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Posts tagged ‘collaboration’

Crimson: How Social Media Reignited My Creative Fire

Crimson BonerEditor’s Note: Crimson Boner (at right) is a stay-at-home mum of two boys, ages 5 and 2. She writes: “I used to paint big oil paintings, but since I’ve had kids I’ve had to find a creative solution to making art, which, it turns out, is pretty essential for my well-being. So here is a blog I wrote about how I used social media to get around the time and cash restrictions of motherhood to keep making work.” Crimson’s inspiring post, which originally appeared at Brighton Mums, is reprinted here by permission. Enjoy!

It was 9 pm and my boys had just given in to sleep after seemingly endless stories. I had barely managed to resist sleep myself but was determined to have some “Me Time.” You may ask what value “Me Time” has when all you really need is sleep — and yep, there’s the rub.

I sat on the stairs in the half-dark, enjoying the solitude and the stillness. I was delaying going downstairs to the apocalyptic vision of flung toys, teetering dishes, and mounds of dirty clothes. Was the ever-elusive “Me Time” just making me feel resentful?

Intervention : Artists book collaboration , the books , photo courtesy of Lucy Sharpe You see, a creative valve had opened with the birth of my second child — but the ideas that kept flowing were just withering at the roadside whilst I whizzed by in the unstoppable motherhood machine: picking things up off the floor, buttering toast, doing the school run, football club, kissing grazes, grilling fish fingers, singing nursery rhymes, shopping, reluctant baths, stories….

Not that the motherhood machine was without joy, but it was relentless. This idea of “Me Time” seemed to promise something that might bring balance. But how?

There on the stair in half dark and comforting silence of sleeping children I flicked through Facebook on my phone. And PING! I saw a way to work around my time restrictions, to reach out to a wider community, and to get back to making art.

Crimson Boner art

“Me and my Mum” by Crimson Boner for the book “Mother in Stead”

I immediately posted it on Facebook: I was going to start an artists’ book collaboration. It was to be called Intervention, because that is what I needed to get me making artwork again. Within minutes of posting this project I had people asking to join. It just took off.

So when I finally made it to the bottom of the stairs to face the aftermath of the day, I had been injected with energy and enthusiasm! I thrashed those malevolent dishes and malingering clothes! I didn’t even wince, much, when I trod on the Stickle Bricks barefoot.

We’ve been collaborating for nearly a year now. There are 20 of us and many of us are mothers, but not all. We are working on 20 books, each with its own theme, and every 3 weeks we mail that book on, and the next artist adds work to it. Some of us are artists, some musicians, a few writers, some professionals some just starting out, some dabbling. But we have all have found an outlet and a community. These books and our ideas are traveling all around the world ( just like I used to, before the boys).

Collaborators meeting for the first time at BAC photo courtesy of Lucy SharpeWe met in person for the first recently at my old workplace, Battersea Arts Centre. How incredible to revisit the vibrancy and buzz of a place that I used to be a part of. And how exciting to return there with my own project and a group of brilliant collaborators, with so much to share.

I keep in contact with all collaborators through Facebook on my phone. Ironically, in the media there is often discussion about how mums spend too much time looking at their phones. But thanks to my little phone I’ve managed to give a crucial part of myself an outlet that fits around my motherly duties. I’ve also managed to sell a few prints that came out of the project, which you can see on my Etsy page.

So, if you see me in the playground looking at my phone, just withhold judgement for a moment; it’s my “Me Time” and it helps the mothering machine to run a little smoother, with all on board benefiting.

(A big thank you to Lucy Sharpe for allowing me to use her photographs in this post.)

Some of the other members of this group include Nina Rodin, Moyra Scott, Lisa WrightSophie Passmore, Rebekah Tyler, Mercedes Gil, and Mary Trunk. You can also connect with Crimson at her Facebook page. Wonderfully inspiring work, ladies!

Intervention An Artists Book Collaboration, our books, photos by Lucy Sharpe


Christa: Chances are

Freelancing over the last seven years has taught me foremost that you just never know. The most innocuous, even boring, opportunities might lead to the best ones…or they might not. The point is never to pass something up just because you don’t expect it to go anywhere. It might surprise you.

Five years ago I was assigned to write an article about cell phone forensics. At that time, no one knew much about it; I remember panicking because I had found exactly one source for the article, and he wanted to remain anonymous. Then one of my editors recommended the International High Tech Crime Investigators Association. I just needed one more source.

I can’t remember if my HTCIA source recommended the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force by name, or if I Googled “cell phone forensics” (or something similar) and arrived at the site that way. I believe what happened next was that I emailed their generic address and hoped like heck they would get back to me (cops not being the most trusting of media). One investigator did, and ended up being tremendously helpful, someone I got along with better than I’d expected.

I didn’t expect him to keep in touch; only one other source has, and only because we reconnected on a site for crime fiction authors. (Ironically, I also interviewed her in 2003, for an article in the same issue. Her name’s Felicia Donovan; go check out her website.) But he did email me again, several times in fact, soliciting article ideas. Over time our professional relationship developed, and from there became more of a professional friendship. And that’s when we decided to collaborate.*

I don’t know what the chances were that he versus another investigator would have answered my email. Maybe he was on “media duty” that week, or maybe he was considered the “go-to” guy for media in general. The point is, if you get along well enough with a source or another creative person, don’t be afraid to follow up. Don’t think there are “boundaries” you need to respect; if you think they’re open to working more with you, ask. That’s what I did this past week, when another source dropped a few hints about writing such that I asked if he wanted to collaborate. He does, and we’re negotiating.

What’s my point? I have “chance” on the brain because I’m about to take a big one-not just the collaboration, but kicking off my freelance career as a whole once more. I’ve always been a “go with the gut” person, and my business has for the most part been successful for it. Still, I keep wondering what on earth I’m doing. I still have one (rather needy) child at home, and even though most of the sources I plan to work with have no problem hearing his little voice in the background, it’s a chance I’ve never taken before. But it, like the collaboration, feels like the right chance to take. And in my mind, that makes it worth the risk.

* I don’t mind dropping Felicia’s name, because she’s trying to sell books. However, my collaborator is still active in law enforcement and not trying to draw attention to himself. You can probably figure it out if you read enough of my articles, especially in upcoming months, but really high-tech crime — at least the way I write it — isn’t that terribly interesting!

Christa: Collaboration–not the creative spark I expected

In my last post here, I talked a little about a source I’ve worked with before. In my personal blog, I’ve talked a little more about him. The reason I haven’t posted much in either place is, in fact, that source.

In the last few months, I’ve been working on more articles with him. A friendship has developed, and along with it, the beginnings of what we both think will be a strong long-term collaborative relationship. I get his ideas, the kind of information he’s trying to impart to our audience. He gets the way I work, my values as a writer. He has talked me down from creative panic (over an unwieldy and unfocused article that simply needed a little direction) and backed up my instinct (to use a source’s information for sake of balance even if it challenged his relationship with his peers).

I am amazed that this has even happened. At the start of my career, one of my dreams was to find a collaborator. I remember talking about it on and off with various people with whom I seemed to hit it off, but nothing ever came to pass. Wrong time, wrong people, I guess. Ironically, although I have always gotten along great with this particular source, I never thought of him as a potential collaborator… until this past spring, when he mentioned the possibility of working together on a book.

So? Good news, right? For the most part, yes. And at the same time, not such good news for my fiction. Developing this relationship, trying to discern the next stage in my career, has taken up huge amounts of emotional energy. It’s all tremendously positive, so I don’t mind. Yet it’s left me with little interest in my short stories or novellas. I can’t think about characters when I have this new, real-life person I’m trying to get to know. I can’t think about plot when a new chapter in my own life is unfolding. I can’t think about setting when I may be moving.

Which creates another level of anxiety. Our house is still on the market. If we go and I freelance full-time, great—I can move forward with my plans. But if we stay and I’m home with small children once again—well, what does that mean? More time for fiction, perhaps.

But also putting off a collaboration I was really looking forward to. I am confident that my friend will remain, but anxious that the momentum will be lost, the timing that was last spring will not be the same this coming spring. One step at a time, my friend tells me, and I know he’s right. I feel such a strong desire not to give up what I’ve regained this year, and at the same time, maybe we do need another few months to get to know each other before we get going on new projects… especially one as big as a book.

Meanwhile, I’m not too stressed about the state of my fiction career. I miss it, but this relationship is rather intense (hey, it’s creative!) and I know it’s the “life experience” that counts toward producing strong fiction. So, until the next stage, I’m tentatively moving forward and going with the flow—the best way, I’ve found, to handle fiction… even when it isn’t happening quite the way I expected.

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