Tag: art

Nano Time Again!

November is my favourite time of year for one simple reason: Nanowrimo. In case you’ve been living in a cave (or aren’t a writer), Nanowrimo stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. Writers of every genre and experience are encouraged to write 50,000 words during the month of November, cheering one another on via forums and other incentives. I missed last year’s Nano, but I have completed my required 50,000 words six consecutive times before that. Two published book came out of it (NEIGHBOURS 1 and KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHBOURS) as well as other works that I hope to publish some day.

This year I am breaking with tradition and trying my hand at non-fiction. Technically, I’m not writing a novel, but I figure 50,000 words is still 50,000 words, right? I’m excited about several memoir projects that are in my head, so that is the direction I plan to go this year. As a former homeschooler, I have lots to say on that topic. As a heart attack survivor I’ve got some revelations to share. As a drama teacher, I’ve got some advice on teaching theatre in the ‘boondocks’, and I recently was inspired by something a house guest said about ‘agism’ in our society. Where I actually end up will be anyone’s guess, but I have lots of inspiration. Stay tuned for more.

And now back to those 50,000 words…

Hardwired Creative

As I press onward in my quest to become the person God wants me to be, I can’t help but reflect on how gracious God really is. I am hard-wired to be creative – writing, painting, playing music, directing for the theatre … these are a just a few of my passions. Sometimes, however, I get annoyed when I have to do all those other things that continually take my time and attention away from what I love. I get angry when it seems like people don’t appreciate all my efforts. I get impatient when my writing career isn’t progressing as fast as I would like it to. I get discouraged when I get another rejection letter for a manuscript I’ve sent in for perusal.

20160821_164438Then I have to stop and ask myself. Why do I write? Why do I paint? Why do I do any of the things that I pour my heart into? The bottom line is, I do it because I love to do it. It’s the way God made me – with a desire to constantly be in ‘create’ mode. But ultimately, that need to create, no matter in what form, needs to be a reflection of the Creator Himself.

Now, I’m not talking about always including ‘religious’ symbolism in my work. I don’t think that is necessary. Creation itself speaks about God’s glory, but there isn’t a placard anywhere saying “Made by God”. Similarly, whatever I’m doing, be it directing a secular play, writing a novel, or painting a picture, it must be reflective of who I am as a unique individual created in the image of God. Also, I must remain true to the calling that I feel on my life. No watered down ‘pansy’ work for me! I’m just not that inspired by anything too sentimental or flowery. Some people (like my husband) might like to tease me and say I’m a bit of a cynic – maybe even a rebel, but I’m really not the romantic type, even though, I write Romantic Suspense.

Once, quite a few years ago, I entered a juried art show with some Intaglio prints I had made. The subject matter was quite melancholy; the color palette mostly black. The adjudicator asked me if I was depressed, which made me laugh because nothing could be further from the truth! I feel very content and satisfied with my life, (and did back then, too) but I have always been fascinated by the deeper, darker side of the human psyche. It’s why I love Shakespeare’s tragedies, like twisted stories (’The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson is the BEST STORY EVER WRITTEN!) and admire artists like Kathe Kollwitz. I’d far rather watch a Sci-fi flick than a romance, and – I’m being honest here – I really do not like bonnet romance. Period.

It’s why I feel there is a market out there for the kind of Christian fiction that I write. I like a story with a little bit of an edge – something slightly unexpected and that contains characters that are ‘real’, with their less than perfect flaws and all. At one time I felt apologetic for my tastes and interests, (Well, maybe not, but it makes me feel good to say so …) but I have long since given up trying to please every one all the time.

I am grateful for a husband who loves me for who I am, idiosyncrasies and all. I’m also grateful for children who have learned to stand up for themselves as individuals while maintaining their faith in Christ. Which brings me back to my first point. I am grateful for God’s blessings, especially in regard to making me the way I am. I am so blessed to be able to love and worship Him in freedom, without fear that I am ‘doing it wrong’. I am who I am and God made me that way. As long as I keep my eyes fixed on Him, I need not worry about trying to please another.

An Artist Writes

I didn’t always consider myself a writer. My first creative love was drawing. I have very vivid memories of sitting with my nose to the paper, content to create my picture stories. It didn’t take much to make me happy. I was rarely bored because there was always drawing to be done. A pad of paper was my favourite gift, and I’m sure I got at least one every birthday and Christmas. Good thing, too, because I filled them all.

Back then I didn’t realize that I wasn’t just drawing pictures. My drawings were mostly of interesting characters that I had made up. They came with elaborate backstories and participated in all kinds of adventures. Of course, it was difficult to draw each and every scene, but that was okay. I had the stories in my head, and drawing portions of them was a wonderful creative outlet.

Writing came easily for me once I got to school, but it never replaced my love of art. I wrote my first play when I was in Grade Four and convinced my friends to rehearse at recess time. Our teacher saw us practicing and arranged for us to perform the play in front of the entire school. Several years later, my English 12 teacher suggested I attend a summer school for budding writers because he felt my writing held promise. I wasn’t really interested. I wanted to focus on my visual art instead.

I majored in Fine Art at University and after I graduated, I tried to make money with my art. I made prints of some of my more successful pieces and went to every craft fair and art show I could. I also did a fair bit of commission work in those days – portraits, architectural drawings, and even commercial signage. Even then, there was no way to actually make a living with my art.
By that time I was married and expecting our first child. We lived in a very small house and there was no place to set up my art supplies where I could leave them from one day to the next. Once the baby came along, I was lucky if I could spare a few hours each afternoon for something creative while she napped. Inevitably, she would wake at a most inconvenient time in the painting’s progress. Trying to pursue my artistic dreams became more of a frustration than an outlet. I was tired of setting up and cleaning up with very little art – or satisfaction – to show for it.

At about that same time I borrowed my mother’s old typewriter. If I couldn’t paint, perhaps writing one of the many stories in my head would be a good alternative. I sat at the kitchen table and began pounding away. Almost from the start, the words began to flow. (Surprisingly the clacking never woke the baby!) This new creative outlet was simple to set up, there was virtually no clean up, and I began to feel a deep sense of satisfaction after each writing session. Thus began a love affair with writing that has lasted for almost thirty years. (My daughter will be thirty this summer.)

I’d like to say that it was at that moment that I ‘knew’ I was a writer. It wasn’t quite that simple, though. I was almost ashamed of my writing obsession and no one beyond my immediate family knew anything about it for many years. I just didn’t know anyone else who loved to write the way I did, and there was no internet back then to connect with like minded people.

 I still love art, and I still paint and draw. The visual arts will always be my first love, even though it has taken a back seat to my writing. As I write this blog post, I am preparing a piece for submission to a regional art exhibit that is coming up in May. The piece is called ‘Veil of Tears‘ and I am quite happy with the way it turned out.

My ‘Eureka’ moment as a writer came through the backdoor of a different artistic pursuit. In my mind, however, writing is still art. So I suppose one could say that my aspirations have never really changed. I’m just using a different canvas.

This post originally appeared on the Inscribe Writers Online blog in March of 2015.

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