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Monday Muse

Anias Nin

Anias Nin at work in Los Angeles, 1963

Anias Nin at work in Los Angeles, 1963

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” -Anias Nin

I’m not gonna lie, I first heard of Anias Nin through a Jewel song. Yeah, that’s right, I actually still have a soft spot for Jewel, but that’s a story for another time… Right now, let’s talk about the iconoclastic Ms. Nin. A prolific diarist, novelist, and writer of erotica, Nin’s self-reflective, deeply honest prose is remarkable for the way it all at once captures the essence of her era and the influential literary circles she ran in while remaining timeless. I mean, isn’t it uncanny how her words above ring so true today and yet you could probably imagine them having been written back in the Elizabethen Era as well?

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Monday Muse

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling mixing prints and birds like the pro she is

When I think about the kind of woman I want to be as I move into the next stages of my career, lots of amazing role models in television come to mind, but no one quite inspires me like Mindy Kaling. Not only is “The Mindy Project” one of the most watchable shows out there right now, but Kaling is a bona fide #girlboss who unabashedly demands competence from everyone she works with and never apologizes for what she wants. As someone who spends a bit too much time making sure the people around me are happy and feel heard, I could certainly afford to channel Kaling more often. As she puts it: “I love women who don’t ask, ‘Is that okay?’ after everything they say.” You know what I’m getting at, right..? Is that okay?

On a purely creative level, I must also note that Kaling inspires me because her writing manages to all at once keep it real and make me feel good about the world I live in…

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Inspiring Tidbits, Monday Muse

Eyes Off You

Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell

Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell

I was not a fan of Maya Angelou when I first read her work as a persnickety pre-teen who had an inexplicable distaste for memoirs, but in the years since her words have often touched me in moments when I’ve been in need of inspiration and reassurance. Upon second reading, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings became one of my favorite books, and what woman amongst us has not somehow been moved by her poem Phenomenal Woman? Of the many Maya Angelou quotes filling the interwebs today, the one I find most moving right now is…

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

-Maya Angelou

In fond (albeit sometimes fickle) remembrance, I am feeling very grateful for Maya Angelou’s turns of phrase on this day. I hope she inspires you in a similar way as well.

Image source: Pinterest.

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Inspiring Tidbits

Languid Language Loveliness

On a good day, writing feels as magical as screaming into a blasting fan on a sticky linoleum floor in the dead of summer

As I wade through a sea of deadlines, very little pay, and the labyrinthine bank of escalators that may or may not one day lead me to a successful career as a writer, I find it’s vital to take a step back every now and then to remind myself why it is I do what I do in the first place. It can be so easy to forget and to get caught up in the stresses (and, heck, even to toy with quitting because of those stresses), but when I give myself a moment’s pause I’m always reminded it’s love, innocence, and dreams that are at the core of what I do, not what’s waiting at the top of this pesky elevator bank. Since it’s such a good exercise to think about this kind of stuff, I figured I’d share just a few more of the reasons why I write…

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Inspiring Tidbits

Trouble for Women

Stack of Nora Ephron books photographed by Shelly Gross

It still boggles my mind that one of the most inspiring and influential female voices of our time, Nora Ephron, died last week. Not so long ago I would have quickly deleted that word “female,” thinking it was an insult to any artist to qualify her/his greatness by a gender, but now that I’ve spent a good deal of time pondering what Ephron’s work has meant to me, I realize celebrating the femaleness of all she leaves behind is actually a great compliment. After all, Ephron spent her career fighting her way to the top of some very male industries just so she could tell stories about women, for women, and by women. The femaleness of her blockbuster movies, such as “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” and “Julie & Julia” has in fact drawn women and their dates to theaters for decades, and these stories hold a very prominent place in the romantic ideals of me and almost every other gal I know. As an adolescent, teenager, and young woman, Nora Ephron’s flicks taught me to demand more for myself out of life and love, and I would dare to say her rom coms stirred something far greater in me than any art-house film ever has.

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Inspiring Tidbits

Be So Good

“Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You” print

Do you ever find yourself searching for shortcuts along a journey you actually love, or looking for really simple answers to the most complex, important questions of your life? I know I’m guilty of this manic scouring/doubting/short-cutting far more often than I would like…As a writer, I am constantly trying to figure out how to “make it” and wondering, “Am I giving myself the best shot at success by doing this project, or should I work on that other one, or that other-other one that just might exponentially up my odds?” These daunting questions are all based on the idea that there is some secret to success – that if we get all our ducks in a row in exactly the right way, we will find an audience and a steady income for our lives’ works. And, this assumption is in some ways true – making solid connections in our fields and putting our work out there definitely positions us for success – but unless there’s substance, talent, and a whole lot of hard work to back up all our networking and scheming, it’s unlikely we’ll go very far. In fact, I think the following piece of advice expresses this better than I ever could…

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Inspiring Tidbits

Even If Nobody Cares

“I just want to make beautiful things even if nobody cares” print by EeeBee & Jack

Lately I’ve felt as though my creative life could use a mild infusion of irreverence…As though I could benefit from hiring a voice-over artist to whisper in my ear every now and then with reminders like, “It’s okay to spend a year writing that Gothic novel you’ve always dreamed of,” or, “Gosh darn it, stop working on the projects you think will get you noticed and start working on the ones you just plain love.” Although hiring a smooth talker for this purpose would be a gross mismanagement of funds if ever I saw one, following these words of advice, throwing caution to the wind, and approaching my passion projects with more – uhh – passion and less practicality would be anything but a mismanagement of time. And, since I’ve wandered through the past few weeks feeling this ache for some kind of catalyst to kick me in my play-it-safe pants, I could have sworn I heard a Barry White impersonator hop onto my shoulder and start cooing the other day when I stumbled across this Saul Bass quote on the glorious beast that is the Internet…

“I just want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.”

-Saul Bass

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Sweet Nothings

Overfloweth

Last week felt as crazy as this zigzag-painted crosswalk in the Houston Museum District

I spent Thanksgiving week in the Houston Museum District, where my days were stuffed with sculpture gardens, family gatherings, wedding celebrations, and lots of food. I’ll be honest and admit that I was overwhelmed by all the new people and platters surrounding me at first, and I devoted a lot more time to feeling gluttonous and dizzy than to feeling grateful. However, I eventually snapped out of my introverted delirium when I learned that The Laine List had just honored this site with the Kathryn Ingrid Creativity Award. There’s nothing like a little love and recognition from out of the blue to make a gal overflow with gratitude, after all, and I continued feeling thankful all week for the many amazing people out there who choose to make my words a part of their busy days. It is such an privilege to share my stories and musings with you, dear readers, whether you drop by this site anonymously, leave comments, or give me awards. While this connection with you is one of my favorite things about blogging, I’ll be completely honest once again and tell you that connecting with people couldn’t have been farther from my mind when starting this site…

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Inspiring Tidbits

Wild and Precious

Excerpt from a Mary Oliver poem, print by Sarah London

This evening marks a whole week into my one screenplay/one month challenge, and I’m feeling invigorated yet daunted by the three weeks of work still looming ahead. Some ridiculous movie-making and home-related emergencies came up over the past few days that needled at me to call it quits on my challenge before I’d barely begun, but I stuck to my guns and cranked out 27 new script pages between last Thursday and this morning, and right now I find myself simply wondering what I can do to ensure I repeat this process several more weeks in a row. I suppose this means the real question I’m asking myself is this: what is it that prevents us from giving up and ensures we keep creating even when we aren’t feeling in the zone? I don’t think there’s any one right fix for everybody, but I do know that over the last week whenever I found myself wanting to quit, I slowed down and tried to remember why I was doing this in the first place…

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Inspiring Tidbits

Nature and Novels

Sunshine beaming through trees at The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia, CA

My husband planned a surprise trip to The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden this past weekend, and this quiet stroll through nature turned out to be just what I needed to recharge my creative batteries. The sights and sounds of nature have an uncanny way of doing this – I think it’s the absence of bustling traffic and the musical lilt of bird calls coupled with the rustling of leaves, not to mention the visual ways 200-year-old trees make me feel connected to something much bigger than myself. In the event that you’re in need of a little glimpse of nature to recharge your own batteries, here are a few of my favorite snapshots from The Arboretum…

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