Tuesday, December 8, 2009

November Numbers

Sharon Wildwind

The numbers for November are in, and they are not good. I’m afraid I’ve been seduced by the dark side, or at least the art side.

I run a tally of how long I spend every month on writing and the writing business. A couple of months ago I discovered how much easier my computer’s calendar program made this task. Instead of fumbling through the mass of papers on my desk for a pen and day timer, I learned how to click on the calendar program, select the activity color, and type in a word or two. Bingo. Instant documentation.

The good part is I am getting a much more accurate picture of how I spend my time. The bad part is I am getting a much more accurate picture of how I spend my time.

In November, I spent as much time at my art table as I did at my day job. My initial reaction was that every hour I’d spent at the art table was an hour stolen from writing. How dare I short-change my precious writing time!

After calming down over a cup of tea, I realized that November had included an unusual circumstance. It’s called a vacation. I’d had a mini-vacation in September, which coincided with a brief, but very uncomfortable, illness. Not much play value there. Before that, my last vacation had been in April. Maybe I was due. Maybe I was way overdue for some play time.

Here’s what I did when I should have been writing.

Paper crafters use a handy tool called a bone folder. I’ve coveted a Teflon™ bone folder, but not its price, for a long time. Then I saw some furniture gliders in a hardware store. The top of an orange juice can, quilt batting, a piece of cotton cloth and a furniture glider makes a dandy folder.

Let’s get the disaster out of the way. I had an idea of making campy paper mâché paper trays. Instead of saying boring things like “In,” or “Out,” they would tell it like it really is: “Someone else’s problem,” “Likely not this year,” and “I have no clue.” I bought cheap boxes to use as the base. The corners were flimsy, so I reinforced them with linen art tape. The white tape on the brown cardboard looked yucky. I dyed gesso with ink and lay down a base coat. This caused the box to warp. I haven’t gotten around to applying the paper mâché, but I suspect when I do, it will be another layer of disaster. At least this has given me another tray name, “Another layer of disaster.”

Not everything was a disaster. This card, for the newest member of our family, came out rather sweet.

So did Blue Belle and Christmas Rose, the Glitter Girls from Tinsel Town, a place where they still make Christmas ornaments the old-fashioned way. They clean the factory floor each night and are allowed to take home left-over scraps. Belle is an artisté who makes Christmas jewelry and wreaths. Rose is no less an artist (but maybe with slightly fewer pretensions). She’s always experimenting with unusual combinations and loves a bit of whimsey, like adding a row of embroidered ducks to her pieces because there should always be Christmas quackers.

Great workout pants, but they had a sports logo down the leg. I’m willing to wear my heart on my sleeve, but not someone else’s advertising on my leg. This is much nicer.

So maybe it was okay to play art instead of writing. In fact, maybe every writer should try art from time-to-time. Not that these projects can ever replace that wonderful feeling of correct comma placement, or the perfectly constructed gerund modifier. Yeah, right.


Quote for the week

There is so much you can accomplish by playing with what’s already in the house.

~Anahata Katkin, creative journalist and collage artist

To see some of her wonderful art journals, click here.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think it's another outlet for your creativity, Sharon. And you're clearly good at it!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lonnie Cruse said...


I've seen some of your art work and it's lovely! Maybe that is your brain's way of taking a vacation so that when you come back to writing, your brain is willing?

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Sharon, do you ever market your art or even think about it? The quilted raven tea cozy (or is it "cosy" when it's tea vs mystery?) you did for the Poe's Deadly Daughters auction basket at Bouchercon was a showstopper. And we could sure use a set of those tell-it-like-it-is in boxes in our house. They'd go with out "Your Memo Is Receiving Careful Consideration" wastebasket. Hmm, maybe we ought to change that "Memo" to "Manuscript."

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

That should be "our," not "out." I sure wish Blogger would let us edit published comments!

Anonymous said...

Yes, art often feels like a vacation.

No, Liz, I know the realities of marketing. The problem with art is that, unlike books, a person has to make every single copy offered for sale. In addition to being for my own enjoyment, I use some pieces, like the raven cozy as part of my book marketing campaign.

Love the wastebasket idea.

Anonymous said...

The only way I know to make corrections in posted comments is like this:
1. Highlight the entire message and copy it.
2. Paste it in a blank "Leave your comment" box.
3. Make corrections.
4. Repost as a new comment.
5. Delete comment with error(s).

Okay, so it's like going after an ant with a hammer. I never said it was elegant, only that it works.

Julia Buckley said...

Look at the beautiful results of your play! I think playing is mandatory if we are to keep the spirit of fun in writing.