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Posts tagged ‘fear’

Christine: Fearing the Blank Page

Christine Brandel is a Studio Mothers contributor. She also blogs at A Hot Piece of Glass.

I treated myself to a nice, new journal the other day. I’ve been wanting to try art journaling for a long time, and I can never seem to get started. So many choices, I was always overwhelmed! What type of paper? Should I bind the journal myself, or purchase one? What should I write about? What if I can’t really draw? But I admired so many artists’ pages and secretly wished I could express myself in the same media… I blog, so journaling in and of itself isn’t really a problem, but facing that blank page was terrifying!

Surfing on Amazon the other day, I looked through my wishlist and found that I had placed a Moleskin watercolor art journal on the list a couple of years ago. Impulsively, I put it in my shopping cart, added a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (to read to my kids!), and checked out. The journal and the rest of my order arrived yesterday, and this morning, I removed the shrink wrap, fully intending to dive in immediately.

Instead, I find myself thinking about the journal rather than creating in it. I’m trying to decide what (if any) particular subject matter I want this journal to be about — a travel story about our epic family road trip to Miami in June? Or a journal about my recent return to riding horses, and all the emotion and significance that brings forth? Or a journal about my everyday life here with my family? Or, I know! How about a journal with a theme of inspirational quotes and images that are inspired by them? The options are endless!

Probably the best course of action is to just open the journal and go for it. I tend to like heavily text-based journaling, so I’m thinking I am going to choose a favorite quote as the subject for my first page, and break out my paints and pens and get on with it. I know I want to write about horses and riding, and it only occurred to me today that I can use images of the horses I ride — I don’t have to be able to draw them to include them! What a relief that is! 😉 Once I get started, I know things will roll along; it’s making that very first mark on the first page of my heretofore untouched journal book that strikes fear into the hearts of not-so-confident new art journalers like me. I know I also have to quit thinking in terms of “wasting” my materials or somehow “ruining” my journal book. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be mine. I can’t wait to get started!

How do you handle the “fear of the blank page”?

Joyelle: Fear

I am afraid. I am afraid because these dreams that I have been planting are starting to grow. And I don’t know where this all leads. And I don’t think I am grown up enough. And I don’t think I am good enough.

In the past couple of weeks, two lovely women have asked to interview me about my music and art. And of course I said yes, I would love to be interviewed about my art! And then the first set of interview questions arrived. And I thought, who would want to hear about me? I’m no Kelly Rae Roberts or Kim Klassen. I still don’t know what my “style” is. I don’t have an Etsy shop. I don’t even have my own website. As if that is what being an artist is about. And yet…

I have been putting off a magazine submission to Digital Studio for two weeks. I am afraid. Like a turtle retreating into its shell, I want to go back to what is comfortable and known.

I recently did a Pecha Kucha presentation. In the weeks leading up to that night, I was terrified. What could I say? And then the moment arrived. Remembering some performance advice, I took a deep breath and walked slowly up to the mic. And then I was talking, and singing, and the fear was gone. And I talked about my art, and what it meant to me. And it was not about Etsy sites or book deals. It is about my soul. It is about my heart. And this is why I am afraid. Because every time I create, I am pouring out a little bit of my heart. And this heart has been broken so very many times. So many, that sometimes it feels like nothing but cracks, fissures and scar tissue.

And still, I keep creating. As if it was a choice. I create because I would rather spend money on art supplies than therapy. Because I would rather record a song than sit on a couch talking about my feelings. I create because I believe that my purpose here is to take all that pain and transform it through the alchemical power of art into something beautiful, something to be shared. I want to shine a light for others to connect with their divine selves. I want to shine that light into all the dark places, the places where you feel alone, unloved, misunderstood. I want you to look at what I have created and know that you are not alone.

I am still afraid. But I am taking little baby steps, being gentle with myself. Taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I will be ok. Yes, my heart might be broken again. But I have survived it before, and I will survive it again. And then there will just be more fuel for the fire.

Kelly: A New Twist for Teaching

Ever agree to do something and then wonder “what the heck have I gotten myself in to?” Well, I did just that. My friend Connie asked if I’d contribute to her newest online class and, after a few back and forth e-mails of me saying “Connie, you have far more talented art journaling friends than I!” she finally convinced me I’d be great. So! My class is complete and I’ve sent it off to Connie to be included in the full class, and, just like Connie, I’m so stinkin’ excited!

It wasn’t the teaching part that concerned me. Heck, I’ve been teaching for 20 years, and I know I truly am a gifted teacher. I feel confident in that. But having never had any formal art training myself, I really didn’t think I was a candidate to teach art techniques to adults. To kids, sure! But to grown women (and maybe even men), most of whom are probably artists themselves? This is a bridge I’ve never crossed. I’ve seen all those awesome videos artist/teachers create to demonstrate their techniques. And I have no clue how to make a video. I can “take” a video with my camera, but what to do with it after that? Clueless! So there are no videos in my little class. What there are, however, are tons of photographs and witty commentary demonstrating the techniques step-by-step. And the most awesome thing about it? It’s not just Kelly teaching the class; it’s Kelly, Sarah, and Olivia teaching the class together. My contribution to the 21 Secrets Art Journal Playground is wrapped around creating art journals with your kids, using the things they say as prompts. My class is called “The Things They Say,” and the girls and I had a ball creating the samples we demonstrate in the class.

Another awesome point about this class is Connie’s generosity towards the contributing artists. She’s set up an affiliate program to allow us to reap some financial rewards for our contributions. Each artist has a special link, so for me, click here and you’ll be taken to my personal registration page. The girls and I would love some of the Studio Mothers community to join us! Registration opened September 20, and the class itself starts October 1.

Kelly: Remember…and Be the Change

sthompsonCross-posted from my personal blog. Warning: This is not my usual feel good, Happy Shack post.

For the last three days, I, like probably everyone else in the Jacksonville metro area, have been overcome with the story of Somer Thompson. The story made the national news, but for those of you out of the area who’ve not heard about it, seven-year-old Somer disappeared on her way home from school last Monday afternoon. She was walking home with her twin brother and 10-year-old sister when the trio got in a little squabble and Somer ran ahead of her siblings, disappearing into the cool fall afternoon.  It was about 3pm. Her body was found in a dump in Folkston, Georgia, three days later.

Sadly, we hear more and more stories like these every day. I just learned this morning that another little girl, nine-year-old Elizabeth Olton, has been missing in Missouri since yesterday afternoon. All these cases are tragic, yet Somer’s story hit me incredibly close to home. I grew up in Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville, and lived less than two miles from where Somer’s family now lives. All my friends lived in that neighborhood, and we went to those neighborhood schools. One of my best friends lived on the same street as Somer’s family, and I rode my bike there several times a week. It’s unfathomable to think that a child was taken on a street that I played on many days of my young life.

The past couple of days, I’ve been talking with my girls more about stranger danger, a very important yet very difficult conversation to have with two six-year-old little girls. It’s finding that thin balance between wanting them to remain safe and make good choices while not scaring them so much that they want to turn inward and never experience the joys of childhood that all children deserve. It’s amazing how much the world has changed in the 30-35 years since I was a kid in that neighborhood. So many of us who rode the streets for hours on our bikes, staying out until dark or until Mom yelled for us to come eat dinner, now are faced with a world in which we are often afraid to let our own children do the same.

I can only imagine the devastation Somer’s family is feeling right now, particularly her mother. I’ve been on the verge of tears for her for three days, many times letting them just spill over. To bring the story even closer to home, yesterday I learned that Somer’s mother is a student right here on my campus. My students and I are working on a memorial for Somer that will take place on Monday, and I’m working with our Foundation to establish a scholarship in Somer’s name. My hope would be that the first scholarship would be awarded to Somer’s mother, and then in subsequent years, to other single mothers struggling to make ends meet while trying to make a better life for their families. If you’d like to make a donation to this scholarship once it’s established, just email me or post a comment below and I’ll send you the information as soon as it’s available.

So today, no, not my usual upbeat post. Today, I’m asking you to hug your babies, no matter how old they are. And think about our world, think about your neighborhood, think about little Somer and all the other kids out there who are missing or lost. And think about their families. Pray for them. Hope for them. And think about what little things you can do to maybe make this world a better place.

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Ghandi

Kelly: Dodging Curve Balls

I’ve been having a couple of those weeks where everything comes at you at once. You know those kind of weeks? It’s been taking up so much space in my brain that I haven’t been able to think straight much less find time to sit down and create.

Two weeks ago I got a job offer out of the blue. I guess I can’t really say it was completely out of the blue because I did put in an application with the K-12 public school system, just not with this particular offer in mind. When I answered my cell, the voice on the other end said, “Kelly Warren…this is a voice from your past.” Suddenly, I felt like a Star Wars character. It was an old friend who was now the principal at one of the top magnet schools here in town, and he just so happened to have an immediate opening for a 7th grade English and language arts teacher. When I submitted my application, it was with the sole intention of seeking a position at my girls’ school, simplifying my life in that fashion being the only thing that would make the pay cut worth it. My old friend did a very hard sell on me by phone, we talked further in person the next day, and I asked him to let me interview with the committee just like any other candidate so I could do a little further investigation and soul searching. It really gave me pause, but ultimately after some long talks with DH and a few close advisors, I decided that even though it was a great opportunity, it was not the right opportunity for me right now.

Interestingly enough, the next day I was sitting in my college-wide Student Life Task Force meeting; we’re charged with determining what changes need to be made to our area as we move towards a four-year state college. We have two campus presidents on the committee. We were finalizing our recommendations for the college’s executive vice president when one of the campus presidents added, “And I think we need to put more teeth into the college-wide coordinator’s role, giving that position more authority.” Guess who that college-wide coordinator is? Needless to say, Dr. Russos (my college-wide supervisor) and I were very happy to hear that because we’ve been working on getting my position upgraded for two years to no avail. Now, we had a campus president wanting to formally add that recommendation to our request list. We finalized that list today, and the only recommendation that we didn’t make any changes to was my position upgrade…which would come with an $8,000 pay increase.

Now, as a little distraction, we’ve advertised a full-time English faculty position on my campus. I was a finalist for a full-time English faculty position at North Campus last summer, but that campus president ultimately decided she wanted someone with a doctorate and scrapped the search. The position still has not been filled. My campus president is open to someone without a doctorate and has encouraged me to apply. Those summers off sure are attractive…and come with a $12,000 pay cut. And I’ve applied. If I were to be offered the upgrade and the faculty position at the exact same moment, not sure exactly which way I’d go…but I’m leaning toward the faculty position.

And now the latest curve ball, totally unrelated to work. I’ve been blessed with the lovely experience of two mammograms in the last two weeks. The second one this past Friday brought me the news I didn’t want to hear. I have a suspicious cluster about the size of a dime in my right breast that requires a biopsy. I’m scheduled for 7am Thursday morning. I’m doing my best to remain positive and tell myself everything will be fine. Hopefully I’m just developing polka-dotted boobs. But I must admit this last bit of news has made me even more scattered-brained than I usually am. I could throw myself into a creative frenzy, but all I’ve really wanted to do is curl up on the couch with my babies. I’ve heard the old adage that the cemetery is full of people who didn’t have time to slow down and take a break. Maybe this is my cue.

Jenn: Tsunami – They’ve Got Nothing to do with Tides

The rough draft of Chapter 9 – Tsunami is done. I had an out of town visitor Fri/Sat, which chipped away at time I would have spent working, but it was nice to have a break. I just wrote to my friend Sue, “I think I keep myself on this rigid schedule because otherwise inertia would set in and I’d throw in the towel. Right now it’s a coin toss as to which is going to win.” My goal was to get the first nine chapters, the solid earth disasters, finished, then switch gears and polish them, add figures, tables, and photos, and get them to my editor. So this week and next, I’ll begin these arduous tasks as I switch caps from writer to critical editor.

Now the fear is creeping in.

What if my editor reads my sample chapter and says, “I’m sorry, this just isn’t what we’re looking for?” My dad is drawing figures, my students are working fast and furious. My mom has done SO much babysitting. I’ve, as they say, made my intentions VERY public. I’ve asked high-profile colleagues to write the foreword and introduction, and they’ve agreed. Am I up to this? Am I crazy for thinking I’m competent enough to do this? I’m not saying this at ALL to solicit “you can do it’s.” That is lovely and reassuring and all, but in the end, it’s the editor’s choice as to whether or not I can “do it.”

I’m PETRIFIED to turn the sample chapter in. What if it’s rejected? They have no money into me yet, so they could easily walk away. I’ve never published a book before. Ahhh! I guess i just fling myself in and see.

Anyway, mission accomplished so far, so that’s something?

Bethany: Ah-Ha Moments

I’ve been sitting on this novel outline for months. Picking away at the plot when I had nothing better to do–and blathering on about how I should be writing it.  And then that’s when it hit me.  I was That Writer.  The one blathering and not putting in the time to write it.

Once I came to that realization, I figured I might as well hunker down and figure out the bigger deal–why wasn’t I writing that novel?  Pounding out blog posts, book reviews, and my day job writing projects weren’t causing me issues… why this?  Aside from the trama in my life, I had been waiting to write this novel for the past year and now that the time was right, why wasn’t my brain letting me get to it?

The answer was amazingly simple. I was afraid.  See, I lost an agent this year.  Not under bad circumstances mind you, but I lost one nonetheless.  And if you know anything about publishing, this crushes any writer.  Especially a new one like me. One who’s first novel didn’t sell. One who needs this novel to get back on the market–now for an agent AND a publisher.

At first it seems easy–all that pressure was causing me to lock up.  Or the new baby. The holidays?  How about the recent deaths in the family?


It was the fact that way back when my agent did mention leaving, she sent the first 100 pages of this one (rough, rough draft mind you) to a friend… hoping she would help me out.  She prompty said no.  And, honestly, that hurt more than my agent leaving.

But that seemingly bad circumstance made me rethink the concept and start anew.  Totally new.  And even revamp my process.  I started outlining.  Writing bits of dialogue.  Rethinking plot points.  Thirty-five plus pages later into this “outline” I stalled out.  Afraid that I couldn’t do the plot justice. I couldn’t pull off this new, better book.  Fearful that when I re-approached that new agent (again) she’d shoot me down AGAIN. And then where would that lead me?

I suppose right where I am now–not writing. And that really isn’t a way to keep working toward a dream is it?  And that in and of itself is the Ah-Ha moment of the day.  I’m proud to say, scene 1 of the book… now written.  Scene 2?  Waiting for the next 10 minutes of free time I have between dinner, children, diapers, and nursing.  It’s ready to be written now.

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