Category Archives: writing life

Writing Diary: Thwarted Again

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I seem to be moving like a tortoise these days.

Well, things were going well last week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I began to move — slowly — through Chapter 14. But then came Friday and my morning appointment with the eye doctor to make sure the shingles I developed in my eye a couple of years ago was still quiescent.

The appointment went normally, the news was good, but when I was driving home — slowly, via back streets — I noticed that everything seemed much brighter and blurrier than in the past. I chalked it up to the fact that it was a clear, bright day, whereas the last time I’d done it, the day had been overcast and I had driven home later in the afternoon.

But even when I got home, everything was so bright I had to close most of the blinds. And I could hardly even look at the computer screen, much less work on it.  Focusing on the small printed words of my hard-copy drafts was difficult as well, and I began to think my sight had degenerated much more than I feared (even though tests at the eye doctor’s had said otherwise). I could not work on the book at all:  couldn’t look at the computer screen, couldn’t stand to read the print on typed pages, was getting a headache just trying… so I worked on cards. And even that was a strain.

Finally, increasingly frustrated with my inability to see clearly I went into the bathroom to check on my pupil, thinking it was only the left eye that had been dilated, which was the usual procedure. Instead I finally discovered the problem: the tech had dilated both my eyes, by mistake, I think, since the doctor never looked in my right eye, only the left. In any case, there they were, these huge black pupils staring back at me. Even though it had been hours since the appointment, they still looked huge — which brings up another drawback to seeing the eye doctor in the morning rather than the afternoon: I have blue eyes and from what I’ve read,  dilation takes longer to recede in blue eyes than it does in brown eyes.  Indeed, it wasn’t until well into the evening before they were back to normal… and so, once again my intentions to keep consistent in writing this book were thwarted.

The next day, Saturday, I could see again, but now I had all the errands I might have done Friday but couldn’t, to attend to: dog food to pick up, dog bran to buy, a car gas tank on empty to fill up… administrative duties, etc. So no work then, either.

Today was our local assembly’s monthly communion and pot luck, longer than usual because we had a visit from some evangelist friends who minister in Pakistan. It was great to see and visit with them… but when I got home I was wiped out and so… yet another day where I didn’t get to the book…

Still I did manage to this post written!  So I shall feel good about that, at least…  I set all this down, as example of all the weird things that keep happening to interrupt the flow, consume time I’d hoped to devote to writing, and even get me off kilter. I keep asking myself, “Was it always like this? How did I get those other books written, anyway?”

Nevertheless, I do know that everything comes to me through my Lord’s permission, and for my blessing, even if it doesn’t seem like much of a blessing. He’s definitely teaching me patience. Or maybe I should say He’s giving me lots of lessons designed to develop it. I am just a very slow learner…

So What Happened to the Writing Class?

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Well, in three words… It’s on hold.

I progressed through three weeks of it, and really enjoyed it, learned a lot of things, was reminded of even more things, read some interesting short stories I never would have otherwise read, that I hated at first, and then came to see were quite compelling in their way. I still remember some of the images they conjured up, and the fascinating techniques that were employed. And I even think I may have the start of several short pieces of my own. So I definitely plan to get back to it once I have a little more of The Other Side of the Sky under my belt… like perhaps a first draft!

So why did I stop?

Well, for Lesson three we were to go somewhere and observe someone and make detailed notes in our writing notebook. I went to Starbucks, got my latte and blueberry scone and a table to go with them where I sat and observed a young girl on the other side of the glass, seated slightly facing away from me as she focused on her smart phone.

It was fascinating. I took lots of notes. Then I came home and looked through the accompanying class sheets designed to aid us in developing a character and realized that I had already done all that when I was developing my characters for Sky. I have a huge notebook with all the notes… I didn’t need another character!

Also, by that time I’d begun doing the writing exercises from the standpoint of my WIP, and the lights began to come on again with respect to the book, so that I started working regularly on it…

But then came an emergency trip to California in October, followed by visits from our son and his family for Thanksgiving, followed by the all-too-soon advent of Christmas and another trip to CA, and my writing work took a back seat to all of that. I’ve picked it up again these last couple of weeks and…dare I say it? …things are going well. Which is to say, I’m moving through chapter 13, rather than staring out the window blankly..

None of which is to say that I’ve abandoned the class, because I haven’t. Sky just happens to be the writing project with the (sort of)  deadline, while the class is self-regulated. I can stop now and take it up again as I choose. In fact, I’m looking forward to doing that when I have the time…

Back to School

So what have I been doing besides viewing cute baby elephant videos, going to the zoo breakfasts in support/celebration of said baby elephant, and then making multiple return trips to the zoo to see her? Well, one thing is that I went back to “school.” In fact, I even wrote a blog post about my decision and how it was all going when I was about a week into it.

That post, written August 3, 2014 but never proofed, has languished as a mere draft in my posts folder for these last four months as I worked through part of the class, then stopped to switch back to Sky. And, lest you get the wrong idea, I didn’t stop because of deficiencies in the class, but rather because it worked!

This week I decided to go back and the post ready to share, so here it is:

Back to School

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Yes, it’s true. I’ve gone back to school, but I’ve done so without leaving my office. Actually I started a week ago, when I signed up for an online writing course taught by award-winning Canadian short story writer Sarah Selecky, who also happens to be a writing instructor.

It all started when I was considering going on a retreat — anything to get myself past the rather extreme blocking I’ve been experiencing with Sky. I thought maybe if I could just get away from all the distractions and focus, that it would help. There’s a place here in Tucson that I could go to, but all I’d have is a room with a bed. No desk. They’d provide meals, but with our 100+ degree temps it would be too hot to walk about the grounds, so I’d be stuck in the little room and I just didn’t know how helpful that would be.

Well, in the course of going online to research other retreats, retreats away, retreats at home, mini retreats, I stumbled upon a report by a woman who was on retreat — house sitting for friends in a beautiful place in the country for two months — in hopes of making some progress on her current book. Alas, she spent nearly the entire time NOT writing. Instead she watched DVD’s of a TV series, knitted a cap and scarf, went canoeing alone, watched woodpeckers at the feeder and generally just rested. (You can read it here.)

Then, about five days before she was to return home, she finally turned to the book she’d meant to work on. I loved her descriptions, and her observations about writing and resting really resonated. Of course it was Sarah Selecky, and one thing led to another. The next thing you know I’d found her writing instruction site, and signed up for both her twice-a-month email “letters” on some aspect of writing fiction, and her daily writing prompts sent straight to my inbox. I immediately began using the latter as a warm up for my daily stint of work on Sky.

The letters all linked back to other letters at the main webpage where I compulsively read one after the other, printing up the ones I found most helpful.  Before I knew it, I had a notebook full of printouts, which were underlined and starred and had been read repeatedly. Some titles are  “Six ways to look at an abandoned story,” “White Space,” “Don’t try to make it symbolic,” “Is it good or bad?” “Be Grateful for your crazy, active mind,” “Deliberate Practice: What it is and Why you need it,” and quite a few more.

She said so many things that helped, that reassured, that clarified, that pointed me back in the right direction! I kept expecting the next letter to disappoint, but it never did. Eventually, of course I had to check out the info on her class, Story is a State of Mind. And right at the beginning some of the things she said about what the course would do spoke exactly to where I was:

“Do you resist writing? You can train yourself to write anyway…(SSM) is a different kind of writing course. It trains you to work with uncertainty… learn to work with your creative mind, not against it…”

It sounded wonderful. But… she’s a literary short story writer. I have written short stories, but I consider myself more of a novelist. I have never really cared for the literary genre. Plus, I’ve been writing for 40+ years… so it doesn’t seem like I should need a class… but that last bit is just arrogance speaking. Maybe I have been writing for 40 years, but I’m not doing much of a job at it now. Maybe taking a class and getting a new perspective would be just the thing.

So I prayed, and printed up everything on the classes, and read all the reviews, which are many, and glowing, and again spoke to the very areas I am/was struggling with.  I prayed some more, and agonized a bit, because though reasonably priced, it’s not free… and what if it turned out to be a disappointment? And all that stuff we tell ourselves when we’re afraid to try something new…

So I prayed some more and then God had an evangelist friend, Scott Grande of Christ Saves Ministries, send out a newsletter in a timing that was absolutely impeccable. I opened it and here were some of the phrases that leapt off the page:

“Stepping out of the Box”

“If you are stuck in your spiritual routine and maybe rigid in your application of Bible doctrine, maybe you need to step out by faith; and if you err, err on the side of grace. God has your back, so long as your motivation is good”.

“Are you stunting an avenue God wants you to take? Do you think the Spirit works in only methodical and predictable ways, where we get to stay “in control”?”

“Many hold to certain things because they don’t want to step out of their comfort zone, even though the Spirit is leading them there! … Be open to what the Spirit is showing you. It is most likely not what you thought it would be.”

That was so precise, so tailored to answer precisely the things I’d been thinking, the objections I’d been marshaling that I knew it was the Lord. And shortly after that I signed up.

A week later, I can say I have NOT been disappointed! It’s been exactly what I’ve needed to get back on track.

December 7, 2014  I put the class on hold about a month later, but despite my early and temporary “abandonment,” I fully intend to get back to the class when I’ve gotten a bit more work done on Sky, and the holidays are over. That’s one of the beauties of it: it’s completely self-directed, and in fact downloadable, so I have all the videos and materials on my computer, waiting for me to get back them when the time is right…  

And Now the Regularly Scheduled Blog Returns

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Maybe.

As you may have noticed, I have not been posting much in the way of words. Perhaps because I have not been writing much in the way of words — at least words that are in any way coherent.  It’s not just with the blog, but also Sky and answering emails and even my regular journal is getting ignored… not entirely, but almost and waaay more than in the past.

I have no explanation for why this is happening, though I have tried to come up with one repeatedly. If only I could figure out what is going on, then maybe I could fix it.

Well, my most recurring conclusion in this matter, is that I can’t figure it out. And even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to fix it. God is the one who has it all figured out and so far He hasn’t included me in His figuring. He is also the One who is going to “fix” it, if indeed, it requires fixing.

In fact, the messages I’ve been most consistently receiving from all sorts of sources is… back off, relax, WAIT and Trust Me to come through in MY time, not yours.

In addition to the “wait for MY timing” messages, I’ve also been having occasional epiphanies about other things. Such as, “My job of taking care of our home (cleaning, meals, shopping, dishes, laundry, the dog) is every bit as much a part of my calling as writing is. So why should I get all upset when attending to those things requires some of my time, time I could (presumably) devote to writing if I didn’t have to do the daily chores?

Because I DO have to do them. God has assigned me that task as well as the one of writing Sky. Neither is more important than the other. He will enable me to do both of them in some measure according to His timetable, not mine. So instead of getting all agitated because I have to sweep the floor again and thinking it’s taking time away from writing, I’m thinking, “No, this is also part of God’s plan for my day and I simply have to trust Him to see that I get everything done that is on His agenda and forget my own.

 

 

 

 

 

When Progress is Invisible

my painting of a dove on her nest in our grapefruit tree

my painting of a nesting dove

I painted this mourning dove one year as she sat on her nest in the grapefruit tree in our back yard.  She watched me as I took the pictures that I would use for the painting, but she didn’t stir, didn’t leave the nest. She sat on those eggs for weeks.

And all that time she was mostly doing “nothing.” More than that, the things she was sitting on, her eggs, also seemed to be doing nothing. All that time she spent sitting there when she could have been flying around or walking about looking for seeds or taking a shower in the sprinklers with her dove friends… instead she was sitting up there on her eggs which did not seem to be doing a darn thing. For a very long time, no change whatsoever registered in those eggs, at least as far as the dove could see. And yet… amazing, profound, complex, rich changes were occurring behind the façade of the thin white shell.

She might have been tempted to give it up. I mean… 15 to 18 days of sitting there doing nothing at all? With only brief time outs to feed and get water? I doubt I could do it for even 2 hours!

And yet, lately God has been using the dove analogy with me as regards my working on Sky.  There’s been a lot of time where I can’t see any changes occurring… I was getting no ideas, I’d go in to write and couldn’t seem to think of a thing, couldn’t keep my mind on the work, couldn’t get anywhere. Stuck.

But a couple of months ago, He sent me the dove analogy courtesy of Elisabeth Elliot’s daily devotion site. Not only as the analogy regards the book, but even more so as regards my spiritual life. I love the idea that growth is occurring, unseen, unnoticed, behind the scenes, where I can’t feel it, can’t measure it, can’t realize it. Even as in another unseen place, He is orchestrating the pulling together of different elements of character and plot and setting to produce the next scene that I will eventually write.

I could freak out and get impatient and condemned and anxious or I can be still and trust that He’s at work even when it seems He’s not.  I know this, because He’s told me that it’s so:

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to execute for His good pleasure.” ~Philippians 2:13

“Faithful is He who calls you, and HE will bring it to pass.” ~I Thessalonians 5:24

I just have to believe it.

Surprise! I’m Posting Again!

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Yes, indeed, I am finally getting back to posting something on this blog. That’s because I have finally gotten into a rhythm of working on Sky, 6 hours a day, 6 days a week.

For the last 8 weeks I’ve been working up to it. The first week I only stipulated I must get into the office and work. I averaged 1.8 hours per day that week, and only worked 5 days for a total of 11 hours.  The next week, I got in 6 days and averaged 3.2 hrs/week for a total of 19 hours. Then 21 hours, 23 hours, 25 and finally 35.5 hours!! Yay! I’m hoping this week I’ll do 36, but there are potential complicating factors coming up for the weekend.

Still, just the intent to get in here for 6 hours has helped immensely —  though really I think it’s the Lord’s doing, since I did ask Him for help and He is delivering.

One other contributing aspect was my realization that while I’d been coming into the office trusting the Lord to guide me, I had also decided that I needed to figure out my make-believe world in detail and the entire plot before I could really start writing. As I’ve written before, that was turning out to be an exercise in frustration — every time I tried my brain just flipped out with confusion and the more I tried to nail things down, the more confused I got.

Then, as I wrote in my follow up Quote Post on Koontz’s book, A Big Little LIfe, I was struck by his claim that he never uses an outline or character sketches, etc., but just writes the story as it comes. It started me wondering… if God is guiding me, and if it truly doesn’t depend on me figuring it all out, then maybe I should try really trusting Him to guide me as I went and just go forward with it. Coming up with a plot, a plan and a world seems to be me getting everything in place and then working… not so much about me trusting Him.

About the same time I came across some old notes from Bible class where Pastor John was describing his own realization that in preparing a sermon it’s not up to him to

“…come up with a great creative solution,” but rather to go to the Lord. “I can’t tell you how long I thought it was up to me, ultimately. Me figuring it out, putting all my energy into it and fail, fail, fail… The fact is, God is the one who’s behind this. This is something where you can relax and understand that Ephesians 2:10 says He’s  already ordained the things for you to walk in — all you gotta do is show up with a heart that’s wanting to serve, with the doctrine that’s already in your soul and WALK!  God’s doing the heavy lifting here. Just say yes! One foot in front of the other, show up, go in the right direction, have a desire and God will take care of the rest.”

And then, since I am a very slow learner, He hit me with something from one of Elisabeth Elliot’s books, where she said tht God most often guides us while we are doing our regular daily work — Samuel was serving in the Temple, David and Moses were with the sheep, etc.

Somehow all that translated in my mind not just as “being  in the office thinking about the novel” but as… “Why don’t you just start trying to write the scenes and let Me guide you while you do?” “Walking” through the story, so to speak.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I finished chapter 8 last week and am working on chapter 9 this week. My goal is to have it finished by Saturday, though I have to admit I feel a little silly setting any kind of goal these days…

Quote From A Big Little Life

The significance of the following quote from A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz did not hit me when I first read it back in October. It only caught my eye when I was paging through the book to write yesterday’s review — after I’d spent the day going through my world building notes:

The second novel I wrote after Trixie came to us was From the Corner of His Eye, a massive story, an allegory that had numerous braided themes worked out through the largest cast of characters I had to that time, dared to juggle in one book…

“I don’t work with outlines, character profiles, or even notes. I start a novel with only a premise and a couple of characters who intrigue me. Therefore, I was daunted but also exhilarated by the prospect of showing (the) theme… in dramatic action, which is what a novel must do — show, not tell. The task seemed immense, but after leaping into new territory with [my previous novel], I learned that the more overwhelming a project seemed to be, the more FUN it was as well.”

He goes on to detail how he then came up with a first chapter that made some narrative promises that he had no idea how he could fulfill. Was he setting himself up for failure? Then he added,

“Over the years, when a story took a seemingly illogical or an incomprehensible twist, I learned that my subconscious or maybe my intuition was at work and that I should trust it.”

I think I needed to read that today. Because I’d already had, at the back of my mind, the awareness that all the questions I’d posed myself in my world building notes really didn’t need to be answered. That it wasn’t going to be a matter of me figuring out all the details and getting it all down in the notebook, as some advise, and then writing the story to fit. No, the story and the world in which they occur have always developed together, each affecting the other in ways I could never imagine at the start.

Some of the questions I’ve posed will be answered in the back of my mind, out of my awareness — it’s already happened. I just somehow come to a conclusion about what I want to do.

Some of the questions won’t need to be answered at all because they’ll turn out to have been irrelevant. Right now I have no idea which are which. But it’s nice, comforting even, to realize that my Lord knows and He is guiding me, and it’s not all up to me figuring it out right now.

Bottom line is, though I’m not entirely sure, I’m thinking it might be time to stop with reading through the notes and take up the story again, even if I don’t know exactly where I’m going. Just trust, not my subconscious nor my intuition but that my Lord who lives inside me is at work and will lead me where He wants me to go.

 

 

 

A Big Little Life

Big little lifeA Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog by Dean Koontz.

My son got me this book awhile back and recently I finally had opportunity to pick it up. Yes, my “To Be Read” stack is a mile high, but Dean Koontz and his Golden Retriever, Trixie have a special place in my heart. This is not only because I’ve read many, many of Koontz’s books, always admired his writing and even used it as a “model” to study for my own, but because he is also a fellow dog lover. I’ve been subscribing to his Useless News newsletter for years, wherein Trixie always made an appearance, usually funny (she was even a ‘writer’ in her own right, with a few articles in the News and several published books to her name), and through that I came to “know” her.

In fact it was in an issue of Useless News that I learned she had died, about a year after we’d had to put Bear down, so when I got the book, I didn’t know if I wanted to read the story — knowing how it ended — until I had a bit more distance from our own event. In fact, as a kid I used to check the ending of all books that featured a dog to make sure the dog didn’t die. If it did, I wouldn’t read the book. (Which is  why I’ve never finished Swiss Family Robinson and why I’ve never read Where the Red Fern Grows or watched the movie based on it (that one made doubly onerous not only in that the dog dies, but that the dog is a Redbone Coonhound!).

Anyway, I finally had an open spot in my reading list, felt as if I was ready to tackle going through that and picked it up, thinking I’d only read a chapter.

Ahem.

In fact, I did manage to read it with a bit of control through the first chapter or so (at the Y, while riding the stationary bike, as I recall). But it wasn’t long before I was hooked and put in one of my all day reading jags. I think I finished it maybe two or three days after I started it, though I read the bulk that last day.

Oh my. What a wonderful book! I LOVED it in so many ways. Yes, the end with Trixie’s death was horrendous — way worse than Bear’s. I bawled outright — for quite some time. I even had to go demand a hug from Quigley, which he gave reluctantly. (He doesn’t come over to comfort you when you’re upset like Bear used to. In fact, he even pulled away a little, but relented at last. Admittedly I was acting very weird, as far as he was concerned.)

Anyway, Trixie was indeed a wonderful dog. And I think Koontz is right in his assessment that God used her in his life to pull him back from the dark, increasingly negative path he was following when she arrived. She was a purebred, but an adoptee, having gone through the entire training sessions for being a service dog, only to wash out before she ever went to work when a  congenital problem with her elbow surfaced. Since assistance dogs might sometimes have to pull the wheelchair of the person they are assisting — or even bear the weight of the person themselves, they can’t have finicky elbows that might go out at the worst possible moment. Thus she was put up for adoption and Mr. Koontz and his wife got her.

Of course the memoir centers on her, and Koontz does a fantastic job of conveying the wit, the exuberance, the intelligence, the grace — the loving nature — of this wonderful animal. That would have been enough to make the book remarkable, but it also had much else of interest to me in particular as pertains to Koontz’s writing life, his habits, his having to deal with weird fans,  what his office is like, how he works. (His wife, Gerda, handles all the finances and he has a close-to-full-time assistant to do the correspondence, answer the phone, deal with publishers, movie people, agents, the above mentioned weird fans, etc.) And yes, he is a workaholic. So is his wife. I knew that he put in 14 hour days before I read this, but now I have a much better idea what that means.

Still, it’s plain he loves what he does. In fact, the only time he’s ever suffered writer’s block was in the weeks following Trixie’s death.

(And now I can no longer take myself to task for not putting in 14 hour days as well, because I do not have an assistant, a finance officer, a cook, a housekeeper, or a gardener. He did not, however, have a dog walker — he and Gerda did that, one going in the morning, the other at night.)

Anyway, I found it all fascinating, funny, learned a lot about his past and present (which gives insight into why he writes what he does) and as I said, just thoroughly enjoyed this book. Koontz is a wonderful writer, personable, entertaining, his writing heartfelt. I think that comes through in all his works, and is part of why I enjoy his novels so much, even though I don’t care for horror novels (or however his novels are categorized — I think they are in a class of their own). In any case, if you like dogs, or are a writer, or want a glimpse of what a fairly humble, best-selling novelist’s life is like, I highly recommend you read A Big Little Life.

 

I Won’t Say the Block Has Broken…

free clip art guy reading

…but I put in some very consistent hours working on Sky last week, and, so far I’m doing even better this week. Two things happened to enable this (at least the observable things; the unobservable aspect, of course, being God’s gracein answering my prayers). Those two things were:

Number 1:    I decided that I needed to get into the office earlier, (first thing in the morning, in fact) and as part of that, to go to bed earlier the night before. To get to bed earlier, I have decided to stop watching all the TV I’ve been watching, staying away, in particular from shows that end at 10pm. It’s helped that during this time most of my favorite shows were either not on or reruns. (And last week’s new Elementary, with both the insertion of the gay character and mention of Sherlock’s interest in yet another perversity, “prurient writing,” helped me decide that it was not worth spending any more precious time and mental “space” on.)

Number 2 :  One of my biggest problems with actually working has been in trying to force myself to make decisions about the world or the next step in the narrative, and getting confused and overwhelmed to the point I do nothing.  So this time I decided to simply read through all my collected notes and plans. I have a notebook already in progress (my world-builder’s “Bible”) where I keep lengthy writings on the characters, the world in a fair amount of detail, situations of conflict, plot ideas, etc., so the plan is to simply read through that, making no demands upon myself to decide anything or figure out anything , or even like it all. I only have to read it.

And perhaps jot down any notes or questions that come to mind.

Well that’s been VERY effective.

Why, you might ask, haven’t I done this before? Well, because, you see, I know all that stuff! (Even though some of it dates back to 2001, and much of the rest to 2005) It would be a waste of time! I need to get with the next step in the narrative, not fiddle around reading old notes about the world I’ve constructed for that narrative to unfold in.

Well, maybe…though in truth I’d forgotten A LOT.  And what rereading it all has done, is give me a way to connect with the material that’s not threatening. If thoughts or questions occur — and they have been — I need only write them down, not Make a Decision!  This way I can relax and just proceed, and now I’m finding that it’s not just easy to stay in the office, it’s hard to make myself stop! And it’s getting me inspired again.

Like, when I read through the character “Bio” I have on my hero Talmas, last week. I got very excited and wrote in my writing log, “Wow! I am jazzed! I LOVE this guy!”  Two days later, having pulled out an old journal from when I had first taken up Sky after finishing The Enclave (because I was having problems similar to what I’m enduring now) I wrote, on Sept 8, 2009,

“Wow! The Lord kept nudging me to read my old notes and finally I gave in …. Oh, my. I’m in love with Talmas! He’s the center of this story… I am jazzed. This, I think is where I must focus.”

So, things are happening. Two weeks ago I averaged 4 hours a day. Last week my daily  average was 4.6 hours (and this despite multiple very strong distractions). This week, though, I hope to do even better…

 

 

Why Artists Aren’t Nuts, Just Artistic

Scream

I came across the following quote awhile back, waiting for a time to post it. Today I was supposed to rest from my five days of working on Sky last week, and while I did not work on Sky, neither did I rest. So, this is a good day for a quote type post.

I found this piece  through Micah Mattix’s Prufrock, a daily newsletter on books, arts and ideas with a slant toward Christianity. It’s from an article in The Globe and Mail by Russell Smith entitled, Why artists are not actually mad, just artistic:

“…previous studies seem to confirm a link between creativity and madness: Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute found last year that writers had a higher risk of anxiety, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression and substance abuse, and that they were almost twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves. (This was reported in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.)

The researchers were also quick to point out that certain traits of the disturbed – such as disordered thoughts – are beneficial to artists. They did not address the chicken-egg question of what comes first, the nutsiness or a life spent in unstructured, self-employed, unremunerated, competitive and critical professions.

That last sentence always makes me laugh.  Yeah! What about all that stuff, huh?