep, no matter how good I may be at my day job, no matter where my car takes me to and from Monday thru Friday…I am a writer and so “success” must be defined as something more than just fulfilling a job description and passing probation. It is being inspired throughout the day, taking the time to jot ideas down, even daydreaming a bit; having energy in the evenings for writing and revising and scheming; and keeping weekends free for adventures, my whiteboard, and research.

The true leap I’m taking…and must take every day, as fearlessly as possible…is being a writer first.

Fog…mourning doves…2017…

I awoke this morning to find the house enshrouded in mist. It was as if, while I slept, the fog which has so befuddled my creative senses these past six months seeped from my head with each sleeping snore, then out through the cracks of this drafty house, leaving my mind clear for the new year. It seemed almost too good to be true! But as I made my first cup of coffee, I noted a single mourning dove…symbol of female fertility and procreation…perched on the bare branches of the tree outside the window and I knew I was finally returning to my creative self!

So often people start the New Year by giving up things they love…drinking, smoking, perceived bad behavior. No pun intended, but I gave up that practice long ago! For me the New Year…this one more than ever…is about taking back. This year I vow to take back my creative courage, joy, and energy…and return to the path from which I strayed sometime last year, the end of which was particularly rough on my creativity.

Now the fog has burned off and the mourning dove departed, but I’ve captured their messages in my heart, which is excited, joyful, and inspired on this first day of 2017!