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What a Great Time to Be Young and Creative

  What an amazing day. I couldn’t be more thankful. A group of high school students from two different art schools came together to celebrate their work towards my Beauty Scars Book Cover contest.

First off, ALL of the submissions were incredible. All of them are still up on my website so head over to the Beauty Scars tab and take a look. You’ll be just as impressed as I was with these pieces.

And all from high school students!! Young, enthusiastic, gifted art students who created these cover images with very limited information. Yet they worked with what they were given, and over a six week period were able to design images that in some way match the theme of my story. They did this with no certainty of anything other than the opportunity to be part of my future novel.

But that’s art right. Creating without promise of any appreciation, or monetary gain, or even without the guarantee that it will ever be seen. Artists dedicate their lives to ideas, and bringing those ideas to life. For many, the accomplishment from that alone is enough to nurture their souls. I have to thank 50 of these souls for being so willing to put their work up for ridicule. The excitement inside of Artscape was electric.

I still remember starting my own writing journey. I was so confident in my abilities, and even as feelings of doubt, fear, and hesitance emerged, I was still able to endure and put out a high quality, creative piece of fiction. I'd go as far as to say that it was the fear that partially motivated me. There was no way I was going to let it win! 

I’m still very much on that journey, enjoying each and every step. This was a good day!

#PassionAndPaper

#HistoryOrNothing

Read my fictional novella “Thoughts of a Fractured Soul.”  

(Image shot by Robert Young)

Sleepless in Seattle – How Environments Influence Creativity

I felt something. Standing on my brother’s balcony looking out at the lake that is his backyard, I felt it. A group of ducks sailed quietly on the water, some dove underwater for what seemed like minutes before popping back up beak first to rejoin their colleagues. I know this sounds like a scene out of a book, but that’s exactly how I felt. Fresh off my trip to Seattle for my brother’s wedding and I’m feeling good. The actual wedding was perfect, and meeting and welcoming new family made it that more special. But Seattle gave me so much more than that, and I left feeling even more inspired then I already am.

I learned something standing on my brother’s balcony that day – environment influences creativity. This is not a novel idea and to some extent I already knew this was the case. But I mean like I really had some sparks of genius overlooking the lake, observing the ducks interact with each other while eagles flew overhead with mountains in the backdrop. I literally sat down and wrote out a bunch of new content ideas along with other more personal thoughts.

Now I know being back in Toronto I won’t be able to create the scenic beauty of Seattle. But I can and I will create an environment that allows my creativity to flow uninhibited. I can take walks down Queen street (once it gets a bit warmer) and feel the energy of this city, I can sit in a closed room with some candles and just lay down. Whatever I decide to do, the goal is to give myself moments out of each day where I’m allowed to just think, feel, observe, and be still.

Now I can’t be the only one doing this so I’m interested to know how other artists go about creating those environments and those moments for themselves.

Chit Chat Turned Powerful

morning-393623_640How often can you say you've truly been moved by the words of another person. I mean truly moved to action, to change, to commit, to be a better person. I recently had one of those moments with a friend of mine through a relatively brief conversation. After some small talk in which I joked about being jealous of her living in warm weather Vancouver while we Torontonians wait in fear for another brutal Winter fighting through ice storms, we got into a deeper discussion about something that I struggle with mightily, and that's acceptance.

Acceptance really is a big deal for me because I really don't know how to get there. Something about the concept seems conciliatory, like I'm settling for something when I know there's so much more for me to do.

"But Kern, I'm not telling you to give up on any of your aspirations, all I'm saying is accept who you are now and appreciate all that you have accomplished thus far. And not just in your writing career, but look at the person you've become, look at the daughter you've helped raise, look at the life you've carved for yourself despite being a teenage parent and a high school dropout. Once you accept all of those victories, you'll elevate your mind to a different level of understanding that will guide you to the future success that you crave so badly."

Finding My Way

Acceptance...the word suddenly didn't parallel mediocrity or failure, or settling for less than what I hope to achieve. Suddenly acceptance became liberating and freed me from the uncompromising burden of not being happy until I reach some intended point of "success" that would supposedly allow my happiness to kick in. That is no longer the case. Instead, I would accept and celebrate all of my victories and be happy throughout the entire journey.boy-185195_640

I am fortunate in that I am able to wake up every day and do what I love to do. I am able to use my voice through my way with words to share thoughts, stories, points of views and life lessons with people who are connected through similar perspectives. I am not an angry person nor am I ungrateful. But it took that conversation for me to accept that it's OK to be happy without feeling guilty; OK to feel proud of my achievements so far even though I'm nowhere near where I aim to be. That conversation brought a feeling of calm over me I haven't felt since writing the first page of my novel so many years ago.

But I am thankful for those few moments. Sometimes that's all it takes to change your life. And I'm not saying that I am a completely different person today since having that conversation, but I am better than I was yesterday and I will be better tomorrow. And when tomorrow comes I will welcome it not with the fear that days are passing too fast for me to grab hold, instead I will accept that it is another chance for me to do fulfill my calling and inspire others with my words. What more can I really ask for....

Ultraviolence

Sometimes I wonder how this even makes sense. If you know me personally, you know that I am half obsessed half addicted to Lana Del Rey's music. The connection was instant and grows deeper as her catalogue of music expands. It's difficult to explain, but listening to her music engages me in the same way as reading John Milton's Paradise Lost. I relate to her perspectives just as strongly as I do with Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid Mad City. And although I listen to Lana Del Rey mostly when I'm alone (I played one of her songs to my cousin once who asked if this was opera), the emotional connection I feel to her music is powerful.

But why should this be surprising? If there is one thing social media has taught us is that we share commonalities that extend beyond borders or oceans, race or culture, gender or sexual orientation. It shows that as unique as we all are, we are more similar in ways that cause someone like me to relate completely to songs like "Sad Girl," or "Money, Power, Glory."

This is the power of art, the power of expression. The fact that the writing of a 17th Century poet moves me in the same way as a 21st century singer speaks to that power.

And we all want it. Any artist, writer, rapper, rocker, dancer who puts their expression on display does so in hopes of transcending any obstacles, including time, and touch their audience in ways that impacts them deeply on some level.

For me, I hope to accomplish this through the written word. To use my gift of writing to touch people who I otherwise would never be able to reach. It's a tall task but one that motivates me every time my fingers touch the keyboard.

My goal in a nutshell is to inspire and to impress.

So I ask, how do express yourself? What are your goals when putting your expression on display? Is it completely self-serving or do you hope to be understood?

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"Thoughts of a Fractured Soul" available in print and e-book format at www.kerncarter.com

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