Creative Cooperation

Sliding Otter News
March 27, 2010
Volume 2, Issue 7

Creative Cooperation Still Lives in Our Community

Jackson Square

Jackson Square

~The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.~
Albert Einstein

Recently I attended a planning meeting for this summer’s Batavia Ramble. I once thought this was a gathering of Country-Western bands. Then I discovered that bands plan to grace us with all sorts of music. As those who attended the meeting shared their excitement and ideas, I learned of other possibilities as well. I was suddenly more interested in the whole undertaking.

Artists will be showing their works. Children will explore craft projects. Crafters will share and demonstrate their skills and wares. Other artists will be invited to sketch the festivities live. Street performers may well dot the landscape.

The discussion captured my imagination. I envisioned our community coming together to share our collective creativity. Many creative efforts these days are geared toward advertising and efforts to get people to part with their money. I learned that attendance at the Ramble will be free of charge. None of the organizers or performers will be paid for their efforts. Everyone involved is motivated by their love of their particular art and their wish to share it with others rather than an interest in making money.

For days after the meeting, I thought again and again about the growing tendency to grab what we want for ouselves despite our neighbor’s needs. Here is a group of people sharing their creativity with no expectation of financial reward. Perhaps the world community situation is not as dire as I thought.

These days I see a great gulf between creative people and their audience. We listen to music on CD’s or MP3 players, buy books on the Internet, find craftwork in catalogs and dine in chain restaurants. How often do we have a chance to meet artists face to face? Can we even imagine it? I wonder how much creative energy stirs in people or remains dormant around the world. Once people shared their stories, music, crafts and meals with each other for the pure joy of doing so. My guess is that they still do, at least to some extent.

The potential remains for artists to share freely of themselves and for the rest of us to encounter them in person at least until they become famous. See how you can express your own creativity and get in touch with others’ creativity.

Technology has allowed us to connect with the world and with each other much quicker than we could in the past. But it has made our communication more impersonal in the process. Perhaps it is time for us to reconnect with each other on a fully human level.

Life Lab Lessons
 What is your talent?
 How often do you freely share it with others?
 What talents of others do you appreciate?
 Find a way to share more of yourself.
 Make sure you show your appreciation of others’ talent.


Writing Challenges


JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. I missed you yesterday.
JOE: Alas I had no energy left by the time I completed everything yesterday.
CALLIOPE: Did you finish all your projects?
JOE: Yes. My column/ newsletter went out as planned. I will share it with you on Monday.
CALLIOPE: What about the other projects.
JOE: You saw the book review on Monday. Yesterday I finished my article on Crime Victims and Spirituality.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like a challenge.
JOE: Indeed it was. The hardest part was condensing it into 500 words. I kept wanting to explain more but realized there wasn’t room.
CALLIOPE: At least you finished it. When will I see it?
JOE: I’d be glad to post it here for you. However contractually, I have to wait until it is published in the newspaper. First serial rights, you know. See you Monday.

Writing Frenzy



JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good Morning Joe. Sounds like you have been busy.
JOE: I have been. Over the weekend I wrote a book review and today I wrote my column which I will share with you on Saturday. I didn’t get to the spirituality and victim article yet. Would you like to read the book review?
CALLIOPE: I would.
JOE: Okay, Here it is:

Review of Positively Quit, by Cassius Cheong, published by Positively Quit $14.95.

If you want to quite smoking, do you begin cold turkey, gradually, or with nicotine replacement? Cassius Cheong’s Positively Quit Manual suggests starting in your head. What do you think about smoking and more importantly about yourself and your relationship with cigarettes? The approach is logical and detailed but easy to follow. It starts with how you view yourself and the process of quitting. Next you will consider assumptions about smoking, reasons people start smoking and justifications for smoking. Then it debunks common false beliefs about the benefits of smoking.

The manual provides a step by step approach to preparing to quit, managing smoking triggers, handling the first day and then maintaining progress. The guide is comprehensive yet succinct. The steps are clearly laid out in order and accompanied by checklists to keep you organized.

The author supports his opinions with research conclusions. You don’t have to wade through endless pages to find the conclusions. Research findings are laid out clearly and cited with references for those interested in a more detailed account. Cheong also includes a list of twenty-three books to help round out your self improvement quest.

This approach is designed for “smokers who are rational, independent-minded and determined to quite for good.” It is a complete but concise guide to success with smoking cessation even if your previous efforts have left a bad taste in your mouth.

JOE: That’s it. Talk with you on Friday.

Spirituality and Victim Rights

Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. Nice to hear from you.
JOE: It’s nice to have some time for myself.
CALLIOPE: What’s going on?
JOE: I was asked to write an article about crime victims and spirituality.
CALLIOPE: I didn’t know you were an expert in this area.
JOE: I’m not, but then no one else seems to be either and the spirituality dimension is missing from the other considerations.
CALLIOPE: Tell me more.
JOE: I’ve started to research the topic and found some useful information. Now it is a matter of making it coherent.
CALLIOPE: Will you share it when it is finished?
JOE: I will have to wait until it is published first. Then I’d be glad to. Talk with you on Monday.

Monday Morning

Bird Feeders

Bird Feeders

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE:  Good morning Joe. How is this week going so far?
JOE: For the first time in a while last Monday, I woke up feeling some stress with all I had to work on during the week.
CALLIOPE: And this morning?
JOE: No stress. I accomplished all I set out to do last week and feel quite relaxed today.
CALLIOPE: What’s going on in your writing world?
JOE: I finished reading two of Nancy Kress’s novels and got a good sense of how she puts into practice what she writes about construction and characters in fiction.
CALLIOPE: And next?
JOE: I found three of her books on the craft of writing and will start delving into them in more detail.
CALLIOPE: Sounds good. And GO ART?
JOE: All is well. My first program with Sybil Reisch is in order and I have started working on a poetry program for April, National Poetry Month. Talk with you on Friday.

Appreciating the Characters in Our Lives

Sliding Otter News, Volume 2, Issue 6, Appreciating the Characters in Our Lives

Skating van Goghs

Skating Van Goghs

~Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it: the tree is the real thing~
Abraham Lincoln

I recently asked a couple friends to read my novel in progress. Both thought the story idea was good but the characters were weak. Bob Fussell came to my rescue again and suggested I look up Nancy Kress. I found her book Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint.

Characters populate all the stories we read. The better defined and more interesting the characters are, the better we like the story. Lately I found myself immersed in Nancy’s book about characters as well as reading her stories and watching her characters in action.

Story characters can be drawn whole from the author’s acquaintances, modified from a real person or conjured up without any basis in reality. Some authors stress plot rather than their characters. Others base their stories heavily on their characters’ thoughts feelings and actions. It occurred to me that novels and short stories are not the only place we find characters. Our lives are also full of major and minor characters, sometimes passing briefly through our lives. At other times characters take up residence with us, perhaps for years on end.

In our haste to accumulate more things and to enhance our feeling of security or personal importance, we often do not take time to notice the characters around us. I recall a time in my life when the people I knew seemed more important than what happened around me. At times they still are.

As a child, I visited a series of older people whenever I had the chance. Sometimes it was for milk and cookies. Sometimes I helped them with chores. With one couple, I pored over an ancient copy of Land and Sea with color plates of real and mythical sea beasts. They eventually gave me the book.

All of these people are gone now, but I still remember visiting each of them, even if the stories they told are becoming fuzzy. I still remember the people although I don’t recall just what they said to me or I to them. Some of the people I have known over the years have reappeared in whole or in part in stories I have written. My first childhood love, neighborhood bullies, friends and mentors have surfaced from time to time to again form part of the fabric of my life.

Do you ever think about the characters who have passed through your life, whether recently or long ago, and how they have helped shape your personality. They are part of your context and they have played a part in who you have become.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Who have been the main characters in your life so far?
  • What minor characters had the most impact on you?
  • What good example led you to become a better person?
  • What villains have made you vow to never act like them?
  • What effect do you have on those whose lives you inhabit as a character? 


Nineteenth Century Letterpress

Nineteenth Century Press

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. Is it Friday already?
JOE: It is. It’s nice to have some leisure this morning.
CALLIOPE: What have you been doing all week?
JOE: I am in the midst of developing four programs. The first is a conversation with Sybil Reisch, whom I mentioned before. Everything is finalized including publicity distribution.
CALLIOPE: What about your column?
JOE: The one on characters in our lives? That’s ready too.  I combined two meanings of character.
CALLIOPE: You mean an unusual person and the quality of stability?
JOE: Yes. I had no trouble writing it after the topic inspired me last Sunday.
CALLIOPE: When do I get to see it?
JOE: I’ll post it for you tomorrow. Until then.