When Tribes Fall Apart

Saying Goodbye

Mixel by Ankica Dragicevic

What Happens When A Community Crumbles?

In June, I wrote about how I was using the digital collage app Mixel for iPad. Unfortunately, Mixel stopped being available for download in early August. The service has remained available to current users until now, but as of this weekend, Mixel for iPad will be gone. Lascaux has released a new app, Mixel for iPhone, but that app has no appeal to me.

One of the last collages I made using Mixel.

The original Mixel featured simple community building tools. Any user could Like, Love, comment on, or remix another user’s Mixel. Because there were no limits on how many pictures one could like, users handed out Likes generously, which helped the users build a supportive community. Each user could only give out 5 Loves per week, which gave each Love increased value. Some users pushed themselves to improve, tempted by the reward of precious Love hearts under their collages; threads of collages made by different people using the same images demonstrated the unique, creative vision in each user; and many folks pulled apart collages to figure out how the creator had put them together. It was a vibrant, creative world for the people who chose to hang out there.

For many people who have been using this software, the community of Mixellers has been their tribe. Some of the most loyal users have not used their creativity in years and had found a community that celebrated their creative recovery. Several people claimed “artist” as part of their identity because they were treated as artists by the community.

The imminent disappearance of the program has prompted a range of responses.

  • Making art that expresses their sense of loss and the need to let go of this community, like the collage above by Ankica Dragicevic.
  • Celebrating the world of Mixel that was, like this video, Farewell to Mixel, by Timothy Paul Brown.
  • Attempting to recreate the community aspect in other venues: Facebook, a web-based Fan page; deviantART, etc.
  • Taking resources available within Mixel and saving them in other locations.
  • Exploring other iPad apps to discover what other tools allow similar creative processes.
  • Obsessive use of Mixel to eek the most out of it before it is gone.
  • Stopping using the software before it shut down, not looking for alternatives, grieving and moving on.

None of these options will replace the complete package of community and tools that were available through Mixel for iPad. Each former user is finding their own path away from this community. Some will stay in touch in other venues. For how long, though? Time will tell.

Communities collapse for many reasons.

Have you been part of a community that collapsed? How have you moved forward?

Rethinking My Blog Themes

I’m playing around with themes for the blog. I have been unhappy with the old layout for some time, but haven’t had any inspiration about what I wanted instead.

I expect things will change around here several times before I settle on something new.

The purple picture is a photograph of water I manipulated using techniques Samira Emelie taught me. Samira is one of the stars of my Mixel community. She makes rich, textured images by layering transparencies. Often, each transparency is a different series of manipulations of a single image. Layering the transparencies creates a sense of depth.

This theme is Mystique. I like a lot of the default elements, but not all of them. I’m still thinking. For now, here is this change.

Does Your Muse Have a Groove?

For the past year, I have been struggling with the world of my novel. As it is currently structured, the story starts in a realistic world and a parallel fantastical reality is revealed to the reader and the protagonist as the work proceeds. In theory, it works. My intellect loves it. But my Muse is not impressed. The realistic sections of the book aren’t working and I hate writing them.

Looking at the pictures I have been creating using Mixel, I had what Holly Lisle calls a Muse-bomb – an explosion of insight from the creative source.

Is this an image created by a Muse who hangs out in realism?

What about this one?

Or this?

I think not.

When she critiqued it earlier this year, one of the comments Charlotte Rains Dixon made about the opening pages of the book was that she wanted to know why a character overreacted to a car accident; it was the kind of question that made her want to turn the pages beyond what I shared with her.

This, my friends, is exactly what the beginning of a story should do.

But, the reason I had given this character for such an extreme reaction was the sort of heavy, gritty, realistic, trauma-related reason that appeals to people who like issue-oriented YA. And it wasn’t working for me.

So, last night, I asked my Muse to justify the reaction to the accident in a way that fits with the fantastical elements of the book.

And she came through. Big time.

She gave me an accident witnessed by the character some years ago that involved the shape-shifting near-immortals that populate the world and created PTSD, fear of being crazy, self-doubt, self-censorship, and willingness to believe in an alternate magical reality in one moment.

I can work with that, all of it. It fits beautifully into subplots and plot twists that already exist. And I am excited about it.

I had been asking my Muse to work in my analytical world and she balked. Meeting her half-way is clearly a better approach.

Does your creative imagination have a strong suit, a world view, a groove? What happens when you work outside that range?