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Cathy: Art is play

I know that Keri Smith’s Wreck this Journal has already been recommended on this site, but I feel compelled to endorse it as well. What a fantastic reminder that art is not perfection, as museums and literary and music critics would like us to think. I have a lifetime struggle with the idea that what I’m working on has to be perfect. This is probably my greatest obstacle to completing my myriad larger projects.

Upon reading Miranda’s blog entry, the Cecil Vortex interview, and going to Keri’s blogs, I received a wonderful kick in the head, and promptly ordered the book from The excitement ran through me like electricity when I opened the mailbox to find a neat cardboard box. I ripped it open, flipped through the book, reading this page then that randomly, and began following instructions. Each page may advertise itself as a place for destruction, but really they are invitations to play. And really, isn’t that what all art is? It shouldn’t feel like going to the office.

And that is what happened for me at some point in working on my youth novel. In the beginning, I was all excited, the ideas were popping, I sang and made silly sounds while typing. As I approached page 40, something of the play part went out and I found myself trying to make plot lines work. I asked how am I going to get from here…to there. I knew where I wanted it to go, but not how to get there and something in the writing process died — the creative part. So I shelved it without really meaning to and without ever letting it go in the back of my mind. Then life hit with the proverbial load of poo. Oh, it was all good, and troubling, and hard and fun, but it was a lot of distraction from the writing. Then I felt it was a chore to get back to it.

Well, now, with Wreck in hand, and back in a playful spirit of my own, not for baby or big boys, I am excited again about writing what ultimately is, I hope, going to be a fun book for 9-12 year olds to read. I have relocated a couple of versions of the manuscript with notes and outlines, and the USB version, too. I’m ready to sing, dance my fingers on the keyboard, make leaps and bounds, and play with the writing. Wish me luck and joy! And don’t be afraid to play and let your art/work be imperfect, too. Color outside the lines and see what comes of it.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. congrats on getting back on track with your book, cathy! when i get stuck on things i just have to back away, leave it alone for a while and then go back to it later. i can’t imagine taking on a novel, though. you go, girl. i need to check out keri’s book!

    July 17, 2008
  2. cathy #

    thanks for the encouragement, kelly!

    July 17, 2008
  3. I’m impressed, Cathy! Good for you. And thanks for the reminder to lighten up. Trying to write The Great American Novel can sure take the fun out of creativity! 🙂

    July 17, 2008
  4. All right, I have to go buy this book. What fun. And really, I never give myself permission to “play” with my writing journals. Though, I am not sure why. i mean it *is* mine. Why can’t I do with it what I want?

    I think I feel pressured to only use it for writing. When in reality, I can do what I damn will please! 🙂 Thanks to you (and Miranda) for recommending it! Again!

    April 29, 2009

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