Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Year, New Goals

Here we are—a new year, a clean slate, all kinds of good things on the horizon! I have so many plans and ideas, but as I mentioned in my last post I want to pace myself a little better this year, and keep my goal list down to just three items. Over the weekend I had some time to sit down and make some decisions about what those three goals would be. In no particular order, the winners are: 

1. Edit and rewrite my next novel. As soon as my synopsis and outline for The Abyssal Plain--the literary novel I finished last year--are ready for submission (hopefully by the end of the month) I want to start working on book #10: Ghazal.  Last fall I re-read the first draft for the first time in a year, and was happy to discover that most of the editing will simply be improving some of my word choices (stronger verbs, etc.), cleaning up typos, and adding a small amount of text to help clarify the plot.

2. Work on a long-term art project. Prior to this year, the best word to describe my approach to art-making would be “scattered.” “Unfocused” might work even better. My haphazard style (aka "dabbling") is the result of loving absolutely every art material and technique I can get my hands on: collage, watercolors, acrylic, clay, every type of pencil or crayon or pastel imaginable that I then use on so many different types of papers, boards, and fabric supports that I could probably write a comprehensive thesis on the subject. 

What I haven’t done is follow any kind of serious idea or direction. I like painting cats, dogs, landscapes, faces, flowers, trees, ferrets, even my art supplies when I'm desperate—but none of it really makes for a coherent body of work. Although I never want to box myself in to the point that I give up drawing ferrets, I still want to find some kind of artistic voice this year. In other words, I want to create a series. And the strongest subject that is calling to me right now is: doorways. Using a variety of mediums and supports, I want to explore open doorways, closed doors, antique doors, doors decorated for the seasons, doors in foreign lands and climates. The concept of doors (and the houses they belong to) is so rich in metaphor and possibility that it will be a challenge to know when to stop!

3. Sketch as much as possible, and add freewriting to my drawings. Despite my concentration on doorways, I still want to keep up a sketching habit, hopefully with even more vigor than in previous years. After all, a series of doors all on their own can get a little stale. For that reason, each door will need it’s own personality: a kitty on the stair, a container of roses under the streetlight, a basket of freshly-picked tomatoes. To do that with any kind of finesse, I’ll need to practice. And to make sure I get in my daily writing practice, I plan to add freewriting to my sketches. 

I can’t tell you how energized I am about these goals and plans. The best part is I don’t need any new supplies, LOL! Just the faith and confidence to say “yes” to every new drawing, every new page.

Tip of the Day: Never underestimate the power of brainstorming. To make my list of three goals I actually had to brainstorm a list of about twenty. There was a lot I wanted to do—way too much and much more than anyone could handle with any kind of joy or enthusiasm. But I couldn’t have found the three that really appealed to me without writing it all down first.

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