Is Every Child An Artist?

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.~~~ Pablo Picasso


So I thought I’d give you all a chuckle. This was my school photo from way back in the sixties. My mum gave my sisters and I a home perm that year right before school started.

My first year in school I went to a one roomed schoolhouse, but even back then I can remember my love for drawing.

So when I thought about this quote by Picasso it really seemed to hit home. What young child doesn’t like to draw? It seems a nature thing the moment they can hold a pencil in their hands for them to produce something on that paper. They don’t worry about what it looks like, they simply produce what is in them to create. Kind of cool when you stop to think of it. No inner critic telling them their work sucks. All they want to do is to have fun.  :)

Once kids discover the written word they start creating sentences  that turn into stories. They just write. It doesn’t even matter if the story makes a whole lot of sense. That hardly seems the important part.

We all remember the first stories our kids brought home in Primary. We marvelled in these little stories, took delight in each misspelled word, every grammar mistake, as we read the words they had strung together to form a beginning, middle and end. (Hey even without those three elements we loved their stories. Didn’t we?)

But then along the way some kids decide they don’t like to write or draw or paint, for whatever reason, while others go on to express themselves in more complex ways. They are the ones who went on to become artists and writers. And thankfully so. I’m almost certain that these kids were the ones who believed their work was wonderful, and who possessed that need to keep expressing themselves, to improve that natural talent they started out with the first time they were able to hold that pencil in their tiny fingers.

Do you agree with Picasso when he said that every child is an artist? Or do you think that artistry comes later in life?

Self Promotion

So I’ve been told a time or two that I suck when it comes to self promotion. (Okay I was told I’m doing a bit better but I’ve got lots to learn.) The truth is it’s difficult for me to get that “Who does she think she is?” attitude out of my head. Each time I write a blog post I wonder if anyone will even bother to read it. Will they even care?   Are they, as one blogger writes, “rolling their eyes?”

But let’s face it. The book is out and authors are expected to do their share of self promotion if we expect books to be sold. That’s just the way it is.

I grew up in a household where it was thought to be boastful if we spoke about our accomplishments.  No one likes someone who brags all the time. It’s hard to get those thoughts of my head.

There’s a great post today over at Jody Hedlund’s blog , Can Writers Market Themselves Without Making Eyes Roll? If you have time check it out. Jody’s debut novel  “The Preacher’s Bride” is set for release in early October.

For the writer out thereDo you struggle with self promotion?

For the non-writersHave you ever thought an author’s self-promoting ways have made your eyes roll a time or two?

The Bully

Have you met your inner critic? Are you well acquainted? Do you believe whatever it tells you?

Our inner critic or Censor is that little voice inside our heads, the one that never seems to have a kind word to say. It is a bully that pushes our creative self around, throws it to the ground, and uses it as a punching bag. I bet if most of us saw a bully in action we’d jump in to help that poor victim. Wouldn’t we? So just why do we allow our Censor to behave like a bully, and simply stand back and take it?

Have you told yourself that your work just isn’t good enough? Do you find fault with everything you attempt to do?

Hey, I’ve been there. I’m sure many of you have as well.

I recently came through a period where I hated everything I wrote. Oh, I did love it for a day or two when the idea was fresh and I was still smitten with the story. But that feeling soon fizzled out. The same paragraphs that I initially thought were terrific sounded old and tired, so stale that I couldn’t sit down and write for an extended period of time. I wasn’t even sure I liked my main character all that well.

I began jumping around, working on several projects, a few days here, a few days there. I was restless and cranky. My “Censor” was having a field day!

“So you had one book published. What makes you think you can write another one?” my Censor sneered while I sat cringing in the corner.

Julia Cameron, author of the Artist’s Way, says we should make this a rule:

Always remember that your Censor’s negative opinions are not the truth.”

Sounds like good advise to me.

So I backed off a bit.

I wrote my little bit each day and tried not to worry about what I wasn’t accomplishing. Writers write– that’s what we do. But it doesn’t mean that’s all we do. I had plenty of other things in my life to keep me busy. I decided to let the writing take care of itself.

When I was ready, I went back to a story that I started during the winter, and immediately it felt right. I’ve had to take a bit of a break from it while working on those other revisions earlier this month, but there were days when I had to go back, just to take a peak, maybe write a few sentences. Now I am anxious to see what will happen next and it feels pretty darn good.

I have no doubts that I will make it through to the end of my current work in progress. I don’t know when, nor do I need to. All I need to know it that I will eventually get there.

Although I like to keep a positive attitude, I cannot always keep myself from thinking negative thoughts from time to time. We all slip back into those negative thought patterns. It sumply means we are human.  The question is how long will we allow ourselves to remain there? Hopefully, not long at all.

I am going to keep in mind that my Censor’s opinions are not the truth. I will rewrite a new truth for myself, one that is filled with encouragement. If I forget this new truth for a little while, as I’m sure I am bound to do from time to time, I’ll start again from scratch. I’ll go back to that truth as often as need be. I will practise, practise, practise until I finally get to the point where I understand that my Censor’s opinions are not the truth.

So here are a few things to keep you thinking. Do you allow your Censor to bully your creative self? What things do you to keep your Censor in its place? And if you wrote yourself a new truth what would that truth be?

Update—Writers Council

A while back I mentioned that I had been accepted into the Writers Council and would be getting my own page on the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia site. The Federation has recently launched their new site.

Here’s the link if you want to take a look around.

I’ve also added a link that will take you directly to my page HERE if you are curious and would like to take a peek. I don’t have a whole lot in my biography right now but hopefully that will change.

As for the revisions, I’m happy to say they are over. There’s still an initial read through but I’m very pleased with how the story has shaped up. Thanks to my daughter, who’s keen eye and wonderful suggestions, have helped make the revision process a really enjoyable one. This is her first time critiquing but I swear, she’s a natural!!

The process with this story was so different from when I wrote Bitter, Sweet but I suspect that each story is different, each approach we use a little unlike the last. What I can say now it that I like the story much, much better now than when I started. In the end we are the ones who have to be happy with the results of our work. I still may make few minor adjustments, but nothing major.

Hopefully, I’ll get caught up on most of the blogs I follow, maybe even get a little reading done and writing done!

As for you all, have a great weekend!

Notes From The Universe

Every weekday I receive a little note from the Universe in my inbox. Often it relates to something that is going on in my life. Sometimes the little notes make me laugh. Always they inspire.

Just thought I’d share the note I received this morning.

Shaping, shifting, molding, making… what people do when they discover their imagination.

Spinning, curling, dipping, twirling… what people do when they discover their wings.

Beaming, marveling, basking, sparkling… what people do when they discover love.

Here’s hoping you have all discovered your imagination, your wings and love….

Thoughts—Where Do They Come From?

Coming to the end of my revisions the other day I was hit by a sudden realization that I needed another chapter. I have no idea where the thought came from, but it seemed to have a mind of its own. Immediately, I knew what would happen and why the chapter was even necessary.  I’m not sure why it never dawned on me before now. Writers know enough not to question when these things come to us but to simply respond when they do.

Turns out this whole other chapter I wrote is now my favourite. It allowed me to inject something into the story that was definitely missing. It makes me happy.  :)  It fills in some of the spaces without over-filling them, if you know what I mean.

I am amazed by the way thoughts spring into our minds. One minute we’re thinking of one thing and the next minute this whole new idea pops into our heads.

Where do these thoughts come from? Do they erupt from out of thin air? From deep within our brains? Were the thoughts already there just waiting for the opportunity to jump out and say, Here I am? Do they hibernate? Peek out around the corner, waiting for us to take notice? Or do they gently prod us, from time to time, until we grab hold of the idea and run madly away claiming it as our own?

Since I have no answers to these questions perhaps some of you do or maybe you just want to share some terrific idea that came to you right out of the blue. It’s up to you! And maybe, just maybe the answer will come to me in a flash, like a lightening bolt.

Busy, busy, busy

Yesterday was crammed full of activity. The day started with a quick trip to the Ross Farm to watch the re-enactment of The New Ross Freighters taking a load of lumber and barrels to Chester Basin.

It might have been nice had I thought to charge my camera battery the night before. But I did get in a few shots. But there are plenty of photos on the Ross Farm Museum facebook page Just follow the link if you want to take a peek.

Here’s a link to the Ross Farm Museum’s facebook page filled with photos.

I also had a nice luncheon with Syr Ruus at the Wildwood Café on King Street. Great food, and great conversation. We both had a bit to celebrate with Bitter, Sweet`s nomination for the Bilson Award and Syr recently found out that her book, Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart, has made the long list for the ReLit Awards. Congrats, Syr! I`m keeping my fingers crossed for both of us.

You can now find Syr on facebook if you want to joing her fan page.

to keep up on her news.

In the evening it was off to an anniversary party for good friends of ours. More great food, music by the Joyce Seamone band (local) and lots of laughs.

Busy, busy, busy. This morning we`re off to a church service at Christ Church in New Ross which is being followed by a potluck.

Was there ever any doubt that food would be involved again?

I still have to squeeze in some writing time as I’ve just recently realized that I need to write a whole new chapter. See what can happen during the revision process? Not sure why I didn`t see it before, but believe me, writers learn not to question these things but simply do them.

How is your weekend going?

The Rewriting Trap

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.

————————-Eugene Delacroix

When I read this quote I was reminded of a kid who erases a certain spot so many times they eventually end up rubbing a hole in their work. Their once white paper is now grey and dirty looking, flawed beyond repair.

Sometime we writers want or expect our stories to be perfect. We go over our sentences and paragraphs with a fine tooth comb sometimes changing a word here or there. We read it so many times the words become stale and we no longer see it as that gem we once started with. So we revise again.

It’s easy to get caught up in the “rewriting trap”.

Recently, I mentioned to a writer friend that I was working on revisions (again) and she jokingly warned, “Don’t get caught in the forever rewriting trap with our manuscript.”

I can honestly see how a writer could get caught in this trap. Like the kid who keeps erasing his/her paper, we search for the right wording, the just so sentences and paragraphs– the perfect story. Sometimes the scariest thing is calling it good and sending our work on its way.

I’m not perfect. I’m sure nothing I write would ever be classified as perfect, if such a thing even exists. And if it did exist I’m not so sure I’d want to be a part of it. Sounds a bit boring to me.

It is our imperfections that make us human. It keeps us real. The moment we consciously try and try and try to make our work perfect the further we get away from who we are.

So, while I’m planning to take time with these latest revisions, I also have a goal in mind as to how long I will keep reworking it. The story is already written. I have little more to change. A bit of polishing, a few shakes to get out the wrinkles and I will send it off when the time is right.

Now I’m a bit curious and must ask— Do you believe in perfection? Do you go over your work many times searching for perfection until you’ve rubbed a hole in your paper? Are you ever satisfied with the end results?

Waiting For The Bus

“Dear God—I pray for patience. And I want it right now!

—Oren Arnold

When I came across this quote it made me laugh, but I could also see some truth in it as well. Patience is something many of us struggle with, myself included.

Granted, it might be nice to have our lives unfold in a timely fashion, but lets face it life doesn’t work that way. We wait and we wait and, then to add insult to injury, we wait some more.

I’ve spent a lot of time waiting for others over the years. When my daughters were away at school we’d go to the bus station to wait for them to come home, one from Fredericton, the other from Shelburne. The bus they travelled on was always late especially in the winter months. Sometimes we’d sit and wait for an hour or more. Of course once we saw that bus coming in the distance we were so happy to see them that we soon forgot about the long wait we’d just endured. Over time, we came to accept the fact that the bus would not be waiting for us when we arrived. It would be late as usual and there was nothing we could do about it.

Writing is like that. There is nothing fast about the publishing industry. Who spends more time waiting than a writer? A writer needs patience during every stage of the writing process. Patience is needed to keep us writing even after our initial love affair with that brilliant idea is over. Beginnings are filled with enthusiasm. Good thing or we wouldn’t bother to see it through to the end.

Stories do not just come about without a lot of work. Sure, it might be nice if we could have a polished story in three months instead of three years, but the truth of it is, some stories can take a long time to work out. Sometimes the buffing and polishing can take more time than the initial story, and yet we patiently rework sentences and paragraphs reaching for those perfectly sounding prose. Even during those times when we’re almost certain we’re writing pure drivel.

More patience is required to ensure that we do not become too anxious and send our work out before it is ready. I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past. Taking some time away from our latest masterpiece helps us to see any places that require more work.

Again we need patience as we await a decision from a busy editor. As much as we’d like to think that we are an editor’s priority, we are only one of many hopefuls out there. Even after our work has been accepted, we must have patience as we wait for our book to finally be published. My book was accepted in April and was not published until October of the following year.

I sometimes think those writers who are awaiting publication need the greatest patience of all. Once we’re published there is no going back. No one can take that from us. But for those still waiting it is easy to become discouraged and give up. This is when we truly need patience. This is when we need to remind ourselves of the day “when” publication comes and not “if.”

I wrote for many years before my book was published. When I first started writing it was my goal to be published in book form. I spent many years working at short stories, setting aside what my original goal was until the time was right. It wasn’t always easy. I wasn’t always patient. I often complained out of frustration.

Patience isn’t something we can hold it in our hands or sit it on a shelf and show it off for everyone to see. We can’t wait for it to find us and it’s not something we can go in search of. But it can be ours if we choose to allow it with a little change of thought.

How about you, do you struggle to find patience in your life? Or have you found that place of peace where you are content to wait for your bus to arrive?

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