Friday, December 3, 2010

Filling the creative well

Today I was able to fulfill one of the items on my bucket list, that list of things you've always wanted to do. I spent about 4-1/2 hours at the Chicago Institute of Art. The Institute's Impressionist collection is legendary and it was more impressive than I imagined.

I've been an Impressionist/post-Impressionist fan since college days and art history courses and my first time in Paris in 1967. I've since developed a strong liking for all kinds of other painting but to see Renoirs and Monets that I didn't know existed, to see an Odilon Redon still life, to see some beautiful early Vuillards was such a treat. I found myself weeping from the beauty of their work.

It also really inspired to reconsider my relationship to my own painting, which has been on hold for most of a year as I've written more and more. I looked at their wonderful use of color, of combinations, of interpretations of what they saw around them and felt a deep yearning to playing with all that again.

I'm also a firm believer in the cross-pollination of the arts, that writers should spend time with visual art, that fabric artists should spend time with sculpture, etc., that it all feeds and fills the creative well. Our imaginations need priming from time to time, and to be absolutely sated with gorgeous images today was just fabulous.

There's much more to explore here in Chicago and I won't get much of a chance. We are going to the theater tomorrow night but while my sisters explore more of the art and culture here tomorrow, I'll be attending the conference that has brought me here. I've no regrets. I love speaking to recovering women; just wish I could be in two places at one time.

Looking forward to the plane ride home, some time to be alone and digest the experience. I feel so fortunate today.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Taking risks

“If you spend your days avoiding failure by doing nothing much worth criticizing, you’ll never have a shot at success.” –Seth Godin

One way we risk is by putting our work out into the world. Another is to write when we have to say without worrying about its acceptance. Yes, you could write a book in which Goldilocks meets 3 vampires and maybe even sell it. But probably that’s not the story that lives in your heart to tell.

Maybe you want to write about growing up in suburban Dallas in the 1950s but childhood memoirs have gone out of fashion. So what? Write your stories. Maybe as a memoir it’s not sellable but as a novel or collection of short stories it is. Maybe you want to write about the use of runes in everyday decision-making and you know that the audience for that is pretty small. So what? Write that book anyway.

In a personal transformation program I was involved in some years ago, the facilitators regularly asked us if we were playing small, below our capacity. They wanted to know if we were being run by fear. I think Godin’s quote addresses this nicely. We can write so as not to fail or we can risk and write what is ours to write.

The number of well-known writers who were rejected for years is legendary. They kept at it and they wrote what they needed to. Great role models for us all!