Category Archives: Uncategorized

Creativity is Creativity is Creativity

Image of a light bulb breaking and the text "Creativity is creativity is creativity"

What does it mean to be creative? Is creativity earned? Does it have to be worked at? How important is it in your writing? Five working creatives–a musician, a dancer, a poet, a non-fiction writer, and a visual artist–gather to talk about their process, their triumphs, their struggles, and the ways that they use creativity and it uses them. Famed author Margaret Atwood says the biggest misconception about creativity is to think only geniuses have it. At Writespace, we completely agree. Join us to listen and be inspired about your own.

Join me! I’ll be talking about creativity and my creative process in writing Protectress at this fantastic panel sponsored by Writespace on 23 January 2021.

Tickets are $10-50 (pay what you can) and are available at Eventbrite.

Where am I? Jan-Feb 2021

Upcoming talks and workshops:

23 January, 4-6 pm CST: Writespace Panel: Creatives on Creativity, with author Karleen Koen (moderator), Dr. Tony Medina (Creative Writing, Howard University), Kay Sarver (visual artist, blogger, co-owner of Houston’s Archway Gallery), Adam Castañeda (dancer and choreographer, Pilot Dance Project), and author Karen Celestan.

9 February, “Navigating the Antebellum South in Silent Film,” Washburn University.

13, 20, and 27 February: Writing Local Workshop through Writespace: Have you ever wanted to write about the stories from your home town or another specific place you’ve been to or lived in? The history of that Art Deco building and the people who lived in it, or maybe how your city coped during World War I? Maybe you want to dig in to local history to add detail to a story you’ve already begun, or want to make sure your characters are using the right kinds of slang. In this workshop, we’ll investigate tools and techniques for writing about local history, whether from a non-fiction, fiction, or poetic point of view. You’ll learn how to use free online resources to find information from newspapers, census records, and other documents, as well as small museums, local historical societies, and other places. We’ll talk about creating characters that are in keeping with their localities, including how they speak, interact with others, and participate in local customs. This workshop is open to students from anywhere, writing about any place!

18-21 Feb, “Nostalgia and Cultural Memory in Music for The General (1927),” Historical Fiction Research Network conference. I’m giving this paper one more academic outing to get feedback from a non-musicology audience before I begin reworking it into an article.

I’ll also be at the MLA Digital Project Showcase (7 Jan) and at the Opera America conference on New Music (26 Jan).

What’s next?

I’m beginning to plot my new scholarly project and figure out how to balance it with my creative work. I need to keep in mind that I have no deadlines for the scholarly project, and that it can develop as slowly or quickly as I want and can handle. I’m not going to seek out a traditional publisher for it–I’m very happy with the way my last book, Music for the Kingdom of Shadows: Cinema Accompaniment in the Age of Spiritualism, turned out using open peer review and Humanities Commons. I’m trying to learn to work at a new pace in which I do a better job of taking my chronic illness into account. Right now I feel pretty stable, having spent the last year trying various treatments for lupus/mixed connective tissue disease. I’m on a combination of medications that seem to be helping; and I just had radiofrequency ablation of my right occipital nerve for severe occipital neuralgia and am hoping that it will provide pain relief for the next several months.

There are so many projects I want to take on, but I’m increasingly aware of my own limitations and the human life span. I’ve got a spreadsheet full of scholarly ideas if anyone wants them–I know I won’t get to them all. I’m also aware that some of the projects I’d love to do should be done by other scholars. So as much as I’d love to work on composer Julia Perry, I think that as a white woman, I’m not the ideal person. I have PDFs of lots of her scores & would be happy to share/assist with anyone interested in her and her work. The same is true for composers Amanda Aldridge and Dorothy Rudd Moore. I’m eager to read what others write about all of them.


Medusa’s Nightmare of Poseidon

Here is the opening aria from my opera in progress with Jessica Rudman, based on my novella Protectress (the novella is forthcoming January 2022 from Unsolicited Press).  Medusa, having survived Perseus’s supposed assassination of her, has lived mostly quietly into the modern age and has become a college professor. At the beginning of the opera, though, she’s just come out as immortal, and her sisters Stheno and Euryale have come to visit her to celebrate a big interview she’s done for Teen Vogue. But the first night they’re there, Medusa is wracked with a terrible dream.

Click here for the recording by Augusta Caso, mezzo-soprano, and Mila Henry, piano.

The foam was littered
with dark bones, minuscule bodies
of men and horses: sacrifices and murders. I couldn’t make out their faces,
but I know— they were the gods Poseidon has trampled.
They hung in his fetlocks,
hair and nails grown long
and brambled as they clung,
wet and eroding
to his legs.

He simply appeared, and
I was struck fast—
I couldn’t, I couldn’t breathe or move, standing in the temple like that night he came ashore—
but this, this was worse—
he stood,
roaring and roaring
like an ocean,
a lion,
an elephant seal,
like the sun screaming with fire,
like engines revving,
like the wind,
like all of the oceans he commands—

And all I could hear and smell and taste were his hooves on stone and
spears on shields
spears and shields, and
bang bang bang bang bang coming closer

There was a great tide of bulls
and they were running over me running and running
sharp hooves digging into my body my breastbone shattered
snakes ripped away
and a harsh, rising water keeps me down trying to penetrate
in every way it can
as the dead oxen trip and fall
the odor and the feel
of decaying flesh
lying on my own
and the running never stops
and the water forces its way in,

Where am I? End of 2020 edition

Upcoming creative works
30 October 2020: Hear an excerpt from Protectress, my opera in progress with composer Jessica Rudman, based on my forthcoming novella of the same name. The excerpt includes the aria “Medusa’s Nightmare of Poseidon” and is the aria that kicks off the whole opera. Produced by the American Opera Project.

TBD: The Opera Elect premiere of Sense of Self, my opera with composer Lisa Neher.

Upcoming scholarly presentations
14 November 2020, 3 PM Central: “Cultural Diversity and the Musical Representation of California in Regional 1970s Television,” American Musicological Society national meeting. Not going to the meeting? Email me for a copy of the paper and slides.

10-11 December 2020: “Singing Together and Apart: The Performance of Jewishness in The Merchant of Venice on Film,” Shakespeare and Music: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives.

Upcoming teaching
5 and 12 December 2020: Writing with Ghosts through Writespace. Read a full description here.