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For me, art is dialogue. A message sent out into the world, quivering in the space between two people. A word spoken, waiting for response. A spark extinguished if not received.

After too many messages crumpled in the receivers’ hands, I stopped communicating—for me, it was a series of entering art exhibits and experiencing a rash of rejections. In my journey of being an artist, the embers of the heart spark where everyone can see. And, when they are ignored, it is deeply personal. I stopped painting a year or so ago. (In my last post, I sputtered to life again. Painting a little, slowly, cautiously… again…)

But it seems that since I was born—I live, I breathe, therefore I create. One outlet staunched, another bulged and leaked. I turned to another medium.

Holding words like brushes, I swept them across pages. And started writing a book.

I’ve always loved writing as much as painting, and so, starting in 2015, I wondered, Can I write enough words on the same topic to equal a book? I started with another writer’s challenge (I wish I remember who)—if you write for 30 minutes a day, you will write more than if you never start.  I committed to that half hour a day. I deliberately ignored any guidelines for writing a book or the process of pursuing publication. I simply wanted to see if this story could live.

The characters started becoming my friends, my constant companions. I could tell them what to do (oh, the sweet power amidst the real-life challenges of raising four teenagers!) But, then, much like those flesh-and-blood children, they started developing minds of their own. I’d be writing nice little parts for them, and before I knew it, they’d be off doing their own thing—making crazy calls in the wee hours of the morning, going sledding in the middle of a blizzard, finding themselves in dangerous predicaments in other countries.

By 2017, 35,000 words spilled across the pages. Not a book, but a beginning. I shared it with a dear friend who ever-so-kindly refrained from telling me how bad it was, and ever-so-gently guided me (forever grateful to my lifelong friend Pam). Apart from her encouragement, I would have given up.

By May 2018, the manuscript extended to 65,000 words. I attended a writer’s conference and learned that 85,000 words minimum is the ideal length for a fiction work. By the grace of God, I met author Deborah Raney, who read my proposal and forged a linchpin of hope. With her constructive criticism and encouragement, I continued writing.

In November 2018, I submitted an 85,000-word manuscript to Deb Raney for professional editing.

In January 2019, with 90,000 words after incorporating Deb Raney’s invaluable input, I submitted the proposal to an agent

Now, I wait, wait, wait. The website proclaims a 6-8 week normal processing time, at the end of which, if a write hears nothing, the process ends. Deb says it can take much longer.

I wish I could keep it here with me, safe. But for me, unless it is spoken to another and received, it’s dead before it lives.

So, as the days and weeks crawl by, I try not to think about it, out there—somewhere raw and throbbing (probably buried under countless other manuscripts.) I hope it’s still breathing. I’ve subjected the characters I created (and who created me) to a ruthless world.

Maybe I will regret this, letting my heart fracture in someone else’s hands again.

If only I could put it back into my chest, but try as I might, it won’t stay put. This heart is ever pulsing and reaching for meaning, inspiration, beauty and depth of feeling. And wanting to share it with others—endlessly translating those sensations into ripples in the river of creativity, hoping to engage another in conversation.

Those embers of my heart are out there sparking like fireworks, yet again. In the end, though, in the lyrics of Ron Pope’s song One Grain of Sand, “I would rather learn what it feels like to burn than to feel nothing at all.”

 

10 thoughts on “The Fire of Creating

  1. I can’t wait to read it!! Keep me posted!! And I will pray that God takes this “story” and uses it as a BLESSING for His glory!! After all He is the Master of stories!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Friend!!! I’m cheering you on and just so excited…. I’m proud of you for being brave, courageous, and willing to step out in faith as you write. You are a courageous woman, my friend.Sending lots of love and hugs, laura

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Colleen, I wish you the best of luck and hope your book, which I’m sure is lovely, finds a good home. I’ve been where you are now many times, and when success comes and you have a book that is read and brings joy to people you realize that everything you had to endure–the worry, self-doubt, unbelievably high hopes–and everything else–was certainly worth it. Best wises, David A very well written post.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I loved this article and love what you are doing. I think you are going to be very successful with your writing because you do have a great writing style. You definitely have the heart of an artist, and I am sure it has spread to your writing as well. I wish you best of luck, and remember, the only failure is to not even try. Just believe in yourself, and if you feel good about your own writing, it will be a success. I have been a nonfiction writer for a long time, and when I wrote one of my books, Artful Alchemy: Physically Challenged Fiber Artists Creating, it was not a big seller, but I am very glad I finished it because it meant a lot to the other ladies whose stories we collected, and it helped give a sense of closure when my dear paraplegic friend and I had to close our little and poor nonprofit we established to help others. Both of us suffer from physical challenges, and we both got worse around the same time, so we knew we had to close the nonprofit. We never had any money, and there was only my friend, me and the caregiver of her, who took care of the treasury since there was no money to manage. Anyway, I guess sometimes writing is not so much about making money, but accomplishing a goal. Some of the gals who were in our book (23 in all) have since passed away, so I am glad we could tell their stories so that people won’t forget them. So sometimes just getting a book published, and knowing that it will help someone’s life is enough. Good fortune with your book, and never stop believing in yourself. Peace and many blessings, Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so thankful you have followed your heart and created beautiful valuable contributions to society. And I’m thankful you took the time to write encouragement to me. I think art and cash exchange are antithetical. How can cash pay for a part of someone’s soul? And yet in our society, value is measured by money. The challenge for an artist is to recognize the intrinsic, intangible value of creating. And also to possess a close, faithful cluster of supporters who keep reminding us when we forget. Thank you for doing that for me!

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