There's nothing like a good ol' winter cold to zap your energy and turn you into a whiny, nostalgic hermit. Actually, I don't need a winter cold for the hermit in winter part, it's too cold to venture out for too long this week. I'm talking frigid, kill everything in its path cold. I have three layers on, the heat is on and I'm still cold.
I get nostalgic when I'm sick which is probably why I wrote yesterday's blog post. I always miss my mom and grandmother and much more when I'm sick. I remember their arsenal of home remedies that worked along with many warm hugs and kisses. There's nothing like Mommy Love and Vicks Vapo Rub - my mother's cure all!
I believe nostalgia found its way into my heart yesterday because I'd also been working on a chapter in my novel, A Decent Woman, where my protagonist, Ana cares for her best friend Isabel who is dying from tuberculosis. Women taking care of other women and in the process, healing themselves. When women help other women, they are never more beautiful in my eyes.
Before I entered the writing life and world, I was (and still am) a working artist. I'm a multi-media artist/photographer who has painted and exhibited for over 25 years in the US and in Europe. I wasn't a newbie to interacting with creative people when I wrote my first novel, A Decent Woman. At the time, most of my close friends were artists, poets, photographers and dancers, and one self-published author who was very kind and generous with me as I wrote my novel.
The art world, much like the publishing world, is a tough, unforgiving and complicated business. Art societies, guilds and groups can be rife with big egos, petty arguments and jealousy. I've seen it first-hand - artists and divas who complained when they weren't given the best wall for an exhibition, the best lighting was on another artist's pieces, artists who made catty comments about whose name was ahead of whose in the programs, and snide comparisons about their fellow artists. I helped organized several exhibits and I think my gray hairs came in right about that time. Any time you have big Egos involved, there are bound to be issues and conflict. A little Ego is healthy, but there's a delicate balance. Too much Ego can go toxic.
For years, I was on the board of our local art group and I was able to escape scrutiny (I think!) and didn't participate in the pettiness, there was enough around me. Consequently, the diva's pieces were highlighted because they made the loudest noise. The divas, male and female, were tough to work with at times and I eventually left the board position to give painting classes and facilitate creativity workshops to help others find their passions in life. Yes, it took me away from painting and photography, I'd say. What's two days a month in the scheme of life? Being a mentor and helping others helped me.
I hate to admit it, but it's true - when I entered the writing world, I had the preconceived notion that writers would be as closed, jealous and petty as some of the artists I'd encountered in my past. I was the little girl looking through the fence into the playground where the bigger kids played and ran around. I remained a writer/observer for a long time.
I observed for five years by blogging semi-anonymously (that's another story!) on another site before I began this blog about the writing life, my life and my novel. I read other authors, read their blogs and studied their websites, Facebook and Twitter pages. As with art, I found self-promotion off-putting and uncomfortable, but it had to be done. I wondered if I would have to scream the loudest to be published? I joined groups, writing critique groups, subscribed to author's blogs, joined a foundling group of writers who write women's fiction and joined Goodreads. I love reading reviews by women authors about other women author's books and enjoy catching up with blog tours when I see them advertised.
In the process of watching from the sidelines as a newbie, I discovered a beautiful thing -
Women WERE helping other women. Women ARE helping other women in the writing world.
I've made friends with debut and established women writers, marketers, editors and have had the occasional agent take the time to write me a personal note. That speaks volumes to me, we're all busy. But, the main 'thing' is to write, right? Again, it's a delicate balance and I believe I've found a nice balance. I blog first thing in the morning, followed by reading and making comments on other writer's blog posts. I check my emails and two Facebook pages, write a few lines for Twitter and then, it's full on writing for the rest of the day. It works for me.
It warmed my heart to learn I was mistaken about writers and I'm happy to be a part of the writing world. As for my painting, two years ago I joined an artist's cooperative group in West Virginia and so far, the Egos are in check...so far :)
Peace and love,