Category Archives: Art

Am I a Writer?

Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock Photos

Somewhere along the way, I stopped calling myself a writer and started calling myself an editor because it was easier. I was afraid of failing, and editing is easy. At least, easy enough. With most of the editing jobs I get, there’s usually a right and a wrong answer for everything. And I know the right answer. So that makes me an editor, right?

But the type of editing I really love is the line editing—the developmental editing that gets down into the guts of the words and moves things around. It’s like surgery. It looks at everything in there, takes out what doesn’t belong, moves things around, and adds in what’s missing. It’s problem solving.

And really, that’s what writing is, too. At least for me. It solves lots of problems by providing a form of communication, fostering understanding, forcing reflection, and encouraging learning and growth.

Guys, I’m finally writing a book.

It’s a memoir. I’ve been avoiding it for a while because, honestly, I’m afraid. I’m afraid it will be hard to write, that I won’t finish, that people will judge me, that my family will hate me, that I’ll have put so much time into something no one ever reads or even wants to read.

But all of those fears don’t matter if I think of writing as problem-solving. Writing this book will answer a lot of questions for me. It will teach me a new level of discipline. It will force me to wrestle with difficult relationships where I just feel stuck. It will be an act of faith and identity—I’m going to have to come to terms with who I am and be confident enough to share that with others.

So . . . I guess I’m a writer?

5 Podcasts to Get Your Creativity Flowing

Creativitypodcasts

There are a TON of podcasts out there and the topics range from everything to history to church communications to cats (what would the Internet be without cats?). Podcasts are a great way to get creativity flowing—listening to a good story or learning something new can spark your imagination and get you thinking in new ways.

Here are five great podcasts I can’t stop listening to:

  1. The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins
    This one is more about writing itself, but Jeff interviews all sorts of interesting people, mostly authors, on a variety of topics. Some of my favorites have been his chat with Seth Godin about sharing your art with the world, his conversation with Andy Andrews about the power of story, and his own thoughts on a life-improving habit
  2. The Lede from Copyblogger
    I didn’t realize there have been new episodes since June, so I haven’t listened to the newest ones, but their series on curating content was full of great ideas for bloggers.
  3. Serial
    This is a new NPR podcast that tells one story over a season’s worth of episodes rather than multiple stories in one episode. This season they’re following the story of a teenage girl who was murdered in 1999. They’re covering the case from multiple angles, interviewing everyone who will talk to them, and even tracking down people who weren’t there for the court case. There are only three episodes up right now, but they post a new one every Thursday morning.
  4. Snap Judgment
    This one is my favorite. It’s another NPR show. Each episode features several stories that fit with that week’s theme, like “Reunion,” “Chain of Command,” or “Rage Against the Machine.” The stories are interesting, well-told, and often informative. And there are over 500 episodes so, unlike Serial, I may never catch up.
  5. Radio Lab and This American Life
    Okay, bonus. These are two different podcasts, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re pretty similar. Also from NPR, each episode is at least one fascinating story that will teach you something. They’re also similar to Snap Judgment, but the difference seems to be that these are more informative and Snap Judgment is more entertaining. Check out Radiolab’s “Juicervose” for a story about Autism and Disney movies and This American Life’s “Secret Identity” for a story about a teenage girl who found her calling in a tiger costume.
I haven’t done any research to see what my other options are, but I’ve been listening on Stitcher and I love it. It’s easy to add podcasts and organize them into categories of my choice. (I know you can also listen to iTunes, but I’m not a Mac girl.)
Happy listening!

My Fair Lady at the Guthrie Reviewed

Those two heathens you saw sneaking out of church early on Sunday? That was us. We were going to the theater. And call me a sinner (or maybe just an English major), but sometimes theater does more for my soul than church ever could. (God has used stories in powerful ways in my life, but I suppose that’s an entirely different blog post . . .)

We had tickets for the 1:00 showing of My Fair Lady at the Guthrie. Happy birthday to me.

myfairlady

I’ve gotten the impression that it’s sacrilegious or something, but I had never seen the Audrey Hepburn movie, so I didn’t really know much about the story, but it did not disappoint.

It was the best production I’ve ever seen at the Gutherie. Or anywhere. I don’t think it gets much better. The music, the acting, the costumes, the set—oh, the set!—were incredible. I recognized half of the songs. And to top it all off, our tickets gave us access to a Q & A with some of the actors after the show.

The discussion afterward was what got this English nerd really excited. They talked about the controversy surrounding the ending (did you know the movie version is different from the original ending written by George Bernard Shaw in Pygmalion?), the quality of the shows at the Guthrie (just as good if not better than what you get in New York, they said), where the actors came from (some from New York, one from England, some locals), and which scenes were the most challenging (“I’m Getting Married in the Morning”). And there were some pretty cute kids asking about advice for young actors.

It was thrilling to see people who love their work get excited about it and want to share their thoughts with the audience, who, by the way, had given them a standing ovation.

If you’re going to be in the Twin Cities between now and August 31, go see it. And if you’re not, get here and see it anyway.

And if you’re 30 or younger, sign up for the Guthrie’s 30 Below program to get rush tickets without having to stand in line. It’s a glorious thing. And if you’re lucky, you may even get free tickets to a show or two.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift. I’ve already been trying to figure out how I can see it again!

Toothpaste, Ira Glass, and the Picture in My Head

wildflowers in a field

 

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you . . . We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work . . . It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions . . . It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” —Ira Glass

 

When I was five, I decided I needed glass slippers like Cinderella. So I made some. I snuck into the bathroom and, using and Q-tips, I covered my new patent dress shoes with a sticky paint made of  toothpaste, baby powder, and baking soda. Then I did what any five-year-old would do—I put them in a donut box and hid them under my parent’s bed. Because, well, where else would I hide them? Mom was not happy when she discovered them two weeks later, rock-hard and still under her bed. She later told me that’s when she knew I had an imagination.

I was a frustrated artist. I didn’t have the supplies or the talent to create the images I had in my head—landscape watercolors, sketched portraits, painted houses. Some did make it to paper, but they always resulted in tears. (Of course, I cried about everything—not being able to buckle my seat belt was enough to provoke frustrated tears.)

And really, not a whole lot has changed.

A few months ago I tried to turn a four-hour car repair ordeal into a Father’s Day blog post. It was awful. I’m sure I could go back and do something with that draft now, but my first version was so far from where I thought it would be that I didn’t even go back for a second read through, let alone any edits.

I’ve become afraid of writing, which is sad because it’s something I love to do. I always have. In high school I had the luxury of journaling everywhere I went, and if I wasn’t doing that, I was writing long notes to friends. It was exciting to spend my entire hour of chemistry writing while pretending to pay attention. (I really hated science.)

I have all these great ideas—ideas that pull in quotes from literature, personal stories, Scripture, and my own thoughts—but I don’t write them. I jot the ideas in a notebook that follows me around every day, mocking me because yes, I had the great idea, but it will never turn out the way I want it to.

I know that I’m supposed to write constantly, even if it’s crap, because that’s how I’ll get better. That’s how I’ll find the gold, but that is SO hard for this perfectionist to do. I want to do it right and do it right the first time. I want to send it out into the blogosphere and wow everyone with my words. I want to make Annie Dillard and LM Montgomery and Philip Yancey proud. (But mostly Annie Dillard.)

How comforting to know that my struggle is normal, that my writing will improve as I work on it, that my skills will catch up with my taste in beautiful words. At least I hope they will. But hope is important. It’s way better than not writing just because I’m afraid.

So I’m actually going to post this even though I’m not completely happy with it, even though it falls short of the picture I had in my head. Because I have hope that just the act of writing it will get my next post that much closer to where I want it to be.