The Creative Multitasking Dilemma

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I am a creative professional.  I am lucky enough that my “job that buys groceries” is a creative job as well but I have quite a few irons in the fire.  I am an illustrator and painter.  I love doing it; terrible at selling it.  That is my husband’s job.  He can sell ice to an Eskimo. I am also an aspiring writer in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to help publish my first novel, The Adventures of the Flying Furniture: The Return of the Great Flyer.  The novel has been at the forefront of my creative efforts (my sort-of grown up job aside) and everything else has been sporadic; pushed toward the farthest back burner of my life.

Drawing is quick and somewhat relaxing but I often feel guilty pulling out my fancy pens and gouache to doodle when I should be revamping my social media campaign to promote my novel and Kickstarter.  Painting is more taxing but when my project is completed, I feel more satisfied that with almost anything else.  I lose time when I am painting.  Before I had my son and I was a childless, unmarried young-un, I could spend all day on a painting.  I could LIVE paint…at a festival…with people watching and let my now-husband talk about my paintings on display and make sales.  Now, I am lucky if I paint twice a year, not including my day job. It is something I have not forced myself to make time for.

My writing has always been my mythical golden goose.  It is the way I have seen myself cross over into the enchanted world of getting paid to illustrate things and making films.  My paintings sell.  I am not a character or a celebrity.  Art sales for the normal folk are tough in a world that sees rising interest rates, daycare tuition, endless student loans (stay strong!) and car insurance premiums.  I think my non-interest in playing a role and being gimmicky has held me back for sure but it doesn’t change the fact that I love to paint.

Writing and painting both require this zen place for me.  Tripping over Lightning McQueen and hearing the theme song for Paw Patrol twenty-five times a day kills the zen a bit.  I love my family and I have a good life. However, I would like to find my zen place and my balance between all of my creative endeavors and the necessities of life (great, now I’m singing The Jungle Book).

Visit my Kickstarter for The Adventures of the Flying Furniture at FLYING FURNITURE KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN and read more about my literary works on WordPress: FLYING FURNITURE ON WORDPRESS.

I write, I draw, I do laundry…

I have been painting and drawing for about twenty years.  I have experimented with different mediums but overall, have always considered myself a creative-minded person.  I guess since I’ve been paid to do these things, I’ve earned the title of creative professional. I have recently added writer to my creative resume and am in the process of publishing my first novel.  I have always loved to read.  Books and poems have always been like rubrics for my imagination; a way to take words from a page and create images on a canvas in my mind.  A character can be described in painstaking detail by its author but will still have to pass through the reader’s filter.  So Baz Lurman saw Gatsby as Leonardo DiCaprio; to me, I always imagine him as Matt Damon.  Anyway…I digress.

I am a writer.  I am a mom and a wife.  I am an artist.  The plate is getting a little full but writing my first novel has been the scariest and most rewarding thing I have done, career-wise.  (Being a parent trumps everything!)  I left the safety and security of the known (otherwise known as Texas) and travelled to the wilds of London to study art.  Ultimately what came of it was some serious confidence issues regarding my painting abilities and a nearly finished novel.  What a muse she was, that beautiful, old, stinky city.  I wish that we were allowed to believe in magic and not look like a nut because London has it in spades.  Each walk, trip to a new part of the city or train ride to parts unknown lit some creative spark that I have yet to find anywhere else in the world.  I’ve been wondering, as I begin to navigate the dark waters of publishing, what will become of the 205 pages I crafted from love, defeat, fear, hope and a menagerie of other life experiences in my 38 years on this planet (give or take a few days in college where I thought I was on another one).

I’ve encountered another stark reality, there’s not a whole hell of a lot of support out there.  There are creative writing centers, YouTube videos on being a creative writer, blogs on the ABC’s of publishing, etc…etc…etc… BUT when it comes to the dollars…radio silence.  It’s a dilemma I face: following the traditional route (ie- sending manuscripts to every publishing house I can find an address for and pray to the gods, light some candles and hope to make it out alive), edit myself-promote myself-format the novel myself- try the eBook thing… well, being myself and giving the world the benefit of the doubt, I have tried Kickstarter (which I have affectionately renamed “Kickmyasser”).  It has failed miserably, almost to point of embarrassment.  Life lesson learned at this moment:  It’s all on me.  The world is not designed to make success easy to achieve.  Human nature is not as nurturing, especially to us creative folk or small business owners, as it needs to be.  But hey, JK Rowling did it on her own. I’m running on a cocktail of hope and broken dreams but I am fairly certain that when I see those pretty paperbacks with my name on them in the windows of bookstores, it will be a sweet feeling.  When I see teenagers reading, imagining and enjoying my stories, it with be amazing.

Our Kickstarter Campaign runs through October 24th.  You can also read more about the novel on my other blog page for Flying Furniture Adventures or on our www.flyingfurnitureadventures.com.

Dia de los Muertos and me…

I LOVE Halloween.  Not the gory, severed body parts and zombie Halloween but the whimsical witches, Jack O’Lanterns and candy corn Halloween.  And as the chaser, Dia de los Muertos is equally as spectacular.  I am not Catholic, I am not from Mexico but I do enjoy the meaning behind the Day of the Dead celebrations.  I enjoy incorporating its symbols in my artwork.  Everyone has lost a loved one; family or friends.  The thought of them being able to cross over from the land of the dead, on paths lit by bright orange and yellow marigolds, guided by the spirits in the form of Monarch butterflies is absolutely fantastic. I lost my grandmother this past summer.  Much like the matriarch in Latin families, my grandmother was the supreme ruler (occasionally like the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland, other times…Darth Vader- hence my father’s ring tone).  She was the glue that held all the pieces of our scattered family together.  I am amazed at the possibility of she and my grandfather spending time with us, in the realm of the living, even if it is only for one night.  We often wallow in the darkness left behind by death instead of celebrating the life that preceded it.  Though our mortal bodies are gone, our spirit continues to live in the hearts of our children and legacies we leave behind.  I hope that my artwork and the Flying Furniture novels will be that for me.  Enjoy Dia de los Muertos!  Enjoy the memories of your loved one past.  Enjoy the people in your present and after I go, should you choose to add me to your ofrenda, I like cheese puffs, diet root beer and corn dogs with regular mustard…

Knowing When to Quit…

Those who have spent a good deal of time painting will know exactly what I mean… There is a noticeable feeling I get when a painting is behaving as it should.  Colors are brighter, strokes are tighter or flow more evenly.  All the planets align and a fantastic painting is born.  Sometimes, however, things don’t quite work out how I expect.  It could be a combination of stress, creative exhaustion… a melting pot of a thousand other ingredients that keep me and my trusty brushes from doing our best work.  Just the same as when all is well; when the badness begins, you just know.  I usually toss my brush in my water jar and think , “This ain’t happenin!”  I usually try to leave it for a few days hoping that when I return to the easel, the planets will realign and I can turn this thing around.  Every so often, this works.  Most of the time, it doesn’t.  So the question at hand is, “When do you call it quits?”  It is easy to pour a bowl of gesso and return to a blank slate.  Not that paintings and kids are the same, well for artists, sometimes they are…it’s a labor of love thing.  If your kid is having a rough patch, misbehaving; those aggravating things kids often do, you don’t return them and start over.  Parents spend time correcting the behavior to create something beautiful and worthwhile.  I want to try to employ the same tactics in my “not-so-good” paintings.  Leave the gesso on the shelf and keep soldiering on until it is completed.  When the muses and painting gods seem to be against me; it seems like a waste of energy to keep fighting the inevitable…my painting WILL be crappy. Quit or keep going, quit or keep going?  I ask myself this a hundred times when I reach “the point.”  Is the time I already invested a waste?  Some of these paintings are ones that cause me to question whether or not I am actually a good painter.  Each work started with an idea, a enthusiastic thought that I have mentally designed something that will be good.  Perhaps they each deserve to come to fruition, fully.  I think the key is to identify the triggers that cause my work to head south in the first place.  I know this will be an ongoing investigation…

Below: the stagnant Einstein

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