This is a conclusion I’ve recently arrived at. By recently I mean in the last 6-7 months or so. I am a writer. Not an author, necessarily, but a writer. By that I mean that I’ve not been published. Ok…I was published, but not… I wrote for a magazine, but I don’t really count that. To me, that was the equivalent of a bar band doing covers tunes, not original pieces. Something you do to survive, not for the sake of art.
There’s a difference. There’s art to make a living, whether that’s musicians playing cover tunes to drunks in a bar, classic artists making paintings to match sofas or erotic art or literature. Things that artists do to pay the bills, which is not necessarily art. They may be artistic, or artistically created, but in my world they’re not art.
When I had the store and made jewelry, I never called myself an artist. I called myself a “craftsperson.” (Yes, that was somewhat tongue-in-cheek; my Wiccan and Pagan friends will get the humor.) But the other reason for the terminology was simple. It wasn’t art, they were pleasing designs made for other people to enjoy. Artistically created, yes. Art, no. Occasionally, I’d go a little nutty and make something that pulled at me, but for the most part they weren’t anything extraordinary. Nothing to hang on the wall. My ongoing joke was that the only qualities you need to make jewelry are good eyesight, patience, and a feel for how the colors and textures should go together.
The difference between my jewelry and my writing is astounding. I am always writing: in my head, at least. Watching a movie or a TV show, I’ll rewrite the ending or write an epiosode. I’m always thinking to myself, “that’s not how I would do it.” I make up characters and stories, in my head, to entertain myself. To me, this is art (or psychosis). It’s something that comes out of you, something you can’t stop, something that’s so intrinsically a part of your nature that it’s impossible to separate you from it.
In true Freudian fashion, I blame my mom. (For those of you who don’t know this about me, this is a joke. I despise Freud!) First, she’s an avid reader. Constantly has a book out. She’ll even be reading with the TV on. If the show’s good, she’ll read during the commercials. If the show doesn’t maintain her interest, it’ll be playing in the background and she’ll look up once in awhile.
This affected me from the earliest days of my childhood. There’s pictures of me before I was able to read…maybe age 2 or so, “reading” a book to my younger brother. I was, of course, making up the story as I couldn’t yet read. That’s obvious from the fact that the book was upside-down. I obsessed about being a writer from those young, formative years as well. Of course, at that time, I thought that writing a book was the same as writing in a book. Again, the evidence is still available. My brother is now in possession of a collection of “Collier’s Classics” we had as children. My illegible pencil scrawl can still be found in the front of the book. Neat loops imitating adult cursive writing flow in lines across the blank first pages of each volume.
The second reason I blame my mom happened when I was older. Probably 5 or so, I’d guess. Either she’d determined I was too old for bedtime stories, or she was too busy or too tired. By then I had two younger brothers, both demanding her attention at bedtime. I asked her for a bedtime story. Her response was along the lines of “You know all the stories by heart. Tell yourself one until you fall asleep.”
And I did. Cinderella, as I remember, only I changed it. A lot, if I remember correctly. And I’ve been doing that ever since. I also remember crooning a song about a purple cow, but it’s probably best that the musical urge didn’t take hold as strongly as the literary one did!
The point of this all? One of my philosophies in life has been…”Bad things don’t just happen to good people. Bad things happen for good reasons. They hurt like hell when they happen, but later you look back and think, ‘damn, it’s a good thing that happened.'”
The store closed. That hurt, it was painful. The mourning period afterwards hurt almost as much as the actual closing itself. But it was a bad thing that happened for a good reason. As I look back on the store, I realize how much of myself I’d lost in trying to keep it going. It was a great idea, but I didn’t have the knowledge or the funding to do it correctly, and it was by far in the wrong place. As a result, I was stuck, standing there with my finger in the dam until fate finally kicked me in the pants and told me to move on, let the dam break.
If that had never happened, if my hubby hadn’t gotten me this fabulous laptop for our 10 year anniversary, I’d never have started writing again.
So I have to blame my hubby a little bit. The computer is his fault.
There’s one last person to blame for this as well. My muse and best friend. But that’s a blog for a different day.