Greek American author and poet, Patty Apostolides has published a poetry book and four romance novels: HELENA'S CHOICE, THE GREEK MAIDEN AND THE ENGLISH LORD, THE LION AND THE NURSE, and LIPSI'S DAUGHTER. She is also converting her novella IT'S A DATE, into a novel. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from National Univ. and directs the Hellenic Writers' Group of Washington DC Visit her at: www.pattyapostolides.com
When does your creative moment happen? Is it while you're working, playing, in the shower, or walking? Is it in the mornings, in the evenings, with family, or alone? My time is usually in the late mornings or late evenings. By knowing when your creativity is at its peak, you can optimize those moments and be at your best in creating.
During my creative moments, I feel as if my universe is expanding and I am in the "flow" of things. Time stands still and I get absorbed in what I am doing. I lose myself in my creativity. I read about this state of being from the book FLOW by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and recommend this book highly. There are some similarities to this state of being as in Maslow's self-actualization. Both experiences are peak experiences.
AVOID NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
When negative thoughts, however, take over, then it becomes difficult to create. This happened to me recently. The negative thoughts came after I went to a talk given by an author who had sold over a million copies in the past nine years. I admired him for his success, but at the same time, I felt that I could never gain that kind of recognition. The reason? I don't write in that genre (Sci-Fi) and I don't write sex or violence. So I shut down. I didn't want to write.
It took me time to figure out why I was feeling bad after I left that talk. I have been writing for fourteen years and know quite a bit about writing. However, I have wanted to expand my readership and it wasn't happening. In an effort to understand the reason why, I asked myself the following questions: "What garners attention by readers? What excites them? How can I reach them? Do I have to put aside my interests to please my readers? How much of my own interests do I want to sacrifice to do that?" I noticed that my thoughts were going off on tangents. This was a waste of valuable time for me, the creator. If you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, don't do it! If you catch yourself playing these mind traps over and over again, stop! They will keep you from creating your masterpiece. You can't create when you are in that negative mode. It's impossible. Trust me, I've been through that route.
Remember, most of the successful creative people failed at one point. Yet that did not stop them from continuing doing what they did. They kept at it. They had perseverance, and that's what separated them from the wannabes. In Angela Duckworth's book GRIT, she describes how grit, or perseverance, makes people successful. People who persist, even in the face of rejection and failure, ultimately succeed.
The students that succeeded in school and the employed people that rose to the top did it because of grit, and not because of IQ or wealth. They simply worked hard at what they did. So along with creativity, one must have a heavy dose of perseverance and persistence, and self-confidence. You will have to also love what you are doing because you will be spending much time with yourself and your creative endeavor.
Recently, I came across a poem that I had written years ago but never finished. It sat in the drawer since 2010, forgotten under a pile of other papers. Recently, as I was rummaging through the drawer, I discovered it. It was titled "Soul Mate" and I remember that at the time it was written in 2010, I had started to write it for my husband, but was not pleased with it. Anyway, I took it out of the drawer and started fiddling with it. Then I became inspired. It slowly morphed into a more concrete poem with spiritual undertones. My husband was no longer here to receive it, since he departed this earth four years ago.
Meanwhile, I had recently played around with some music on my synthesizer and saved it. I decided to put the poem together with the music. Then, I became even more inspired and made it into a video and posted it on Youtube. I am including the link here:
These moments of inspiration are very happy moments for me. I found myself staying up late at night, and getting up early in the morning to work on this project. I was driven, and I feel good with the results. This is the "flow" state of being that has been written about by author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, where time stands still and there is no time, while you are absorbed in what you are doing.
It's not often we have a chance to visit Lipsi Island, the birthplace of my parents. It is located in the southern Greece, one of the Dodecanese islands and is tiny. The population is around 700 people. So when there is a documentary/video about it, I am pleased to share it with you:
It was produced/directed by my talented cousin, Angelique Papadelias. Scenes of my sister, Rena, and her family are also in there, around 41:31 when the video goes on their tour boat, the RENA, and travels to the five islands.
So when you're reading LIPSI'S DAUGHTER, you can picture the heroine, Ipatia, in this idyllic environment.
I'm currently enrolled in a Positive Psychology course from the University of Pennsylvania. It's actually a five course program which earns you a certificate when you are finished. As soon as you finish one course, you enroll in the next one. The psychologist, Dr. Marty Seligman, who was president of the American Psychology Association, founded Positive Psychology. Now it's being used all over the world, and even is being used in our armed forces to teach them resilience. I've learned so much from these courses, and the focus is not on the negative, but on the positive aspects of life. Our human instinct is to protect ourselves and to survive. In the past, it was useful to focus on the negative, in case there was a dinosaur or wild animal lurking afoot. Now, this negative bias has permeated our society. One sees it in the news, that focuses on violent acts and crimes. Also, in the old days, psychologists focused on what was wrong with us. They studied mental illnesses and how to correct them, but over 70% of the population was normal. Because they didn't have mental illness didn't mean they were happy or had well-being. Positive psychology goes beyond just living. It teaches you about yourself and about how to see life differently. Being a writer, I found these courses fascinating, particularly the character strengths that came out of the six virtues: wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, transparency, and transcendence. A website formed by Dr. Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, called Authentic Happiness, has much information about this topic. There are free questionnaires and tests on the site. Also, to find out your character strengths, you can take the VIA survey. The top five character strengths are your strongest. These character traits can be used to help define characters in your novels. They can also help you understand yourself and the people around you better. Click on this website to take the free survey: https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu Here is a list of the virtues and their character strengths:
A few weeks ago, a colleague from our writers' group, Calliopi Toufidou, told me about the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF). Having lived in the area years ago, she knew all about it, and said that Greek film makers would be submitting their films there and they would get voted on, and the best films would receive awards. She thought it would be a good idea to take our books and see if there were any film makers interested in them. Hmmm, I said, let me think about it.
I wrote to one of the board members of the LAGFF, Mr. Aris Katopodis, and he graciously invited us to attend the event as a VIP. So I accepted and flew there with my son and Calliopi. We represented the Hellenic Writers' Group of Washington DC (HWGW). The event started on Wednesday, June 7 with the opening night reception at the Egyptian Theater in the Hollywood/Highland area and lasted until Sunday, June 11. Around 50 films were presented during this time, including feature films, documentaries, and short films. www.lagff.org
My son and I had gone there earlier in the day and were amazed at the amount of people walking along the sidewalks. The Hollywood Walk of Fame had a couple thousand stars ranging from Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, to Adam West, Marilyn Monroe, etc.
The next stop, was Universal Studios, where we took the studio tour and walked around, savoring the sights and sounds of this very popular place. We went on a weekday, but were pleasantly surprised to see so many people.
We visited the Harry Potter area, with the Hogart Castle:
The studio tour took us to the site where the JAWS movie was made.
On Sunday morning, we visited St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles. We were fortunate because that day they were ordaining a new priest, so two bishops were present. My son served in the altar and I sang in the choir. I met a very nice woman, Judy, who was president of the Philoptochos Society, and gave her one of my books. She was very pleasant and said maybe they can invite me to speak there one day.
We finished the week with a trip to downtown Los Angeles, where we
The story is set in England and Greece about five years after the Greek war of independence from the Ottoman Empire. Helena’s Greek mother is dead, and she has been raised as a proper English girl by her English father. But when he dies intestate, Helena’s fortune changes. She struggles for a while to support herself in England as a governess, but eventually decides to go to Greece to claim her mother’s property.
Helena’s father was an amateur archeologist who had been digging on that Greek property and had found some interesting artifacts. When Helena arrives, she meets a returned Greek archeologist who is digging on her mother’s as-yet unclaimed property. Will Helena’s love interest remain the English doctor she had known since childhood or shift to this Greek archeologist? And will they find anything of value on her mother’s property that Helena can use to support herself?
Helena experiences a very interesting period of Greece’s history. King Otto of Bavaria has been made king of Greece by the European powers and is struggling to gain control. Valiant bandits are still roaming the countryside after distinguishing themselves in resisting the Ottoman Turks. The novel is good at picturing what it might have been like to live in those times.
Yes, there is a vague plot connection between the Helena Cadfield of the novel and the Helen who was abducted by Paris in Greek myth. This adds a somewhat timeless perspective to the story.
The many specific details of daily life in both England and Greece show an author who is quite familiar with both cultures. She tells the story in a refined, elegant prose that is a pleasure to read.