Looking Forward, Looking Back

Ooh, doesn’t that sound like an introspective blog title!? Don’t worry, I haven’t started taking myself too seriously (NEVER!), but over the past few weeks I have been having a good think about how things have been going and how I want to proceed based on that thinking.

Geez, that does sound introspective doesn’t it? I better throw in a funny meme now and then just so you don’t start thinking I’m going all maudlin or anything.

There. Better? Now, on with the thought processes, or as I call it…

The Art Vs. Writing Relationship Smackdown!!

When I first started working on my art as a second job to my writing, I was super frustrated with writing. This was back when I was trapped in The Maze (who knew that title would be so appropriate) and drafting had hit a major roadblock. A road block as in, you would have thought I’d never read a book before and wouldn’t know a plot line if someone threw one at me.

At the same time, I was feeling all super confident with my art skills and said, “Well, at least with painting, I’ll have only wasted a few weeks on something no one will buy, as opposed to a spending a year on a book no one will buy.”

With that cynical view on the creative world, I turned writing into a part time (VERY part time) job and focused on my art. I really enjoyed it and since everyone oohed and ahhed over my art, I thought surely I could sell some of these things. I got a few quick confidence boosts straight out of the gate with a couple art show awards and an acceptance for a solo show.

Yeah, it was kind of like that!

As those who have been with me a while know, I played around with Etsy shops and Fine Art America and even eBay. All of which resulted in a grand total of zero sales (granted, I’ve been horribly inconsistent in my marketing efforts). This year I’ve had five art shows with only one, count ’em, ONE sale…of my least expensive piece.

To put that in perspective, every couple months, the royalties from my books bring in about as much as that one piece of art. So, to say I’m starting to feel my art time is a bit wasted is putting it mildly. Speaking of, time to lighten things up…

Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t switch over to spending my work days mostly doing art with the thought that I would become an instant success and sell every single painting. But this is two years in, my work has been in about ten venues, and I’ve sold one thing. One.

On the flip side. Once I got The Maze untangled, the story fell together quite well. I won’t say it’s my best book because as I’ve been giving it the final couple read overs, I can detect some odd passages from Before the Meltdown (BM? ew), but I’m quite proud of the parts that were written in the drafts After the Meltdown (AM?) and I think (hope) the good AM bits outweigh the less-than-stellar BMs. But more on that in a different post….or with your proctologist.

During my downtime between drafts of The Maze, I’ve also been writing some short stories and as I’ve been doing these, I’ve discovered (okay, re-discovered) how much I really really really enjoy writing. I love getting completely lost in a story as I’m creating it, I love having my brain go so fast with ideas that my pen can’t keep up and having to jot down notes in the margin of my paper just to keep track of it all, I love playing with dialogue (my favorite part), I love having just a single sentence of an idea and watching it turn into several pages of story.

In other words, I’m getting back together with Writing. I’m bursting (not literally) with ideas for new books, new series, and short stories. The only trouble is finding time for them all.

Which means it’s time to “have a little talk” with Art.

Don’t worry (since I know you were really sweating over this), I’m not giving up on Art entirely, but I am going to limit our time together so I can work on my relationship with Writing. Right now, I’m considering giving one work day over to Art and the rest to Writing. Lately things have been too crazy busy to set out any real schedule, but after I return from a little vacation in late September, I’ll be back to work and back to a more regular schedule.

Finn (hoping for a new book or two) is ready to schedule my writing time for the rest of the year!

Phew, that was a long-winded break up letter, but it’s always good to know where you stand in a relationship and to understand why things just aren’t working out, right? Right.

Any thoughts on this? Any big decisions in your world lately? As always, I’d love to hear from you! I’ll be back Saturday with another of Finn McSpool’s close-to-home adventures. See you then!!

And one final giggle before you go…

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Bloomin’ and Buzzin’, My Garden Beckons

This is one of those rare weeks when I have no new artwork to show you (although I am working on remedying that) and no new art news to share with you (although hopefully next week I’ll have something news-y to post).

Since I’m completely art-less, I figured I’d get snap happy in the garden and show off a few things that are blooming and buzzing, and providing some inspiration for future art projects.

First Stop on the Tour: Take That You Vile Slugs!

Since I have a rather shady garden, I have to make the most out of every millimeter of sunny space I can find. So, not only do we have raised beds for veggies lining our driveway, but the south side of my house is also decorated with a raised bed and plenty of pots.

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A (future) bushel of tomatoes.

Sadly, at the beginning of the month, I mistakingly thought it was spring (silly me) and set about to planting all the veggies and fruits I’d started from seed. Days later, not only did the Portland area get slapped with a freakish cold spell, but the slugs made a buffets of all my babies. Once warm weather was back in the forecast, I had to resort to getting new veggie plants from the nursery. Continue reading

I’m Still Angry…And I Plan to Stay That Way

So, it turns out that the results from Tuesday’s election weren’t just some super-vivid and super-scary nightmare. Damn it. I was really hoping my overactive imagination had gotten the better of me and that I would wake up to a sane world. So much for hope.

Sadly, nope.

Sadly, nope.

I know today’s should be given over to the continuation of The Vacation, but I just can’t. I’m still too angry. I promise I’ll get back to art, travel, writing, and other topics this blog normally focuses on, but bear with me for another political post. After all, my voting voice isn’t being heard (as well as the voices of more than half of Americans) so this is all I’ve got. Continue reading

Embarrassed and Ashamed

I have so much of my own (good) news to tell you that yesterday at this time I was dithering over what to share with you first. But after the nightmare of an election last night, today is too gloomy a day to do anything but apologize for what the U.S. has done.

I truly, sincerely apologize. I’m ashamed. I’m embarrassed. I’m fighting back tears for what being ruled by this oversized Oompah Loompah will mean for how the world sees Americans and for what destruction his administration will do to the environment.

Yet again half of us are drowning in frustration that the other candidate won the popular vote, but because of our outdated election system we’ve ended up with an idiotic moron in the White House.

That’s right world, as it stands now, less than half of America actually wants this guy for president, but yet he wins. Yes, there have been disappointing elections in the past, but as Seth MacFarlane tweeted, “this time is different”. Trump is only motivated by money, has no concern for the future of anything but his pocketbook, and is misguided by hate. Continue reading

It’s Almost Here…Bring on the Nerves!

After months of planning, re-planning, making cancellations, and planning yet again, the first day of The Vacation is almost here, which of course means my adrenal glands are pumping out their nerve-rattling juices in full force.

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As is the nature of our wonderful world these days, the first worry is “Will my airplane be turned into a Tube of Death.” I’m pretty good about ignoring this one. Actually, I fear union workers more than terrorists. Seriously, it just takes one lazy worker (who probably should have been fired months ago, but the union won’t allow it) thinking it’s not in his job description to tighten a bolt when it’s the first thing listed in his job description and, yep, Tube of Death.

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Of course, don’t forget the hassle of even getting on the plane. Cramming shampoos and lotions and lip glosses into a tiny plastic bag, hoping I can find that tiny plastic bag when the person in the security line behind me is acting as if it’s specifically MY fault that we now have to go through this screening process, getting huffy with me for properly laying my (very few) items in the bins, only to see her filling five bins with her crap. Seriously people, none of us like the security line and giving me attitude for following procedure is NOT going to make the line go any faster.

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Ah but wait, Mr. Husband and I now have Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check which means we supposedly don’t have to display our lotions and gels to all the world. I say supposedly because there is still a chance that I may have forgotten to enter our Global Entry numbers in our flight info and, even if I did, there’s the very likely (from the horror stories on the Interwebs) chance that our boarding passes won’t get the TSA Pre-Check stamp…which puts me back in line in front of Miss Huffy. Sigh.

Then, with my like, I’ll probably get Miss Huffy in the seat in front of me and she’ll have to lean her seat ALL the way back. What jackass engineer thought reclining seats in coach were a good idea? You’ve already got barely enough space to move only to end up with  someone’s product-crusted hair in your face for nine hours. WTF?

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And then once through the song and dance of security and assuming the plane stays in the air, there’s the connection we have to make at Schiphol in Amsterdam. We only have a squidge more than an hour for the connection, which is a concern, but I’m more concerned with the quandary of whether I’m going to have to haul out my sack o’liquids again for display to an international audience.

By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, I REALLY hate the whole 3-1-1 thing. Besides, we all know in the back of our minds that it takes only a droplet of neurotoxin to kill off an entire plane, so the knowledge that everyone has been limited to several 3-ounce bottles of liquid doesn’t ease my mind.

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But wait, let me back up, I haven’t even gone into the nerve-wracking ordeal of packing. Sure sure, there’s the clothing question of “What will make me look LEAST like an American?” But after several trips to Europe I already know that even if I pack ten outfits, I’ll end up only wearing two of them over and over, so there’s no need to overpack.

This was the Practice Pack, I actually ended up with more room than this in the Final Pack.

This was the Practice Pack, I actually ended up with more room than this in the Final Pack.

No, the real packing worry for me is which books do I want to keep me entertained in the Tube of Death, which art supplies do I want to take with me (and then be too exhausted to make any use of despite my dreams of being one of those people sketching a scene while lingering at a cafe or piazza), and will the games I have on my iPad work offline? Important stuff, you know?

Still, this self-induced nerve fest is something I put myself through before each trip and we’ve rarely had any hitches getting to our destination or with having everything we needed once we got there.

Actually, it’s the return trips that end up being the ordeal. Oh no, here comes another dose of adrenal juice.

Finn McSpool is packed and ready to go!

Finn McSpool is packed and ready to go!

Have a great couple of weeks everyone! I would promise to post a bit while I’m gone, but I would SO be lying to you. Instead, I’ll catch you up when I get back.  I will however be posting pics now and then on social media during The Vacation, so join me there if you don’t want to wait.

Ooh, and I’d love to know what your biggest travel pet peeves are, so please spill your laments into the comments below!

By the way, yes I have a house sitter for the entire time we are gone and yes that house sitter has a dog. Our house also has ZERO privacy from the neighbors’ prying eyes. Fair warning to any thieves out there.