Last week, I discussed conquering doubts. This week, Chapter II in Art & Fear has a little box around an operating manual for not quitting. Bayles & Orland suggest:
A. Make friends with others who make art, and share your-in-progress-work with each other frequently.
B. Learn to think of (A), rather than the Museum of Modern Art (or in our case, the New York Times Bestseller list or NBA committee) as the destination of your work.
|The Champagne Sisters: Kekla Magoon, Josanne LaValley, Laurie Calkhoven and myself|
I instinctively took those suggestions before ever reading them, because they were the only way I, as a writer, knew to cope with the process of what we do and how we do it—while knowing the “how” we do it changes so often. My fiancé has a nickname for me—“The Sharer-er.” I need to share about the struggles I am having with my work in a safe place and just as important I needed a place to share the small joys. My group in NYC dubbed ourselves The Champagne Sisters because we had champagne whenever one of us sold a project. We also celebrated by going out to an annual brunch over which we shared our goals for the year ahead, examined the creative goals we had for the year just past, and we spun around under the arms of the Alice’s Tea Cup hostess to get ourselves sprinkled with fairy dust.
As a child, I did this too. This “share-er” thing. I called my mother to the window to clap for me when I did a trick on the swing set—her clapping—her witnessing—was the way I knew I had accomplished something; that I did indeed actually do an inverted flip over or under the metal bar. On my recent trip to Georgia, my sister handed me a scrapbook I made of my accomplishments in middle school and high school—there amid the bad hair and dorky poems I saw myself trying to document—(a way of communing with myself) my artistic dreams. There I was trying to share the ups and downs of my journey the only way that I knew how—with scissors and paste.
I don’t call my mom to look out at the window at me as I do cartwheels and somersaults and I don’t have a scrapbook or journal where I save the bumps and bruises of my journey anymore—instead I have the books I write and the acknowledgement pages filled with names of friends and family who witnessed that specific journey with me. I also know the projects I am working on now may or may not be published one day, but the daily work, and the sharing of the daily work with those in my life is truly the only thing I can count on and the thing that sustains me most.