Creating art, no matter who likes it

“The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

This quote by Kurt Vonnegut has been making the rounds on Facebook and it really spoke to me. I love the line, “Write a poem, even a lousy poem.” Writers/artists are always so worried about what others think about their work. But the reward should not be who likes it, but the amount of joy we got out of creating it. There will always be someone who does not like it, and there will always be someone who does (even if that’s just you). Do it anyway.

I sent out a short story to a contest yesterday and I was sweating while I did it. I imagined the judges reading it with scowls and grimaces. “She thinks she’s a writer?” “What the hell is this?” Nightmares. Then I tell myself I’m supposed to be positive and that brings good things, right? At least that’s what all those cute sayings and photos tell me on Facebook. So I picture them saying, “Wow, brilliant writing. Check this out,” as they hand it around the table. (Yes, they are all sitting around a big conference table sipping martinis and reading short stories. It’s my dream, shut up.)

I’ve created all kinds of crappy art while trying to copy Pinterest. Who the hell does all that stuff anyway? But I had fun doing it and it’s all over my office where I can see it, but  everyone else doesn’t have to look at it. It might be brilliant, but more than likely it’s mediocre at best.

We’ll see what happens with the story, but I felt great while writing it. I felt great editing it. I felt uneasy sending it, but once it was gone it was out of my hands. And if, by chance, they don’t like it, that doesn’t take away any of the joy I got while writing it.

 

What I did on my summer vacation

Taking a break from writing can be great. It can also be stressful if you feel like something is missing. So, I decided to take a break and work at a few art projects. These are a few things I’ve wanted to do, but thought I didn’t have the time. So, I took the time. Now don’t judge, it was just for my benefit and creative outlet. But I thought you might get a kick out of it.

Step One: Find a terrible painting at a thrift store or garage sale. Better yet, find something you painted during one of those wine & paint parties. (Yes, I know. Pretty bad, huh?)

Yeah, I did this. But there was wine involved…

Step Two: Lay out the stickers the way you want them and don’t be afraid to change it up.

Step Three: Paint over the stickers and canvas in any color you want. I chose black and brown. Cover till you get the desired color. Don’t worry about being perfect, it is art, remember? (I used acrylic paint, btw.)

Step Four: After it’s dried (took about 15 minutes), peel off the letters. I added a few 3-D stickers and a photo of my husband and daughter, as well as a set of beads.

Viola!

Steady hammering skills make for lovely jewelry, right?

I first saw something like this on Pinterest and it looked pretty easy. This project is simply washers (ok, I raided Husband’s toolbox) and a small letter kit I bought at Harbor Freight ($7). Choose words you want but make them short, then add beads or embellishments. Daughter is a big Sherlock fan, hence the 221B reference.

Heads up: Make sure you find a firm place to on which to hammer these. I actually split a concrete block while hammering. Good thing it was just used as a door stop in the back yard.
What do you do to give yourself a varied creative outlet?

 

 

 

A lost art of letter writing

Remember when you were young and you couldn’t wait for the mail to arrive? It was thrilling. My grandfather used to write a poem for each birthday and mail it to me. My friends wrote long letters about boyfriends and parties and I reread them over and over.

These days, most correspondence is done online. Letter writing has gone the way of the cassette tape, typewriter and phone cords. Some of these things can stay gone, no problem. Phone cords will not be missed. But I do miss the typewriter and its clack clack of the keys, and the letter in the mailbox is a tragic loss.

When was the last time you wrote someone a letter? I challenge you to write someone a letter this week. It could be a short, “Thanks for the great lunch and conversation,” or even, “I miss you. Let’s get together.” If you must, you can type it up and print it out. If you’re writing a long, drawn-out letter, by all means print it out. But hand write the envelope. It doesn’t take that much time and it gives the letter a special touch. You could even embellish the note or envelope with a drawing, stickers, etc. (OK, I’m pushing it here. Sorry)

I know this sounds very simple, but it isn’t, really. Our time is precious these days, yet we still have time to watch our favorite TV shows or movies, right? Take a moment during a commercial to write out a note. Address the envelope on the next commercial. See how quick that was?

A good friend of mine frequently rips out photos and ads from magazines, slaps a Post-it with a funny note on it and mails it out to me. I love getting these and it makes me smile. It doesn’t cost much, just a stamp and an envelope. If you have children, try writing them a letter or sending them a card. Tell Grandparents to drop them a card or letter.

Make someone smile this week. What have you got to lose?

What do you regret?

I have spent the past week going over everything in my life that I regret, why I regret it, and what I would do to change it. Why the hell am I doing that? I found a writing contest with the simple statement-Write an essay about a mistake or regret and what you would do to change it. Powerful, right?

The challenge, the way I see it, is to write something interesting, but not too deep and depressing. And of course, any of these regrets you have need to be usable in an essay that the entire world may just read (and I’m including my mother in that crowd). Ready for that, are you? Sure, I have major regrets, but not too many I want to tell the world about in 1,500 words or less. And I have regrets that I don’t feel I should change. They are what they are, and it’s that simple.

Then there are the regrets I think would have made a difference in someone else’s life more than mine. Those are the ones I think I would change. But which one of those is worth writing about?

So, my week has been quite depressing at times as I drive the kid around town, wash the dishes, and fold the laundry all the while reviewing all the shitty, stupid, or unkind things I think I’ve done and what I would do to change them. The more I review my life, the more I think I’m a bitch and that I have hurt people by the mere act of not paying attention. I think this comes from obsessing over my flaws for an entire week.

But seriously, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that my lack of attention may have been a factor in many of these instances that keep flashing before my eyes as I sit at the red light. I would like to think that I have learned as I grew, and I will admit I have a lot fewer to review in the past 10 years. But who knows what tomorrow brings? I have been distracted lately.

I finally came up with a mistake I would like to change, and hopefully it’s good enough to win a prize. But if not, at least this has given me a chance to think about my mistakes. I didn’t like that much, but maybe I’ll pay a little more attention to everyone else.

Oh, and if I didn’t get around to you yet, let this be an apology for that thing I said. I’m sure I didn’t mean it.