I’ve posted several times about doing the second draft of my book. This is the latest installment in the eighteen-month story of my efforts.
One word describes things at the moment. Confused.
I’m adding others. Messy. I am okay with messy. Messy happens in all my creating at some point. It gives me possibilities. Having been a neat and tidy child, as an adult I enjoy messy. Also, I know how to go from messy to focused, a useful talent.
Another word. Procrastinating. Somehow, and I have said this before, other jobs and delights keep taking precedence over my second draft. Strange how that happens.
Yesterday I am telling one of my fellow artist-writer friends about this. We come to the conclusion I need to clear a chunk of time for only the draft. Yes. I do this. Now marked off in my diary is February through May. My friend will meet with me throughout this time to help me keep accountable to myself in getting the draft done. Cool.
A third word. Blind. This draft feels like I’m doing a jigsaw puzzle without the picture from the box top to tell me how things should look.
I tell this to another artist-writer friend. She talks about finding the arc of the story, a kind of outline. Oh.
I know about outlines. I tried one out at the start and it drove me crazy. I learned I am a writer who feels her way through the story. As Nanowrimo fans say, I’m a pantser, not a plotter.
I am very visual in my thinking. My friend says ‘arc of the story’. In response, I see the image of an arc drawn on a big sheet of paper, with me writing sticky notes all along it. This makes sense. A way of creating an outline that works for me. Here is my picture of how things will look when I am done. Yay! The picture will likely shift as I go. That’s okay. I still have a picture to play with.
My cousin has written a book and published it. Hello, You’re Fabulous! by Sandy Slovack, M.A.
I’m jealous. Writer’s jealousy. And I’m laughing at myself as I write that, because I wouldn’t be jealous if the book was terrible. It’s not. It Is Good (capital G!). I know this because I’ve been playing with Sandy’s book the last few weeks.
Sandy and I have known each other a long time. (No, I’m not telling you how long.) We talk about life, and laugh non-stop when we’re together, allowing brief pauses for wine, coffee, and food. We can be ourselves in our conversation, making mistakes, being goofy, and being wise all at the same time.
This is what I know about Sandy. She believes in people. She sees the pain and the brilliance and the possibilities. Beauty. Love. She learned to do this for herself, and then shared it. And this is exactly what her book is about.
The pain and brilliance and possibility in each of us. Learning to see this in ourselves. Learning to accept this bright shining being is really us, mistakes and wisdom and all. Learning to be this in our lives. Loving ourselves.
The book is a conversation. Not just reading. Doing. Asking questions. Listening to our heads and hearts, and answering. Discovering what we’ve been telling ourselves, and changing the stories that need to be changed. Choosing to believe in ourselves.
Choose love. This is what Sandy is saying, and offering us a path to get there. Thank you, Sandy.
I loved school and I believed in school, so I got myself accepted to university and started my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I thought courses and a diploma and those letters, BFA, after my name would make me an artist.
I thought being an artist came from outside. Like being knighted. I dub thee ‘Artist’. One of my art teachers would surely tell me, ‘’Cat, you are an artist.’’
All through that year, I hoped someone would see me, the artist me. I didn’t say it out loud, or whisper it. I never wrote it down on paper or the covers of my sketch books or a bathroom wall. Tell me I’m an artist.
I was so desperate for this, it must surely have been printed across my face. It must have leapt out of every piece of art I created (both the amazing and the dreadful) and every essay I wrote.
It didn’t happen. No one said these magic words.
I left the Fine Arts Department after that first year. I got my diploma in Business Administration instead, and went to work for the government.
I am six years old. I know I am a writer and an artist. I know I am a creator. I translate the world into image and word. It makes me happy, gives me joy. I am in love with writing, drawing, the world, me.
I don’t choose it. I just do it. I look at the beauty of the world. I feel it. I write it. I draw it. Whatever comes to me goes onto the paper.
This is play. Easy, fun, exciting. New all the time.
I know who I am, my true heart.
Fifty years later. Here. Now. Who am I?
I am Cat, recreating herself in her true image.
Shedding old patterns. Shedding all the things other people told me I was and was not. Shaking off what no longer helps me on my path. Refusing to accept what I know is not true for me.
I am moving back in, this place, this heart, true to myself. True to the six year old who knew without doubt.
I am a sideways creator. I travel my own route, follow what feels right to me. I will listen to what others say, and test out their rules and their methods. If the rules or the methods feel right, I use them. If not, I shift a bit to the left or right, sideways, the direction my heart is telling me, and go forward from there.
These are my current rules for creating sideways:
I am the Creator of my creations. No one else is.
There are no Rules with a capital ‘R’.
I get to make up any rules I want for myself, but I can’t impose these on anyone else.
I can add, change, discard, and break my rules any time I wish.
I can make up different rules for each thing I create.
I can make up no rules at all for my creating.
My rules are only a starting point.
I can try out anyone else’s rules if I feel like it, and see if they work for me.
The best rules come from my heart. What do I love? What feels good and makes me happy? What do I want to play with? What do I want to share?
My rules are play.
There are key words here for the creating sideways method. Feeling. Heart. For myself. Love. Happy. Play. Share. This is all I need, all I need carry with me into my studio and into my life.