Category Archives: The Creative Process

Messages to myself about how to navigate impediments which hinder the creative flow in hopes my answers may be a beacon to others.

A Message To Me from the Marketing God. 

In my last e-mail newsletter, I introduced the concept of “Spiritual Marketing.” The writing was mostly tongue in cheek, but now I am taking the idea a little more seriously. Let me tell you about a recent visit I had from none other than the Marketing God.

As well as a visual thinker, I’m also a spatial thinker. I’m able to turn images around in my mind and view them from different angles and perspectives. I use this capacity to visualize what a client describes to me and can usually get a close approximate to what is desired (if they are articulate). In addition to seeing different spatial orientations, a time element can get involved for projects more complex than a logo. Those times I have to give considerable thought to visualizing how separate graphic units fit together synergistically and throughout time.

A Spiritual Strategy Session

Just recently, I sat myself down in a quiet spot to mull over some design possibilities on behalf of a new client. In a meditation, I tapped into a huge marketing strategy involving the client, me and our project. It was pretty amazing: a 10-month strategy plan, which involved a brilliant way to re-engage the client’s existing e-list. The answer was to beckon or entice the e-list to become a part of my artistic process. As the project’s artist, I would periodically provide updates on my creative progress.

The plan was fairly brilliant. I wasn’t aware that Spirit knew anything about marketing timelines. My client’s first e-list engagement would involve the use of a survey. The client would solicit the e-list’s opinions about certain matters in an up-coming event (happening in the fall,10 months away) that is somehow related to a project/product, which I am working on (that is timed to be released at the event).

Producing Win-Win-Wins

Using the survey results, the e-list would be given monthly updates on how the art is progressing along. Updates will keep the list’s attention on the subject, generating interest and value. There would be a build-up, so that by the time of the event, people are charged up about acquiring the product. Happy people feel they have had a hand in creating something, or feel more involved in its creation. Everyone is satisfied, a win-win-win for all concerned. Win for e-listers who get the product; Win with client being associated with something positive & creative and finally; a Win for me in that I have work and can increase my presence.

But Gone in an Instant

I mean, I “saw” the whole thing unfold so beautifully in my mind’s eye! This time, I tried my best to explain the plan to my client. Maybe I got into too much detail. I don’t know. This time, I owned the fact that the information was spirit-derived. At other times, when the same spiritual download happened, I kept that fact to myself, thinking it would be best. But just like all the other times, when I divulged the vision, my client gave excuses and scrammed. Poof. Gone.

Amazing, but confounding. What is happening here? What good are these grand revelations if they scare clients away? What are my responsibilities? Do I ever divulge what I see/ feel /experience on their behalf or always keep this inspired information to myself? Or maybe I’m wrong about the entire experience. Maybe it’s simply an idea in my own genius brain, I mistook for a revelation?

Wait a moment – what’s the matter with me? If I was an ad agency, the marketing plan I presented has enormous value and costs gobs of money! Didn’t my client realize it was a tremendous gift that I had bestowed … for free? Is that the problem? I didn’t charge or built up enough anticipation?

Another Possibility

I’ve often wondered if the idea of truly being successful is what actually drives people off. Why do they hesitate? Is it because they already know the status-quo but success seems so elusive and unpredictable…?

Most people prepare themselves for failure. Few people prepare for success. They may think they are prepared, but are they? Just look at how happy the million dollar winners of the lotto end up being in the long run. Most were not emotionally prepared, over indulged their neediness, and faced some hard lessons.

Pretend I’m the Wish-Fulfilling Jewel and that I could grant to you everything you wanted your business to be — in the form of a logo. Could you immediately accept the gift without your shadow interfering and wondering if there is a catch? Used to the status quo, your shadow would most likely put the brakes on. It’s not sure what changes and challenges success may impose. If you don’t know what success looks like, you will not be prepared to plunge into these waters.

The Fear of Success

So… to extrapolate, if the people I interact with are a reflection of myself, and if they are all afraid of success (even thought they’d swear otherwise), that can only mean that I, myself, am not willing to face my own attainment of prosperity.

The message ultimately means I should actively prepare myself to embrace success. That means I need to consciously open a space in my life for success to thrive. That means I have to become the kind of person who can accept success and everything that comes with it, without reserve.

The Spiritual message for me from the non-existent, but all wise Marketing God thus becomes, “Plan for Success” and plan well.

© 2018 DARLENE

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Jasmine Snippet 100?

THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your interest.

The She-Demon of Melantha’s Faction from JASMINE: The Battle for the Mid-Realm collector card game.

People have been waiting and asking for Jasmine Snippet #100. I’m gratified to know that there is enough interest to generate anticipation. How great is that?

I believe we are at the climax of the first book of The Story of Jasmine.

I have halted at the point when Jasmine is being tested by the winds; her comrades captured by cannibals, a faery dragon is wounded, a magician is angered… It would be nice and poetic to be able to wrap that all up in a nice long post for Snippet #100. But there are too many scenes, to accomplish that feat.

This is far from the ending of the Original Jasmine story; it’s merely a stop along Jasmine’s arduous journey North. My notes continue well past this point. But I don’t want to get beyond myself. I think I have a book here and so it behooves me to go back, edit, and fill in the missing details. If I’m moving too much ahead by publishing more snippets beyond Book I, I will not be able to place the needed focus on preparing for publication, the 1st part of The Story of Jasmine.

This is something my Patreon champions are helping me to accomplish. I still intend to be posting more of The Story of Jasmine, but my patrons will get dibs on seeing it first.

If you want to consider becoming a patron to get an inside glimpse of a work in progress, please visit Darlene’s patreon page.

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Jasmine Snippet #99

Four cards from JASMINE: The Battle for the Mid-Realm Collector Card Game.

The Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

“My dear,” Sud addressed her, “now that introductions are over, it is time to address a disagreement between the West Wind and myself about your possible use of the faery crown to cheat on our tests…”

“Cheating? Tests? What? You tested me?” Jasmine asked.

Sud answered, “Oh yes, from the moment you arrived on our doorstep… you have been ours to play with…” Sud paused, to address the West Wind, “Ah, Wein, dear, the entertainment value alone grants enormous points!”

“What were these tests?” Jasmine asked.

All four Winds halted their interactions and faced Jasmine. One after another, in rapid succession, they took turns answering her: “Many times, we tested you… We tested your courage to open up and your courage to be vulnerable. We tested your reaction when shown the truth of history. We tested your ability to become lighter than air, and we dared you to think with your heart. Maybe the crown made opening the gateway of ecstasy more accessible…”

Ost interrupted the litany and spoke loudly, “or maybe the difference is her birthright and not the crown at all! You two just don’t want her to succeed. Since you are not in a position to provide her with aid anyway, your opinions in this case really don’t count, do they?”

The West Wind blew, a cold blast of fury at Ost, who quickly pushed himself away. Wein followed. Both took the forms of nasty, fast-moving, funnel-shaped spirals. Right after Wein’s blast of frigid air circled Jasmine, another energetic blast knocked her off her feet, as Noird left to join the windy fray. Out in the dense forest, two mighty winds chased and abutted each other in the form of tornados, wreaking havoc on the local weather and on the land below. In their beds, the people below crouched in fear. They will long remember the terrible winds that visited them on this day.

Sud suspended Jasmine from her fall and pushed her gently back to her feet. “Ost and I believe you have passed all of our tests,” she said, sweetly. “And everyone knows Ost will win. He’s the strongest at the moment. I would guess they are putting on a show for you, my dear.” She mused.

“Why would they do that?” Jasmine asked.

“Don’t you know you are only half mortal?” Sud explained, “Your mother is a well-respected air elemental. You exist because of Erlkyng’s magic. This crown, err-r-r ring, is a curious thing. It easily pulls you into the awesome beauty of the Faery Realm. Right now, you are standing on a portal in a spot between two worlds. But, with that device on your finger, you have your own portal into Faery.”

“Then, when I see stunningly beautiful vistas…”

“You’ve wandered into the Faery Realm.”

“And the voices I heard talking to me?”

“Denizens of Faery. They’ve been very concerned. That’s why they directed you to us. That you listened and made your way here is astounding. I noticed last night that when you visit the Faery Realms, your substance lightened and you easily took on the qualities of an air elemental. You were also able to fly under your own soul power. I was with you but you did not need my help. You did fine, until you left Faery…”

“Things have become so complicated since I left home.”

“Things are much more complicated than you can guess. It’s not your fault, but you have enemies. There are factions that strongly disagreed with Erlkyng’s plotting and tried to prevent it. That’s why you were born in the Crystal Caverns. But the moment your mother left the underground, Aria was abducted and whisked away from the Mid-Realm… Well, all I can say is of all your enemies, the West Wind is one of the worst. Always be on your guard in the afternoons. Try to stay in doors. Wain means you no good.”

“Thank You, I don’t know what to say.”

“As a reward for being worthy, you have earned the right to use this spot, the Meeting Place of the Winds, to go to any place you desire within the Mid-Realm and probably Faery. You might want to use it now…”

© 2018 DARLENE

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Jasmine Snippet #98

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

The North and South Wind cards from JASMINE: The Battle for the Mid-Realm Collector Card Game.

Two Wind Special Cards from “The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game.

Jasmine looked down at her hand and inspected the ring. So, it’s not a ring after all, it was a Faery King’s Crown. How strange. Then she looked up at the brilliant luminescence of the sky. It seemed to her there were only deep, saturated colors. There was no blackness in the night sky at all.

“Where am I?” she marveled. A Wind came up from behind and blew her hair forward.

The Wind answered, “Welcome to the Meeting Place of the Winds. Allow me to introduce everyone. I am Ost, the East Wind.” He spun around delightfully as he spoke, “I am the first wind–the breeze of the morning. As herald of the day, I bring hope and brightness.” He stopped and moved closer to her and whispered, “At the moment, I am the strongest here as it is just about to dawn.” Ost landed lightly by Jasmine’s side and took Jasmine’s hand. She clearly felt Ost’s firm grasp and wondered how this could be. Ost introduced her to the other three winds. Each one’s sharp, undulating features refracted in and out of invisibility.

Ost paused. “This is Wein, the West Wind.” he introduced, “He shall be the strongest wind this afternoon.” Next to Ost’s warm feel, Wein was cold. He seemed bluer than the other winds and his voice had an unfriendly edge to it.

“I shall chill you and never leave you in peace.” Wein said.

“Lovely.” Jasmine sighed a bit too loudly.

“Miss, that is my nature.” Wein replied. “I came out of courtesy to meet you, though I’m bidden to do but a single service for the Sorceress of Medrylthorn. Know, oh haughty one, until I have dispatched my obligation, I cannot do you any favors.”

Jasmine nodded her acknowledgment as Ost ushered her quickly away. “This is Noird, the blinding wind of the North. His strength is in the evening and he’s sometimes hot and sometimes cold, but he is always full of energy. Noird has promised a service to the Ice King, Thorgall. So like Wein, Noird is unable to help you at the moment.”

Noird blew a kiss at her. “I sincerely hope you will be around when I am able to serve you…” Jasmine blushed, then acknowledged him with a nod of her head.

Ost took her to meet the last wind, “Sud is the hot wind of the night. Her strength envelopes and protects.” Sud displayed more of a purplish cast. Her vibration seemed faster than the other winds. Strangely, the faster undulations gave Sud’s sharp features more definition. With Sud’s form, she could make out a body beyond her face.

From what Jasmine could tell, Sud had the general shape of a horse with great wings, but also, instead of a horse’s head, there was a woman’s torso. Jasmine thought Sud looked exquisite and stunning.

Ost added, “Oh, deep into the night, you traveled on an excursion with Sud, since she was the strongest at that time.”

“Oh.” Jasmine said, “thank you.” It seemed to Jasmine that Sud winked at her and she chuckled.

© 2018 DARLENE

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Jasmine Snippet #97

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

The Special Card, “Ring of Emeth” from the JASMINE: The Battle of the Mid-Realm Collector Card game.

Jasmine closed her eyes and kept her eyes shut as she concentrated on blowing into her makeshift flute. It surely felt as if she was suspended in the air but she preferred to believe the feeling was illusory. She felt safe from harm as long as she kept her mind occupied with playing. So she fought the temptation to reach out one of her hands to confirm there was ground beneath her. In case it wasn’t an illusion, she did not want to fall to her death.

After a while, she decided to get bold enough to trust her bodily sensations. She trusted gravity would not claim her. If she was being suspended in the air, she’d make the best of it. But she still kept her eyes shut. Jasmine moved her body in a way that placed less stress on her muscles.

To be aware of her orientation, to know up and down, she had to be aware of her center of gravity. She instinctively did this by imagining herself in the middle of a bubble that would always right itself. Creating her bubble cushion helped make her flute playing easier. The winds picked up and tossed her higher and higher. She could control how fast she tumbled by spreading out her arms and legs. To do this, she had to stop playing.

When she stopped playing, she opened her eyes. Darn, she knew this would happen.She was in free fall. “This is not my imagination.” Jasmine said to herself. There was nothing for her to do but to accept her situation. She was falling. How could she fight gravity? Sooner or later, she will hit the ground. So she decided to relax her muscles and welcome every sensation she felt during her last moments alive. Indeed, as she fell, she noticed the customary colors of the night had changed into an intense blue purple.

She did not hit the ground. Instead, she was buoyed up, suspended, and gently placed on a circular bowl etched in a rock near the edge of a cliff. As soon as her feet touched rock, she stumbled as if she had forgotten how gravity worked. The Winds immediately manifested before her. There was much mirth between them. Their laughter sounded like high whistling. “See!” one was saying to another, “didn’t I tell you? Aria’s daughter could not help but to succeed, and brilliantly!”

“W-What?” Jasmine asked, as she got up, “who is Aria?”

“Oh, you can hear us speak?” asked one who appeared directly in front of her. He was see-thorough, but his features were sharp and piercing. His image kept distorting as it flickered between invisibility and shades of blue and white.

“Yes, I understand you.” Jasmine answered. The winds quickly ushered themselves away to confer among themselves. Jasmine felt nothing but an abysmal stillness during their absence. But it gave her time to consider her situation. She was here basically because the ghostly voices connected with the ring had brought her to this spot.

“This spot.” That phrase kept echoing in her head. “This spot. This spot. This-s-s-p… Of course! This very spot is where the Winds meet. I’m here!” Jasmine felt elated. She spun and danced within the circular depression in the rock. Somehow, she arrived at the place the ring voices advised her to find.

When she thought about it, she became puzzled that she had not encountered the voices emanating from the ring for a long while. They were silent still. Then Jasmine heard the word  “Doorway” in her head. She reasoned that this was why the colors were so deep and marvelous! Jasmine smiled. She was on the doorstep of elementals who could take her precisely where she wanted to go.

One of the winds returned.

This one also had sharp features and was almost indistinguishable from the first, except the voice differed, “Winds are able to converse quite freely with the denizens of the faery realm. We think you can understand us because you wear the Crown of the Faery King Emeth on your finger.”

© 2018 DARLENE

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Jasmine Snippet #96

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Special card in the deck of JASMINE: The Battle for the Mid-Realm collector card game

Jasmine awakened. She was by a mountain stream in an area where some tall reeds grew. She heard them rustling as they shimmered in the breeze. Her muscles felt stiff and ached. She stretched, and wondered how she got there. It was still dark. She could not tell how long she slept or dreamt. Absently, she reached for one of the dried golden reeds, pulled it to her, broke off the stem and fidgeted with it as she thought about her visionary excursions.

As with her experience with her sisters at the ancient temple on White Throne Mountain, she could not tell if she actually traveled to these majestic places, or if she just had one fantastic dream. She had dreamt of flying before, so the sensation of moving through the air high above the ground was somewhat familiar. And flying would explain how she arrived at this spot.

She became aware of the golden reed she was turning in her hands and inspected it. There was some fibrous material on the inside. So she started the process of hollowing the reed using whatever sharp sticks or natural tools presented themselves.

After she hollowed the dried reed, she found a rock just the right shape and sharpness to fashion little holes in the stem. She found a way to produce a nice round hole, if she twisted the rock back and forth the right way. The next time she blew into the reed, she produced a sound. After a little more work, she was able to improve the tone. Using the same technique, she worked on other holes, until at last, she’d fashioned a flute.

It took considerable effort to produce even a raspy and barely audible sound when she tried to play it. She found another rock with a sharper edge she could use to better define the holes and further refine the inside. It was hard because it was still dark and she did these tasks more with feel than sight. Jasmine worked on it single-mindedly until the sound produced became cleaner. As she improved the sound, she hummed a melody that got stuck in her brain. And as she hummed, the winds picked up.

So focused was Jasmine on finishing her task, she did not immediately notice when the winds picked her up. Still seated, her body hovered three inches off the ground. At last, when she blew into the finished reed, and made a strong pure note, the winds lifted her higher into the air.

© 2018 DARLENE

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Jasmine Snippet #95

The Story of Jasmine Notes continue:

After Jasmine calmed herself down, she did as suggested and strained to listen. She heard the tweeting of the night birds, the rustle of the leaves, distant shouting. She heard the effects of the wind, but not the wind itself. She tried even harder to focus on the sounds, but to no avail. She was merely hearing the sounds of the night.

“There is nothing to listen to!” Jasmine cried out in frustration.

“Precisely” was the response she heard.

“What?” Then it occurred to her that she was meant to focus on the space between the sounds. She needed to hear the silence.

As she focused deeper into the silence, she found its space could expand and open up. But with the next sound, her expansion collapsed. What did she have to do, stop time? It was difficult to sustain her focus, but she kept at it until she became aware of a faint melody. When she concentrated on the melody, it disappeared. Then she would have to start all over again. She could not trap the melody in her mind. Finally, Jasmine understood she needed to completely surrender to the silence. To allow this, she needed to relinquish her mind’s search for meaning.

When she allowed her experience to wash over her. Without her mind’s interference, Jasmine was finally able to follow the alluring sound with her heart. Her heart followed the faint hollow melody of silence to a stream where some golden reeds grew. The haunting song of silence came from these reeds that stirred in the faint breeze.

Jasmine felt the breeze. She felt it whirling around her, inside and out, like a slow motion tornado. She was a reed moving in the wind. Like every other individual reed, she too, had her own sound. Like the reed, she was a hollow vessel for the wind to play. She never felt so alive and good, a reed yearning to be moved with living breath of the wind. She became the instrument and the song. There was no place where her song was not playing. Inside and outside of herself, she played the song of her soul. The energy increased in waves. She felt sound vibrations all over her body. She was already on sensory overload when there was an increase in tempo and amplitude until, in one great burst, she released herself to the wind and experienced time out of time.

She travelled on the wings of the wind. Together, they journeyed freely throughout the Mid-Realm. She saw wonders and sights she never knew existed. The wind told her about the history of the different lands they visited. With stars flashing before her eyes, her heart perceived everything around her all at once: her relationship to the cosmos, her true connections to the people around her and she saw the face of her true mother. What was revealed in a couple moments would take life times to explain.

© 2018 DARLENE

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Jasmine Snippet #94

More notes for The Story of Jasmine:

Lt. Adrian Cartwell rode at top speed with his injured prize and did not slow his pace until his horse desperately needed rest. Galloping so hard for so long, exhausted the poor beast. He was exhausted too. Although they had not yet made it out of the forest, he felt he was far enough along that he would be safe from attack.

The lizard-dragon Gryth had long since given up squirming. The Lieutenant hoped the creature was still alive. He dismounted and carefully laid Gryth limply on the ground. It seemed weak and made disturbing chortling sounds. It must be hungry but the Lieutenant did not know what it ate. However, he did have a water canteen and dripped water into its mouth. That helped. The water revived Gryth enough to demand more. A good sign.

The Lieutenant wetted a handkerchief and washed Gryth’s wounds. Some were nasty but most were superficial. It hurt Gryth so much to move, Lt. Cartwell concluded it must be because of that awful kick he received from the woman. He realized how painful the horse ride probably had been for it and felt it best for the patient not to be jostled anymore on horseback. Lt. Cartwell risked a fire, deciding that warmth along with peaceful ground rest would help the dragon mend his internal injuries.

When the fire was crackling, they rested near its warmth. “Little Gryth boy…” he kept repeating as he tended to its torn body, “poor little one… you will be alright.” He urged the creature to rest. He soothed the animal by speaking to it in the same tone and repeating the same words that his own mother said to him when he was little and in need of comfort.

He placed his entire focus on Gryth. He did not want to leave room in his mind to think about how he abruptly abandoned the men under his charge. But saving Gryth was important. First and foremost, it was Bardulf’s pet. To lose Gryth was to lose his life. But also, there was another amazing reason. He had heard the little dragon speak to him.

© 2018 DARLENE

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Jasmine Snippet #93

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

From her perch on a lonely mountain rock, Jasmine watched the outcome of the day’s battle. She desperately wanted to help and paced morosely back and forth from her horse to her vantage point. Oh, how she wanted to turn all those hideous creatures into stone! But without her staff, she felt she did not have the power, or the means. And she faced the truth. Even if she did have her staff, she did not know how to wield it for such a purpose. She felt stupid and ineffective.

Witnessing the Wichtleins’ eventual victory was devastating. She watched in horror as those large menacing men slowly surrounded her protectors. There was a pause in the fighting that opened into a space. They were completely surrounded but instead of killing them, they took their weapons. They captured everything but the staff, which Ahearn held on to tightly.

“What can I do?” she asked out loud, as if she was appealing to the sky. And to her surprise, her plaintive call was answered.

“Listen to the wind” was the response.

© 2018 DARLENE

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Jasmine Snippet #92

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

The ensuing battle temporarily united Bardulf’s soldiers with Jasmine’s protectors against their non-human foe. The Wichtleins, still uncertain about the magical staff Ahearn held aloft, concentrated their efforts on eliminating the second group of men who’d arrived on horseback.

In the fighting, the Wichtleins slowly closed in on them, noting how the staff held by Ahearn glowed ominously. In the end, superior numbers won the day. By twilight, only Jasmine’s protectors remained alive. Because of their deep superstitions regarding magic, few Wichtleins were willing to engage them.

The day ended with Glynn, Thorne, Ahearn and Rogan completely surrounded, their weapons taken from them. “Guard them.” ordered the Chieftain, who seemed to have something in mind. The Wichtleins began clearing the battleground of all the fallen. Although they had won, three times as many Wichtleins were dead. Cleaning up was a grim affair.

Many Wichtleins were relieved they did not have to deal with the lady in white who had ridden off at the onset of the battle. None would go after her. The land across the bridge was taboo. All Wichtleins who ventured there, never came back. All agreed she would probably share the same fate.

As the dead men were being picked up and all their horses lead away, Glynn praised the valiant efforts of the fallen men, who arrived with the dragon lizard. They were good fighters. Glynn was unsure, but he seemed to recognize one of them. “It was in another place, at another time,” he sighed, “I think we had a drink together. I’d raise one in honor now, if I could…”

Thorne reacted violently when the body of her hawk was picked up. “Don’t touch him!”  she cried, only to be ignored. Then she cursed Jasmine again, under her breath, for the death of Gavin, her sweet, great bird.

Glynn addressed her, “Curse her all you like, but we are alive now because of her.”

Thorne snorted, “How do you figure?”

“Her staff saved us.” Glynn replied as he watched Ahearn whorl the staff around as if it was a fighting stick.  “It’s clearly a weapon, but it’s the only thing they clearly would not touch. They are afraid of it more than they are afraid of us.”

They all looked at Ahearn, who remained focused on looking menacing. Rogan had nothing to say.

At length, they heard the sound of drums in the distance. Ahearn then started talking gibberish. To the accompaniment of drums, he spoke non-words in a commanding way and would keep up the act throughout the night.

© 2018 DARLENE

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