Learning from a Master

“If you hear a voice within you say “You cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
― Vincent van Gogh

I am sure we hear this voice all the time. In fact I just spent a day trying fight past those words just so I could get done real words down on my page.

This Spring, F and I had a rare trip together without Little Bee. Of
course I missed her, but she was in good hands. My mother took care of her for two nights while we adventured through the city of Amsterdam. Pure heaven to be free of little feet for a few days! The freedom was good for my creating soul and I did lots of writing while free of household worries and to-do lists. And the long wine filled dinners with my handsome date, helped a bit too!

We visited the Van Gogh museum and I learned so much about this amazing artist that I have loved for so long. The thing that remained with me was his determination to get better. He refused to believe that he could not paint. His early works were highly criticised, but he kept on at it until finally he was a master. He maintained that the more he did the unfamiliar, the better he would get. The only way was up, basically.

Now why do I want to be perfect the first time? What makes me so special that I don’t need to practise?

The masters of creativity were great because they believed that they could succeed through hard work and determination.

And they never listened to the voices that told them that this plan wouldn’t work.

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The Universe heard me?

Sometimes things do start to fall into place if you ask and listen carefully enough.

I met a wonderful illustrator who wants to work with me on two of my stories.  I am so excited about it because he loves the same authors and illustrators that I do and he wants to create the same sort of books that I want to.  It is just such a great match.  His art is whimsical and wild and he cares about representing all kinds of children in books, brown, green and purple.  He cares about the quality of the words in the story and the play of art mixed with words.

My imagination is running away with me, thinking about all the book magic we could create!

This all happened because when the Estate Agent, who was showing me flats to rent, asked me my occupation, for the first time in my whole life, something told me to say, “I am a writer.  I write children’s stories.”

The Estate Agent, who I will call Danny, got quite interested in what I was saying and mentioned that he had a friend of a friend who was trying to get into illustration and would I mind looking at his portfolio.  Would I mind?  Would I mind?  Errrrr.

I would love to, I said.

And he was awesome.

And all because I just put it out there, I was sent what I needed.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  Paulo Coelho

 

Resilience and Fairy Dust.

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I have to share a lesson I learned from my two and three quarter year old daughter about being resilient. Tales from the Beehive is not supposed to be a gushy mummy blog.  Bees On Skis is there for that.  But this is the lesson anyway….

I am bold, but yet completely afraid of rejection.  Paradox, I know, but we established all that at the beginning…I am a mad mix of everything opposite.

This is what has kept me away from writing for so long.  This fear has kept me from sharing anything at all (except blog posts!) with anyone.  I don’t know why I am like this.  The people around me in my life now are the most supportive and encouraging, and yet, I still can’t find the courage to just release my words to someone who will judge them.

My daughter.  She is resilient.  I am in awe of this aspect of her personality.

The other day, she walked up to a little boy at a party and told him (with her gorgeous smile), “Hello.  Do you want to be my friend?  I can be your friend, if you like.”  No fear that this little boy was going to reject her at all.  No shyness or worry.  No nothing.  Just a pure offering of herself in friendship because she really believes that she is a good friend.  I can’t even do that at thirty three years old!

Another day, she said to me after nursery, “Mamma, we have to see Nicholas soon.  I really think he is missing me.”  She just assumes her importance in the world and her importance to people and I think it is something to learn from.  She values herself and what she has to give to herself, her friends and her family.

I know this is all innocent toddler talk, but there is something in it that I have forgotten along the way.  I would like to learn again the resilience I have tried to nurture in her.

And also, she thinks she is magic when she wears her fairy wings.

Maybe I need a pair of my own…..

The one where she realised the beginning of a truth…..

I did start writing yesterday.  And it felt great, kind of.

And then I read this post by Autumn.  It was about being authentic and being yourself and letting it all shine out, even if you might not please everyone with the outcome.  And I wondered if I too was writing what I think people wanted to read about.  A story that had a good plot and interesting characters and those kinds of things that check boxes.

Autumn wondered if writing was best coming from a raw, gritty place deep inside.  From the things we don’t let out or let shine in case of offending others.  It was a great post and really struck something inside me.

There is a reason I started writing in the first place.  I was once a lonely, scared eleven year old girl who felt invisible.  I had a home life that felt out of control and the only safe place was my room, with my pen and a notebook.  Writing was the only way out of a life that I didn’t really think I was destined for.  I wanted more and I wanted out.  So I wrote about the person I wanted to be and the life I wanted to live.  I wanted to be far away from the sadness and the anger at my home.  Writing was my way of coping with everything else that was out of my hands.

I guess I did escape it all, but in the process lost the real part of my writing.  As soon as I was “happy”, then I stopped writing about the raw stuff that made me write in the first place.

If i find the spirit of the girl who started writing in the first place, I might be able to access what I need to be writing about.  It might be amazing, but it might not be the kind of thing that everyone (by this I mean, my family) will want to read.

But I said I would try not to be a people pleaser any more and I guess this is part of the way forward.

So, back to the drawing board I go.  See you in a few…

Good Girls

In my dreams I was a cool, daring girl who said no to the teacher and went on wild and exciting adventures.  I vowed to myself that when I grew up, when I could escape, I would be that girl.

I wanted to disobey the rules but I just couldn’t.  I don’t even know why?  Was I worried that all of a sudden someone would punish me?  Yes, I guess I was.  People who follow rules are somehow praised by parents and teachers and all the people who influence our early life.  All I wanted was for people to praise me and tell me that I was a good girl.  Good Girl, Nice Girl.  Follow all the rules and use perfect punctuation.

And so I grew into a Nice Girl.  I am sort of interesting and quirky, but never enough to tip the boat.  I guess I am afraid I might fall out into that big mass of water…the unknown.  The unwritten.  I want to be out there, swimming in the ocean, but every time I try, I end up clinging to the boat, afraid that once I jump in, I won’t be able to swim.

Maybe the water will be so beautiful, I may never need the boat again……Maybe punctuation doesn’t matter as much.  As I thought. It did.