Orna Ross
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I’m the author of How to create Anything and a few other books.

This blog is a scrapbook of stuff I’m creating under the headings

Creative Writing.Creative Publishing.Creative Living.

Creative Living: Go Creative! Guest

Go Creative Guest: Mavis Staples on Treating Everyone Right

I’ll be writing all about BEA Chicago in my first Monday opinion column on the self-publishing advice blog, shortly. But I wanted to bring you guys this highlight. Mavis Staples was there, promoting her book and giving a secret concert. I couldn’t go because I was at the Goodreads dinner that evening (also a wonderful event) but Christine Monroe from Kobo assures me she was completely fabulous — as ever. Mavis is super busy at the moment, what with promoting her book,  a new documentary and finishing Pops Staples (her dad’s) posthumous album. “Mavis sang ‘Friendship’ from it at the show, and it was so…

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Creative Living

The Font of All Creative Achievement

It shouldn’t surprise us that we travel through this world as we do, full of desires: we’re children of longing. Some years ago, by some strange destiny, an egg and a seed engaged each other in the darkness of a womb, and you were conceived. Your conception emerged out of your parent’s passionate longing for each other, and their longing for love. Ever since, the same inner force has guided you in your unfolding. As an embryo you were led on by the evolutionary desire to be born. For the first nine months or so, your changes happened in blind…

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Creative Writing

A Celtic Creation Story

The first recorded Irish stories were Celtic. They presented our world as eternal, represented by the famous knotwork art produced for centuries in Ireland’s monasteries. There are fewer stories about the moment of creation in Celtic culture than other tribes but one I love is the story of Oran Mór. Once upon a time, there was no time. There were also no Gods and no man or woman to walk the land. There was only the depths of the sea and its dark, eternal quiet. A strain of melody moved across the endless waters, a whisper first. The music was the Oran…

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Creative Living

The Creative Brain and Mental Illness

Virginia Woolf, Vincent Van Gogh, Diane Arbus, and Ernest Hemingway were all highly creative people who lost their battle with mental illness through suicide. I’ve long been interested in the links between mental wellness or illness and creative capacity. So has Nancy Coover Andreasen, an American neuroscientist, inspired by a woman who mirrored her own personal, academic and professional life, Sylvia Plath. As literature students and Fullbright scholars, the two had a lot in common but Plath joined the above list, while Andreasen has had what she calls a wonderful life. And her curiosity about why life took them in different directions has shaped her career. Two…

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Creative Writing

Moments of Creative Presence on Instagram?

Are you on Instagram? Do you like writing or reading haiku? Instagram is my new toy and I’m now posting a haiku (with picture) there each day. The idea is to capture a moment of creative presence, as outlined in Go Creative! It’s Your Native State. Come join me there?

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Creative Living: WB Yeats, Maud Gonne, Iseult Gonne

WB Yeats’s Fanatic Heart Was Not For Ireland But For Love

“It was all ‘father, oh father’,” Bob Geldof says, mimicking a pious female voice addressing a priest. Then in his own voice: “Fuck off, you’re not my father.” Geldof is railing against Irish groveling to the Roman Catholic  church in Fanatic Heart, a documentary about the life and work of Ireland’s great poet (and subject of my most recent novel): William Butler Yeats. Geldof argues that the poet and  literary statesman brought about revolutionary change in Ireland’s struggle for independence, without firing a bullet. Instead of guns, his modus operandi was a poetic national vision, betrayed by the Roman Catholic nation-state that emerged after Irish independence. So it was not…

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Creative Living

Creatives and Creativists Cultivate Independence

I saw a documentary about Janis Joplin last night, another great artist who died too young. The film seemed to imply that Janis’s tragic end could be traced back to having been excluded and bullied by her high school classmates but watching with a creativist eye, you can see it was the usual story. Janis Joplin was different and she had all the sensitivity and emotional honesty that creative expression demands. That difference hurt her so long as she stayed’s around Port Talbot, her home town in Texas, trying to fit herself to the beauty myth. But when she moved to  San Francisco, she found her tribe and her own…

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Creative Living

Go Creative Guest: Tolstoy’s Rules

Rules don’t work for creatives and creativists, not if work means following them in their entirety. The novelist and political activist, Leo Tolstoy, confided to his diary as a young man: I wrote down a lot of rules all of a sudden, and wanted to follow them all, but I was not strong enough. So now I want to set myself one rule only. And to add another rule to it only when I’ve followed that one. The first rule which I prescribe is as follows: Carry out everything you have resolved must be carried out. [pause for effect] I…

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Creative Living

Zen Go Creative! story: Only Time Will Tell

An old zen story tells of a farmer who owned a beautiful mare which was praised far and wide but one day, it disappeared. The people of the village offered sympathy to the farmer for his great misfortune, and were bemused when he said, “Maybe it’s a bad thing, maybe it is good, only time will tell.” A few days later the lost mare returned, bringing with her a powerful, white stallion. The village congratulated the farmer on his good fortune. He said, “Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it is bad, only time will tell.” Some time later, the farmer’s only…

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Creative Living: Creative Living Maps

Creative Mapping: Flight Map: Work, Rest & Play

The flight map (weekly) is the flow funnel that should have most of your focus. Outside of the here-and-now present moment, the easiest measure of time through which to observe what you’re making is the week. Often the doings of a day feel too short.  The nature of creative work is that there will be blind spots, resistance and times when you feel nothing is happening, It is but at the subconscious level and playing around with unsatisfactory work is often necessary to get where  you’re going. If you’ve turned up each day, if you’ve worked well, played well, rested well, week by week you’ll…

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