Monthly Archives: September 2011

65 David Sobkowiak (part 2)

**This is a follow-up to my initial post on creativity.**

No matter what you saw when you looked up from your screen after reading my post, those images were something that can lead you to creativity.

It’s not a solely human trait as there are numerous studies showing primates, rodents and countless other creatures have the ability to adapt their environment creatively to solve problems.

Stacking objects to obtain food, avoiding sections of a cage/maze/box to avoid negative stimuli, salivating at the sound of a bell (okay, maybe not so much the last one).

Humans, however have the ability to take these various events and change them, to create new stories. Experience new events.

Create new worlds.

Writers, artists, film producers all take events from their own lives and twist them into a work that effects our lives in a unique way. They can create events/art/images that have no basis in any reality but their own minds and can present it to a wider audience that may never have even conceived of such events, sparking emotions, possibly even more creative efforts to come to life.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many creative inidividual, and I’ve been able to work with many of them on creative projects. I can tell you that it is a wonderful feeling to watch something grow from an idea into a real, tangible novel, work of art or movie.

Creativity is something everyone has. Take a moment right now to have a creative moment.

Write down a thought, scribble a drawing on the agenda of that soul-sucking meeting, take a picture of something different with your cell phone. These are just a few ways that you can create something. Once you’re done, share it with someone. Put yourself out there and let someone see the “Creative” in you. Encourge the “Creative” traits in those around you. Let a child know that it’s okay to color outside the lines, introduce someone to a story you love.

Be Creative.

Be happy.

Be you.

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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Creativity Guest Posts


Watching Sparks Fly

***The following is an essay that was originally published here in January.***

What is it about creativity? The spark of an idea? The thrill of something new coming from you? Growing in you? Much like a pregnancy of an idea. Birthing a project. Your Baby. The NEED to share some part of yourself, your soul, with the rest of the world. Maybe a need for acknowledgement or appreciation as well.

Most of our lives seem to be spent learning about the world around us. Naming things. Discovering how things work. Exploring the vast unknown. Then finally, hopefully, finding our place in that world. That we can “see” something that doesn’t yet exist in the physical world in our imagination and then turn it into a reality astounds me.

To create with words is no less amazing to me. Writers and poets create characters, other people, out of nothing more than thin air and ideas. People we end up caring about; loving and hating. People with complex lives; families, histories, stories of their own to tell.

I have found recently that as thrilling as it is to have the spark of a creative idea burning brightly in your brain, it is almost equally as fantastic to be able to help that spark exist in someone else. To get an idea that relates to another artist’s work and pass it off to them; watching it take root is wondrous. To see that flame in their eyes and know you helped put it there is a special gift.

I am fortunate in so many ways. I create things physically in the form of color and yarn. I dye yarn and allow the colors to speak for me. They convey emotions, attitudes, stories of people and places. I also knit and transform that yarn once again into a thing of beauty and purpose. I am also gifted–and I mean this literally as in having been given a gift that I am fortunate to possess–with the ability to create little poems. Taking an idea and expressing it in such a way as to have other people feel something or understand something they might not have otherwise.

Beyond my personal abilities to create I have found another joy. That ability to help a fellow artist create. To see someone else’s work clearly enough; to understand the characters they have created, to see the next step for their work and be able to share this vision of their work with them in a coherent manner is a new experience for me. Watching that spark that first spontaneously combusted somewhere in my mind’s eye flash and burn even more brightly in their eyes is truly magical. Now, I get to fan the flames and encourage them along in their progress, happy to have been a part of the magic they create.

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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in My Essays, My Writing


64 David Sobkowiak

creˇaˇtivˇiˇty [kree-ey-tiv-i-tee]


1.the state or quality of being creative.

2.the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.

3.the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.


creˇaˇtion [kree-ey-shuhn]


1.the act of producing or causing to exist; the act of creating; engendering.

2.the fact of being created.

3.something that is or has been created.


Referenced from “The Basic Elements of Creativity,” from Everything is a Remix, Part 3

There are a lot of thoughts on just what creativity is, and what it means to create. From the definitions above to the Basic Elements graphic above, one can perceive creativity and the act of creation means: Anything you do that results in something that wasn’t there before, as being creative.

I tend to use the word creative as a proper noun, a descriptor of anyone who actively creates any manner of products. In my circle of associates, being a Creative means that you produce written works, podcasts, blogs, art, photographs, music, and also can include lending your voice to act out character roles in various productions to include podcast novels, audio dramas and any number of other works.

To me, creativity, and the act of creation is simple. If you actively work on or cause to exist, something that wasn’t there before you are being creative. You use your creativity to accomplish this.

I am blessed to know and even to have met some extraordinarily creative individuals over the course of the past five years. I never sought out people who could be considered artsy, or expressive, I just floated around from one group of friends to another all of my life. During my school years (grade school though college) I never stayed with any one group or clique. I found it stifling and to be honest, quite boring to hang out with the same people all of the time. By associating with nearly every group in school, I was able to witness something that most others never had to chance to understand.

Everyone is creative and has the potential to create.

Beneath the rote studies, individuality cleansing environment of my school lessons, I saw the glimmer of subjugated Creatives. People who had the ability and desire to release their imaginations with a pen, an instrument or their voice. Back then we didn’t have the kind of computers that are so readily available today. We didn’t have Smart phones or Play Stations, or even television shows or movies with brilliant special effects (until Star Wars came along).

I have had several discussions with my children lately about this very fact and they always ask the same thing. What did you do for fun? How did you call people? I once answered that we talked to our friends using long strings and paper cups, but that only earned me a stern look from my 10 year old daughter. Then I explained what a pay phone is/was. Her only response was that we couldn’t have been able to play games on those, and that they didn’t sound portable. We both laughed at this, but I’ve strayed off topic.

Look up from the screen you are reading this on for a minute. I’ll wait. Go look around you. Think about what you see. What’s going on? Tell me what you saw in the comments below. Don’t embellish. Don’t try to craft some beautiful words to the scene. Just write down what you saw. That’s it. I’ll be back with my response in a day or two.

Seriously. Go. Look. Write. I’ll respond. Pretend it’s a game. Trust me, it will be fun.


Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Creativity Guest Posts


Success Guest Posts Wanted

Back on June 7th I got one of my hair-brained ideas; I decided to ask for guest posts on the subjects of Art, Creativity, and/or Inspiration. In addition to putting out the post and a few tweets, I sent out direct messages inviting creative folks I knew to participate.

The resulting posts are what inspired me to create this site.  As of today, there are 63 guest posts on those topics. They range from an audio response to a sonnet, to a fictionalized account of me searching for thoughts on creativity inside the mind of a friend. And while I think the possibilities for posts about art, creativity, and/or inspiration are endless, I’ve decided to move on and give you a new topic: success.

So tell me what “success” means to you. What is it? How do you define it? Is it lasting? Fleeting? Elusive? Possible? How do you know when you are successful? What constitutes success for you? Work? Fame? Family? Money? And, once you define it, how long till that definition changes?


You can send your thoughts (along with a short bio if you are new to Chocolate Scotch as a contributor) to DyedBrightHere (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in My Writing, Success Guest Posts


Thunder Rumbling

Thunder rumbling
in the not-too-far-and-getting-closer-every-second distance.
Long, low rumbles
vibrate through my soul;
growling like my lover.

Tension building,
waiting for the flash,
waiting for the release.
The promise of a pounding rain
rumbling from your lips.

My tears will fall first.
The pain of missing you
so complete
the thought of riding out a storm without your strength
more than I can bear.

The air around me stills,
nature gathers herself.
Breaths collected and held.
A lover’s embrace
shelter enough through any storm.

Thirsty from want and wanting.
Torrential downpour painful, bruising;
wetness pounding life back in,
removing need.
Relief complete in the quiet after the storm.

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Posted by on September 3, 2011 in My Poems, My Writing


Find Your Path

Goals and plans are good things. Usually. They can be important. They are ways to plot a course toward those things we strongly desire and chart our progress along the way. We teach them to our children from an early age. We use them in just about every aspect of our lives starting with developmental milestones as an infant up through planning for our own funerals.

But goals and plans are only beneficial when you know what direction you need, or want, to steer towards. If you don’t know what makes your soul sing how can you pursue it? How do people figure out what that special thing is for them? It can be through exposure; at home, at school, from a friend. More often than not though, I think it happens accidentally. You move through life, minding your own business, and something innocuous happens. At some point down the road you turn around and look back and realize that you have strayed pretty far from the path you were previously traveling. Maybe you can pin-point that moment. Maybe you can’t. It doesn’t matter. It happened and now you are in a completely different place and time. And you are happy.

For me that moment came about as the result of a tragedy. Tia L. Brink was an editor and a friend. She went into the hospital to have heart surgery and didn’t survive. I reached out to others that I knew she was friends with and we got through our grief together. One of those people was Keith Dugger. Tia had been more than just a friend to Keith. She had been his editor.

There is a 3-day writing challenge over the Labor Day weekend. It’s pretty simple; write a novel (or novella) over the 3-day weekend. Some folks do Na-No-Wri-Mo (National Novel Writing Month) in November where the goal is 50+ thousand words in 30 days. This is 20+ thousand words in 3 days. Um, yeah.

Last year Keith took the challenge, completed it, and even had time to spare. I got a message around 8 o’clock Labor Day night asking if I had the time to look over the story he had written. I said, “Sure”. I had never read anything Keith had written before but was game to give it a look.  From the first paragraph I was hooked. I wasn’t concerned with individual sentences, or pacing, or organization–there wasn’t time and at that point, I didn’t have a clue about any of that. I was reading to catch spelling errors, typos, verb tense agreement, punctuation, and any other glaring mistake. Those are all things that have always driven me insane when I find them in published works.

I have read everything Keith has written since then, gone back and read most (all?) of his previous works, and nagged him to write more. Along the way, I have learned so much about why some things work and others don’t when it comes to telling stories. I have also had the honor to read a lot of words written by J. Daniel Sawyer and Paul E. Cooley. They are all wise and knowledgeable when it comes to the technicalities of grammar and punctuation and have been very patient in imparted that wisdom to me. You see, I know when something doesn’t “sound” right; what I don’t always know is why. Or, if I can tell you how to fix it, I can’t always use the correct terminology. I’m still not sure I would know a participle if it was dangling in my face. Have one in your writing though, and I will probably point it out.

They have taught me so much more than the technicalities of good grammar and proper punctuation. They have taught me about a writer’s voice, about methodologies of writing, about obeying the rules and breaking them too. They have taught me about friendship, trust, patience, practice, and faith.

When I gave that first story of Keith’s a read I had no idea that I was an editor. I was just helping a friend. I still didn’t know when I started pointing out little things to Dan or Paul as well. Suddenly, one day it hit me that I was doing quite a bit more of this, I LOVED it, and maybe (just maybe) I could do this for profit as well as pleasure. I wasn’t even sure what, exactly, an editor was supposed to do. Was I really already doing these things? Or was I just skimming the surface, pretending? Long conversations about the various natures of editors followed. They all in their own ways nudged me foreward. They told me to believe in myself. And I listened.

So, now I am an editor-for-hire. I am a semi-pro and as such, charge rates that are commensurate with that experience. I understand writers saying that they don’t need an editor. I certainly understand when a writer says they can’t afford an editor. A full time all-star level editor is going to charge you upwards of $40/hr to work for you, provided you can even get in to see them. As a rookie, I want to give writers the chance to try using an editor for a minimal expense and with no risk at all. I charge $15/hr and will do the first 25% of a work (up to 1000 words) as a free trial and will advise you how long it took and what it would cost. If you like my work, I will finish the work and bill you for the balance of my time. The free part is still free. If you aren’t happy with my suggestions, and don’t wish to continue, that is fine and you are under no obligation to do so.

Now that I have found this thing that I love to do, I am setting goals and making plans (things like self promotion, marketing, building a roster of clients). Were it not for the simple request of a friend and the accidental discovery that editing speaks to my soul, I would never have found this wonderful path upon which I now dance.

Have you found yours?

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Posted by on September 3, 2011 in My Essays, My Writing


Attitudes and Ideas About Art

Art is complicated. Art is hard to understand. Art is for rich people. Art is expensive. Art is a luxury item that celebrities buy to make people think they are smarter than they really are. Art is boring. Art is offensive. Art is elitist. I’m sure there are plenty more where these came from; but you get the idea.

Those statements are all true. They are also all false. You see, art is subjective. There is beauty in art and like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty and art are quite possibly the most subjective topics that mankind has struggled to deal with since the beginning of time. I have no doubt that when that early human painted on the cave walls at least one of his (or her) contemporaries thought it was magnificent and another thought it was crap.

Not only is art subjective, but it is also historical. The philosophies, political and social events of the time (culturally as well as relating to the individual artist),and the technology available when the work is created play great roles in the creative process. So, an understanding of the time period and the relevant societal, political, religious, personal, and technological issues of the artist and the time in question can transform a piece of art for the viewer. Many people don’t have access to this information, or a desire to learn, and thus dismiss the art as irrelevant. And maybe it is.

But art is also timeless. Great works of art transcend time and meaning. They are viewed by people from different cultural frames of reference, throughout time, and invoke a response in these different viewer regardless of the frame the viewer puts on the work with their own preconceived ideas and references.

So, what is art? In it’s simplest definition, art is a person (or people) expressing themselves to create a response in others. Now, I think that might be a bit of oversimplification. I don’t for a second believe that every time someone expresses themselves it is art. So, I would add clauses like: through a chosen medium (writing, painting, music, dance, drama, clay, fiber, technology, design…); and surpassing the medium (every photograph is not art…most are just snapshots and the same goes for every medium) and with the express intention of conveying (or translating) thoughts, feelings, and ideas. It is in the adding of these clauses that the idea of art becomes both clearer and less clear. Because, now we are adding more layers to the definition that might or might not include a particular artist or art form.

Art is translation. Translating beauty we find in the natural world into a non-natural form. It is translating cultural ideas about beauty or events or ideals across geographic or cultural borders. It is translating that which is important to me to others. It is people’s attempts to convey meaning to others. Or just an attempt to make sense of things for themselves.

Art is all of these things, none of these things, and more. Art requires conversation. It requires contemplation. It requires an artist and an audience. It requires comment and discussion. Art is a learning process. Art is an integral part of who we are. It recognizes the human potential and encourages growth, communication, and understanding.

I’ll say this part again…art requires conversation. Please share your thoughts and join the conversation.

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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in My Essays, My Writing