Wednesday, 13 April 2011

'Tales' does Tic Tocc!

You might have noticed I mentioned last week I was going to take part in Kat Wright's 'Tic Tocc' challenges over at 'Wright Story'. The idea is, as you may know, to complete a creative exercise within either ten or twenty minutes. Having been struggling creatively for a while, I thought it might do me some good. I'm too darn lazy to do something like this under my own steam.

She sent out the first challenge yesterday. It was the photograph of a magnificent old tree, [which looked like a mother-goddess figure breaking into a dance] set in flowery, sun-dappled woods. Kat asked everyone to create something around what might be hiding behind the tree.

I had already decided I didn't want to write, I want to stretch myself in other directions. I've never learnt to draw, but I quite fancy doing an art class. So I helped myself to some of the kids' paper and pencils, put on a favourite cd, and sat down. Here's what I managed in twenty minutes. (please don't laugh!)

I jumped out of my skin when the alarm sounded. But I was having so much fun, I took the snap to show Kat, made another cup of tea, and settled back down. And an hour and a half-later, the mug of tea gone cold and the music long finished, here's what I ended up with.

Regular readers, feel free to run to the hills! I can't quite believe it either. Now, if I'd written about this, I've no doubt there would have been some sort of skulduggery afoot, a nasty murder, or some other dastardly plot. But settling down with the kids' pencils, and not trying not to think too heavily about what I was doing, this was the result: forty year-old woman draws a fairy. Now that's disturbing!

Seriously though, I can't believe how much I enjoyed doing it. I've always talked about how much I'd like to be able to draw, but sitting down to do it, well, my conscience will nag about all the important stuff I haven't done but needs doing. Plus, my inner critic always points out that I don't know how to draw. As a shy schoolgirl, I used to find art classes at school really intimidating. There were always those confident kids who could churn out masterpieces without having ever been shown how. I gave it up at the first opportunity. But sitting there last night with my pencils, I felt really free.

This has really made me think about my whole approach to being creative. You might have noticed I set up a new page yesterday, I plan to post a novella I wrote about twelve years ago.
[I must add I've since realised I'm not sure how to go about physically doing this on 'blogger' since I can't actually post anything to the new page. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be really grateful.]
I'm working through it at the moment, typing it up and cutting out the cringingly awful parts. But the thing that has struck me the most going through it, is how much I've changed. The person who wrote it is much freer, creatively speaking, than me.

Yes, I know, twelve years is a long time, and down here in 'Tales', the trials of the intervening years have aged me horribly. But here's one of my favourite lines from the story;
"The doctor led the way, his white coat billowing, a spinnaker unfurled to send him skimming across seas of disease, bearing him away from any patches of calm wherein he might become swamped by what he sought to cure."

I'm not being conceited when I say I love that line. I loved it when I wrote it. But it encapsulates precisely what I'm trying to say. I think it's a good line, but I'd never write anything like that now. I like my imagery to be tighter, less 'wordy'. But I've been through years of rejections and criticism. The 'girl' who wrote that, and metaphorically speaking, I was only a girl, was free to soar, whereas 'Tales' here can only glimpse the sky from a chink in the dungeon's wall.

Today I'm not sure about the wisdom of revisiting old work, yesterday I thought it was the best idea ever. Maybe I've already passed my peak of what I'm capable of producing, and maybe I should give up and go back to my job as a school dinner lady.

Who would have thought a picture of a fairy would be the key to such a Pandora's box of angst? I'm off to peruse the job pages...and maybe have a look to see if there's an art course starting nearby!


  1. I am grinning with delight! Thank you for taking part - sharing the TIC TOCC experience is so much more fun than doing it on my own. And WOW I can't believe you don't draw normally - I love your fairy and the pretty toadstool and flowers. I can just imagine her hidden behind that big old tree!

    Thanks for taking a photo at time out - that was great for me and others to see. And I'm glad you wanted to continue. I often want to carry on after the time is up. But the fact that you don't have to seems to relax the unconscious. Similarly having no expectations for the outcome frees the imagination to create whatever you wish.

    I'm so glad that you had a positive experience with the first TIC TOCC.

    Re: your writing - I suspect when you were younger you may have judged yourself less allowing for wonderful lines like that one to emerge. DON'T give up, writing like everything takes practice and is a learning curve. Have fun and loosen your expectations and the writing will flow beautifully, I'm sure!

    Thanks once again for making my day :-)

    Kat Xx

  2. I used to find art classes at school really intimidating too. In fact I never really started drawing until I was in my 30s. I just decided to pick up a pen one day and draw what I saw. Then I decided to go to an art class and I hated it and it made me feel inadequate and constricted. There was too much of an emphasis of achieving something. I don't know why art classes for adults can't just be about enjoying yourself. When I went back to just drawing on my own for myself, I enjoyed it much more. I guess what I'm trying to say in my roundabout way is that you don't need someone else to tell you that you can draw. You can do it. You've proven that!

    As to your writing - we all change over time. It doesn't mean you get worse. Who knows, maybe in 10 years time you'll look back on what you're writing now and love it. But I think Kat's right too - about judging yourself. Loosening expectations generally works wonders - in so many ways.

    Oh, and many a children's book illustrator (aged 40 or not) may be found drawing fairies and dragons and all sorts of creatures right in the middle of the day! ;-)

  3. Kat, I still can't get over how much I enjoyed doing the picture! I've been floating around all day dying to pick up a pencil and have another go! But I think you make a very good point about loosening expectations. I haven't read much of the latest issue of 'Mslexia', but I did chance across a piece about a would-be writer who was finding it hard to write for enjoyment's sake - reminded me of myself.

    Heartful, you make the same point, and thank you, it's very sound advice I needed to hear. I'm so surprised you say you didn't draw until your 30's, the artwork you have on your blog is fantastic! And yes, art classes - I could imagine the same thing happening to me...

  4. So glad you got a buzz from drawing and it has opened up new avenues for you.

    If I could ever get my health in a good enough state I'd love to run 'just for the joy of it' local art classes like the sort Heartful mentions. I'd love everyone in my class to play; have fun with paint, glue, words, photos, collage....whatever they feel like. And it would all be about the fun and the process. Maybe I shall one day manage it physically but maybe before that or as well as that I may figure something to do online or/and in book form.

    Hurrah to dreaming, enjoying the creative process!From that joy results will likely blossom naturally.

    Kat X

  5. I love your fairy and I love even more the fact that you drew a fairy! Sounds like an excellent exercise to stimulate creativity! As for revisiting old work, i think it can be a good idea, even if you feel that the work itself can't go anywhere it may stimulate new ideas...

  6. I bet your classes would be fun, Kat!

    Juliet Crafty, thank you, it was such fun. And I think you're right about stimulating new ideas xx


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