Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sometimes You Gotta Paint Right Over It

I experienced something profound recently--at least profound in my own life as a writer and artist. I have to confess, I'm a bit of a packrat. I prefer not to throw things away. I like to pile things up knowing if I ever need something, I can find it--somewhere. Like my books. I save a different Word document for each day of writing. Is that neurotic? I know it may seem strange. But I have, on occasion, realized that something I wrote a while ago and disposed of, was good. I just search through my files until I find it, and voila, it's back into place.

Well, my artwork has always been a little different. I'm one of those folks who feel that whatever comes out on the canvas is what should be there. My best work is instinctive, not over-fudging. Last week I painted a piece and worked on it every night for days. This is not how I like to work, but it just wasn't doing it for me. So I added this and added that over and over until my three-year-old daughter came in on the last day--when it was done, mind you--and said, "I don't like that!" Normally, she loves my work. So I said, "You know, honey? You're absolutely right. I don't like it either."

What happened next was liberating. I did something I've never done--I found the only thing that was working on the canvas, a woman, and kept her. Then I completely painted over everything else. Every decision I made about color or stroke was straight from the gut with no overthinking. And do you know what? I dropped it off at the gallery on Saturday and with it still propped up against the wall and not even hung up yet, "Peace" sold within three days. That validation--that I should listen to my gut and not let my mind over-edit--is a valuable lesson for me and something I intend to take with me into my writing life. Sometimes, if you're inner-child is screaming, "Yuk!" it's best to just paint over that over-worked canvas and create something totally fresh.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Molasses Creek, Good Men and Fresh-Caught Shrimp

My husband and I navigated Molasses Creek this morning, courtesy of my parents who loaned us their kayaks and watched the kids. We haven't been since our honeymoon, and that was in the ocean in the Caribbean somewhere. I remember I got nowhere fast in the ocean, paddling as hard as I could. But this morning was amazing. At times I would stop paddling and just coast in complete silence, one with the water as if I wasn't there at all--only armies of fiddler crabs moving to their holes in the pluff mud, the marsh grass taking a breather in the low tide, and egrets lingering, waiting for lunch. Brian and I raced each other on the way back, leaning forward, faces grimacing, arms pumping. Of course, I let him win. But he didn't gloat, he's a good man.

I have several good men in my husband, my father, my father-in-law. Like a couple nights ago, my father-in-law brought by some shrimp caught fresh that day from one of his clients. I took about a third, heads on and all. You know, I do prefer my food not look up at me before I eat it. It's just a preference. A quirk of mine. Natalie Dupree and Pat Conroy would cluck their tongues at that, I suppose. But the shrimp were delicious, and I remain very conscious of the fact that we are so blessed here in the Lowcountry with tidal creeks and kayaks and parents who watch children and bring fresh shrimp...

Have I mentioned I love this place?

Writing in My Sleep

It's 4 a.m. I should not be up this early (or late, depending how you look at it), but I found myself trying to rewrite in my sleep the opening to an article I have due for South Carolina Magazine next week. Has this ever happened to you? Trust me, it can be very annoying to do your actual writing in your dreams, so I thought I'd get out of bed. Not that I can work on my article right now. I can't.

Instead, I found myself reading Joshilyn Jackson's gods in Alabama. I'm almost through and I must say it's a gripper--endeering yet disturbing at the same time. She's created a truly unique balance there. And she's prolific with her blog, which got me thinking about mine.

So now I'm writing in my blog instead of on my next novel. Yikes, that deadline's coming too and it needs to be a good bit longer than my article. Hmmm. I'm rambling now. I should probably try and salvage whatever sleep I can before the little ones wake up. I'm sure they'll allow me some quiet time to be creative and focused tomorrow. Right?