Ah, as many of you know, I get super stressed and major imposter syndrome about sharing anything artistic or doing anything where people can hear my voice.
And because of that I have a super hard time actually doing things like buying paint or canvas because it means I’m using money to make art rather than pay bills or buy pellets for winter. That’s why this painting is actually mixed media. I ran out of a lot of paint this week.
Running out of a lot of paint and only having pretty low quality paint brushes is cool in a way because it pushes me. I have to think in different ways.
Life, I guess, is kind of like that, too.
I talked to someone this week that used to really intimidate me. They are smart and no holds barred. Sometimes that’s a scary combination in a person. And I used to have so much anxiety about talking to this person. But I did it. I talked to them. And you know what? It was good. I made a connection, I think. I had fun.
Why? Because I remembered that they are a person too.
“You used to be so fearful,” they said, which is really similar to something a local bookseller said to me last year.
And I think part of it is that I know how flawed I am. I can’t even remember to shut the closet door, but it’s okay. We are all flawed and imperfect and if people want to judge me? That’s okay, but I’m going to do my damn best not to judge them.
There’s a sort of freedom that comes with that realization—a freedom that I’m hoping will extend to me being able to share paintings and art. Because all my fear about art is about being not talented enough and being judged for that. That’s not really what life is about, is it? It’s not what art is about either.
Brené Brown said,“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
I have been super lucky lately because writing a local news blog has pushed me out of my hermit ways and I have a reason to find connection. I hope you find more and new ways to be brave, too.
Every week on Facebook and now here on my blog, I do a quick BE BRAVE FRIDAY.
This is because:
I am trying to be more brave and evolve.
It usually features art because I have a lot of negative scripts in my mind from my childhood and my mom insisting that nobody in our family had ‘an artistic bone in their body.’ She was a lovely mom! She just… I was a kid who listened to those sorts of things and even though art was my favorite thing to do? Well, I figured she was right.
It’s important that we remember who we wanted to be sometimes. And not just be the person we are.
So, today, I made a painting sketch? Is that a thing? On paper so I know it will degrade and not last and that’s okay. Because change, I tell myself, happens. It has to happen. And being brave is accepting that it will happen. Things will go away and evolve and change.
So much love to those of you who are sick, who are worried, who are fighting things to make the world better for all of us, for those of you who are speaking your truths and for those of you who are still afraid to.
The best kind of change happens when we’re brave enough to be vulnerable and go after the life and the world we want.
I wish you so much bravery today and all days.
Amnesty International Urgent Action Appeal
Click here to find out how you can help with Amnesty’s recent urgent action appeal.
Machi (spiritual Mapuche leader) Celestino Córdova Tránsito completed over 100 days on hunger strike demanding to join his community for the period of a mandatory spiritual retreat. He was convicted and in prison in the city of Temuco for homicide induced by arson in 2014. Authorities failed to dialogue with him, and a local Court authorized the possibility of force feeding him. On 10 August, he expressed his intention to enter a dry strike. We demand authorities urgently initiate a dialogue with Celestino Córdova and abstain from feeding him against his will.
You can help potentially save someone’s life. That’s pretty cool.
WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.
And I’m being super brave this week in quiet ways. Bravery doesn’t always have to be loud or on social media or flashy, right? Sometimes the best kind of brave is the quiet kind. Fingers crossed.
I hope you’re being brave and going after your dreams. And here’s a bit of an abstract landscape I made this week. It’s still terribly hard for me to post these especially when I have so many artist friends, but here you go.
So much love to everyone. Stay safe and well, okay?
I make a big deal about being brave. That’s because I have a lot of anxiety about certain things:
LIST OF BIG THINGS I HAVE MAJOR ANXIETY ABOUT
Being in videos
Dead clowns reanimating.
People I love dying.
Anyway, I’m pretty open about the things that make me nervous and over on Facebook, I’ve been having Be Brave Fridays where I do something that I am uncomfortable about and encourage others to be brave, too.
So, what I’m really uncomfortable about is showing my art. That’s because of a couple things:
It’s really personal
I’m not trained
As I told a lovely woman that I met on Friday night, “My mom was amazing, but she had really defined notions of what our family could and couldn’t do.”
The lady said, “Oh, I get this. My mother is the same way. I get this.”
According to my Mother, If we were going to create things, it was supposed to be:
She said to me on multiple occasions when I was little, “Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.”
But I really wanted to draw straight lines and make comics and paintings. I knew there was no point though.
None of us can draw a straight line.
I spent years and years wishing I could draw or paint. I spent years and years wishing I could make images without words.
Not an artistic bone.
When I was divorcing, I gave in and bought paint. I would stay up late into the night, painting. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was the only way I could think to get my emotions out into the world so that they wouldn’t fester inside of me.
It didn’t matter that they sucked because nobody would see them. I would paint over canvasses because I didn’t have enough money to buy more canvas. I would paint on newspaper pages (not a good idea), on the backs of old-fashioned notebooks, on anything.
Not an artistic bone in my body?
It seemed pretty true.
I became a writer and I wrote novels, but sometimes I would still get these images in my head. I would need to get them out.
So, I’d trudge down into the basement and paint.
It’s cold in the basement. The kitty litter box is in the basement. It’s easy to hide down in that basement. I hid.
Sometimes when I get stuck in a story, or can’t work out its theme, I paint.
Sometimes when I get lost inside my emotions, I paint.
A woman said to me on Friday, “You wrote all these books, too? I have never met anyone who is good at both before.”
And I laughed and was all self-disparaging and said, “You still haven’t.”
She gave me a look and said, “Oh, honey. Yes, I have.”
Oh, honey. Yes, I have.
Even writing that now? It makes me get all teary-eyed.
Painting is the places inside of me where I can’t make words work, where I can’t get things to express themselves via writing, so I have to go deeper.
There are places that are deeper than words.
It’s hard to show that to the world especially when:
You haven’t been trained
Nobody in your family can draw a straight line
There’s not an artistic bone in your body.
You live in a world where being vulnerable and authentic is often derided and scorned.
I started Be Brave Fridays because I was tired of hiding. I posted paintings even though I was positive not one single person would be kind. But people were kind and one person, Aymie Walsh (co-owner of CoeSpace in Bangor) sent me a message and asked me if I wanted to be in an Art Walk.
An Art Walk is a thing where people go from site to site and check out different artists. It all takes place during a set time period in a location like a city or downtown.
When Aymie sent me that message? I thought she might be punking me. I texted my daughter and she said, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”
My daughter is the bravest human I know. She’s faced all her fears now. She’s a field artillery officer. She went to Harvard. She’s jumped off buildings. She’s survived me being her mother.
So, I said yes.
I said yes even though I kept hearing those phrases, wrapping themselves around my heart, over and over again.
Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.
I was an anxious wreck all last Friday. I had one of those existential life crisis moments where I didn’t know why I bothered to exist at all. I was a punk all day. I had so many fears.
Then we put up all my paintings on the beautiful white walls of CoeSpace. And something inside me shattered.
This could not be real.
I expected nobody to come. I expected people to mock me to my face. I expected to hear those same sentences only slightly twisted around.
You don’ t have an artistic bone in your body. You can’t even draw a straight line.
What are you trying to do?
Here’s the thing though. Nobody said those words to me.
But here’s the bigger thing. Even if they had said those words? They don’t get to make those words real. Only I get to make those words real. Only I get to have that power over who I am and what I want to be.
That’s something I have to learn over and over again in my life. That’s something that I have to remember and paint through because that realization? It’s a heart realization. It’s a soul realization. And it’s too big for words.
There are much better things to tell ourselves, to sing into our stories, and to bind our hearts with.
Oh, honey. Yes, you have.
Those words made me braver. Aymie made me braver. My poor, sweet family that dealt with me all day? They made me braver.
I want you to be brave, too. Go after the person you want to be, okay? Sing out your story in the melodies that you want to hear. Become.
The event though? It also created connections as people exchanged snippets of their lives and stories with each other.
One artist showed a old photo in a book to a guest. “It’s this picture. She’s right here.”
“Yes! It’s my grandmother’s niece.”
There was a moment of nodding, smiling and the artist asked the man on the other side of the table, “Are you a writer?”
“Nah, just a regular person wandering around today,” he said.
“Oh, that’s what we all always are, isn’t it?”
His smile grew bigger and they shared a silence.
Sometimes when you hear real truths? There are no other words.
I hope that your Monday and your week is full of truths and big realizations of wandering around and being regular and being real.
Here are some photos I took:
What does it mean to be a regular wandering person? What does it mean to find your own truths? It means you aren’t defining yourself by your job, your labels, other people’s expectations.
It means you are being and existing and observing without definitions.
It means that you are drawing in experiences to use later if you’re a writer or an artist or a person who interacts with others.
When we live our biggest lives, when we wander and experience? We learn, not just about other people but also about ourselves.
Gabby the Dog is so into that and I am, too.
As writers, we try to create emotional truths in our readers. We try to make them feel and understand life and story through our characters.
Here are a couple things to remember when you’re writing fiction:
Thoughts lead to feelings.
Saying “I am so sad,” doesn’t really make us readers feel sad. But showing us how a woman feels the cold side of the bed. A name comes into her head. She reaches out her hand. The bed is still cold. She hugs a pillow, clutching it to her. . . . That can show us more than ‘sad,’ it can show us ‘sad-lonely.”
Emotional truths in our story are the truths that resonate with us. They are the things that hurt us deeply, lift us up. Things we are passionate about. Remember your passion, your beliefs, when you write. It will help inform those truths.
Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.
I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.
So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog . There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.
Write! Submit! Support! Begins Again in July!
There is a quick webinar (free) on Tuesday about the Write! Submit! Support! class that was created at the Writing Barn in Austin. You can sign up for that here.
It’s not easy to create a thriving writing career in the children’s industry, but what if you didn’t have to do it alone? Write. Submit. Support is a six-month program designed by author and Writing Barn Founder Bethany Hegedus. Classes are led by top creatives in the children’s industry field; they’ll give you the tips and tools you need to take both your manuscripts and your developing career to the next level. Think of it as an MFA in craft with a certificate in discovering (or recovering) your writer joy! – Writing Barn
Carrie is all strengths. Seriously. She’s compassionate, funny, zesty, zany, insightful, honest, nurturing, sharp, and…Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives. But really, I couldn’t praise Carrie enough as a mentor. I’ve long respected her writing, but being talented at something doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great mentor. Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching. Aside from the specific feedback she offers, she also writes letters in response to the process letter and analyses. These letters have been so impactful for me as I writer that I plan to print them and hang them up. Creepy? Maybe. But they are so inspiring. And that, in the most long-winded way possible, is how I would summarize Carrie as a mentor—inspiring.
Dogs Are Smarter Than People
And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.
Share this if you want and also because it would be super nice of you!