Friday, February 24, 2012


As I have mentioned before, I write for children’s education companies. Some of you may be wondering what that is really like. Well, here is a typical exchange:
Wonderful Company Rep: Hi, Barb! We need two poems about the Civil War, a talking dog cautionary tale, and a nonfiction bit about the life and times of a slug.
Me: Sounds great! When do you need them?
Fantastically Wonderful Company Rep: Yesterday.
Me: What time yesterday?
Super Fantastically Wonderful Company Rep: 4 o’clock.
Me: No problem.
Okay, okay, that’s an exaggeration – the deadline part, not the “Super Fantastically Wonderful” part (everyone I’ve worked for has been exactly that). However, the deadlines can get a bit scary.

My all-time record output was 12 original poems, stories, and nonfiction articles in 14 days, although I honestly don’t remember much about the event. In fact, I look back on that time in much the same way a person who spent two weeks in a coma would recall – as in, it was pretty foggy, and I’m fairly certain other realms were involved. The upside about hairy scary due dates is that with all the panic and relief adrenaline rushes, I never have to waste cash on sky diving or bungee jumping.
Anyway, this week I received a new set of projects – 2 poems, 2 stories, and 2 plays – with a March 5th lifeline. That’s right, I said LIFEline.  Not simply because that other term has the messy and morose “swimming with the fishes” part, but because lifeline is more accurate. How so? Well, those daunting dates leave NO ROOM FOR DOUBT, and as such, they always breathe life into the weak-pulsed, gasping for oxygen, harebrained ideas I come up with.
Face it, if you have an endless amount of time to finalize a piece of writing, you hem and haw, you twiddle your thumbs and wonder if you should have gone to law school, you think and rethink that this is absolutely, positively the dumbest idea ever, and then you go clean the tub. With a “lifeline” all that crazy-making (and sadly, housecleaning) goes away. If I am working on a story that’s due tomorrow, and all I can come up with is something about a boy and his duck, well dadgummit, it’s going to be the best dang “boy and his duck” story that I can possibly muster. And guess what? It usually turns out much better than I ever expected. It will for you, too. And yes, I have actually sold a “boy and his duck” story.  
PROMPT: Ditch the dead and embrace the lifeline. Set a due date for your next project and make it real. Give a friend a check filled out to your LEAST favorite cause (pick your persuasion -- those Repulsive Republicans or Dastardly Democrats, perhaps) and have them send it in, if you’re not done on time. Or worse – have someone hide the chocolate (gasp!) until you are through. You can do this! How do I know? Because you are Super Fantastically Wonderful! Set a date. Get it done. Then invite me to the party.
P.S. Weekends around here are for “filling the well” with fun and adventure! Be sure to do the same, and I’ll catch you on the flipside Monday morning. I’ll even bring the coffee.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What will you think up next?

During my web wanderings yesterday, I stumbled across the “Talking Chip Clip”. The ad displayed a sweet little owl face that hoots whenever you part its beak from the bag. Apparently it was created to let everyone within a three block radius know when you’re indulging your inner chip monster.
But it gets better. The device also comes in… wait for it… PIG. Yeah. Try giving that one as a shower gift. It was enough to make this girl get her granny on – “Dadgummit! What WILL they think up next – talking scales?”
As in…
 “Whoa there! Barb’s up three pounds from last week! Must be all the chips that pantry pig’s been squealing about.”
            “Tell me about it,” Washer pipes up. “I haven’t sudsed up a size 6 in a loooooong time. Ain’t that right, Dryer?”
            “Mmm Hmm.”

There’s a story in there somewhere. I just know it.

PROMPT: What will YOU think up next? What product or service does the world need (or, um, maybe not need). Perhaps you’d rather take the talking appliance story and run with it. As a famous teapot once said, “Be our guest!” Write, draw, collage, create about it. I don’t give a hoot or an oink what you do with it, just be sure to have fun!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


This blog will likely contain nauseating positivity. So if you continue to follow along, you may catch it. I’ll admit it; I tend to walk on the sunny side of the street whenever possible. It’s my street. I can do that.
But let’s face it – bad stuff, sad stuff, tough stuff, and rough stuff happens to everybody. I can say that with relative certainty because I’ve lived on this planet awhile, and I’ve worked as a therapist. So, my guess is that one of the aforementioned has happened to you. Well, you can go back and pick at that scab all you want to. Be my guest. It’s your scab, after all.
However… if I held a measure of manure in one hand and a duckling the color of summer sunshine in the other, which would you rather see? Which would make you happier?

Same goes for everything else in your life, Cupcake.

PROMPT: What is the BEST thing that ever happened to you? How did it feel, smell, and taste? Wrap your head around that event for a while. Write about it, paint about it, create about it, or just revel in it. Ah…. Good stuff. It waddles everywhere!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Salutations! Welcome to my blog for writers, artists, and creators of all types. In other words, if you tend to utilize oxygen and have a pulse, this blog is for you! Within its digital pages you’ll find plenty of tricks, tips, and prompts that you can use to jumpstart your creative endeavors. And probably lots of random stuff, too (points for honesty).

Who am I? My name is Barb, and I am a recovering psychologist. I left the field of head shrinking to go out on a limb and pursue my passion for writing. It has been a very long limb. Over the years I’ve created poems, stories, a couple of kids, and hundreds of fiction and nonfiction pieces for the children’s education market. Life is good. My goal for this blog is to share what I know (and don’t know) about the creative process and connect with other creators on the path. Join me. It will be fun.

So, why The Mind’s Elbow? Because everyone knows about the mind’s eye. However, I am pretty sure it has an elbow, too. Sure it does. Why? Because I just said so. And now I’m fairly certain that you’re imagining what a mind’s elbow would look like. That’s how it works – all this creative stuff. You simply think about it, and there it is. So think of something wild and crazy. See elbows, those unsung heroes, wherever you go… and see the world anew.


PROMPT: Peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, sticks and stones – enough already! They get all the good press (except maybe the sticks and stones). What about things that DON’T go together? What two things really don’t belong on the same page? Write, paint, or create about them today. Or just think about them. Whatever. It’s your day. Have fun in it.