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Author Topic: Exercising Creativity
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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So, is it really such a crazy idea that a professional artist could also succeed at writing? walexander's dilemna, as discussed in a separate topic, made me think it might be interesting to have people list what other kinds of creativity they are involved in.

If y'all think this doesn't belong here, by the way, I'll move it to Grist for the Mill. But I thought I'd at least start it here.

And I'll offer some of the creative things I've either dabbled in or done fairly well (though not necessarily at a professional level):

I knit (and have won a couple of ribbons at the state fair), crochet, embroider, tat, and sew.

I've also done toll painting and other kinds of painting with acrylics (such as painted small birds that my father carved). I've tried doing a little water color, but not a lot.

I have done some jewelry making, and am gearing up to try doing more of that.

I like to mess with recipes and come up with my own variations (and I consider cooking a creative art).

So, what ways do you exercise your creativity, besides in writing?

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I actually think it is more likely for a professional artist to succeed at writing. For me, at least, writing is a visual process in which a part of it, at least, involves trying to vividly transmit a mental image to words.

Currently, writing is the only art I practice. In the past, I used to draw, as well as play the guitar. Writing, however, is the thing I've always had more of a talent for.

I do also like to cook, and mess around with recipes by smelling different spices and seeing what would work well together. I absolutely love cumin and paprika

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I also embroider--and sometimes design my own patterns.

When I practice, which I haven't in a while, I play folk harp. (Right now, I could maybe manage a scale. That's if I tuned the poor thing, first.)

I cook, sometimes creatively. Often just by rote. Rarely with any kind of recipe in front of me, though.

And I do dog agility. If you think it doesn't take creativity to figure out how to get the running dog (wearing only a collar, no leash) to go where you want and do what you want on the fly, you haven't tried dog agility.

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I am a great dabbler, sort of a Renaissance dwarf. I do a lot of creative things better than most people, but not well enough to be an expert in any of them.

Obviously I write. I think that is my best dabble. I used to write a poem a week (finished up with over a hundred, but I wrote those to illustrate points when I taught Sunday School.

But I've sketched, painted and done etchings. I've even created some ceramic work enough to know my way around a kiln.

I've done quite a bit of graphical design including website design. I've developed maps for my stories using Adobe Illustrator and cover art in Photoshop. I wrote, scored and directed a church musical a couple of times.

If I ever had developed a creative bucket list, I've probably hit most of it. But nothing outstanding, award winning or marketable.

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When I was doing my master degree, I had created an experimental rig, which consisted of two tables holding a bass speaker box, while split between the tables was a glass fluidised bed tube suspended over a mattress (so that if it fell, it wouldn't break), held at its top end to the speaker box by a cut out rubber glove and trailing at the out of the other end was clear garden hose to a gas tank. (I was studying the effect of sound on fluidisation). An arts student came to the acoustics department, wanting to do a project about combining sound and visuals. She took one look at my set up, and spent the rest of the time taking pictures of it, telling me that unusual collection was art.

One year I created a calander out of electron microscope images that I had taken - not those incredible insects that one sometimes sees, but polished metal. Some of the shapes looked really bizarre and beautiful, others almost comical.

I sing regularly in a chior. I believe that is a participation in a creative act, even if the amount of creativity I contribute is small.

At work I develop mathematical models, which is a different form of creativity. I also conduct "creative thinking" sessions with the software developers there.

As for cooking, my wife believes it is the scientist in me, for the outcome is always creative. She says that it couldn't be the artist, because the outcome is rarely beautiful.

[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited October 16, 2010).]

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I attended the London Cartoon School and did cartoons and still life. I have made furniture out of hardwoods. I do a fair bit of photography still (500d). I used to make props and costumes for TV and films which involved making anything (sculpture, sewing, jewellery making...) and solving problems in creative ways.

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I work a 9 to 5 as a software engineer, which involves coming up with new features for an industry software product, or finding solutions to complicated problems. Thinking outside the box and being creative are components of the whole process, and it pays rather well. The only downside (in comparison to writing) is that I can't just do whatever I want

I also build and fly radio controlled model aircraft. While the flying isn't particularly creative per-se, there is some creativity in designing and building a new model or even in finding ways to paint or modify and improve an off-the-shelf one.

And lastly, I have kids, and other than the usual craft stuff, I will occasionally just make up a story for storytime and see how long I can keep their attention

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I teach piano which I think is two arts rolled into one, teaching and music.
I also play the flute and sing. I've taught general music in the public schools and had to orchestrate productions.
I also teach preschool and deal with a willful, stubborn two-year on a daily basis.

I used to dance as a child but was never very good at it but I still like doing it. I still dream of having the money and time to take dance lessons.

I've always wanted to paint but there's only so much time in the day.

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I can draw fairly well. I drew a portrait of my son (based on a compilation of pictures) a few years ago for my wife on mother's day. Several people at her work saw it and offered to pay me money to do portraits of members of their families - I never followed up on any of the offers - couldn't find the time.

I did two paintings while in high school (25 years ago) - my teacher entered one of them in some contest, and I believe it won either second prize or honorable mention. I was never very happy with anything I ever painted - couldn't achieve the level of detail I preferred when drawing.

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I knit quite a lot, and have sold a few things, but it's deffinitely not a moneymaker because I'm not particularly fast.

I sew, mostly making old things into new. Ex. Husband's old Halfpints beer shirt (stained)--> new Halfpints baby dress.

I played flute in highschool until I came to my senses and switched to euphonium.

I do some art peices that generally start with found materials. This year I did some kiri-e (cut art) and something that involved x-rays and broken glass.

I do photobooks, not the kind where you stick photos in templates, but freeform ones where you are free to obsess endlessly about layout.

I consider home renovation a creative persuit. I imagine the changes, draw the floor plans and room design and then we slowly do the projects as finances allow.

[This message has been edited by Ethereon (edited October 16, 2010).]

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I did some acting in high school. I really enjoyed it, and I think I was pretty good for a high school level.

I use a lot of what I learned in acting for characterization in writing.

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I am a Director/Choreographer. I think I already mentioned somewhere that I used to do theatre with OSC back in the day. I have spent several years performing professionally on stage and in film. I now teach theatre and dance in addition to the shows I am continually directing which, btw, keep getting in the way of my writing! Grrrr...


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I'm in most of these. I star in The Nightmare if you want to get a clear picture of my mug for the other vids.

It's been a while since I've done any of these because my policy is not to make a new one until the current one is finished... My partner has been editing our latest four minute short for over three years now... He's kinda slow.


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Most people around here know I'm an award-winning Master Tattoo Artist (I have 175 awards to date). I do illustrations for Jake over at Flash Fiction Online (when I can, since they're pro bono). I have done map work for Kevin J. Anderson--and two paintings. I play guitar in a band which is just forming. I've color-separated on Adobe Photoshop, and done a few digital paintings on it. I'd like to get a much better Wacom pad, the stylus has over 100 different points of pressure for effects, but alas, I'm poor.
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Dark Warrior
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Ive mentioned this in another post but I am also a wannabe Actor which I consider to be an art.

Here is a clip of me on Hulu for the upcoming movie Conviction.

Ive also been in WHIP IT, THE ISLAND, CEDAR RAPIDS, YOU DONT KNOW JACK, HUNG, and am currently a recurring police officer in Detroit 187 on ABC.

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Pyre Dynasty
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Writing is my primary art, but I play with other things sometimes. I doodle my brains out, just have to keep my fingers moving. I've been seriously considering starting a webcomic I've got the ideas down but I don't think I'll ever have the hand for it. I've been coloring the pictures in my books, that's been all kinds of fun. I've also thought I could make some pretty great mosaics using shiny packaging.
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Along with writing I take pictures. We used to do more of that, we have even taken pics at a few weddings but at the moment we are busy with other things. Writing for me and ceramics for my wife, she has her own web site and makes more money at it than I do at writing.

I also cook, usually simple meals but I make up my own dishes.

Sometimes when I unstack things at work I do it in a way that makes designs with what's left. I have drawn at times but usually things that go along with my stories. And I don't have the time or desire to take lessons so that my drawings would be anything people would want to look at.

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Other than writing, I attempt to draw and paint. This crosses over to writing in ways that are difficult to explain. Sometimes during drafting, I feel like a word or phrase is a stroke of a brush or a pencil; it's either wrong or holds potential that will lend to the finished piece.

Although it might not be what most people think of as a creative pursuit, my training in fencing, stick fighting, and "open hand" martial arts does require creativity, as well as an ability to understand one's unique abilities and emotional drivers.

Throughout my childhood and for a few years beyond, I danced, sang, and acted on-stage for community groups. Now, I dance and sing for my own entertainment, and my interest in stage acting shifted to acting for video. In the past year, I've played a lead in two independent, short films and played smaller roles for two other films. (Below is a trailer for one of my upcoming films.)

In addition to the above, I've created Websites, tinkered with food recipes (winning the first prize for brittle at a county fair many years ago); sown together garments without using a pattern; and studied the basics in making chain-mail, decorative wood-working, basket-weaving, calligraphy, etc. I'll do just about anything if it allows me to express some aspect of myself.

"Via Dreams" Teaser Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8zCOwxtF44
We were still filming when the teaser was created, so the final look might change by release, which I expect will be Spring 2011.

[This message has been edited by aspirit (edited October 17, 2010).]

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My creative side comes out in everything. By no means professional, truth be told some not even amateur but, fun all the same. Lets see Art(drawing), music (piano, guitar, and vocals(terrible at all)) although I loved to writes songs which probably led into my writing stories, woodwork, I made majority of furniture in my family room addition. Sewing, not very manly, but I will tell you it stemmed from not having money as a kid and I needed those ammo packs to complete my solider outfit, so a yard of camoflauge fabric went a long way. Landscaping and gardening, love the arbors and curving beds of wild flowers, with a path meandering through.
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Interesting topic, kdw! And what a talented bunch we have.

I always lament my lack of artistic skill, but I think that's me just defining "artistic skill" very narrowly as painting/drawing/sculpting. I get enjoyment out of those activities but not a ton because I can recognize how little I know and how little ability I have to represent my vision on the page or in the lump of clay.

I play piano, though, and was just telling a friend how when I play I go non-verbal, I can't talk at all. My artistic/right brain/visual side takes over completely and there's no language over there. I can hear what people say while I play, but I can't really reply to them and don't process more than just the basics from what they say. Funny, eh?

I think I'm a good cook, I always serve as family chef when my extended family gets together. I think it's because I do a good job of keeping a lot of pots going/processes working (multi-tasker.) My mom ends up getting overwhelmed.

I love speaking in front of groups, which is a funny thing because I've done a little theater/singing before but not a lot because I tend toward shy and found it hard to balance that with stage presence. I think I found my niche in speaking (within boundaries - I have to *really* know what I'm talking about or I'm a nervous wreck.) I've given talks to rooms of several hundred people on numerous occasions. Just recently I did a video conference presentation because I couldn't be there in person.

I also design certain kinds of software for a living (educational software for corporate clients) - which is a highly creative task some of the time (and incredibly laborious, time-consuming, and painful the rest.) I use a lot of storytelling skills in the software work.

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Very interesting topic. I wish I could 'hang-out' with you guys over a beer or two from time to time.
My main squeeeeeze is the guitar. But every time I come into close proximity with any stringed instrument it magically appears in my hands and I try to make pleasant sounds with it. The only one I stuggle with is the banjo. A student showed up with a 'banjitar' the other day, basically a banjo with a guitar neck. THAT was fun for a minute or two.

I accidentally discovered that I can lead a 4th & 5th grade choir with measured but fun success.

I doodle a lot. I've drawn out entire fantasy world maps, complete with very detailed cities, towns and villages. Lots'o fun! This is connected to my RPG interests, which is a tremendous source of creative expression. I enjoy putting the games together and the crew enjoys having a story attached to the game, rather than just kicking in the door and wrecking the castle...

I also volunteer for theater stage design/building. Our school is doing 'Young Frankenstein' in a couple of weeks.

Does mowing and weedeating qualify as creative? I wash a mean sink full'o dishes... Maybe generating creative ways to NOT wash?

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I came to writing by way of songwriting, with a quick stopover in poetryville. I play the guitar, and the piano, and sing, although lately only in ward choirs.
I can act well enough to receive awards and scholarships, however not well enough to move to New York. My true love is directing, and can't wait to get back into it.
I've painted murals on my children's walls, and they turned out awesome. I like to decorate my house, and watch Hgtv, which for me is a creative hour.
I also rock at Bejeweled Blitz, which shouldn't count I know, but I have to justify spending all that time not writing somehow.
I cook for family all the time and sometimes remember vegetables, but usually not. I LOVE to bake, and have an uncanny ability to know when brownies are ready.
I love to teach, speak in public. I write talks, lessons, and primary programs.
I also have been known to play pirates/ninjas/spies with my son and his friends. They all call me the cool mom, but that's because none of them are teenagers yet.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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This is fun. Thanks for all the replies, and for sharing all the different forms of creativity.

I love to speak in front of large groups, too. And I love to make people laugh, if I can. (I do moderating on panels at science fiction conventions every chance I get, and I enjoy that as well.)

As for the cooking, my results are sometimes a little too creative for my family (especially extended family), but sometimes they tell me that I have surprised them and what I've made is actually pretty good.

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I dabble in drawing, both on paper and on computer. I recently took up crocheting and adapted a couple of patterns but I haven't gotten overly creative with it yet. I think my creative energy is cyclical because I can't seem to do more than one at a time. I haven't been writing much because I've been drawing, but hopefully NaNo will get me back on track
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My only creative pursuits are writing and playing the guitar and banjo. I find I only have time to devote seriously to writing, and that I play my guitar for fun, and rarely get to the banjo which I play as a beginner. I've written a couple of songs as well, but that involves both writing and music, so it's definitely a related pursuit.
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Robert Nowall
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Art is another of those things I thought I could have pursued seriously, but chose not to---my life is full of open roads that were closed, nearly always by some choice or other I myself made. I could do simple landscapes and such pretty well, or so I thought. I was weak on drawing human figures---I resisted that till it was too late---another of those "choices" I mentioned. But I think I might have been able to do something with it if I'd'a stuck with it.

I've dabbled in music, too---I've found that, in a relatively short time, I can learn to play any musical instrument---play it badly, that is.


I said, above, "I might have been able to do something with it if I'd'a stuck with it." But I "stuck with it" where writing is concerned...without any luck.

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the list:

Professional Astist/designer
All aspects, most mediums, including several multimedia design programs including several 3d softwares.

Musician- amateur guitarist/vocalist. I was in a couple garage type bands that use to play local gigs.

Drama- acted on stage for several years and was on a fast track to go pro but my love for dancing got in the way. Taught acting for a couple of years. Use to choreograph fight scenes - it was a lot of fun. I actually like Shakespeare.

Dance- Started to compete in western and salsa dance but got frustrated with the politics and travel required - so I demoted myself to just enjoying it.

Landscape- I worked for a landscaper for several years and got into landscaping gardens, but the same as everything I soon found it limiting, and just plain hard work - which was both good and bad. The problem to much time for me to think while working and nothing to do with all those thoughts bouncing around.

cooking- I love to mess with recipes. I get lazy sometimes but for the most part I was raised to cook.

Degrees in multimedia design, electrical and mechanical drafting and CAD.

Tried poetry but it never got of the ground, neither did lyric writing when I was a musician. When I look through my old papers they make me smile now.

I have interests in theoretical physics, codes and ciphers, ancient myths and history which transfers into my art- and now my writing.

I've been writing small things for a long time but never had the time nor freedom till now to pursue it. Most of my time is still learning all the necessary basics, but I push at it because I have a deep drive to want to find the right words to explain a story.

As others have said above, I use to love to tell bedtime stories to my daughter when she was young and she always wanted me to write them down but I never did, and I kind of regret that I didn't because now I can't really remember most of the detail I use to go into and she doesn't ether - she just remembers loving them. I feel I have something to finally say in life so I like the idea of writing it down before it all fades away.

I feel I have lead a very creative and fun life so far and I'm only in my forties, and yet other of my associates who have fast tracked up the business world still consider me unfocused, and yet I wouldn't trade a minute of my creative life for a moment in their business life just so I could brag about how big my bank account was. I do get envious sometimes of all there great toys and travel they have, but when I see something I created from pure imagination become reality and leave my hands and go into someone elses hands or the whole populous, it gives me that giddy feeling of being at my daughters high school graduation or when she first walked - maybe not quite that good, but close.

Thanks KDW, I enjoyed reading what all everyone else can do here, upward and onward,


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Robert Nowall
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Addendum: I don't know if it counts as "creative" or not, but there have been times when I've sought out every bit of information I could find about one particular subject, like polar exploration, or Warner Bros. cartoons, or changes in names and words over time, or The Beatles, or the Civil War. (Probably there were others but those ones come to mind.) Very little of it has bounced back into my work---it was all, essentially, for my own amusement, and most of it stays with me.
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Heh. Started to tune my harp (32-string neo-celtic). It's going to take more than one pass after all this time to get it to hold a tuning.

Anyway, my good tuner isn't working (presumably a dead battery). My older tuner is, fortunately.

But, one of the strings (#4, one of the high, fine ones, in my case a G) promptly broke just as soon as I had it tuned. I have a replacement, fortunately. Now I have to remember how to tie that stinking little knot. Oh, and feed the sucker through the sound board when the nearest hole on the back is almost as far from it's spot as the string is long. And then it'll take days for the string to stretch and hold it's tuning for any length of time.

Fun! (Lucky it's one of the high plinkers that don't get used that often.)

I played a couple of simple pieces--Brian Boru's March and Scarborough Fair--just to see how rusty I really am. Bad, but not hopeless. Quite.

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I didn't mention it (because it didn't occur to me), but I'm also good at sculpting. I've never actually used clay, at least not in my adult life, but I can often amaze people with Play-doh.
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From age 14-18 I was huge into art, and was truly pushing myself to become an artist for a living. Around the age of 16 I started writing (Sadly enough, my original motivation for writing was "Hey, I'm good at writing, why not do this and make some easy cash?" Of course, the real world kicked in shortly after and I've since realized writing is no easy feat)
I also dabbled fairly heavily into the C++ programming language. Some people might see computer programming as being very logical, and I suppose it is, but there is also a massive creativity side hidden beneath all of the logic. The creativity is what drove me to learn programming: Everything is a puzzle, and figuring out those puzzles feels so damned rewarding at times.
At times I feel like a jack-of-all-trades type of person. This is probably due in some part to my bipolar. I tend to become almost obsessive over something and then after a while become bored with it.
I do think having other creative ventures can help out as far as writing goes. Not only do you have more experience to draw upon for characters and story ideas, but you have more experience applying your creativity in ways outside your own mind.

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I wanted to clear up something also -

I may come across as if I have a problem with people who dedicate themselves solely to business minded ventures, but I really do admire there ability to create a solid stable environment for which people like me (more artistic) can get paid. There ability to not get side tracked from the single purpose of go to work, raise a family, and do it over and over everyday twenty four/seven for their whole life is kind of remarkable to me, because if I can't spend time day dreaming I start to feel empty inside, and this next phrase would turn most of there stomachs, but I only need enough money that my family gets by and I get to do what I love and create. I'm usually happy with that, except when someone comes along and tells me I don't have enough stuff yet to be happy.

I think that artistic prejudice has gone back since man began - I can easily imagine while all the hard working caveman hunters were out getting important food to feed there family and tribe, and ladies cooking hard and raising children - I would have still been in a cave somewhere drawing pictures of everything everyone else was doing, and thought of as lazy, unfocused, and unimportant. At least art supplies were cheap back then.

Another thing I have found out - most creative writers - within there fiber is the soul of a philosopher always dreaming about how things can be better or worse and writing it down or speaking it aloud, and often ether awakening minds or rubbing them the wrong way.

So I think most creative people will always be kind of viewed as not going with the flow, questioning everything, and bored easily.

but that's just an opinion.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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And then there are those who sacrifice their creative dreams in order to do the work that needs to be done, to support their families, and to contribute to civilization in more mundane ways. They are my heroes.

As for what Gan said:

I tend to become almost obsessive over something and then after a while become bored with it.

While there are those who see that as related to bipolar conditions, I submit that while they may be, towards one end of a spectrum, such obsession then boredom towards the other end of a spectrum is still necessary for creativity.

I remember reading an article by Lawrence Block, when he had a column in WRITER'S DIGEST, in which he pointed out that if writers are to write what they know (however they may know it), they run the risk of running out of what they know unless they are continually adding to what they know. Therefore, writers tend to be rather fickle in their interests, becoming fascinated by something and studying it in depth, and then, once they know what they need to know, they become bored with it and move on to the next fascination. (Please remember I am paraphrasing here.)

Anyway, this was a great comfort to me, because I have gone through my life being fascinated by some thing or another, doing indepth exploration of that thing, and then getting bored and moving on to something else. (Some of them I come back to every so often, but other things I have never been interested in again.)

A few examples: history of England, geology, houseplants, Jack the Ripper, dinosaurs, FBI profiling, heraldry, and so on.

So, Gan, it may be your bipolar-ness, but it may also be just part of having a writerly and/or creative mind. Enjoy your fickle interests while you have them.

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