To the Paris Review Podcast,
I'm exposed to stories
I'd never choose to read
On my own.
It's like being back in Creative Writing,
Classes filled with aspiration
And glowing potential.
My teachers filled
Of my first published work.
Wouldn't they all be
Well, it took me a lot longer to get back to blogging than I expected. There are many reasons for this: I've been experiencing a pretty major case of writer's block, I started working for the library so was distracted elsewhere, and maybe the most mundane of all, my computer got so old and heavy, I avoided using it.
After coming to that last realization, I thought, "If I ever want to write again without it feeling like a chore, maybe I should do something about it."
Who knew I was so cheap, I'd hold onto a piece of equipment that was impeding my creative process? I had my last laptop for more than seven years. It served me well, but as I type on my new machine that weighs all of three pounds, I could kick myself for not doing it sooner. Oh, the impediments to good habits!
My lengthy break means I'm probably not going to blog in the ways I used to. I'm going to share a diverse assortment of things now, including the occasional poem. We've been in our new house for almost three years and there are projects, both big and small, waiting. They just won't be the main focus of this space anymore. As I mentioned, I work at the library now, not just as a Board Member for the Friends of the Library, so occasionally it may find its way in here, too. But my plan is to get back into it -- the blog needs to live and breathe -- so that will be my focus.
It was late, but I had to stay up a little bit longer, just to make sure my video final had uploaded properly to YouTube.
I had shared a post from my video teacher about his class next semester, and my Aunt Jan had liked it right away. Behind that little thumbs up was her anticipation for watching my final, a five minute piece about her mother, my grandma, recounting her experiences coming to California. If you’ve ever read “The Grapes of Wrath,” you know what my grandma’s move to the Golden State was like, but this was her story, her experiences, and Aunt Jan had always felt it was an important story to tell.
So, I was thinking of Aunt Jan as I waited for the video to finish uploading. It was because of her I was staying up late to get it on the internet as soon as I had completed the editing. I knew she’d want to watch it before I presented it to my class. It was a huge mp4, of course. It had music and photos and my interview with my grandma, all interwoven in a way I was hoping would tell a comprehensive story. It was such a large file, I was very late for bed by the time it finished posting, so I turned out the light and told myself I’d notify Aunt Jan about it first thing in the morning. I had just pulled the blanket to my chin and closed my eyes when Charles walked in the bedroom with the phone. My mom was calling. My Aunt Jan was dead.
Sometime, most likely a very short time after she had liked my post on Facebook, Aunt Jan’s heart had stopped. She crumpled to the floor where she was discovered that evening after missing her yoga class. Her friend had found her. The paramedics were called. The phone tree to tell the news began. I was devastated.
She had been my support team, my cheerleader, and my friend in all things creative. I knew when my paintings actually got good because, though supportive, she was honest. When she first bought one of my pieces, I knew I had made it. Aunt Jan was the one I imagined I was talking to when I wrote many of my blog posts. She’d never missed one, and now she’d never read another.
I wrote her obituary because I was asked and because I knew she would have wanted me to do it. Writing it was difficult. It pulled a lot from me to do it. In fact, writing it, and then watching the shit storm that was 2016, pretty much emptied my well. It was one of the last creative things I was able to do for a very long time.
That’s why my blog has been so silent this year. It’s taken a lot longer to refill that creative well than I ever anticipated, but for the last couple of months, I’ve been feeling the urge to create again. Sentences bubble up in my mind when I least expect it, and I’ve been missing my blog. This terrible year is drawing to a close, and I’m hoping to get back to more regular writing soon. We’ve done a few things to the house I want to share, and I’ve had some pretty major changes in my work life I want to write about. According to Bloglovin’, it’s been 307 days since I posted. I’ll, ahem, try much harder to be more active after this. My well isn’t full yet, but it’s beginning to fill back up.
Here you go, a silly video I made in between laundry loads. It's in order, day one through 30. You also get a better idea of the sizes of each painting -- almost all much smaller than I usually do.
This is what I learned: I keep myself really busy, distractedly so. I think it's residual from when my Charles was at work all the time -- easier to stay busy than to be lonely. But, I'm starting to be better with organizing my own time. I have a stack of comic books waiting to be read, and January was my planned time to dive in and catch up. Instead, I took up this challenge at the last minute. I'm really glad I did.
It would have been so easy for me to give up. I had so many really good reasons to in January. For example, David Bowie and Alan Rickman's deaths the same week as my aunt's service really sunk me into a depression. I decided to stick it out, and when it comes to me painting, this may be the first time I've really kept it a priority no matter what else was going on in my life.
Not every painting was terrific. Some are destined to be painted over, but I finished. I've let myself get derailed so often in the past, especially when it had to do with being creative, NaNoWriMo and a semester of voice being two that quickly come to mind. I'm so grateful that Sheila Cameron presented me with the potential for this challenge, and to my more mature mind (?) for finally allowing myself to let creativity be a part of every day.
It wasn't always fun. Many times it was a bit stressful, but I proved to myself that I could take up a challenge and see it to its conclusion, and I think I've improved my painting just a little bit along the way.
Acrylic on canvas. 14X18"
And... I'm done! Well, this painting will probably take two days to completely dry, but you know what I mean. I managed to paint every single day of this 30 day challenge! I wasn't sure I could manage, but I stuck to my guns and did. I'll do a wrap-up in a couple of days, when I can take photos of every piece outside, with my camera on a tripod and the paintings on an easel. I can't believe I did it! Woo hoo!
A blog about writing, art, projects, or whatever else tickles my fancy.