Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Inspiration and Temptation

First, a bit about inspiration. When I think about what children teach you, the word "patience" usually comes to mind. Either you learn patience from your children or you become a really lousy parent.

But I didn't know just how much a child can inspire you.

The darling in the photo overcame some incredible obstacles to get her MFA in Fiber Arts. I am inspired by her efforts to finish a degree and start a new career. It makes me want to be a harder-working, more persistent, more excellent person. You can find out a lot more about her here. And you can see her artwork there too.

The white-haired guy has been an inspiration to me for many, many years. He too has shown me how important diligence, hard work, and persistence is. Talent is just such a small part of what makes success.

Another inspiration this week was in the form of a blog post by a writer named Rachel Aaron. Here's the post. I found her thoughts interesting but got a lot more inspiration from some of her other posts on editing and plotting. I found that she had mastered some of the things I've learned by trial and error. So I'll be excited to introduce these ideas into my writing life.

Now for temptation. While Michael was gone for Naomi's graduation, I was tempted to wallow in self-pity. I didn't get to go to my baby's graduation? How could life be so cruel? Of course, I had gotten to go to Naomi's MFA art show while Michael stayed home being diligent, hard working and persistent. It was also tempting to feel sorry for myself on Mother's Day since Michael was there enjoying Mother's Day with three of my four children. (And he'd seen the fourth of our kids that week as well.) And I have to admit that I snapped at a few folks about the situation. But I did a lot of self-talk and decided that my life is pretty good. I have been greatly blessed. And so I got through the bumpy parts of last week.

There was another temptation that came in the mail yesterday. Michael and I avoid working on the Sabbath day if at all possible. (He actually works a ton of Sundays, but not by choice.) But when I was invited to go to an author appreciation event given by the Plymouth Historical Society, I felt that it was something I could attend and that it would still be in keeping with my standards. The event is just a thank you for local authors with a Plymouth connection. All four of my great-grandparents on my Dad's side lived there, so I have deep roots in that little town. And I wouldn't be making any money after all.

Then I got the letter yesterday which said that authors were welcome to bring their books to sell and sign! This put a whole new spin on the event. It didn't take a lot of time for me to realize that I could go to the event, but that selling books would be not be in keeping with my beliefs. So I will be going but won't be selling books. I think it will be appropriate to give out business cards to those interested in buying my book.

So lots of inspiration and two temptations pretty well skirted. Not a bad week!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Kindle Author Now Owns a Kindle

It's official!  After several months of doing very well as a Kindle author, I took the plunge. It didn't hurt that Staples had a $40 dollar rebate going and that I had $40 dollars' worth of Staples credit. I went with the 3G which turned out to be very wise since the Wi-Fi in our house is unpredictable at best.

Surprisingly, both Michael and I (both bibliophiles) love the thing. It's quite fun to play with and very easy to read. And since we are in the process of doing some big-time downsizing, this little device is making us feel much more comfortable getting rid of old paperbacks we used in college English classes. Thanks to Project Gutenberg, we can download all those nineteenth century novels for free. There are also a ton of P. G. Wodehouse novels in the public domain and they're available at Gutenberg as well. Eventually, I suppose, we will get around to actually buying a book on Kindle.

The world is changing  in book publishing today and this little e-book thing is going to be like a small snowball rolling down a mountain.

As I told those wonderful folks who came to hear me speak at a recent Back Mountain Library luncheon, books are not going away. But e-readers aren't either. This is going to be interesting.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Every Family Needs an Artist

My recent trip to Texas was all about attending my oldest daughter's Master's art show. And I can truly say she knocked my socks off. I've seen lots of her art, but this show was just overwhelming.

As a writer, I think a lot about what it means to be an artist. If you write something, it may or may not be art. And if you build a building, it may or may not be art. But the visual arts are pretty clear-cut. If you draw a picture, it's art.

And what Naomi does is the real thing. She proves every day that just talent is not going to get you anywhere. This child has a work ethic like no other. So when you combine natural abilities with a real drive to produce and excel, you end up with the success she has had.

It's very hard to explain her work and I spend a lot of time taking pictures of her quilts from the side. Her work is 3-D and very sculptural. This work called "X" is so brilliant in its color. Both my son (pictured here with his artist sister) and I loved this one best. Her show consisted of a room of handmade books and another room full of these sculptural quilts. You can see more of her work at her website. She has a link there to purchase something if you want to have a piece of her art in your own home.

I love it that art crops up in the most unexpected places. The more I travel, the more surprised I am how public art is finding its way into airports. This gorgeous tunnel in the Detroit airport is a combination of art glass, lights and music. It's truly an experience to walk through.

Have an artistic experience today. Visit her website. Or go to an airport. Or read a book or listen to Brahms.

As the Pirates of Penzance say,  "For what, we ask, is life
               Without a touch of Poetry in it?"