I remember the first time my husband called me an artist. I was sitting in Pizza Hut, of all places, with my best friend and her husband, discussing the song “Take me to Church.” And yes, I was discussing – they were looking at me as if I’d lost my mind. To them, a song was just a song. To me, it was a million pieces of effort that blended together to make something even bigger.
At the time, I was working for an internet service provider during the day, trying to sneak in time to ride horses between that. I’d dabbled with writing, but I thought no one would ever see it. It wasn’t good enough, I thought. I wasn’t meant to be an author. I was simply venting on screen to myself.
My best friend and my husband convinced me to take it further. He pointed out that the blog I used to have was popular. I pointed out that it wasn’t for my writing, but rather the subject. He captioned comments about how many people loved my words. I agreed to send a query letter. She researched all the information I could ever ask for.
To this day, he still doesn’t read my books. He has no clue what I write, and he doesn’t care. He says he doesn’t need to know. He likes the stories better when I try to explain them. Which, let me add, is a jumbled mess of reasons, theme, and skipping around. Mr. Perfect doesn’t care. In his mind, I’m the best writer ever, and that’s kinda a big deal.
Now, he calls me an artist all the time. As he sits and listens to me freaking out about the conflict not being intense enough, the rising action lasting too long, or the foreshadowing being all too obvious, he laughs. It’s kinda nice, though, having someone around reminding me to just keep it simple. He’ll stop me and say, “Just tell the story. No one cares about the rest of that crap.” He’s right, too.
I think that’s the trap that so many of us fall into. We read the how-tos, we scour the internet for advice on how to be better. Rarely, do we remember that the secret to an amazing story is right in the middle of our chest. It’s the part that pounds so hard in fear when we admit we made something, and the bit that races when we wait to hear if we failed. It’s the strange organ that has nothing at all to do with emotion, and yet everything.
It’s all about the heart.
We’re told to be careful, warned that we’ll offend someone, and prepared for rejection. How often do we, the artists of the world – regardless of the medium – dare to just jump blindly? Dare to just plug our ears, ignore all the caution, and throw ourselves into the wind?
Ok, not completely blind, because that would be foolish. We need to be prepared for the fall, and ready to clean up the mess we make. I’m talking about editors, beta readers, harsh critiques that break our fragile little hearts, and enthusiastic praise that puts them back together. Then there’s the hardest part of all: knowing that we may not fly.
Because sometimes we don’t judge it right. Sometimes we miss. Sometimes, what makes our blood rush doesn’t resonate with others. But you know what? That’s ok. Being an artist is the bravest thing in the world. Every day, we offer up the biggest thing of all – our souls. We drain them out, letter by letter, until thousands of others can taste the pain, joy, and victory with us.
When we get it wrong, it’s just a step. Forward or backward, they all count. If we stop trying, that is when we fail. If we keep moving around, eventually we’ll learn to waltz.
So, tonight, when my husband tells me I’m his little artist, I think it may be the biggest compliment of all. He doesn’t care if I’m a little frazzled, if I go from talking about one book to another in the middle of a sentence, or if I forget that I’m actually talking because I had an idea. He just smiles at me like I hung the moon, brings me another coffee, and tells me it’ll be great.
(and if you’re wondering, that beautiful piece of art at the top of this was made by Mr. Perfect for the Dark Orchid series. getbook.at/pol )