I have been very neglectful of my blog. I lost the momentum I had with promoting my book Fall, and working on the sequel, Darks. Add to that, I’ve been plagued with doubts about my creative future. I almost closed this blog down because of it. That is, until an idea struck me last night after watching the movie Julie/Julia.
I was inspired by its story of a young woman named Julie, who in 2002 was inspired to write a blog about her adventures in making all of Julia Child’s recipes from her cookbook.
I was 29 in 2002, just like the main character, Julie, was in the movie. My son Red (I color coded my children to help keep things organized), was a year old. I was a full-time student at the University, studying Technology Management. When I wasn’t studying, I was focused on my family. I used to pretend I was Julia Child doing a cooking show whenever I was baking or cooking. My 1-year-old found it very entertaining as I tried to mimic Julia’s sing-song voice and mannerisms as I cooked – messily. Needless to say, I found a connection with this movie.
This movie stirred me to action. I wanted to be doing something meaningful and challenging like Julie had chosen to do. Julie picked cooking because it brought her joy. I pondered over what brought me joy, besides hanging out with my kids. I pondered a lot. And pondered some more. Was it really so hard for me to figure out what brought me joy?
I searched my memories to find something that had brought me joy in the past. Almost immediately my brain served up a delightful memory of my teenage self sitting at a desk in my room, drawing. I was completely lost in the world of my drawings. I drew dragons. I drew unicorns. I drew elves, goblins, castles, super heroes and villains. I delighted in drawing creatures of whimsy and magic. I was often secluded in my room lost in my art. I experimented with paints, colored pencils, pastels, charcoal and whatever else I could get my hands on.
I created art almost as much as I wrote. Both mediums of creativity were a great source of joy for me. So by the time I was 15 I had decided to be an artist and a writer. When I announced my desires to my parents, I was deflated when my dad said, “Writer’s don’t make money. You’ll be poor.”
So, I temporarily abandoned my dream of becoming a writer, to focus on art. When I entered college, I did not hesitate to declare my chosen field of Art to pursue a degree in. I had logged in 2 years of art when I had the unfortunate encounter with an Art Professor who dashed to pieces, my dream of becoming an artist. In front of the class of 10 or so students, he commented on each student’s strengths and abilities. “You have mastery of the human form,” he told one student. “You’re artistic ability is very well-developed.” He said to another. And then, he moved on without commenting about my artistic abilities.
“What about me?” I ventured. I remember he turned his head in my direction, a bemused look on his face. “I suppose your skill would be useful in the tile industry where you could make patterns.” The class laughed.
I smiled quickly, trying to hold back the tears and hide the devastation I felt at his cruel words. Like a knife through my heart, he killed the artist within me. I got a C- in that class and I dropped out of college for a while.
I tried a few times to draw something afterwards, but every time I lifted a pencil, I heard his words echo through time and I heard the laughter. I never did complete a project I had started.
My mother taught me that whenever someone says hurtful words, to say to myself, “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
She was wrong. Words are very powerful and they can hurt people deeply. What she should have taught me is, “Stick and Stones may break my bones, but I have the power to withstand hurtful words.”
25 years later, that professor’s hurtful words still bring me to tears. So, I am taking a stand against that man’s words and I will resurrect the artist within. I claim the joy that my creative self brings through words and art – beginning today.
As of this moment, I will document the journey I am undertaking to reclaim that lost artist and prove to myself (and Mr. Negative Art Professor), that I’m a worthy artist and quite capable of being a successful in creating my own brand of art – whatever it may be. Success, to me, is experiencing joy in this life. Art brings me joy.
Now the journey begins and I’m both excited and terrified and…