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Monday, August 15, 2005

Getting Creative

Last spring I tried to start a novel. I had an idea that inspired me to type 50-pages during a week in which I could barely be pried from the computer. I was consumed by my characters, who came alive in my mind and heart, and I felt, finally, that I was becoming A Real Writer. "So this is how it feels," I wistfully imagined, thinking about favorite authors and how they make their masterpieces. "Maybe I can do this, after all!"

I was so excited about my story that, at the end of that first week, I shared large excerpts of it at my writers' group, which consists of two other female homemakers with young, school-age children. They listened politely. They were encouraging. They compared what I had so far to Austen's "Pride and Prejudice."

Wow, compared to Austen! Fantastic!

"So," one of my friends (I can't remember which - I've tried to block it out of my memory) carefully inquired "your character, 'Oscar,' he would be like a Mark Darcy/Colin Firth kind of protagonist?"

"Yes," I admitted.

Both ladies started snickering.

And who, they wondered, would be the source of inspiration for "Elliot," brother of Oscar?

"Orlando Bloom," I sheepishly replied.

I'm so transparent.

In that moment I realized that what I had written is worse than Barbara Cartland and Danielle Steele - not only was it horribly written, but, to top it off, borrowed, stolen, completely lacking an authentic voice!

Humiliated by the self-mockery of my first novelistic attempt, I put my digital writing-implement away and tried not to think about my apparent failure as a writer.

That was two months ago. Clearly, I am starting to come out of this slump. I started to emotionally recover only a week ago, when one morning I stumbled upon an illustration in a children's book that I suddenly knew must be painted in the upstairs hallway.

This is only the third mural-project I’ve ever undertaken. The first was in the mid-1980's, and the subject was the Duran Duran album cover, “Rio”, a painting by the then wildly popular painter Nagel. The next one was close to fifteen years later when I copied a Sandra Boynton illustration from one of her children’s books onto Jack’s bedroom wall.

Had I given them a choice, my kids who would probably have begged for Star Wars tie-fighters or Barbie-movie characters. Horses are my choice, a concession that they may be the only horses I ever come close to "owning." And instead of painting in a bedroom, which would probably have incited a civil war between the warring factions of my children, the hallway seemed neutral ground.

The paintings lack proportion, but surprisingly, this doesn't bother me. I've long since realized that few things in life are properly proportioned. Not my painting, not my writing, not my marriage, not my kids, not my relationship with God.

It feels great to be creative again. The downside means I'm getting less reading done. May through July I averaged ten books per month, which with four small kids is not easy task. I had to work hard! It also means I set myself up for interruptions. I hate being interrupted - it is one of those things that most easily causes The Red Mist to float down in front of my eyes (but more about that later.) But for all its disadvantages, creativity enlivens me, takes me deeper within myself to a place of restoration and peace.

It will be interesting to me to see how consistently I write in this blog and how often I paint on my mural. Knowing myself, at some point the rollercoaster will slow to a crawl while it painfully clicks and clacks its way to the top of yet another mountain. Until such time, I will enjoy this rush, and I hope you do too.


At 4:01 PM, Blogger Gateway School and Learning Center said...

Love the mural, love the blog. You're doing great!


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