Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Finding the thread--

detail, The Big Purple. Yolanda Sharpe, 2011.
26 x 80 inches, watercolor on paper
I have been feeling quite unlike myself in my work--wayward, disorganized, unsure of what's next--due to an excess of meets and tournaments, ferryings, volunteering, and extended periods of being a single mother while my husband travels. Sometimes life becomes labyrinthine in complexity and just a little too packed with labor that is tiring, no matter how good it is to do. I expect this sort of over-crammed sensation is especially true of women who pursue the arts, and most especially true of those of us who have children because children are, as Bacon wrote, "hostages to fortune" and must come first.

Ashley Norwood Cooper, "Deer in the Headlights"
casein on board, 2012
And so on Thursday, two friends and I started a project of setting goals, roughly following the International Arts Movement's Working Artist Initiative. I'll be meeting weekly with painters Ashley Norwood Cooper and Yolanda Sharpe. Ashley is, like me, the mother of three children, so we have similar problems with organizing time, though her children are younger than mine. Yolanda has a different set of issues as a full-time academic who is both painter and singer. But the three of us know one another well and won't have to become acquainted with one another's work because we know and like it already.

It's good. I can feel our little project working on me already--the need to organize, the expectation of sharing our progress at the upcoming meeting, and the simple but beautiful idea of that somebody else cares whether I make something of worth this week is energizing and helpful.

9 comments:

  1. This is lovely! That's all I've got. :)

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  2. Thanks, Ms. Julie! Glad you think so... You live in a place that's a bit more supportive for writing, I suspect--a lot more events going on.

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  3. You're the most goal-oriented and organized person I know. It's no wonder that your energy flags sometimes. Maybe you need a bit of a rest?

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  4. Yes, please tell somebody in the 1% to send me to a spa (where I can write!)

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  5. You may disagree, but I think what you're describing is a somewhat universal "ailment" for 21st century human beings. We all get overwhelmed and disoriented. And we all need "support groups" of sorts at times along the way. In any case, my motto may help: one day at a time. Yesterday is over, tomorrow cannot be anticipated, and we have only the moment. Too simple? Perhaps.

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  6. No, I think it is true. The world spins very quickly for us, these days!

    We are asked to do so much. And if you live in a little village, you may be asked to do ambitious things that you didn't expect because you quickly become known as somebody who does things...

    So I hope to once again put a little more order into my life and, yes, one day at a time.

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  8. Ah yes, I know what you mean! Good that you have supportive friends in the arts!

    Even though my children are grown and gone now, I have slowed down and get distracted by health checkup appointments, driver's license renewals as well as the usual home stuff. I so miss my artists group and studio for it took me away from those distractions for a while.

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  9. Hi Marja-Leena,

    I've never had much in the way of a supportive group, though I once joined John Montague's fiction workshop because I was new in town and wanted to meet people, back when I moved to Albany. And I still see one of those people, someone who now has several books. Mostly I've just known writers and artists, seen them at events, etc.

    But I do feel the need for some company along the way at the moment.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.