Criticism Maybe Good for You, Just Write Anyways

I have struggled with my writing the last few days. Maybe it is because I have jumped down from that Cloud where I think ” I was an English Major with a 3.7 average so there! “The truth is in the real world your not the only one who gets to critique your work and sometimes constructive criticism hurts. It is not the fact that I am getting criticized, I know in writing it is great to have friends or editors look at your work and I know from critiquing others when writing is not sounding right. But sometimes it still hurts, you’ve done all this work only to find that this has to be changed and so does this, and do not look now, someone has a different insight into your writing then you did when you were writing it etc.

Mostly, I do not mind but expect people to be clear to me on what I am writing for or about and what format or style of writing they are wanting to see. And I really get tired of talking about my mental illness at times. My situation is pretty unique but I guess every mentally ill person would say that. I want people to treat people who are mentally ill better and to be more understanding to them; one of the ways people can do this is by knowing that mental illnesses are physical problems in disguise. Some synapses in your brain or chemicals become imbalanced and this is purely a physical reaction on your brain with mental symptoms. But I have said this before in articles and to people it is just that when it comes to going deeper inside someone’s experience with mental illness it is difficult and right now I am tired of it; it was a very personal time for me. But I say yes to giving a mentally ill person’s view point because I want other people to become aware of what I just told you, to share knowledge, not because I want to tell all most of the time.

As a writer I want to get as far away from this topic as possible right now. I will write about a lot of things but not that. But I have learned a lot that I have forgotten in writing such as saying things more concisely and simply, playing with sentences until they are perfect, proof reading many times not just a few, and reading aloud your writing to listen for mistakes. I forget how many times a writer must revise and sometimes I am so sick of writing something I do not care to fix it. i think let editors do what they want, or I’ll fix it in a few days. But that’s a problem because it’s my work and I set high standards for myself which I have to learn to keep but also sometimes to lower. My work is imperfect and sometimes needs to be left a day before I turn it in to reword, edit- out, revise, and catch mistakes. This does not make me a bad writer, only a human one and I suppose an inexperienced one.

But what has really become clear to me is that to be a writer you just have to write, good or bad days, or any day really. The point is just write. And then you start to learn to do all these things instinctively and perhaps if you are lucky you will be able to reach your own expectations or adjust accordingly. I think those of us who write are born with the talent to write and that we are self-made people; however much we write and what we write about determines our success; that and the people, our audience, that we are trying to appeal to. So maybe we are not self made, maybe we are just lucky? But I think either way we continue to write because it is a need, it is like breathing, something that does not stop inside of us, until we are dead. That my friends, is a certainty.


Winning the Genetic Lottery

I have been watching TED videos and that never fails to get me thinking. I watched this one video by this super model ( Cameron Russell) and she said very honestly, I won the genetic lottery. Basically, she explained she had benefited from good genes in a time where tall, white, slender women are considered beautiful. And you want to know how you too can be a super model? Well that is your answer – win the genetic lottery. Why would you even want to be one, when instead of posing for a picture you could be or do anything else in the world? Think about the fact that Cameron always has to think about her body image because that is her career. Cameron further explained that the picture of the model you see on the magazine isn’t even her; that picture is the collaboration of a whole bunch of make up artists, computer touch ups, fashionista’s, and whoever else is needed to make that picture the way it is. It occurred to me then, that we have all in some sense won the genetic lottery. You may not think so, but there is no one like you in this world; there will never be anyone like you and there never was.

Maybe some stars shine brighter than others but everyone has a chance in this world a genetic makeup that makes them unique, that will lead them to a unique life and in the end a unique way of having lived. One could even go as far to say you were made you with your genetics for a reason as was this model. From the thoughts that go through your head, to your way of thinking and reasoning, to the way you treat your body, the time you live in, the people you surround or do not surround yourself with – that makes you special. Moreover, as a model is led to her type of work through a series of experiences related to her, how she looked, being at the right place at right time, so is everyone else.

I learned how to write well when I was 5 years old. I went into grade 1 being able to read and write far above the level of the average kid. In high school, social studies and English were my best subjects this was no accident as both those subjects involved written tests and essays. In university, I also went into English and History, and almost finished a philosophy minor. My theory, was that was history was literary and what’s literary is is historical; I believe they call this New Historicism in Literary Criticism. But I also believed what we thought, did, and wrote at a certain point in time was affected by how we were thinking, what we believed, from whom or what we were pulling our philosophies from. Take the Renaissance for instance, as a point in history with a philosophy of humanism and literary works that projected from that. All in all, I am saying I must have had some genetic predisposition to words and language that caused me to be good at the areas of English and History.

Not only did I find this predisposition in school but in the activities I liked to do and often still do. I love to read, to write in various forms – for the longest time I wrote journals of sort filled with poetry and later journals themselves. My one English teacher said that this was a good thing but after having suffered through mental illness I found it to painful to go back and rehash what I could no longer do or what I thought at certain unstable times, so I do not do that anymore. Now I blog, generalize a subject, make it less personal, and perhaps more useful to other people. Blogging led to writing for magazines, which led to taking a creative writing course, which will hopefully lead to other courses, to more written work, to a masters in Creative writing or something related; all I know is that writing is what feels right and necessary to me. So maybe I did win the genetic lottery to write.

I cannot say at this point in time if I won that lottery anymore than any other writer, probably not, but maybe. And each person has there own story that has led them through life to this point in time. Career wise we all have things we are good at and things we are not. It could be as simple as being the best office gossip, or the best note taker at meetings. It could be as complicated as being the best neurosurgeon in Alberta or the trendiest fashion designer in Vancouver. We all are blessed with a unique skill set for our jobs and situations in life. We all have purpose and have abilities to deal with more than we think. Even the model, who I watched on the TED video I cannot help but think she had or learned specific skills to work in the modelling world.

So what is your purpose, and skills set? What are you genetically blessed to do? What is your calling? These are all questions we ask ourselves and hopefully find answers to.

“All I Really Got To Do Is Live and Die, but I’m in a Hurry And Don’t know Why.”

Today has been one of those Saturdays I can’t sit down. I was supposed to spend all day drawing at the Legislature grounds but there is no way I could concentrate for more than 2 hrs on some good drawing, never mind 8 hrs, and that is just my health problems. It is just easier not to go than to explain my situation. Plus, if I am realistic I can admit I just wanted a free weekend to catch up on everything and plan out Architectural Drawing’s final project. I had several drawings I had not completed to my satisfaction and at this point in the day I have finished a house section, upstairs and downstairs and used white out to fix my mistakes on my floor plans and section. It does not look the best but I have adjusted the area on my floor plan and placed the cut where it actually shows on the section now so that looks better at least. The white out used on the floor plans looks much better than the white out on the cross section; different kind, white out tape versus white out pen. Then, I have traced the house outline from the section in order to do an exterior elevation. I am a bit excited about it actually I think I can use a bit of color in the siding etc. of the house and the green of the trees. There are these amazing Indian ink markers I have talked about before that work well on plan drawings.

Meanwhile, I have found this colorful and odd building that bends in the middle in Berlin. It has an interesting perspective and beautiful lights that I think I could make with either acrylic paint or water color pencils and water. The lines of the building can be in dark pencil and the night sky can be charcoal. I think it will be lovely. But before I do my final project and rework my architectural statement some I need to do a 3 dimensional picture of a building in charcoal, in shade. Plus, the final project requires more planning in my sketch book, planned drawings of parts of the picture which I found on Pinterest.

By the way, I am writing this waiting for my spinach dip to warm in the oven. It takes two hours. I have been in a hurry all day trying to put together a bit of a supper and wine selection for a friend whose visiting tonight, plus a couple members of my family. So we have spinach dip, chicken things, stuffed mushrooms, and fresh vegetables and all the wine you want. I am looking forward to my friend visiting, it has been awhile since we have got to talk and I have been trying not to wear myself out between art class homework and food preparation. I love having company though, it’s so great having the house to yourself to have friends over.

But here’s the thing: I took this day to take it off and all I’ve done is work. You’ll notice the title of my blog, a line from Alabama a great band: ” I’m in a hurry to get things done I rush and rush till life’s no fun. All I really got to do is live and die but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.” That is the whole Chorus and I always think about it when I make myself busy good or bad.

You see, I think we have a great deal of control over how we use our time, plan our days and we do not realize it or acknowledge the fact that we do. We choose to do certain activities and fill our time certain ways; or at least somewhere down the line we made a choice for our lives to be a certain way. This does not work with everything such as certain illnesses and unexpected things that happen. But generally, I think people have free will and make choices. The problem occurs when we do not realize what things in our lives are important. I feel the way I am spending my Saturday is a good way to spend my Saturday but lets not kid ourselves ” all we really gotta do is live and die” so why are we in such a hurry to do things? There is time enough to do everything, something we don’t realize and if we do not get everything done is that so horrible? The consequences of a less hectic less busy life convince me that even if we have to work on things a little longer or not do certain things, time is always waiting. Time will wait for things too cook, for projects to be finished, and evenings with friends to be enjoyed and let’s face it, our time will end sometime so we might as well spread it out.

Of Art and Architecture

Learning or relearning to draw can be a difficult thing. One must learn line, shade, mediums, design, placement of subject on the page, choosing a good subject, and most importantly, one must learn (or relearn) to be talented. For me, drawing is a skill ( well art in general) that has flowed from my hands as if I were Harry Potter and it was some magic I possessed. But such as magic with Harry Potter, drawing and art must be practiced and refined to be kept up. When I was 23 taking a drawing course at the U of A that magic still flowed from my veins, it circulated through out my body as blood and what was left behind by my hands was beautiful. Art was relaxing and after 3 full days of work I would spend Wednesday nights easily learning and relearning drawing techniques.

Flash forward 4 years later. I have suffered from a psychotic episode 4 years earlier that has effected the right side of my brain because I became too Depressed. I have slowly recovered my artistic skills starting with a pepper I painted when I first started to recover, followed by an attempt to paint some sunflowers in between; then a year ago, my drawing really began to improve drawing interior design textures for a class spent mostly drafting. My first real art class though since 4 years ago has been an option for my Interior Design Certification called Architectural Drawing.

And truly, from that class I have restarted the magic, from some awful sketches to some drawings that have actually been quite decent. And the girl who got the top Art 20 and 30 awards in high school has begun to return. It is true what they say practice, practice, practice. But can I guarantee that I will keep up the practice drawing after this class is done? I am not sure; the hectic pace of homework including three large drawings a week plus sketch book work is a bit of a gruelling routine when one has other work that must also be done. And art, it is not the relaxing hobby it used to be; rather, I must squeeze my drawing into the little time my mind has to concentrate and put to paper what I imagine, or what is in front of me. I still love art but I have found now that it comes with exhaustion and often, frustration. What used to flow so silkily from my hands sometimes becomes lost in translation. Three dementional prospective drawing is giving me that issue; capturing the birds eye view or worms eye view has been hard. I am waiting for that moment of ‘a ha,’ that moment of understanding, but it has yet to come.

But I have been quite happy with a lot of my other drawings. I have been ecstatic to draw with charcoal again, to feel its black smoothness coat my fingers and palms as I work. I have also loved to work with just the charcoal pencils, which give me more control when I draw and are excellent for adding line to the shading and blending common in a charcoal drawing. I like to work quite dark and I am learning to leave the paper as the lightest places on the drawing, rather than just erasing or adding in chalk or conte in white. But those methods still have merit. I also enjoy these markers that come in various colors made with Indian ink, which in itself is an interesting drawing tool. But these markers create soft wet colors that blend so brightly together, the ends as little paint brushes; beats Crayola markers any day!

For our final project in this class we need to come up with two things: an architectural statement of belief and a fully rendered, multi – medium drawing of some type of architectural building. Thank goodness, I can do two point perspective! I think I will research some classical architecture from my old Jansen’s Art History text book and draw one of those type of buildings. Or perhaps, some early Byzantine or early Gothic buildings; I do not know yet. What I do know is that I need something beautiful and artistic, something that will stand out in my own style. I can get more than a B in this course, which has been par for the course for Interior Design, so the rendering must be excellent.

What is of more interest to me currently is my architectural statement. What is the purpose of the architecture and why is it so important? Does architecture serve it’s program, its functionality? Is it aesthetic enough, how’s its structure, is it safe? Who is architecture for, for the architect, for the builder, for the people who live and use it? What style of architecture is right – should it be ornate or should it be simple or organic? All these things are important when I consider my statement.

So I start with simple statements: Architecture is the creation of buildings for people to shelter ( live), store, work, shop, entertain, eat, play, and appreciate culture in. Buildings of architecture can be ornate, plane and functionally built, or organic. I believe that architectural buildings should have a program and functionality for people ( and their animals)that is fulfilled in its design but that that design should have some sort of aesthetic quality to it for the architect and/or the people going to be using the building inside and out. There is no use in designing something simply for functionality ( although it is extremely important) as when nature was designed it was not created simply to be functional but to be aesthetically pleasing as part of it’s purpose; so should architecture be. I also think that it is important to be environmentally responsible when we are building and deconstructing are buildings. That we should focus on reuse, recycling, and using strong but environmentally friendly materials to build our architecture and dispose of it.

There is the beginning of my statement. A first draft if you will. As for me I will continue to practice my drawing skills, to finish the unfinished drawings for my portfolio, and to work on my final project. Maybe you can think of what architecture is to you, what design is to you, and how you can be an artist of your own in this world we live in.