Thursday, March 30, 2006

The forever challenge

I'm going to say something about a few things that, on first glimpse, have no relationship to each other--you still might not see the connection when I'm done.

I used to be a crafter. You know the type, I always had some sort of project going. Everything from making stained glass ornaments to quilting. And I have a huge box of half-finished projects in the basement to prove it. (And several smaller boxes of the various tools and equipment I had to buy to actually work on the various types of crafts.)

I've never liked country music. Yuck! But the past couple of years, I've found myself drawn to it and in fact, almost obsessed with it. I want to listen to it all the time, no matter what I'm doing. With the death of Buck Owens, GAC and all the radio stations have been playing a lot of his songs and, to tell you the truth, if that was still what country consisted of, I'd still hate most of it.

But besides the fact that I'm addicted to Rascal Flatts and--good grief--have you seen Josh whatever-his-name is whose sexy "Baby lock the door and turn the lights down low" is on the radio every five minutes? Wow!--I think the thing that most fascinates me are the songs. And it isn't the music as much as it is the words. The people who write a lot of it are fantastic, talented word crafters.
"I'll be glad to take you back...just as soon as I stop breathing."
"...those big blue, need you eyes."
And all the plays on words:
"I hijacked a rainbow and landed in a pot of gold."
"I'm living in fast-forward."
"I've got a lot of leaving to do."

So what do these two diverse things have to do with one another??? (Hey, I'm a trained writer. Don't you recognize that expert transition?) They are both about changes. BIG changes for me. And about what led to those changes.

I have a box of unfinished crafts in the basement because most 'crafty' things I could learn how to do before I finished the project. (Maybe not well, but you know what I mean.) Once I learned the steps and how to do it adequately, the challenge was gone. And once I started using my creativity to write, I no longer needed to use it on some new craft that I would be bored with in five minutes because that particular craft was no longer a challenge. I changed when I found something to challenge me full time.

I suddenly love country music because it makes me feel things I haven't felt for a long time. I've always loved music. So that isn't different. But the past few years, I haven't listened to much--and I used to have something on full-time-- mostly because it was leaving me flat. It wasn't making me feel. It wasn't inspiring me to write or sing or dance. And now, country has made me want to stop and listen to the words and study how the rhythms and rhymes fit together--and write and sing and dance. I've changed.

The one thing you'll rarely hear from any writer is that they want to change occupations (or long-term goals to have it as an occupation if it isn't yet). And though I've changed what I write after ten contemporary romances--my last project was non-fiction and what I'm working on now is also non-fiction. But that isn't forever. I can feel myself itching to get back to making stuff up. And it might not be exactly the same kind of stories I was writing before, but it will be something. The word-crafting challenge is still there. And listening to (and studying) country music makes me want to play, too, and reminds me that "I've got a lot of learning to do."

What are your big changes?


Nancy Morse said...

My changes would be too numerous to list, but isn't that what life is all about, constant change and growth? If you don't change, you don't grow, that's how I see it. I was also a craft person, macrame, knitting, crocheting, stained glass, you name it, I did it. But except for an afghan every few years when the urge strikes, I don't craft anything anymore, except in my writing. And that, too, has changed. Hopefully, it's gotten better, more polished, more mature, more my own voice (whatever that is). I used to be so painfully shy that I would slink into a hole before I would talk to a person I didn't know. But that, too, has changed. I think I have evolved into someone who, while not exactly outgoing, at least isn't afraid to put myself out there. I'll always be hopelessly flawed, but even my flaws have changed over the years.

Lynn M said...

Wow, thanks for giving me the answer as to why I, too, have so many half-finished crafting projects in various Rubbermaid containers. I see now that you're right - it was all about the challenge of learning something new. Once I'd mastered the craft itself, the projects were just so much tedious work. Along with the fact that my attention wanders very easily and I'm always looking for something new (something that has greatly hindered my ability to finish what I start writing-wise), it's no wonder I rarely made it to the end of projects that at the beginning seemed so compelling.

And I'm grinning like a fool over your remarks about country music. For years I'd wince when my hubby would turn on a country music station. I couldn't stand all that sobbing-in-your-beer D-I-V-O-R-C-E stuff. Now, though, I'm a huge fan of country music. I love that the words really tell a story (my favorite is Kenny Chesney's "There Goes My Life") or express some strong emotion in such eloquent ways. Sure, sometimes I'm annoyed that their blatant smarminess causes me to cry, but I'm totally hooked.