We are blessed here on the Adirondack Coast, not only with the obvious geographic beauty and resources, rich history, but with cultural depth. Shake a bush and you will find an artist of some medium and genre. It can be quite intimidating.
For myself, the endeavor is writing or I should say storytelling on paper. A writer is a real artist, who can change style, who can be given a subject and proceed eloquently. I’m more of a storyteller.I need the stories to tell themselves to me. One of my most troubling concerns, when writing, is a sense of responsibility to the characters. Did I tell their story well?
For those of us drawn to an art or craft or even a sport, but not proven in the field or are getting a late start or maybe not particularly gifted, what are the alternatives? Should we give up because we are not worthy, because we may never be a great artist?
Don’t Be Held Back
At my first book signing I found that most people who stopped by my table had secret desires to write and were curious about the process. Their questions led me to examine what drives us to write or paint or sculpt, and what holds us back.
Self-consciousness and self-doubt holds us back. As an English Major I should be led to write. But, as an English Major I know great literature and therefore, recognized my attempts as not measuring up. But, do we write, paint, sculpt… to be great? No, we do these arts because we must, because it is in us to do. Like a child’s first scratchings we must begin. Do we think our admired artists’ first works were masterpieces?
So write, paint, sculpt with abandon. Don’t worry about the beginning or the end. Start with what you have and let the story go where it will. In his non-fiction work, On Writing, Stephen King called early drafts “closed door” copies. Create as if no one will ever see the work. This will free you from pride, from crippling self-doubt. Certainly, some results will reach a point where you must put it before the eyes of others to critique, if you wish to improve. You will learn to consider suggestions, edit, and when to stand firm. Stephen King wrote that you can come to the page reverently, angrily, frightened, to win a boy or girl, to change the world. It doesn’t matter how you come to the page, just come.
Come to the paper and pen, the computer, the paint and brush, the clay, the loom… For me, no matter where this journey goes, my greatest joy will always be the pencil and the notebook—the closed door copy.
Note: Champagne Books has just offered me an intent contract for the first book in my Angel on the Great Medicine Trail series.
- Adirondack Art Association Re-Opening Success (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Adirondack Artist: Bill Amadon (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Seneca Ray Stoddard (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Six Adirondack Schools Among 33 Named “Schools of Distinction” (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Lake Champlain: A Love Story (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)