Sunday, February 20, 2011

"The Imagined Village"...a moveable feast on blogging...

"Every adventure begins with a small step and a giant leap of faith."

I've taken the title of this post from a music video that appears in the side-bar of John Barleycorn Must Die, which I only noticed AFTER I left a comment on their fascinating interview with Rima Staines this week.  It seemed terribly apt, as the discussion this week is a lot about blogging, and my comment was regarding blogging as the building of an online village/community of creative people who inspire and support each other.  That's why I blog, and I suspect it's why a lot of people blog.  Incidentally, Rima herself is one of the reasons why I blog, if you haven't already discovered her marvelous Into the Hermitage then go go GO (but not right now, finish here first, as Rima's world is a little like faery land...easy to get lost amongst its marvels, and you may never find your way back!)

In the interview, Rima discusses her view of blogging as an art form in itself, how it is a way of creating a small corner of magic that is uniquely hers and her vision in the WWW, where anyone can drop in anytime and see the art she creates.  It has helped her reach a point where she can support herself through her art, and her art can reach into the homes of people all over the world, an impossible feat before the internet.  Rima also lives in a very REAL creative village, a beautiful small town in Devon, England, where her neighbours are such luminaries as Alan Lee, Brian and Wendy Froud, and Terri Windling (to name a few).  We can't all live there, flung to the far corners of the earth as we are.  But we can create an IMAGINED village, where we meet regularly, discuss what we've been working on, throw new ideas around, and share favourite music and good laughter.  And we ARE creating it.  John Barleycorn is worth a look any week (new posts every Friday), as not only is it documenting the development of a particular graphic novel (and all the highs and lows that accompany the birth of a new work), but it is an ongoing discussion on the creative process in general, featuring regular interviews with artists from all over, and a lively discussion from followers around the world (yours truly can easily claim to be the most long-winded!)

Terri Windling (who is married to Howard Gayton, one of John Barleycorn's partners-in-crime) took up the torch (or perhaps, being a moveable feast, it is a large cauldron full of rich stew?!) and continued the discussion about blogging on her Drawing Board.  Terri Windling is the other main reason I why I blog.  I first discovered her through her marvelous novel The Wood Wife, and then through the magical websites of the Endicott Studio and Journal of Mythic Arts, full to the brim (like that cauldron) of a wonderful rich mix of poetry and art and essays and stories about mythology and faery tales.  An award-winning writer and editor, and a stunning artist, Terri's blog is a wonderful cornucopia of thought-provoking essays, beautiful artwork, gorgeous music, fall-off-your-chair-belly-laughs, and of course, there's Tilly the resident muse (who occasionally smells like fox poo but we don't hold that against her!)  Her latest post, about why she blogs and how it can overcome the communication difficulties that suffering from a chronic illness can cause, clearly struck a chord as there is now a comment list as long as my arm (and growing).

But what I found most interesting, as I read through, is how the names on these comment lists are becoming familiar to me.  Mostly I don't have faces to put to them, but there ARE words, thoughts, ideas, personalities that I recognise.  I feel I do know these people in a way.  We regularly meet up at places like Terri's blog, and I visit their little corners of the web world and leave comments, and they visit mine.  Their comments stimulate and encourage me to keep creating, to keep challenging myself by trying new things, in a way that is almost impossible in the 'real' world.  I do not live in a close-knit creative community, and I can hardly accost a stranger in the street and force them to listen to the song I've just written or look at the painting I'm working on and expect an intelligent, coherent comment.  I'd probably just get arrested (I'm just now chuckling to myself as I imagine singing on the train into work, while my fellow commuters carefully move away from the 'crazy lady' and call security!)

In this crazy-busy world where it seems we are all time poor, often it is hard to go out and physically create that kind of nourishing community, find those like-minded people and get to know them, spend the time in the cafes or pubs or someone's kitchen talking and debating and laughing together.  So how wonderful it is that we can, at the click of a button, no matter what time of the day (or night) it is, or if we are still in our PJs or haven't got the breakfast dishes done yet, connect instantly with people all around the world who understand what we do and why we do it because they're doing it too!  And I love this cross-pollination that happens, the arbitrary yet serendipitous connections that are made.  I might read 3 of my favourite blogs, all discussing different things which, on the surface at least, have no links.  But reading them together CREATES a connection, a bridge between disparate ideas that suddenly makes sense and a new idea emerges.

Terri commented on the John Barleycorn post that this discussion is becoming a 'moveable feast', flitting from blog to blog across the web.  I like that idea, moving from the kitchen in one house to the lounge room in another (or the attic!), each blogger providing a special dish for all to share.  Sometimes we might bring a tried-and-tested old favourite we've made many times before.  And sometimes we might feel brave enough to experiment with an entirely new recipe, knowing our fellow 'villagers' will appreciate our efforts and encourage and support us to keep experimenting.  I've been doing a bit of this lately and I truly appreciate more than I can express the comments you have left for me.  They make me brave enough to keep on doing it.

So, now that this has most definitely turned into a novel of 'mermaid proportions' (!), it's time to finish up.  But I'll leave you all with a request.  A recurring theme in these discussions about blogs has been the almost unanimous dislike of the word 'blog'!  It is NOT a pretty word, and really cannot begin to encompass the beauty that we find in a blog like Rima's or Terri's.  So...it's high time we found a new name.  Here are a few off-the-top of my head ideas, please feel free to come up with something much better.....!

webtale...aethertale...aerthersong...websong...webweave...wable (web-fable, though could be pronounced 'wobble'...quite fond of this one!)

"Coming Home"...to a creative 'village' where we can all live, no matter where in the world we are.


Late Note, Saturday 26th Feb: For anyone popping in since Tuesday, I've posted some follow-up thoughts about who we are when we blog here, and don't forget to check out part two of John Barleycorn's interview with Rima here!

21 comments:

Jessie said...

Thankyou for such an inspiring post! I've followed Rima since the beginning and like everyone that visits her, lOVe the world she creates. I haven't visited Terri's for a while and now I'm ITCHING to get over there to see what I've been missing! Thank you Christina for inspiring me this morning and can I say these paintings of yours are stunning! Such magic and beauty! xx

WOL said...

How about "posting"? To me it conjures up images of posting a letter, which is kind of what a blog is, an open letter from you to the world at large. I had been calling the people I have met through blogging. . erm, sorry, "posting" by the term "blog friends" but I think I'm going to change that, maybe to "ifriends" for "internet friends"

I showed an artist friend the prints you sent, and her immediate comment on the ship one from "I Must Not Forget How To Fly," was how much she loved that the ship's mast was a living tree. She was much taken by that image, and the fact that it was a recurrent theme in your work. I've been trying to get her into the internet world of "posting" but she's pretty much of a Luddite. Still, I'm working on her.

John Barleycorn Must Die said...

Wow! We're all in 'the mundis' together!

Terri Windling said...

What a wonderful post! This "moveable feast" is delicious indeed.

Oya's Daughter said...

Terri is brilliant, and it does seem a lot of people are inter-connected through her in one way or another thru blogging.

Pleasure to make everyone's acquaintance as a result

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

"...I can hardly accost a stranger in the street and force them to listen to the song I've just written or look at the painting I'm working on and expect an intelligent, coherent comment."

And those that create do seem to live a step removed. We need the silence to allow the muse a comfort zone. This morning in my slippers and unwashed hair I read your post with as much hunger as I was eating my Greek omelet. We do this on line journal stuff for the same reasons.

A tour down my dashboard of blogs I am following shows a remarkable assemblage creative types - fellow artists and poets and essay writers. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words this morning.

Now off to my second blog to write.

Pseko said...

I am enjoying all the posts in the feast so I will set my thanks down here at the latest table. I'm another who is rather isolated in a tiny rural town and appreciate the spaces you all provide to encourage creative life.

I dare to share should be my mantra this year!

Valerianna said...

Good, strong cup of tea, thanks. Your attic is so full of treasures! Its nice to awaken this morning, sit down for coffee and a muffin in front of the wood stove and find myself at the table again!

Alice said...

I'm captivated by how this meme is developing, all cascading from that tweet of Rima's on Friday that she'd been featured on John Barleycorn must die.

From Rima to Terri to you feels like the "perfect" development to me, because that's exactly the order in which I discovered those journals (what's wrong with just calling "blogs" journals? Or sites? I can't help feeling that not everything needs a definition or a name to pigeonhole it. A beautiful bird or tree is still a beautiful bird or tree even if we don't know what type it is). From The Hermitage I found the drawing board, from the drawing board I end up in your attic, a 2011 Alice tumbling down an online rabbit hole of delight, revelling in the magic I find the deeper I go.

What a wonderful virtual village this is, amorphous yet altogether tangible. Its a joy to visit and to see the different thoughts and writings and creations of the residents as they appear in my feed reader. I'm so grateful to be invited in to enjoy them, a tourist in this beautiful virtual village. What will be behind the next door I knock on I wonder?

Maery Rose said...

It's been interesting reading the round of reasons for blogging. I can relate to much of it, especially the idea of community. One of my friends refers to it as belonging to a tribe of like-minded people. I first ran across Rima's blog, which led me to Terri's, which led me to yours. I love the inspiration and the "ah ha" moments.

Els said...

Thank you for your lovely and inspiring loooooong post and your beautiful pictures (will listen to your song again ;-) )

Mo Crow said...

thank you for all these good thoughts on web writing and art sharing and keeping this dialog going in our global cafe, time for another cup of coffee!

Stace said...

I don't think the word blog is going to go away. It's too convenient as both a noun and a verb, too instantly understandable, too widespread to effectively replace. I'm okay with that. When I first started blogging I used to rail against the ugly term, steadfastly referring to my online space as a journal or weblog, but it's grown on me since. I guess because I've had the chance to discover so many lovely, artful interpretations of what a blog is. After all, "blog" is only the technology...it's what we do with it that counts.

Valerianna said...

BTW - You're all invited to RavenWood Forest to sample some late winter and more of the Moveable Feast conversation.... I quote you, Christina, hope that's OK!

Stephanie Gunn said...

Thank you (and to everyone who has commented) for this amazing post.

I think that for most of us, as artists of any flavour, it is so easy to get lost amidst the grey of the world. This imagined village reminds me that I'm not alone, and that there are others who seek magic.

Della said...

Beautiful paintings, dear Mermaid and it is indeed a nice interview with the lovely, modest Rima over there at Barleycorn. On your question, I actually use the word "blog" in my blog title – quite purposefully – to place the mystical side by side with the prosaic, it's a bit tongue-in-cheek. The word is derived of course from "web log" which is much softer and almost wistful I think, but our world loves nothing more than a soundbite and so blog is here to stay. But if you'd like to use something different, why not? Feel free to rename and redefine, it's what we do.

Lynn said...

Thank you for a perfectly wonderful, and wonderfully perfect post!

ArtPropelled said...

Another most enjoyable post as I follow the moveable feast from posting to posting ..... or wable to wable. I'll have to think about that, though "blog" is probably here to stay. Your art is enchanting .... and makes me yearn to fly.

Rusted Wings said...

i chuckled as i read (while eating!) some comments of others feasting while reading, and moving through the family webweaving for the next course, and the continuity-continuum that we all feel apart of in this invisible realm of 'the body' of believers and artists alike. it is a wonderful way to travel and touch and know that in this together!!
blessings,
abigail

Swan Artworks said...

I think these so interesting series of posts and all the thoughtful comments they has inspired, have really shown just how varied and far flung this community of creative people is.
I love the sense of community I get from all these fantastic web artists, and even when I struggle to find time to reach my own art in my often overwhelmingly busy life, it keeps me feeling connected to my creative aspirations.
I am so glad I found the courage to step gingerly onto this glimmering web of many hearts and minds...
Great post Christina, it rings true...
Carrie :)

ruthie said...

Oh my, Christina, i have had an awful lot of catching up to do. I have enjoyed every moment at the table! This makes for great reading, i have been moved to write my own thoughts on my blog! I am as ever a step behind! Better late than never ;-)

Rima's blog is one of the very first i came across. I can still remember the feeling of "coming home" a wonderful stopping place & hugely inspiring. i always come away with words, images & music swirling through my head.

I love this ethereal village x x

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