Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Crafty Question

Yes, the holiday wreath in this photo IS made out of cactus. Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus, to be exact. With . . . sort of . . . Red African Pods hanging from a funky raffia bow. Topped with Prickly Pear Fruit Buds, artfully accented with red craft paint. All fastened to a straw frame by florist picks . . . and some leftover wooden shish-kebob skewers from my kitchen junk drawer.
You guessed it: I made the wreath. I CRAFTED it.
Good question.
The simple answer is that I saw a similar one at the Liberty Bar in San Antonio. A century-old establishment skewed at an alarming Pisa-esque angle. Which means that if you set your purse on the floor it could keep on slidin' til it comes to rest under the spurs of that half snockered cowboy at the end of the bar. The menu, however, is damned-straight fabulous.

Anyway, I saw the wreath (hanging decidedly off-plumb) at the Liberty Bar, and told myself--heck yeah--I could make one. Because:
I had the cactus growing in my back yard.
I had all those wooden shish-kebob thingies gathering dust in my kitchen drawer.
And (most significantly) I had the luxury of TIME.
Because (and here’s the real answer to the question “why”):
I’m between writing contracts.
Mai Tai to Murder has been successfully launched, and my new series proposal (an inspirational romance) is under serious consideration by several publishing houses. Very exciting. But, still, it’s strange for an author to be in a limbo-land without deadlines. Though I love the heady sense of anticipation and new options (cue the West Side Story showtune, "Something's Coming" . . .) I find that my natural creative juices need to be satisfied. I MUST be CRAFTING something. Anything (obviously). I've always been that way. And over the years, this itchy need has spawned a vast number of strange things: felt fabric mice dressed in Camelot costumes, a gingerbread re-creation of my hospital emergency department (complete with Santa OD'd on brownies) , Edward Scissorhand-like topiaries, cookies shaped into smiling armadillos, that great carrot cake for a quarterhorse's 16th birthday party . . . . okay, I’ll stop before I scare the bejeebers out of you.

However, my sense is that most writers have always had the drive to create, and long before their crafting involved words there were likely other venues. Paint, clay, wood, feathers, blowtorches and solder, or . . . ?

So, question: If you couldn’t write, what other CRAFT would call to you? Or, before this writing gig snared you, where have you found creative outlets? Any lamentable "masterpieces"?

And, oh yeah, is it just me, or do my cactus buds look a LOT like pimento-stuffed green olives?

Ack, I thought so.

Well then . . . LoneStar Martinis for everyone! Happy holidays, Inkers!


Mark Terry said...

I'm between contracts too.

Anyway, I'm not into crafts. And I write a lot whether I'm between contracts or not.


Before I turned to writing, I was really into music. I played and taught piano and saxophone. Then in college I stopped and never started up again. Instead, I started writing.

Both my kids were taking guitar and we had an old acoustic lying around the house (it's a Hart, in case you were wondering) and I decided, hell, I've always wanted to learn to play, so I started taking lessons in June. (After getting some work done on the guitar).

Anyway, I think it's safe to say I've found a new creative outlet.

I don't think it'll replace writing fiction, but I do find terrific satisfaction in it, very similar to the kind I get from writing fiction. And, happily, I'm not under any compulsion to perform for people, although my teacher does encourage song-writing, so...


Candy Calvert said...

Hey, great--my husband just picked up a guitar, after 10 years of intending to give it a try. He loves it; found some free instructional DVD's online, even.
So . . . will we be seeing your songs performed on the Grammy's or the CMT awards? ;-)

All the best with your book proposals!

Mark Combes said...

I purchased an air compressor and pnuematic nailer to finish off my basement. No scrap of lumber is safe from me now! But now that I think about it, it's not really about the crafting - it's about the power! I'm drunk with compressed air power!

Candy Calvert said...

I hear you, buddy. No, really--I think I actually HEAR you. Where are my earplugs?
Power on! ;-)

--it's about the power! I'm drunk with compressed air power!--Mark C.

Joe Moore said...

It would definately be art or music. I have a degree in commercial art and love using it as art director and editor for ITW. And in a past life, I spend 12 years making a living in a rock band. So one of those would hopefully fill the void full time if I couldn't write.

Nina Wright said...

Delightful post, Candy!

Since I got my first Brownie camera at age eight, I've been a photo nut. That hobby has launched or enhanced more than a few fiction projects; it also explains the volume & diversity of pix on my web site & blogs . . . and my latest book trailer.

Besides taking/making photos, I love to refinish furniture. I'm good at it. My latest project? Refinishing a 1950s blonde bedroom suite into something softer and more feminine. For me, the process is like writing fiction: I never quite know how it's going to turn out until I get to the end. Along the way, I enjoy the artistry and the mystery, not to mention the mess.

Thanks for the martini. Cheers!


Candy Calvert said...

I love it--we've got Mark, Mark and Joe as a music combo (complete with pneumatic percussion) and Nina (resplendent in sawdust) doing their photo shoot!

Cheers, indeed!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I USED to sew, crochet, needlepoint, and embroider, as well as cook and entertain a lot more. All creative things and most involving working with my hands. I also used to go out more with friends. I also used to take classes for the fun of it.

I sometimes miss the leisurely hours I would spend doing handwork in front of the TV, but not as much as one might think. The writing is my dream, the other kept my creative side busy. Maybe it was a place holder until I started down the writing path.

I'm 2 weeks from deadline. The only Christmas decoration up at my house is the front door wreath (which I did not make). Christmas cards remain unopened (they will be opened tonight, I promise) and none were mailed to others. If it weren’t for the Internet, no seasons greetings would have been sent at all. I did finish my shopping and got my gifts to my family shipped on time.

I’m dividing my days between long hours at my day job and hitting that deadline. But just so you know I do make time for fun, I leave on a weekend cruise this Friday (and will probably work on my manuscript on deck).

My life used to involve a lot more leisure time. Now it’s hectic and unpredictable.

But I've never felt more alive.


Candy Calvert said...

Feeling alive . . . and cruising, too--who needs needlepoint?!

Great going, Sue Ann. And I love the idea that past creative pursuits were "place holders" until the writing swept us up.
I couldn't agree more.

Happy sailing!

Kim Smith said...

Just found your blog. Love the cactus wreath! How creative!!!

Candy Calvert said...

Welcome,Kim--thanks for stopping by InkSpot!


Felicia Donovan said...

Whenever I set foot inside a big craft store, I get almost the same tingly feeling I get when stepping inside a bookstore. Why? Because the possibilites are endless. A little imagination and anything can happen.

I'm not surprised at the wealth of talent we have amongst this group. I can't imagine being a writer and not channeling that creative bent into something else. Like the others, most of my creativity these days is channeled into words and that's okay. We're all pretty crafty at that, right?

Add some of your "Lone Star Martinis" into the mix and I bet we could all get very crafty!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Okay, weighing in late on this one...because I had to finish several scrapbook albums to spotlight in my quarterly ezine. Yeah, for me, crafting is part of the job. I love it! However, I have realized that when I'm crafting, I'm not writing. It's like the urge has to be satisfied by some activity--and my "self" doesn't care whether that's writing or creating scrapbook pages or working on my dollhouse or sewing or crocheting or cooking or...you get it.

G.M. Malliet said...

My placeholder was painting and drawing. My protag/detective is an amateur artist...I don't think that's a coincidence.

Candy Calvert said...

Joanna and Gin--thanks for helping to prove that the Inkers are, indeed, a multi-talented bunch!
And Joanna, not sure if I weighed in officially on your cover for Paper, Scissors, Dead: absolutely FANTASTIC! :-)


Keith Raffel said...

Candy -- some of us have talent for crafts and then there's the rest of us.

Candy Calvert said...

Keith, perhaps it's a recessive trait . . . and sign of craftiness in your children?? Potato stamp art and crayon finger-traced turkeys count, absolutely. ;-)

But does this mean you won't be joining Joe's band?

jbstanley said...

I used to paint primitive folk art paintings using car model paint. They mostly had patriotic, biblical, or political scenes and were all meant to be funny. You know, I think I made more money doing those and selling them on eBay. Hmmm...

Second choice - baking. I love sugar in all its forms.

Candy Calvert said...

JB--whoa, you should treat us to a photo post of one of your creations. Funny political folk art could be ridiculously laughable (and therapeutic) over the next several months!
Especially if one is on a sugar high . . .