Conscious Creativity by Philippa Stanton @5ftinf : a book review

Book ReviewsEllie BeckComment

My editor sent me this beautiful book to enjoy. Wow - I have an editor, and get sent books before they are available to the general public. I must admit, that is not something I really ever thought might be me… Just goes to show, doing your own thing, and being on your own journey can lead to remarkable things. Soon I’ll have my own book too!

Anyway, back to this one. Conscious Creativity* by Philippa Stanton, better known as uber-talented @5ftinf on Instagram. This beautiful book is a perfect format that take with you in your bag, to have on your bedside table, to pick up around everything else that’s going on.

I’ve been dipping in and out of the pages, soaking up bits of information and wisdom here and there. I’m very keen to have time to sit down and read the whole thing, but I think Philippa has cleverly made this book perfect for use in our busy days. Where we can tap into the creativity we so desire, without having to set aside hours and hours of time for reading the actual resource material first. Know what I mean?!

I love the feel and layout of this book. Since stepping into the very early stages of my own book (still very very early stages), I’m looking even more closely at covers, page layouts, feeling of the paper, text, chapter headings, content pages, the ‘with thanks page’, and more. I already did that, but perhaps more subconsciously than I am now, where I’m actively picking out the bits I like about books.

But of course the contents are really the most important. Even in this age of pretty books. We want to be able to read and take in information, be educated while enjoying what we’re reading, to expand our horizons, stretch our creativity, find new ways of looking at things.

Conscious Creativity does all that, and so much more. Broken into chapters that build on each other, talking about looking and noticing, light and shadow, composition, and our own personal practice and projects. I love the way Philippa brings her own story to the pages, while being open enough that we can all see ourselves in her examples and her ideas. That her suggestions fit within so many different creative genres, that you don’t need to be a photographer, artist, crafter, or even an Instagramer to appreciate and find so much interesting information to send you out exploring and looking at your surrounds in new ways.

I’ve always been fascinated with synaesthesia, since i saw it on Philippa’s Instagram account many many years ago. And the fact that she talks about it in her book is a lovely addition to the pages; her own viewpoint and way of seeing the world, which I must admit I’m guessing is quite rare and a special thing to share with us.

The little ‘Daily Practice’ and exercises in the book would be perfect for a child or teenager, as well as for a full time practicing artist, and anyone in-between. They’re little ideas to stretch you past your usual way of thinking, but simple enough to catch onto how to implement them into your days.

Conscious Creativity is due for release later this month (in the UK, at least - as far as I can tell), so you’ll have it in time for Christmas gifting. I’m thinking ideal for teenagers or pre-teens, and for your friends who might need a little extra prompting to tap into their own Little Moments of Creative.

I recently found out that pre-orders of a book help immensely for the writer. It puts their book in a good place, before the official publish date, which makes the publishers very happy. Most writers (unless they’re full time best-sellers) don’t really make money from their books, but when we pre-order their book it shows the future success of it, and means that publishers are more likely to promote / push it themselves.

I didn’t realise that so much of the selling of a book comes back to the author themselves. While the publishing house does promote and sell the book, the best success from any book comes from the author doing book tours, online promotions, their own audience and more. So - when we pre-order a book … and then have to wait weeks or even months before it’s release date - we’re helping that author to sell more copies, hopefully make a little more money, and the publisher be happy so they’re more likely to want a subsequent book. It’s a funny business for sure, and I’m slowly learning lots of things about it. From now on I’m pre-ordering any and all books that I know I’ll buy.

(If you can’t pre-order, perhaps you could ask your local library to get in a copy. My library does that if the books fit in with what they think are needed for their audience. And you can share on your social media account about the author and their upcoming book).

*I receive a small commission from Book Depository, if you purchase through my link. I only ever share things on my blog that I personally use and enjoy, or would love to own myself. This small commission doesn’t mean you pay any more, but it’s a small way for me to offset my internet bills. And I thank you so much for purchasing through my links.

What my husband did today so I could finish writing my book

Motherhood, Words & poetry thoughtsEllie Beck4 Comments

Every morning my husband gets up early, before 5am, which is dark during these Winter days. He makes sure the fire is still burning, or he starts it again, so that when we get up later the house is warm and cosy. This is what he does almost every morning, for us - his family. He also likes the quiet time in the house, all on his own. 

He makes me coffee every morning, and wakes the kids up. He mostly makes breakfast for River, and sometimes the big two if they're communicative about what they actually want (sigh - teenagers / pre-teens!). All five of us somehow each morning manage to get everyone ready and out the door, lunches made, bags packed, dramas and lost notes and unbrushed hair, and unwashed faces. Mostly almost on time every day. 

Sam does the school drop off. Every day, while I've been writing my book, he gathers the kids into the car and takes them to town. Monday and Tuesday are preschool days, so he drops River off too. Some days he'll check the post, go for a skateboard at the park, visit the hardware, or the healthfood shop, or the op-shop, or library, or get some more milk for our elevenses coffee. 

Then he heads home (it's a 20 minute drive from our house into town). It's lucky he likes driving, because he does the trip into town often two times every day, for drop-off and pick-up.

When he came home today, me writing the final words on my book, pushing to get it sent before tomorrow's deadline, he cleaned the breakfast and lunch making stuff. He washed up - the epic mess from yesterday's meals (six people in one rainy day create a LOT of washing up). Then he made the coffee, which I drank while still writing. He drank while sitting down for a moment. 

Before he left, to get the kids again, he brought me tea, and spilt extra firewood. I'm here writing a newsletter, and blog posts, and checking my emails to see if my editor has received my words yet (of course not because I live in Australia and she lives in UK, which means she's still asleep, or only just waking up right now... having her morning coffee). 

Sam will take the big kids to drama class, he'll take the small kid to feed him (pre-school is hungry work for a three-year-old), and then do the shopping, visit the library, deal with a tired child, and the time frame of a kids' drama class, before he has to come home again. 

Meanwhile, here I am... writing words, wondering about how to continue generating an income, tending the fire, and pondering my second cup of tea, perhaps a spot of sitting on the couch with some stitch work; my fearless quilt.

I ponder again and again life -  the usefulness we each have, for our family, our community, what we give and what we get. Do we remember to say thank you, to look at someone when they bring us tea, or run up our goods at the supermarket, or re-new our overdue books at the library, or fill our car at the petrol station (yep, we have one of those local petrol stations in our town - amongst about 4 others that don't), or teach our kids be it in school or after school. The way that what we contribute has nothing to do with money, in a family or a community or society, or the world. What we contribute is more than that, bigger than that, outside of any financial countings. 

And yes - there I said it. I sent my words to my editor today. 20,000 words. It will be some time before it becomes a book. This is the first edit, so I'm sure there'll be rewrites and such necessary. But there.... I'm on the way to becoming an author!

Ode to my library

Slow & Sustainable LivingEllie BeckComment

Dear local library, Thank you for your shelves of cookbooks to ooogle over, thank you for your art & reference sections to help with my kids' school assignments, thank you for your '90s & '00s daggy craft book (oh some of them are the best ever, for real!), and thank you for ordering in the modern crafty books I spot on Instagram (so I can borrow them 20 times in a row).

Thank you for having a semi-decent dvd selection, so we can have 3 whole weeks to watch all the bad drama and action movies we want. Thank you for having an excellent kids section, and sticking with th Dewy-Deci system so my kids can learn how to find their own books. And for having friendly librarians who talk to my kids like the intelligent interesting they are.

And dear library, thank you for having strong and solid shelves, for my toddler to climb onto. And for your lovely staff to turn a blind eye to his antics - shelf climbing, pulling dvds from shelves & re-sorting them, throwing all the stuffed toys from the play section around and lining the chairs up in a row across the walkway. And for not ever once shushing us.

Sweet lovely library, looking out over the fishpond (will the turtles come back soon we wonder), from my childhood. Thank you for updating yet staying nostalgically as special as I remember. And thank you for wiping out overdue fees when you see how flustered I am that books got lost under the kids' beds again.

Dear library. I really do love you! And I love that if I can't make it in to borrow books for my voracious book-eating children, we can borrow them on audio for free as well. Have you discovered talking books? I seriously didn't believe my kids when they first told me how good BorrowBox was - perhaps I should read more parenting books that will remind me kids know lots of excellent and great stuff, and listen to them more!

Do you library visit? What's your favourite current read? I've just built a bedside table from my favourite tomes - hopefully there's no overdue library books hiding in there!