Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Nanowrimo, MakeArtEveryDay and the Existential Question(s) of the Week
Yes, it's November and I'm participating in Nanowrimo. For those of you living in remote forests who may have never heard of it, Nano is a crazed activity in which participants vow to produce a novel in a month, chaining themselves to their computers late into the night while the rest of the world slurps pumpkin soup or jumps in piles of leaves or enjoys hot mulled cider while watching Ugly Betty on TV.
"Why?" you sane people from the forest might ask. Well, just for the fun of it. Or at least that's the theory--though I for one don't believe it.
For one thing, writing a novel might be satisfying. It might be the culmination of a life's goal. It can even be--oh my god--profitable. But fun? Who do these people think they're kidding?
So okay, I'm not in the heads of the 70,000 other participants. Maybe they are doing it because November tends to be a grey and brown month and they wanted to add some color to it...Or maybe they're doing it because their friends have all signed up, and peer pressure ate their last brain cell. Hey, maybe opening a vein and seeing what color the ink runs is even their idea of a party.
But like I say, I don't buy it. I think that the vast majority madly pounding out novels "for fun" in November are really trying to trick their subconscious into producing the real thing. A serious, someday publishable, amazing story trapped forever between covers. I know I am. Strangely enough, this is the first year when writing novels is what I do for a living. Pinch me, please.
Producing art on the other hand IS fun for me--probably because I know I'll never be a real artist like Laini or Swirly or Marja-leena or several of the other talented people on my blogroll. It's so much fun, in fact, that the first thought I had this morning when I woke up in my bed this morning was, "Today I'm going to glue stuff on paper! Today I'm going to color!"
And I did!
I searched the house until I found my art supplies: a glue stick, a few of the kids' old crayons and black marker. The rest of my inspiration came when I was sitting in a doctor's waiting room for my annual exam, and reading an old copy of Oprah.
When I saw the photo of Stanley Kunitz walking in the garden, and a I knew I had to have that page. I had to have his words inside my pocketbook, in my room, in the drawing I was going to make.
The poem seemed to sum up all the excitment I feel beginning this month of November. Since it blurred a little in the photo and I want you to have it, too, I'll reproduce it here:
"...I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
the still wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
I can scarcely wait for tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day."
On the next page there was another quote from Joseph Campbell that captured my imagination. And well, the magazine was over a year old--and more significantly, no one was looking...which leads me to my existential question of the week, or actually my three questions.
Why three? Because existence is strange and complicated and sometimes can't be encompassed in one question. And besides, as Sara recently noted, I seem to have a thing for the number 3. Since this isn't an exam, you can answer one, or you can answer all, or you can just hang out and read what other people have to say.
1. The trivial: Have you ever stolen a page out of a magazine--and why?
2. The philosophical: What do you think of the Campbell quote about our responsibility toward the world? Agree? Disagree?
Depends what day you're asked?
3. The practical. This one is for you artists out there. If you were a joyful and perpetual beginner like me, whose only art supplies were five crayons and a glue stick, what's the one thing you would purchase? (The Artist's Handbook is already on the way.)