Musings is a blog by Dorah Blume is an author of historical novels including "Botticelli's Muse". Dorah has led Juiceboxartists writing workshops for adults in greater Boston, as well as in Tuscany.
Botticelli's Muse, historical fiction, novel, Dorah Blume, creative writing, juiceboxartists
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...on writing and all things creative

Fall Back So You Can Spring Forward…

We think of the phrase “fall back, spring forward” to reset our clocks to gain or lose an hour, depending on the season. Why not think about the words in a new way? Fall back to the comfort of structured routines, so you can spring forward in new creative directions. New possibilities. Open ourselves to surprises. One surprise for me this week was discovering More Than Words. It’s a non-profit organization that sells used books online and in their Berkeley Street store, where I donated boxes of books.

Standing amid the multiple kiosks of books in their Berkeley Street store, I remembered those pre-pandemic days when people gathered in person in bookstores and libraries to hear writers share their work. Lightbulb moment: now that the pandemic seems to be waning, why not create a live reading for my writer friends and workshop participants? Part of me wanted to stay in my comfort zone with my current routines, but a more daring voice challenged me, “Will I let fear hold me back, or will I spring forward in 2023 with this new challenge?”

I decided to say yes to the challenge! I’ve contacted writer friends and students to plan an evening in 2023 that we’ll call “Prompted to Tell.” We’ll read unpublished, unpolished first-draft writings created from writing prompts. You’ll listen to everything from novel excerpts, poems, flash fiction, essays, and free-form gibberish! As these plans solidify, we’ll keep you posted about the place, date, and time in the winter newsletter.

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Procrastinate Before It’s Too Late!

I’ve been procrastinating about writing an intro for this month’s newsletter topic: procrastination. The word carries a negative cloud as though all procrastinating is a weakness to be deleted from a productive life. Oscar Wilde said, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” In contrast, Picasso said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

We often put our creative projects on the bottom of our to-do lists if they make it there at all. Indefinitely delaying our creative impulses leads to remorse and regret. Sometimes we are so used to postponing the most important actions (read: personally meaningful) that when we finally have time to pursue them, we don’t. By then, we are so out of the habit of giving them time we fill the hours with other meaningless ones. Days pass. Years. And what we said was most important fades under the rubble of what had masqueraded as urgent. Put your creative ideas back high on the list. The kitchen floor can wait. The sheets don’t need to be changed this minute. Will watching one more newscast of the world imploding save a life? Why watch one more episode of a show you’re not likely to remember in a month? Are you alphabetizing your bookshelf instead of writing your own book—a book that might make a difference to someone? Consider positive procrastination. Postpone the tasks that are not urgent or important and that, if left undone, might fall off the list altogether. Polish your procrastinating style to make time for what you’ve been missing.

View the full newsletter.


Let Your Creativity Blossom

When it’s the middle of winter and everything is bleak and bare and cold, I remind myself of a Buddhist saying, “When the conditions are right, the blossoms appear.” Creative work requires a belief in the invisible, especially when working on a long project like a novel when all the parts are in a jumble. It feels like I’m never going to find a way to bring it together. That’s when I’ve got to keep on with feeble daily attempts, trusting that someday they will blossom into a finished piece, never perfect, but whole. The question is, what makes the conditions “right”? The answer is time and patience. Not giving up. Trust. Trust that the invisible will become visible. The courage to begin is the first step. And there are never perfect conditions to start, just enough desire, enough curiosity about the outcome, enough determination to feed them and not the fear.

View the full newsletter here:


Risk Creativity

I come from a line of gamblers. My father would leave for a pack of cigarettes and not return for days as he disappeared into marathon poker games. My ex bet on the weather: whether or not it would snow, what football team would win, or what horses could win him the Trifecta.

I now realize that the gambling blood flowed in me with as much force—only expressed itself with a different kind of risk-taking. I saw 9 to 5 jobs as life-threatening. So I crafted a life as an entrepreneur, structuring the 168 hours in a week with multiple income streams to support my creative endeavors and pay the bills simultaneously.

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Hug a Hobby!

Over the pandemic, which seems waning, we lost many things from our “normal life,” but nothing as much as hugging our friends and loved ones. In pre-Covid times, if I should catch my foot on a loose brick and tumble, passersby would leap to my aid within seconds. Once lockdown hit, fear trumped empathy. If I fall, people will scatter away from me! Contamination fear was more potent than the impulse to help. During this love month of February, air hugs over Zoom don’t have the power to pump up the oxytocin—the feel-good chemical and lower the cortisol—the stress chemical. But hugging a hobby—embracing creative impulses and passions can carry us over the dark patches.

Read the full newsletter here.

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