Friday, June 27, 2008

Chance of Severe Brainstorms

Our job is really, really fun.  And you make it that way.  We get to interact with you, witness your creative genius, and see your cards make a big impact on people all across the country.  And that's just the visible stuff.

Our behind-the-scenes work is full of merriment, too.  Lately, our team has had a lot of meetings in a cozy little room affectionately called the "Think Tank."  As you might expect, these are no ordinary meetings (if you can call them "meetings" at all).  We're mustering all our brain power to bring you the most exciting new contest we can.  The walls of the "tank" are covered with white boards where we scribble ideas, draw diagrams, erase, make connections between all sorts of things, doodle, try our hand at stick figures, etc.  It's sheer craziness sometimes.  But it's also been a great way to visibly track how far our ideas are coming along.  Then, we all throw out a big woo hoo!

So we're curious, how do you and your brain storm when you're coming up with super duper card ideas?  Do you have your very own version of the "Think Tank"?  Do you keep ideas in a journal or sketchbook?  Is your thinking strategically linear or wonderfully chaotic?  We wanna know.


poeticfisherman said...

Unlike many people I have met, I am a writer first and designer, second. While I am often motivated to write by seeing a picture in a magazine or something along those lines, I have been known to write the verse, first, and design my own cover to match, secondly.

For the last several years of battling Dad's health and working, entirely, from home, in an effort to design, write, and care for him, I've been writing and designing in a state of sheer chaos. I've been creating designs and verses with the TV blaring, the dishwasher running, my cats fighting amongst themselves, writing a line or two and holding the idea in my head while fetching something for Dad, etc. (All of these things going on at once, or within 15 minutes of each other, most of the time).

Many people from the writing community I belong have often told me that I must be crazy, if I can write (and design) what many have felt are quality pieces, while working in that situation.

Now, with Dad's passing, the house is silent. The TV is rarely to never on, the dishwasher is getting a break, and in the quiet, even in my struggles with his passing this week, I have found it is easier to create things; it is much easier to think. Right now, honoring him IS my biggest motivator.

I brainstorm in many ways. Sometimes, when I have an idea in my head that I want to write, I stare at a blank Word document for hours on end. (I've never correlated what that means, but somehow, doing this is soothing and helpful to me). I may flip through old photo albums, recalling memories from the pictures and past, as inspiration, and even still, holidays (especially Christmas) were always huge in my house, so the inspiration for writing holiday-themed cards, prints, etc. is probably greater for me, by nature.

Once, I knew I stood a chance of writing a Mother's Day verse and having it aired on radio. Knowing this, I was able to place myself in a Mother's Day mood, while writing in November.

On this blog, in an earlier posting, I was able and inspired enough to write a Mother's Day themed poem for a blogger's Aunt, just by hearing the story behind it.

If I am sent writing requests, via e-mail from fans or elsewhere, and I am able to know a little background information about the person requesting the poem, the reason they requested it or somehow, place myself into their shoes, for a moment, I find that inspiration comes much easier.

For the holidays contest, the main motivator for me, though, will be my Dad. There are so many reasons why. His loss, how close we were, and his love for holidays will be all the inspiration I'll need, regardless of what the holiday theme entails.

Thanks for throwing the question out there!

spiderprincess said...

First of all....very sorry to hear of your loss PFM ); It sounds like you're keeping busy now with writing/designing. Sometimes keeping busy like that helps you get through the hardest days.

Also, I wanted to ask the judges if you know an approximate number of entries that entered the Funny-ness contest? I was interviewed on our local news, and they asked, and now the newspaper wants to do a story and they asked too.....I wasn't sure?

And I LOVE to brainstorm by the way....If I could just have a job taking pictures and brainstorming, I'd be happy. I usually write down all of my thoughts....any idea that comes to me, and then play around with what I've written. I just had to write a story about what 2 wolves would do on a date....turned out pretty good I thought, and it was fun. (; Anyway, congrats on everyone's cards selling well....I've seen them in every Hallmark I've been in....including on a vacation to Arizona.

Wordy McGee said...

Glad to hear we've got fellow brainstorm-lovers out there. That will come in handy for this next contest.

And as for your question, spiderprincess, we don't have an exact number of entries but we can tell you we got quite a lot. Enough that we were pleased with the number of entries, especially given the difficulty to enter. Long story short? Be proud of yourself! This was no easy competition.

Sandideer said...

Hello fellow bloggers,

After a week of struggling with my internet server and it's wondrous antivirus program I am back! $%^&(&^$!!!!!

I tried to sign on to the internet,
It said my program had expired!
It was set to update by itself,
It must have gotten tired!

So I called the 1-800 number,
to get help for all my woes,
and they were all from Timbuktoo,
might as well have talked to my toes!

They said "Go into your computer,
and delete that old program,
then go back on the internet ,
and download it all again!

"How can I do that sort of thing?!!!",I cried!,
"when I can't even get online!?"
There was silence on the other end,
The answer, he could not find!

So I dumped my online basket out,
and started completely over,
My brain and nerves are completely shot,
but my troubles are finally over!

( Judges,did you miss me?)


I have been with you spiritually all week...I hope you are finding peace now with your Dads is a hard road to travel.Your Dad and mine had such similar scenarios....I feel almost like your sister going through it with you.
This journey and blog site has been like opening a Hallmark card every day to has a way of making all of us connected!I am so grateful for the friends I have made and met on this website and during this opportunity.

My ideas and brainstorming come from my life experiances....mostly my own and my photographs spark my imagination.I tend to try and take something that may not have been a good thing and turn it into a positive...I has an art teacher in high school tell me one time that there is no such thing as a mistake when you are creating something...if your pen or paintbrush slips she said just make something else out of it...and that is what I do....with most everything in my life.It keeps me on a positive path and sunny side up!It might take a while for me to find a way to turn a oops into a good thing but the result is eventually always better!
I've got a strong funny bone that seems to be my guiding dominates me most days!

poeticfisherman said...


Thanks for the support, the thoughts, and the prayers, and welcome back to the blog and in reference to your "making a positive from a negative" train of thought, I do the same thing, too.

In fact, as you know, this past week has been hard for me with my Dad's passing. Yet, even in the lingering grief, I am so motivated to honor him, in as many ways as I can, that I contracted with my cousin's girlfriend, who is a designer, and she is going to help me to illusrate a children's poem I wrote, in hopes of creating a kid's book that I can publish, in Dad's memory. (Christina is a better designer than I am.)

Also, to your anti-virus software, isn't it funny that all of the Indian-speaking tech people seem to be named George? I had an awful time with Norton's 2008 software. I deleted it (after countless calls to tech support) and uploaded McAfee; no problems since.

Wordy McGee said...


In a word, yes. :)

Glad to have you back.

Sandideer said...

Hello Poetic (and Wordy McGee!) ,

Good luck on your childrens book, you will do well..I have read a lot of your work on your website and it is very good!....I made one of my own using MY Publisher about two years ago..inspired by my niece and her struggles.I never tried to get it published because I illustrated it using Printmaster but my family thought it was very good! They thought I should get it illustrated but I do not have the means financially to have it done anywhere.
But I take it out and look at it every now and has all my own original poetry in it.And the theme came to me in a dream.I woke up and wrote the whole thing in an hour.

Here is how my daily life inspires me and my sometimes a simple daily task can lead to a poem.As I was cleaning my bathroom today, a cherry scented air freshener decided to do an Inward 1 1/2 Somersault in the Pike Position into my (not yet cleaned) toilet.( And might I add it barely left a ripple on the surface after entering the water!)10, 10, 9.8!
As I stood there with my toilet brush in hand..this little poem entered my head.

Some days are bowls of cherries,
A delight to taste and touch,
And some are bowls of other stuff,
that need to just be flushed.

Inspiration it just that simple.

And as for my previous blog and my constant vocabulary errors? I promise I will hit PREVIEW every time before I send....I has a problem with typing too fast and not proof reading. the d key is way too close to the s key. heehee

Glad to be back! I am on vacation from my new job already...they lay off the whole plant the first week in July every year.
Do you think it is fate that I now have a job sewing curtains and fancy smanshy window coverings?? I DO live on DRAPER road ya know..yuk yuk.

Sandideer said...

So I dumped my online basket out,
Every byte and crumb.
My brain and nerves are completely shot,
but my troubles are finally done!

ahhhhh Much better.....

Sandideer said...

Good morning all.

I am into my third day of vacation and have every possible weed pulled in my gardens, flower beds, etc.Pulling weeds for hours and hours gives a person excellant pondering time to think of the next competition!
Will it be a Holiday that is already celebrated or do we get to create one of our own?? hmmmmmmmm...

Last night I got out my shoebox full of old cards and thumbed through them, the last cards my parents sent me when they were still with us are in there, cards from my son over the years, and some Christmas cards that I thought were so very and verse both.And some from a young lost love long ago...(still hurts-cripes)
I guess we all have our own reasons for saving our cards.My shoebox is old and tattered.
( Lightbulb moment)

Maybe Hallmark/Shoebox could develop a nice TIN box ( or have you already???)that a person could be given as a gift to store their cards in during their lifetime.I would be the first one to buy one!!!!And maybe give the option when it is purchased to have it personalized( engraved or stamped) with the recipients name.The size of a shoebox would be nice.
Just a thought............!
I am still struggling to get people to go in and vote...The media doesn't respond and I am not allowed to hang posters in my area other than in card stores or my work place.I guess the demographics of where people live have a lot to do with the voting.If it is not a non-profit subject it just isn't allowed to promote here in my area.( Sigh)
And my mouth just isn't big enough!
( Except on this blog..haha)Enough of my whining.

We had a little orange striped kitten show up on our doorstep yesterday..he is so absolutely precious.I have two inside cats already and have countless strays that traverse my property at night..on their nightly rounds.I am keeping him...and have named him Piper..because he follows me around like I am the Pied Piper.
So many cats get dumped off on this road because it is mostly Amish and Mennonite..many farms.The mentality is that anyone who has a farm needs more cats.One female thrown out in the ditch in the early spring can have three litters of cats by winter.That is alot of cats.So sad.
Well I must go and peel him off the sliding door screen ...AGAIN.
Time for restructuring his behavior!( Squirt bottle of water does the trick)
Toodle-Loo all!
Good morning Poetic..hope you are doing Ok..and Cockeyed..have you disappeared again?

poeticfisherman said...

Hi Sandideer,

I'm doing okay. I've been catching up on some house cleaning that I'd put aside, while dealing with Dad's health. I stepped, barefoot, on a pair of scissors, so with a now-bandaged foot, I'm taking it easy, today.

I received an e-mail, this morning, about the Hallmark Keepsake ornaments and was looking for one that would be suitable for remembering my Dad.

We had received the Hallmark sympathy card with the oyster shell and pearl (the one with the verse about how each passed life leaves a little beauty behind). I nearly cried when I saw that the idea of that card had been turned into an ornament for this year. It's perfect for him! Dad loved the coast, fishing, etc.

We had his ashes put into an urn with three dolphins on it -- two dolphins are together (Mom and I) and the other is "behind a wave" looking at the others (Dad). I've already put myself on the waiting list for the Keepsake ornament for when it is released in October. I saw the Funny*ness card display, too!

Yesterday was a little difficult, since Mom went back to work Monday, slept yesterday morning, and all of the things I had done for Dad did not need to be done, now, since he's gone, but I made it through the day and today is better. Knowing how excited he was about all of the Hallmark contests is fueling my own motivation and excitement more than anything else. In fact, the Hallmark ornament and the card inspired a poem of my own.

Again, thanks Hallmark and thanks for the support and thoughts from everyone on the blog!

Sandideer said...

A poem for Poetic,

When you lose a parent,
and you no longer see their face,
No longer hear their welcome voice,
there is just the empty space.

Your aching heart will tell you,
your love for them was great,
Your memories will soothe the pain,
and get you through each day.

They loved you and prepared you,
for your journey down lifes' path,
It's hard to say the last goodbye, to the best friend you ever had.

It's time to let them go to rest,
The book of life has turned a page,
You'll now write chapters by yourself,
It's time for you to take the stage.
Sandra Kelly Groth @7/2008

poeticfisherman said...


This poem is beautiful. Thank you. The support I've gotten from so many people and from so many different places has been unbelievable and quite humbling.

Happy Fourth to you. It's raining here, so I figure I'll be watching TV fireworks, tonight. Ours will likely be cancelled and I haven't liked Boston's show since CBS cut the "1812 Overture" from it.

Sandideer said...

You are sorry to hear your fireworks got rained out.We had them all around us here..we live on a hill so we can see the fireworks from 3 surrounding towns.But the best are the neighbors down the road..they have a large family gathering over every year and have a great time shooting of fireworks and there's usually a lot of hootin' and hollerin' going on down there.
The Amish and the Mennonites stand in their driveways with their children in the dark and watch too....this is such a nice community.!
My son and I belong to a car club( Thunder Roads Rods and Customs) and every 4th of July weekend we host a very large antique and collectible car show in Augusta is the home of Bush Baked beans....if you've never had them they are very tasty!
Tomorrow I have to be in Augusta at 6:00am...I will be in charge of taking photos of the event. This year is Bushes Beans 100th Anniversary celebration and Jay Bush, Drew Bush and Duke( the famous talking dog that lets out the famous Bush bean recipe on the commercials) will be there and giving out a trophy for their favorite car in the show.I will be taking photos of the car entrants with them as they view each car in the show.It will be a very busy day.We expect over 200 cars this year to enter!The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile will be there this year..and a Nascar race simulator!
Last night was our first ever Burnout Competition..and it went VERY well!
So much fun!!

poeticfisherman said...

Actually, a bit of divine intervention (or as I believe), saved our fireworks, last night.

Dad always loved the "1812 Overture" and of course, it had rained all day. At 8:15, local time, about the time that the National Symphony began playing the "1812 Overture," the rains, throughout this area, stopped, and revealed a beautiful blue and orange sky. Every fireworks show in the Houston area went off without a problem and without rain.

I still stayed home and watched the coverage on TV. My dog is very scared of the loud booms and our neighbors set off a bunch of fireworks around here. She likes classical music, though, so staying home and watching the symphony/pops coverage worked well.

Have fun at the Bush's shoot.