Christine Mason Miller - The Conscious Booksmith.

I'm teaching this course because I need it.

Christine Mason Miller,  talking of her e-course, The Conscious Booksmith.

I've signed up to do another workshop in the months ahead.  Like the marketing workshop, this one is absolutely vital for me to move forward into a world I know nothing about. 

And so when a woman I have been 'following' online for years, a woman whose work I love, and whose way of putting herself out into the world fills me with respect, offers a workshop on how to make my book real while fitting it into the flow of my own chaotic life ... then obviously I'm going to sign up.

It helps that it is affordable otherwise I might have been left at the window looking in like a kid longing to join but unable to.  But that's something else about Christine.  Her self-confessed mission is about 'Creating spaces, gatherings, businesses, communities, brands and containers that inspire healing, transformation, and stepping more fully into the truth of the world's relentless need for our unique voice in the world.'

In the months ahead, as I step into the flow with my photography workshops, I will also be hard at work on this book I've been dreaming about for years.  And while it has changed from 'all about me and that city I love' to being 'all about that city', it's an idea that has never disappeared.  Only altered and bloomed into something much more than I expected.  And I love what it is set on becoming.

If you are creating any kind of book, take a look at Christine's introduction to her course ...

The Conscious Booksmith: A Mindful Approach to Creating Your Book // with Christine Mason Miller from Animyst on Vimeo.


Some More On Writing, then veering off in Ylvis

19 days of blogging everyday ... sometimes more than once a day. 

And it's interesting, for me, to realise that the more I write the more I want to write.  Last Wednesday I took time out to photograph an event and that had its own rewards.  And then Saturday I took a little more time and interviewed a truly interesting woman

But always, I return to the writing.  And the book is growing.  And it's just as I had experienced, twice before, it feels something like a pregnancy.  I didn't finish the other two books, I didn't make time ... it was life then, the usual excuses I guess.  But with this book ... there is always some thing that is happening with it, some thing that excites me at least once a week.

Of course, there are all the other things too.  I guess they would be the equivalent of cramps too early in the pregnancy, gestational diabetes, elevated bp ... the highs and the lows of growing something you very much want in your life.

My cousin, Julie, the creature who so generously took me traveling with her back in October, has finally arrived in New Zealand.  She left her life in the Cayman Islands a few months ago, came to Italy via a lone roadtrip in the UK, then stayed with us in Belgium, and we did some more of Europe together, and she did Lisbon, and later traveled on to Greece and Malaysia and Australia alone ... but I know I have forgotten some of the 'everywhere' of her travels.

However at some point I realised she had my October interviews, the three I had worked on in Genova.  She had bought a voice recorder there, saying she needed one ...  but really it was so I could borrow it because mine was back in Acqui Terme.  She's like that, one of the kindest people I know.  And so I had a series of delightful interviews recorded on it.  It was a crazy-busy time and somehow I never downloaded them because there was always tomorrow

Having finally arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand a couple of days ago, she was able to send them while I slept last night, despite another earthquake there.   And as I downloaded them, I realised how nervous I had been about it all.  The nausea slowly disappeared as I realised they were all there.  They're for the book too.

So it's like that these days.  The weekend was impossible, Monday was challenging.  Today ... today has started so well.  And I received an exquisite book in the mail.  Oh and last night, I was introduced to the most interesting Norwegian brothers.  Not really 'introduced' actually.  But they call themselves Ylvis.  I don't know which youtube to link too because you have to see them all ...

So ... probably everyone else knows about their song that went viral.  (They're mortified about it just by the way which I find hilarious.)  They explain some of it to Ellen Degeneres here.  The song they're talking of is here ... What Does The Fox Say.

But I think this is the best of their story found so far.  An interview they did on a Norwegian talkshow.  It begins in Norwegian but only the introduction.  Like so many Europeans they speak beautiful English.


Things I'm Learning About Writing A Book

I'm learning ...

I don't write a book in the same way I might train my body at the gym.  It's not about pushing the limits and building up strength.  It's not about endurance. 

And it's not about 9 to 5.  It's about 'anytime'.  My most exciting idea, so far, came while I was walking back through city streets in the early morning, a 5 celsius day.  I was thinking bad thoughts about Antwerp's polluted air.

I smsed my idea to myself.  I had a book for the tram and I know how time stretches and warps on these journeys of mine.  I need to make notes.  Always.  Because I forget stuff.  Even brilliant stuff.

Always make notes.

I have a song, sometimes more than one but usually just one, that I put on repeat ... endlessly on repeat.  It helps somehow.  It disappears into the background but creates a state of mind.  I recently heard Man Booker prize winner, Eleanor Catton, admit to doing it and I thought, 'So it's normal'!'  Many have tried to convince me that it's so far from normal and I should stop immediately.

So, currently, whenever I hear Ben Howard's 'Old Pine' then I know it's time to work.  Maybe I should put a dedication to him in the front of this book.  I've played his song hundreds, if not thousands, of times already. 

Obviously this can only be done when I'm working alone here ...

I am learning to steal the Belgian's bloke's desk-chair the moment he leaves for work, as my chair is an ergonomic disaster, even though we were careful in choosing it and paid more than we wanted to.  He just sighs, rolls my chair away from his desk, and waits while I return his in the evenings.  Thank goodness he works away from home all day ...

Most importantly perhaps, I'm learning not to panic when I can't think of what to write, how to dive in and begin when I have 'just 3 hours to produce something new!!!!'  It will come.  It does.

Oh and if I have the 130 photographs I have chosen (so far) for the book colour-photocopied to A4-size to work on, in batches of 20, then it seems less wicked.  Or is that like the kid playing hide-n-seek, standing in the middle of the room with her hands over her eyes, pretending that she can't be seen.  Hmmmm.

And finally, I'm learning that committing to writing a blog post everyday in November has been more helpful than I could have imagined.

Now,  I'll leave you with Ben. 

Oh ... I've posted this song before?  At least you don't share an office with me  :-)

And now ...

Chance encounters change lives.  Close friends, passing acquaintances and even characters who emerge from old books often leave footprints across my heart.  By opening mysterious doors, the influence of others has inadvertently altered the direction of my life.

Colin Monteath, extracted from Under A Sheltering Sky.

And now ... I am beginning work on a long-talked about book.  Years of ideas have reached a point where I must begin working with them.

When I walk on beaches, I pick up shells ... I'm a sometimes collector.  Stones too, when I wander along the edges of rivers and lakes.  Since I was small.

My photography, I think, emerges out of that same desire to collect, to handle, to pore over later.  But to collect, without ever stopping to enjoy, that seems somehow sad.

So here I am, commiting to this book, for months ... at least a year I think.  That is something I haven't excelled in.  I have so many ideas, so many passions, project ideas.  And I try to follow them all. 

These last two months have been months of insanely beautiful chaos and whimsical impulses ... of action.  People. Places.

But I must have been maturing somehow ... like a wine (I hope, avoiding the old and smelly maturation process we call rotting).  I feel ready to attempt to breathe life into a multi-layered story, using the words and images I have been collecting, to create a portrait of a place I love.

In my people portraits the intention is always about capturing a soul ... something of the true essence of a person.  Now to lift that impulse, that desire, and fit it over a city, over a region, and tell how place can capture a heart.

There will be a photography exhibition in December, here at home I am hoping.  A party.  And there are plans for limited edition print runs, postcards ... but woven so very closely into this book project that I think it will all work.  There will be a series of photography workshop beginning in Spring 2014, and I will leave my door open for one-on-one workshops too but mostly, I'll be here at the desk and working on images and ideas collected since 2008.

And so, here I am, announcing it ... the intention.  Now to work.