On February 28, I was the guest author at my friend Gale Cunningham’s book club. They’d read my novel, “Intentional” and had smart questions and interesting comments. It was fun.
Then Gale brought out a little book I’d done years ago with photos from my series of paintings of fabric. It got some “ohhs” and “ahhs” and someone said, “Wow, you can paint and write.”
And my response was that I’m really bad at science and math. I could have added foreign languages, sports and a lot of other things that other people are very good at. I know, you shouldn’t have to apologize for being good at a couple things, or rationalize away their value by telling what you’re bad at.
But I did it, and what’s done is done.
Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the similarities between the two things I am good at…art and writing, and basically I think it comes down to observation.
Seeing: as an artist you see details, that tiny edge of yellow in the pink sunset, that a particular shadow is made of blue and green and purple and not just variants of black. Details. And then you take those visual details and arrange them into something new and interesting. In writing, particularly in fiction, you’re observing the visuals (that tiny edge of yellow in the pink sunset), but also behavior, and interactions between people; then rehashing, embellishing, reducing, enhancing, and reimagining what you observe into something new.
Is this what makes me sensitive to details in everyday life—that wrinkle in the bedding that I have to straighten? Noticing. All the time noticing. The loose hair on my shoulder?
Or maybe it’s a bit of obsessive-compulsiveness.
I used to be good at dancing too (I don’t think it has anything to do with anything).
So, tell me, what are your strong suits? Bragging is encouraged here…