A Beachside Artist

An artist, a beachside artist stands atop a cliff overlooking an azure sea below, recording his vista on a canvas. Multiple paintings line up beside him stretching out along the sea wall. The square canvases are variations on a theme: the colorful celebration of life at the beach. Tourists file past, some linger to admire the joyous paintings, and a few return to buy. 

My station of inspiration
The scene in this beachside community is quintessential vacation: sun, sea, patio restaurants, beach umbrellas and hoards of happy day-trippers. The artist is lucky; all who trip along the beachside wall on this stupendous day are inspired by the natural beauty of this place. They pose for pictures along the wall and stop to soak in everything beach. The artist is recording this same scene in real time. The brown pelicans fly overhead; the movement gets a brush mark on the canvas. A cloud momentarily covers the sun; another brush stroke. The tourists buy and enjoy the artist’s paintings because they are a small memento of their day, and the purchase fills two parties with happiness.

The scene is something I experienced recently. The artist struck me, because I too was in the beachside community to be inspired and express my craft, my writing craft. However, my craft would not be appreciated or admired on the spot. My craft takes longer and cures longer. The ocean breeze and a quiet spot on the beach had me scrawling thoughts and notes, but it is not until now that I can compose those thoughts and incorporate my day at the beach into both this blog and add dressing to my novel.

An artist is one who professes and practices an imaginative art. An artist can hold a paintbrush, or pen or a musical instrument or _________ (fill in the blank). Some of the arts are experienced instantaneously while others have a delayed experience and appreciation. Artists want their craft to be enjoyed; it is a measure of success and fuels an artist to continue, to create. 

I’m a tad jealous of the beachside artist. He creates and has something to show straight away, and I do not. I could run back to the hotel and blog, recording my day, but will never experience the same immediate appreciation of my craft. 

After sitting on the beach for a few hours, I packed up my notebook and beach chair and head back to the car. The artist who I had passed earlier had vanished. His moment of artistic expression and appreciation was over and mine had only begun.


Right if by Hand

A blog entry inspired while sitting with my notebook
Do you think your writing is different when you put pen to paper versus writing on a keypad? The thought crossed my mind this morning and I'm weighing in: prose written by my hand are delivered straight from the heart. I find an unexplained stream of creativity comes through me when I sit with a pen; I don't find the same thing at the keyboard.

When I have a pen in my hand, it's as if my heart sparks and my hand ignites, writing furiously to capture the spark’s energy. I believe sitting at a keyboard and typing with two hands divides the energy; diffusing the moment.

Writing with one's hand is also more intimate. You must shape the letter of each word and thus are tied to the emotion of it. When you write with your hand perhaps you are never too ugly, because you would have to feel the ugliness in order to write. Maybe more vile words come when typing, because words come out quickly and are not truly felt.

The first draft of my novel was written on a computer. It poured out and was over. The second draft became the challenge. I hesitated to begin the second draft, for there was much work ahead. 

I was camping with my family in Yosemite and re-drafting my novel was on my mind. Where do I start and where do I end?  My mind woke me one night. Words were coming, I got up and found my notebook and began to write. The first words of the novel were being dictated. The words were much more forceful and engaging and I allowed the spark to ignite. I wrote for an hour before going back to bed.

The morning came and the camp began to rumble. I re-read what the spark and my hand had brought the night before. It was delightful. The new first chapter came from my heart and my hand distilled it, cured it and painted it with emotion. I decided from that point forward that if I felt trapped or unhappy with my writing I would go back to my hand and trust the words to pour from my heart.

*Post script... I was inspired to do some research after writing this blog. I found a great article on mental floss about the subject. It seems that I have hit on something and my preference for writing by hand should be trusted.


Glad to have a Friend like Kim

I had dinner with a friend from college recently. When she wrote to tell me she was passing through town there was no question in my mind that I would meet her. She wrote, I cleared my calendar and a date was set for the next night.

I woke the next morning to bright sunny skies with a few high clouds. I went about my household chores all morning and most of the afternoon. All the while, clouds were gathering outside. A chance of rain had been predicted, but a chance is just a chance and did not merit concern. 

SF Bay Adventure 1998
When it came time to get in the car and head toward our rendezvous point, the clouds had burst. The pounding rain demanded that the windshield wipers be set to high. If the dinner date were with a business associate or new acquaintance, I would have seen the storm as foreboding and either been timid about the meeting or considered a cancellation. I was meeting Kim, however, and the wet skies could not deter my spirit.

After 30 minutes of treacherous driving with my husband at the helm, we arrived at our destination. We ran through the parking lot dodging cars and rain drops, slowing only to pull open the heavy restaurant doors. We arrived before Kim and her husband and requested a large table. Once tucked in with our appetizer and first round of drinks we sat quietly, watching the rain outside and waiting for our friends.

Before the last sip of my drink, she appeared. She had been traveling and blogging for the last few months from afar and now she was here with me. We ordered another round of drinks and she and her husband shared tales from their travels. Everything she said was foreign yet familiar. Foreign because my world is knee-deep in parenthood and writing and familiar because all the stories shared were coming from a friend.

Friendship is an incredible thing. A true friend has no pretense. Time together is cherished and never worn. She talked about living in Norway and skiing in Germany. The stories were new but told with a familiar tenor; like hearing your favorite band playing new song. The rain continued to fall outside, but inside there was no storm. We were content and warm, basking in friendship and merriment.
Unexpected Visit Summer 2009
When the night ended and we said good-bye, it was not hard nor sad. We both knew there would be another meet-up or dinner or phone call. Just like the storm outside was unexpected, so too was the visit from my friend. The rainstorm nourished the earth and time with my friend nourished my soul.

post script: Whenever we're together we belt out lines from our favorite childhood album: Free to Be You and Me. I brought the album with me to college, she spied it in my room and we played it over and over, singing at the top of our lungs. The title of this blog is inspired by the last track on the album.

Fast and Slow

Fast and slow, is there an in in between? I am trying desperately to find it. This morning was the perfect example of why I need to discover it.

I awoke to a near flooded pool after a night of heavy storms. I needed to drain the pool off...but also needed to pack lunches, wake my children, feed them, deliver them to two different locations, shower and get the car to the shop for a re-scheduled maintenance appointment. I had 90 minutes to complete the feat. I stood in the kitchen sleepily slurping my coffee making my short-term agenda in my head. Ready...go!

I rushed to wake my kids, but the dark day outside reminded them that they did not want to get up. I ignored them and proceeded to make their breakfast, hoping that the wafting scent of hot buttered toast would encourage them to rise.
The hungry dog

The dog begins to bark loudly, reminding me that she too is hungry. I amend my mental schedule to fit feeding the dog into the morning haste.

I move to packing lunches, then soon realize my children have yet to appear at the table. I leave the lunch box assembly line to check on the kids. I find both of them fast asleep and begin to yell...I am exhausted retelling this story. The bottom line is I rush, rush, yell , rush then I suddenly find calm and wonder what the urgency was all about.

My morning craziness is over and now I sit at the car dealer with a cup of coffee and bundles, oodles of time and no where to be and no expectations, just calm and slowness. I feel like I go through this drill daily. Is it necessary to the human condition to go fast than slow?