Thursday, January 23, 2020

i wonder who made this tiny bicycle

i think about the person who bent and twisted this wire to make this tiny little bicycle. it's just one piece, so it's like one of those line sketches, where you draw the whole thing without the pencil leaving the page. it's slightly wonky, but it's also utterly wonderful in its tinyness and level of detail - the kickstand, the handlebars, the wheels and the chain, just a little wire doodle, but somehow perfect. i wonder if they made other things? i found this in a bowl of tiny things for 10kr. in a strange secondhand shop where we bought a little yellow boat. when i saw it, i knew i had to have it. it's very tiny, about 3cm is all. i keep it up on a high shelf, because i'm afraid the cats will play with it and then it will be lost underneath something or get vacuumed up because i don't see it on the floor. but it makes me smile whenever i see it. and i think about that person who made it, wondering how many attempts they made before making this perfect specimen. dozens? or perhaps they just got very lucky on the first try.

Monday, January 20, 2020

trying something new: life drawing

yesterday, i tried out croquis/life drawing for the first time. it's never really appealed to me before because i consider myself someone who doesn't draw people.

our local art group has started up a regular søndagscroquis here in the new year, ever other week, so i decided i'd go along to support it. i was surprised to find that i quite liked it.

as you can see, we had a male model. he was tall, middle-aged and totally naked. it was amazing how quickly you forget about that and just look for the shapes and the lines, sketching quickly. we did a number of exercises - warming up in the start with him changing position every 30 seconds, hence some of these pages having several versions on one page.

i actually liked the quick changing of positions better than when he posed for longer. i found that i couldn't keep drawing him in the same position for 10 minutes. or even 5. one minute was about right for me.

i think that all those horses i drew as a kid served me well in looking for the shapes and proportions. i don't think i ever completely let go of any tension i felt about drawing a person, but i stepped in that direction and i will definitely be going back again in two weeks.

Friday, January 17, 2020

on tricking myself into writing and finally reading ulysses

a big thank you to judith for turning me on to 750words. it's a site with a lovely blank canvas (weirdly less intimidating than an open, fresh word doc), where you attempt to write 750 words per day. i tried it out for the first time this morning and got to 557 words before it told me the day was over and i would have to start a new day. this, at 9 a.m. my time. turned out my time zone was set to pacific time in california, so i cheated and pasted my 557 words (which i had written in 10 minutes) into the new day (after all, it had been friday for me all along) and continued. my stats will be a little off, since pasting it in takes a bit less time than it did to write the words in the first place, but oh well. i found it surprising how quickly i got to 750 words. maybe this writing thing isn't so hard after all?  it was just a bunch of drivel, recounting my day yesterday, so there's that, but nonetheless, it was a start.

i'm finding that reading and writing go hand in hand. i knew this, but i think what with obsessively reading the news on my iphone since mid-2016, i'd gotten out of the habit of reading books. i've been fixing that thus far in 2020 and i've already read four books. i'm currently reading hemingway's moveable feast, which contains a lot of advice about writing. i've also joined a book club through the library. we will read just one book - james joyce's ulysses. i took a semester-long course focused on just that book and wrote a 25-page paper on it without finishing the damn thing, so i decided that now is the time. it's one of those you probably should read. but already i can feel myself thinking i have to read a bunch of other stuff first - like i really should refresh homer's odyssey before i begin. and maybe dante's inferno too. and that would lead to goethe's faust, wouldn't it? where will it end?

just get reading already.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

just get writing already

thanks to my old bloggy friend, lynne, of wheatlands, i read a magnificent piece by helen brain on her writing process of her forthcoming post-apocalyptic YA trilogy. it had me thinking all day. thinking about building imagined worlds in clay, or at least drawing them as a map, maybe drawing up a timeline on the wall. you see, lynne, judith (also from the old bloggy days) and i are working on a project together - a project that we hope becomes a novel.  or rather, not that we hope will become a novel - a project that WILL become a novel.

but for that to happen, we need to get writing and i'm weirdly struggling with that. it's strange, because i actually love to write and although i'm out of practice, i feel it's like riding a bike, i will be able to do it again if i just try. but, i'm having trouble sitting down and doing it. and i'm not sure why.

i listened to stephen king's on writing on audible and he basically says that you just have to sit down and do the work, day after day. and look at all that he's produced! and he did it drunk, high and hung over for many years, so surely i can manage when i'm none of those and have plenty of time to devote to it.

so what's stopping me? fear that what i write won't be good enough for my writing partners? fear that the words won't come? distractions - the internet, master chef, netflix, litterboxes to pick, laundry to do, dinners to make. i think, "today i'll be able to settle in after i make a nice coffee for myself. or just after i have some lunch." but somehow, the settling in doesn't happen. i get fidgety in front of the keyboard and the writing doesn't come.

i sometimes wonder if i'm in the midst of a mild depression. i'm not sure i'd be able to discern the difference between it and everyday life. january and february are the darkest, most dreary months in these northern latitudes and that doesn't help me. you'd think a steady rain outside would be just what i need to keep me indoors in front of the computer, but alas, instead it renders me sluggish and uninspired and a bit grey myself and as much as it should, it does not make me sit down and write. (that's not strictly true, as i am sitting down and writing this.)

i love the story we're working on - a story of a brave, amazing young dutch woman who sailed as a man with the dutch east india company, was exposed along the voyage and put ashore in the burgeoning cape colony. there she met abraham, an aging pillar of the new community, who married her and they had a child before it was revealed that she was already married and she was sentenced to bigamy and banished back to europe. and all of this is true! we just have to weave it into a historical novel and bring her story to life.

maybe it's there that the pressure lies - the idea of telling her story and doing it justice is a bit daunting. she must have been so brave and adventurous to set off on that journey, how do we find her voice?  all i know is that i certainly won't find it by sitting here, not writing anything.

and so i turn back to helen brain's good advice to herself..."Maybe all that was needed for my book was the courage to push myself into unknown territory. Maybe I could immerse myself in my subconscious, and let the book filter up from the depths, instead of trying to force it to conform to my conscious process."

or maybe i should just get writing.