Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Painting in the New Year

Every year I resolve to lose weight, write more, read more, work out, be a better person, etc. Every year I break down mid March and wonder why I am doing what I am doing. By the end of the year I find myself sad that I never followed through with the promises that I made to myself. What kind of resolution are these? They are the kinds that are too broad to make. You can resolve to lose weight, but that means you have to do many things to make that change. It's hard for most people to stop eating junk, to start eating write, to calculate calories, to work out every day, plan out your meals.

It's just as hard to write a novel. What kinds of characters am I writing about? What are their stories? What are they like? What do they like? What do they look like? What is my story arc? What is this really about? etc. It is tough to stay on topic when you have a two year old roaming around the living room and you have to work a full time job so this means you have to get up early to squeeze in your writing time but what you really want to do is sleep.

Over the past year, I did write but mainly for myself. I also learned some new skills that I continue to work on despite the kinds of messes I've made with it (sometimes literal messes). I've become a painter and I love it. It is a wonderful thing to be able to express oneself while making art even if it isn't the art that you are accustomed to doing. When people move their eyes over an image that I created and express their desire to do exactly what I was able to do in a few hours, I feel glad. I was able to put away the fear of failing for a few short hours. That in itself has taught me a lot. Painting teaches me that my inner critic, ever present while I am writing, needs to be silenced. I let the suppressed feelings out and allow them to roam. It has allowed me to be more creative and to take chances that I haven't taken before.

So this year there are no resolutions. There is only the wish to stay the same or to get slightly better at the things that I have worked on all year. I am not going to take a leap of hope only to find myself in the gorge of despair next year. I am not going to resolve to write more or to even read more of a particular author. I am just going to be a painter of words. I will plop them down, smear words across the page with as much feeling as I can muster. I hope they scatter around the world bringing light to other people's dark, for that is what every writer hopes.

Here, here to a yellow New Year! I hope everyone's New Year is as bright as they paint it.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Gifted Books

Tonight I sat down to a silent television for the first time in months. Normally when I sit down it is going full blast and I am unable to hear the television programs upstairs. However, tonight is a rare night. I came into my sitting room to read. Alexis was asleep at a decent hour and for the first time in a long time I picked up some books. Now don't get me wrong, I am constantly reading. It's just that it was the first time I actually sat on the couch and didn't hear a sports game raging in the background. It's the first time I didn't have to read Maisy for the hundredth time.

For Christmas, I received some books from Emil. One of which I was coveting since 2001 called "Poetry Speaks". I found an extended and updated version. I wanted it but I always provide reasons to myself as to why I shouldn't buy expensive books of poetry. I am so glad to receive it. In the recordings they have the great poets like Tennyson, Browning and Whitman. I have not heard the latter two, but I did listen to Tennyson tonight. It was amazing to hear him read "The Charge of the Light Brigade". The pacing and the singing quality of the author's voice was wonderful. While the recording was not clear in some places, due to the way it was recorded (a la wax cylinder), it was interesting to hear him read his own work. Aside from the recordings, what is also fabulous about this book is that other living poets dissect the work of their predecessors. Some of these poets I have not heard of which gives me reason to look up their work as well.

Another fabulous book I received is entitled "By the Book" which is a compilation of authors and questions they are asked about their writing and about which books have influenced them. It was compiled by Pamela Paul. I listen to her book podcast on the New York Times Book Reviews. She has so many interviews. While some questions are repeat questions and feel more like a letter that was sent to the author, others are different. There were some really interesting responses. Neil Gaiman being one of them. I have not gotten through the book yet, but it is also being devoured.

Then of course there was another book I wanted. It is called "The Literary 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Novelists, Playwrights and Poets of All Time". Of course I know many of the writers that this book has highlighted, but this is also a revised edition and includes 25 additional writers. I have not read all of the writers listed in this book. There are a few that I have never heard of. I will have quite the course reading writers I have not read.

Emil is so good to me to buy me books for my holiday presents. I feel spoiled as I pointed out books that I would love to have but wouldn't normally buy. I stick mainly to works of fiction. I go to the library for books and I've been reading from my stash. To have a bunch of books that educate me makes me quite happy seeing that I can forego the grad school costs.

Have there been books that you've wanted but haven't bought? Have there been any books you received as gifts that have influenced you?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Multiple Personalities

I know that it has been months since I've posted on here. I'm letting that deter me. It was a busy year and I've little to show for it except my growing daughter, a few paintings and a book of journal entries an inch thick. If I were to say that I haven't learned anything during the year, I'd be lying. This year has taught me something about perseverance. I have a hard time sticking with things. I've short stories written but not revised, paintings painted but not displayed, things crocheted but not given to the people I wanted to give them to. So here I am with everything half done. I find myself wanting the life I have not yet strived for. So now, I am left with an overwhelming worry about what I will leave behind. All I can see is it will be a tub full of half written/painted/crocheted stuff.

I have friends that tell me, "Well you have a child. You work full time. Give yourself some credit." I very well could say all of these things. They are all true. If every woman said that, Toni Morrison wouldn't have become a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist. For a woman, having a child shouldn't be a crowning achievement nor should it be her only identity. I often find myself asking what am I? What is my identity? When I try to answer it I get so many personalities that I may as well be committed. I'm sure that I am not the only woman who feels this way.

So here's to a new year pregnant with the promise of follow through. I will be looking forward to finishing my stories and sending them out places. I have many ideas for more stories and paintings.