Wednesday, July 15, 2009

For the Love of It

Tic. Tic. Tic. Yep, that's the clock running out - You have until July 31 to polish that manuscript and get us your first chapter and synopsis (e-mail your entry to in order to qualify for the Audience with an Agent Contest. Want Wendy Lawton to read your work? Well chop-chop! Get your work in before the deadline!

We've had some interesting discussions on Novel Matters recently about what it means to put your name out there - to "go public". Last week we touched on the ethereal, smoke and mirror nature of fame, of how difficult a thing success is to measure.

We talked about the dilemma of the Christian writer with a personal mandate to put Jesus first in all things and yet is legitimately called upon to make a name for herself. We discovered there are no easy answers. I enjoyed the discussion and it put me in mind of David Budbill's poem:

David Budbill

I want to be
so I can be
about being

What good is my
when I am
in this

I enjoy the irony of the poem, but I truly appreciate the honesty. How many of us creative types can relate to those secreted thoughts? How many of us, while incubating, sculpting, and crafting our art have entertained, even fleetingly, the uninvited idea that this work of art, this creation could be "the one"? The one that launches me out of the basement of anonymous toiling and into the backseat of the limo of limelight. I can see me now, waving to the crowds, a bashful aw-shucks smile on my face.

They are the thoughts we bat away with impatient hand. I'm not doing this for glory and recognition, we stoutly tell ourselves. I'm doing it, I'm doing it for love that's all.

It's true, of course, that we wrestle with art because of love. God created us with a longing for beauty and a capacity to create (which is a reflection of His nature in us). Most of us who write also pursue other forms of art and creativity. I know many writers who are also musicians - many also writing music - and some who paint, others who knit (Camy Tang knits on a nearly professional level - it's a sight to behold!). My first "career" was acting, and I also sing (can't play an instrument, sad to say). We pursue these avenues of art and creativity because, well, because we love them. We don't necessarily plan to become famous because of them, but we pursue them wholeheartedly anyway.

What do you pursue in the quest for beauty and creative outlet? How does it make you feel? Why doesn't it matter if no one else ever sees your work, or appreciates it the way you do? Share you talents! Share you passions!


Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Thanks for the great post, Bonnie. I think we're better for having a different creative outlet other than writing, which let's face it, is also a job. My husband and I sing in a community choir which tackles a challenging mix of music from Bach to modern composers. When we're racing off to a rehearsal in the middle of a busy week I sometimes question why I'm doing this, but after rehearsal I feel fed. Our choir director challenges us not to live to work, but work to live, to take time to create and appreciate beauty. I need the diversion.

Lori Benton said...

Hi Ladies. About the Audience with an Agent contest, while waiting to hear if our entree has won (which will take from July-October, if I understand right), are we allowed to query other agents with the same project? I couldn't find reference to this in the contest rules.

Janet said...

DCTalk expressed this dilemma very compellingly in their song "What if I Stumble?"

Is this one for the people? Is this one for the Lord?
Or do I simply serenade for things I must afford?
You can jumble them together, my conflict still remains
Holiness is calling, in the midst of courting fame
Cause I see the trust in their eyes
Though the sky is falling
They need Your love in their lives
Compromise is calling

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?

(Rest of the lyrics)

I have at various times in my life: sung in choirs, played in church orchestras, composed songs, done knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, sewing, acting, poetry. A couple of these I was fairly good at, most of the rest I just dabbled. Please note the complete lack of visual arts in there. There's a good reason for that. ;o) Music was the biggest passion and the one I pursued for years and even decades.

Right now, writing is my only creative outlet. I've been thinking of changing that, but I'm afraid of getting too distracted.

LeAnne Hardy said...

I passed my Adult Bronze figure skating Moves-in-the-field and Freestyle tests last week that qualify me for the Adult National Competition next spring. At my age (57) skating is a lot like writing—you have to want it badly enough to risk falling.

A few years ago I wrote what I called “Psalm of my Life.” Here’s the second verse:

Praise God on the ice.
Praise Him with movement and grace.
Praise Him with your blades and with the discipline of skill.
It is He who made your body
And gave you the thrill of music in your soul.
All beauty comes from Him, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Give Him praise as you glide and spring.

LeAnne Hardy said...

BTW, Debbie, I never see your name without thinking of Debbie Thomas, the African-American girl who won a silver medal in the 1982 Olympics.

Kathleen Popa said...

Great lyrics, Janet, and LeAnne, I love your poem. I really love what you say, that you must want things bad enough to risk falling. I'm thrilled that you're skating. Have you seen the Carol Lugo video? She makes me happy.

Bonnie commented on Twitter this morning that "The best way to create a novel is to engage in life." So true. It's very easy for a writer to get stuck in her room and forget to live.

I sing in the church worship team (for better or worse), and I also take photos. I like photography because, like writing, it begs you to pay attention. And that's a big thing to me. One of the saddest things, I think, would be to buzz through life without paying attention.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Kathleen is an exceptional photographer. She has a keen eye for composition and beauty. Love her photos!

Kathleen Popa said...

Thank you, Christy Award finalist, Debbie Fuller Thomas.

Nichole Osborn said...

Janet I love that song! LeAnne figure skating,Wow! I sing in the choir at church, draw, and am a mom(you have to be creative to fill that position! lol) BTW Bonnie I totally relate to the poem in the post.

LeAnne Hardy said...

Nicole, being a mom DEFINITELY requires creativity.

Bonnie Grove said...

Debbie: You and I should sing together some day! I'd LOVE it. For me, there is a beauty in music found nowhere else. I bet you relate to that.

Lori: Did you get an answer for your question?

Janet:Thanks for the DC Talk shout out. I'm a fan of there stuff, too. I hear what you're saying about getting distracted. Time suck happens to all of us. One thing I've found is that one art form informs the other - perhaps not in quantifiable ways, but in intuitive ways. I'm reading poetry right now (not a huge passion of mine to be honest) and I'm loving the creative affect it's having on the way I think about my next two novels.

LeAnne: Oh my! I'm so in awe of athletes of any sort (I manage only to fall down) and ice skating is, for me, the best of the best! Thank you for sharing your Psalm with us. I was deeply touched by it.

Katy: You sing too? That's it! We're starting a rock group! I've been lucky enough to admire some of your photography, Katy. You have not only the eye of a photographer, you have the soul of one. Detailed, tender.

Nichole: I relate along with you about that poem. The honesty of it is like a slap. I had to sit with it for a long while before I could unlayer my own story inside those words.

LOVE the group that gathers here. You are all so important to me!

Janet said...

Bonnie, you are quite right there. I think all those years of playing and composing music helped develop my ear for the rhythm and flow of prose.

Kathleen Popa said...

I love to read/hear what artists of other types say about their creative process. I always find something to help in my own.

I love a novel with a poetic heart, and there's nothing better than poetry to help a novelist develop a sense of metaphor and language. After I read the first pages of Ron Hanson's Mariette in Ecstasy (check the "Look Inside" option on Amazon and you'll understand), I knew I had to know more about Haiku. I'm currently reading a book about three of the original (ancient) masters, titled The Essential Haiku versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa. What wonderful lessons in the tight use of words to convey an image:

Lightning -
and in the dark
the screech of a night heron.

Bonnie, we could absolutely do a rock band, but I think we'd need someone to do the Carol Lugo dance thing. Patti could totally make it work, don't you think?

Lori Benton said...

Bonnie... no answer yet, but I'm still holding out hope. ;)

Latayne C. Scott said...

I can't sing or dance or do art or for that matter type very well.

I, um. Well, I've found release in backpacking (climbed the two highest mountains in NM), slow pitch softball (pitcher), eclectic decoration of homes, and various tools I own such as a belt sander and Makita drill. I've helped lay a flagstone patio.

I also once won a national humor contest although my son assures me I'm not very funny.

Haiku? Did someone say haiku?

Here's an "American" haiku (breaks some of the traditional rules by having a title and not dealing primarily with nature. But here goes.)


Rousing from sleep I
Wonder: Is this the face that
Launched my only ship?

(c) Latayne C Scott

Nichole Osborn said...

Latayne, I like restoring furniture, so I totally understand the power tool thing. Right now we(my fam and I)are in the process of restoring a tractor and an old Airstream. Did you know a palm sander makes a wonderful back massager?