Revival of an artist

photo-2A couple weeks ago, something amazing happened and I’d like to share it with the world.

I sketched.

For the first time in YEARS — five, ten, who knows — I pulled out my sketchbook and drew. If you have read any of my intermittent posts here, you might have read this one here about my trip to Eastern PA. It was in the sketchbook I bought following this workshop that I drew for the first time in ages. The one that’s sat in my bag with a set of pencils just in case I ever had the inspiration.

And I did.

Actually, I’ve had a picture in my head for quite some time. See, I’m a very visual person. The whole artist thing, I guess. As a story unfolds in my head, I see it in pictures, movie-esque stills, or mini shorts. And sometimes, but not always, I see my characters faces. Most times, it’s a vision just out of my line of sight where I get a general IDEA of what my characters look like. Maybe it’s a smile, the way their eyes crinkle when they really laugh, or the firm set of a jaw when they struggle with emotion, but not the whole picture.

But I saw Tiani.

Tiani is a character in my first [officially] completed MS. Though it’s told through my main guy’s POV, Luc, I’ve seen Tiani since the beginning. Or at least how Luc sees her. I’ve always had a slight itch to sketch her, to put her on paper, to make her real, but shied away out of fear. I was terrified I wouldn’t like what I produced. That I would look at the CRAP I spewed on paper and it wouldn’t do Tiani justice AT ALL. To me, she’s beautiful, and I just knew I couldn’t match her beauty once I tried to make it real.

Then, one day, I decided it didn’t matter.

Sure, it’s been eons since I’ve put pencil to paper. Would it be prefect? No. Would the sketch be a perfect representation of how I saw Tee? Probably not. Would my technique show the lapse in practice and fall shy of meeting my self-instilled high expectations? Without a doubt. But that’s okay! Being an artist is much like being a writer, or an athlete. They all use muscles that NEED to be exercised on a constant basis in order to improve. And I hadn’t worked out in for-e-ver.

In the end, I’m happy with what I produced. She’s not perfect, my technique is way rusty, and I see loads of room for improvement. But for the FIRST TIME since I was a budding teenage artist, I’m okay with what I produced. I look at this sketch fondly with tears in my eyes.

She’s still there. My inner artist still lives inside me. She was buried deep, but with a little more exercise, I KNOW she will continue to thrive.

 

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When the going gets tough–

Today is the first day I’ve been able to really catch up on emails and social network stuffs in quite some time. Since August 25th, really. While checking my updates for the website, I noticed that my first official D.B. Graves post was done on 8/25/12. This was also the day my life forever changed.

As a writer, we draw from personal experiences to feed our stories. Whether it’s with raw emotions, actual places we’ve visited, or just silly or ridiculous occurrences that simply add to the authenticity of a character, our own experiences have an impact. What my latest experiences will bring to my writing I have yet to discover.

I generally don’t talk too much about my personal life. Sure, I’ll post tid-bits about my son because some things are universal, like parenthood. What many people don’t know, unless you really know ME, is that I’m a huge ‘mama’s girl.’

My mother is the one person on this earth that I call my ‘best friend.’ I have good friends and close friends, but only one BEST friend. That spot is reserved for my mama. Always will be.

Before you get the wrong idea from this post, my mother has not passed, but she is very ill. On August 25th, I learned just how ill she was. Now, I won’t get into any sorted details, but it’s not great. Mama has spent years sugar-coating how bad things are. Since I live in another state, and rarely get to see her, I wasn’t aware of the facts. Now I am.

In the last several weeks, I’ve experienced a broad spectrum of emotions. Sadness. Fear. Hurt. Anger. Weakness. Anxiety. Panic. Strength. Disquiet. Frustration. ALL over the board. I’ve had to make decisions that I didn’t want to make. Disappoint people I didn’t want to disappoint. I’ve called people out on their BS and put my trust in others that some may not find trustworthy. I’ve had to see my mama at her very worst and not shed a tear, to keep my wall of strength up so she had something to believe in. I’ve had to look my mother in the eye, while she lay in a hospital bed hooked up to IV antibiotics, and tell her I can’t help her, that I can’t give her what she wants. All while not shedding a tear, but speaking from a place of love and protection. Those who haven’t had to do this don’t know how truly difficult it is.

I’m sure my recent experiences will likely translate into my writing in some form, but what really shocked me was the self discovery. Before hopping on a plane earlier this month, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand. The plan changed while in CA, but in a good way. My mother is getting the help she needs and will one day (hopefully) be healthy enough to move closer to me.

But this journey showed me just how strong I am as a person, a daughter. I didn’t know if I’d be able to take on what was expected of me. But I did. I AM. And I will continue to do so. Was it how I was raised? Part of my DNA? Who knows? What I do know is, no matter what happens, there’s a well of strength buried deep inside. I am a fighter. I will do what must be done. May not always like it, but I will do it.

The same can be said as the writer’s journey. There are many times where self doubt plague us, where giving up is the easiest way to end the pain. But we don’t. Not because we are super human or even psychotic. It’s because we must do what needs to be done. Writing is in our blood. It’s what makes us who we are. So there IS no giving up, there IS no easy way out, there IS no backing down because the enormity of the task is too great. The writing MUST be done so we DO it. We must believe in ourselves and hold onto the strength buried deep inside. There is no easy road if the goal is worth achieving.

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” -Frank A. Clark