Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Play Meander Smoosh


I've spent most of the winter in a writing cocoon, bundled up in fleece in our chilly little house, lost deep in my own head in a world called Dreamdark. From finishing writing my book (woo hoo!) I segued straight into a new Laini's Ladies line, and once that was done I had a powerful urge to uncap some paint and make a mess. To play! The sketch above is a play-piece in progress, and I'm happy to report I've slathered medium and paint onto it with my fingers, really gooshed it around. I tried acrylic and remembered I hate acrylics, so switched to my beloved oils. Mixed a shade of blue so lovely I want to kiss it. Fun, non-goal-oriented play. But... I have a hard time sometimes keeping my art "play" from transforming in my mind to business. Ideas have a way of blurting out of control, like things created by mad scientists in movies that grow from the petri dish to monstrous maturity in a space of days, then start killing all the scientists. Boy, the leaps my mind makes! One moment I'm dreamily sketching, the next thing I know I'm lost in a reverie of selling Peter Jackson the movie rights while Mattel comes calling for the toy license... I suffer from marvelous, ludicrous daydreams. At any rate, if my little play creation comes out alright I'll post the finished painting.

It's been nice being back in the studio & working in the same room as Jim (he's busy painting vampires right now for a role-playing-game company), instead of hermiting downstairs with my laptop writing -- but in fact I've already begun the mental transition back to my writing schedule. Today I made a pilgrimage to Powell's Books, the best bookstore in the world, and bought another one of my favorite blank books (the lined, hard-bound Clairefontaine books made in France) in preparation for really diving into book 2 of my children's series. This evening, between gooshing paint onto my painting, I also decorated the cover of this third Dreamdark journal, preparing it for its new life.

I don't write scenes in these books, they are just a space for notes on all the wonderful things in the world that spark my mind. One might find in them: Scottish vernacular for marsh plants; Arabic demon lore; definitions of succulent words like "atavism" and "farthingale" and "elodea"; old wives tales; archaic insults like "gobslotch" and "zounderkite", herbal remedies; the word for butterfly in dozens of languages; ideas for crow's thieving specialties, recipes for capturing moonlight in a mirror; fascinating facts of nature such as that the dung beetle can roll 50 times its own weight in poop and that flies pee every 4.5 minutes, wherever they land, and are 10 million times for sensitive to food taste than humans. And did you know that there are 91 species of bats in Papua New Guinea, an island the size of California? WOW! And that "sinister" means "left" in the language of heraldry? That's a sampling of what's in my notebooks. Some of it will wend its way into a book, much will not. I have plans to christen this new book with notes and musing on Chinese faerie tales, also from books purchased today at Powell's, to begin to create a mood in my mind for my next book. (It gives me a shiver of pleasure and pride to write "my next book"!)

I find I am meandering here, and that's kind of appropriate, since I've given myself a few days of meander-permission to do some sketching and some paint-smooshing, before taking that deep breath and sinking into the next lake of work. I hope you are all giving yourselves meander-permission, too, and getting matte medium under your finger nails, or perhaps meeting new and succulent words that taste like lightning and mildew and seed pods, chemicals and moonlight and dusty turbans on your tongue. Or, treat yourself to faerie tales from a mysterious country -- guaranteed to take your mind on a strange journey. Good night!

15 comments:

megg said...

I CAN'T WAIT to read your book! I always read what you write about with a bit of stunned awe. I think that you are so creative and unusual in how you catch the world. I would LOVE to spend a day with you and watch you catch things in your journals. When I was little I had a book with a story in it about a grandfather's spectacles. When the grandson put them on he could see faeries and elves and all of the magical goings on that we usually don't catch. I feel like YOU have that power. I also feel like it would be inspiring to sit on the floor between you and Jim, catching all of the magical energy you must throw off while you are both designing worlds and creatures and fantastical things. AMAZING. AMAZING. AMAZING.

HoBess said...

What an awesome post. I finally got back to my journal today after missing a few days and was writing how my mind feels like it's everywhere. Then Liz Elayne suggested a collective deep breath and here you are! Deep breathing before diving in. I love that last paragraph.

Can't wait to see where you're meandering path takes you!

Jim Di Bartolo said...

It's great having you in the studio more often these past few weeks! :) After being one of the few (first actually!) to have read Book 1 of Dreamdark, I'm REALLY looking forward to Book 2, but dang, I'll miss having you in the studio all day too :(

At least we have breakfast, lunch, & dinner "breaks" together (and my "commute" to your "office" is a short one :)

And I love discovering what BLOG post you've created after you've been at the keyboard wiggling your fingers--such fun stuff. (and I can attest to the truth of her smooshing paints around these past few days--my little kindergartener finger-painter! :)

Jim

Shesawriter said...

I love acrylics! LOL! You know why? Because I suck at oils. Can't seem to get them right for some reason.

Tanya

liz elayne said...

oh my heart is just so happy thinking about you creating, dreaming, inventing, inspiring...
and i think that because my editing work is quiet today i am going to go back to my paint, and glue, and paper, and crayons and create some more...thank you for the inspiration my dear.

shoofly said...

wow, I love the work-in-progress you posted...can't wait to see the next version of it! Painting is sooo much more fun when you get to use your fingers!

Anna said...

What a magical world you live in! :)

Alexandra S said...

Ironed Twinkie, that was a fantastic post! You have inspired me to pillage through your journals this very night since I am just feet away from them this very moment. ! As always, your writing and thoughts have lifted my sad spirits of this week and inspired me onward! Thank you you butternut squash fruitcake!

chest of drawers said...

I agree with Anna, "what a magical world you live in". I feel so inspired having some of that magic spread around my home, looking at me, encouraging me.

Cate said...

Megg said everything I want to say (not only are your posts fabulous, but your commenters are all insightful and talented, too!)!

Yes, I can't wait to read the book! Yes, I would love to shadow you for a day! Let's see what else? Have I mentioned how much I admire your creative ethic--how you incorporate creativity joyfully into every aspect of your life? How you just have fun with it? Oh, and I love to play--with art stuff AND with toys! I have a dollhouse from when I was a kid and I just love to rearrange the furniture and imagine scenarios for the family. Also, I'm planning on playing The Sims 2 (which is almost like a video game that's a dollhouse) this weekend.

Thanks for your inspiring words and encouraging reminder!

holli said...

I love the writing, the visuals - even your new profile pic.. I get an almost Bjork "Vespertine" feel, which is a huge compliment from me - as I loved that phase of her music and videos!!

I can't wait for the book - keep us updated.

la vie en rose said...

i can't wait to see what progress you've made on this sweet girl! your journals sound too delicious!

jd said...

Laini, I'm not sure if you sold Peter Jackson the movie rights to your first novel yet, but I noticed that blackbringer.com is still available. You might want to register it quickly before you hit the New York Times list and some cybersquatter snatches it up.

andrea said...

I just read your three things post as well as this post. Tell you what: I'll give you my longer legs if you'll give me a life of working at home alongside my husband -- and actually managing to pay bills! Is there anywhere (on your blog or elsewhere?) I can read about your novel? Why such a long date before it's released?

Laini Taylor said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

JD: Thanks for the tip. I had tried to secure www.dreamdark.com, which is the series title, but it was mysteriously taken. Perhaps I should try to get blackbringer instead.

holli: Bjork? Cool!

And thanks to everyone for the interest in my book! I would like to write more about it in my blog at some point. I'll say it's a middle-grade/young adult fantasy series, and the reason the pub date is so far off is because that's just the way publishing works. They have to have plenty of time for editing, for manufacturing, marketing, etc. But as we all know, especially as we get older, a year goes past way too fast and I'm sure it'll be here in no time!!