sarah beth jones join the jax for floyd county imagination month
When my husband, Rob, and I set out to find the mountain home of our dreams, we were looking for four things: beautiful scenery, a great coffee shop, high speed internet, and, most of all, an energetic, welcoming creative community. Based on these criteria, Floyd was the obvious choice the second we set foot in the county.
We moved here in August of 2008 and immediately began feasting on the inspiration to be found here: visual arts from traditional to abstract and modern; tiny to towering sculpture; beautiful functional works from upcycled lamps to hand-woven baskets; and the deliberate words of so many poets, essayists and fiction writers. Rob has taken thousands of photographs in these two years; I have written thousands of words.
But a challenging summer that included the death of a friend, a crisis at our former business requiring Rob’s intervention, and a terrifying round of cancer in one of our treasured pets, has left us feeling creatively stunted and stagnant. We realized that we needed something drastic to reignite our creativity, something to help us sharpen the blunted chisels of our recently-unused imaginations.
We found that “something” in the November writing tradition, NaNoWriMo. For those not familiar with this hard-to-pronounce literary event, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Throughout the month of November, thousands of people across the country, likely across the globe, will commit themselves to writing 50,000 words of a novel. The challenge is not only to attempt to write a somewhat daunting 1,667 words a day, but to turn off the internal editor that alternately plagues and assists every creative person. They simply commit to write.
I’ve participated before and though I’ve never quite made the 50,000 mark (my closest was a very satisfying 35,000 words), I found the exercise to be invigorating, a reminder of what it feels like to turn off second-guessing and plow ahead while watching the pages pile up.
Now, Rob’s a photographer, not a writer, and I’m more interested in re-exploring my old favorite genre of opinion writing than starting another novel. Our friend, Mara Robbins, is looking for a challenge that will allow her to make time each day for writing poetry. Last year she participated in NaNoWriMo by writing a tanka each day. (A tanka, incidentally, is a Japanese poetic form like haiku but more conversational and with two additional lines of seven syllables each for a form of 5,7,5,7,7.)
As three people who are deeply involved with The Jacksonville Center (Mara is a brand-new member of the marketing committee; Rob is a volunteer with dozens of hours under his belt; and I am the marketing coordinator), we wanted to honor the community focus of the Jax by inviting all of you to participate in what we’re calling FloCoiMo: Floyd County Imagination Month.
Whatever medium sparks your imagination, whatever challenge would draw your muse out of hiding or encourage her to sing as opposed to whisper, we want you to be a part of the creative challenge.
My goal is to write 30 editorials during the month of November. No internal editor, no proofing, no final product – just solid first drafts of 30 opinion-based essays. Mara is challenging herself to write 30 forms of poetry, again, without the internal editor or intention of perfection.
Because Rob is a digital photographer for whom the work of finalizing an image is as much a part of the creative process as capturing the image, he has set a goal of 30 finalized photographs by the end of November.
Now it’s your turn to set your FloCoiMo goal. Make sure it’s challenging enough to push you outside of your comfort zone but still within the realm of achievable. It could be drawing a certain number of landscapes, weaving a certain number of baskets, throwing a certain number of clay bowls, testing a certain number of new cupcake recipes. Your goal could also involve an amount of time spent on creativity each day – whatever works for you and your medium.
Once you’ve set your goal, let us know about it! We’ll be posting our progress on the Jax blog (jacksonvillecenter.org/blog) and invite you to add your updates to the comments sections; we’ll be doing the same on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/jaxforarts). We’ll also post related events as they develop, working towards one mid-event gathering and a final reception to celebrate our accomplishments.
The cooler winds stirring in the last couple of weeks are a reminder of just how close winter looms. Let’s get our creative juices stirring now to warm us through the cold quiet months.
Sarah Beth Jones is an enthusiastic writer and the marketing coordinator for The Jacksonville Center. She is compiling a list of potential editorial topics before FloCoiMo begins, but won’t write the first word until November 1. Some of her previous editorials and other writings can be found on her website www.sarahbethjones.com. Contact Sarah through her website or at firstname.lastname@example.org.