Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



May 2010

"Inspiration is another name for knowing your job and getting down to it."


Joyce Cary, from Shoptalk: Learning to Write with Writers by Donald M. Murray, p. 49.

The Wall

Dear Reader,

There is the wall: today's deadline for writing May's journal. I have worked on several other things this morning and afternoon, but I cannot procrastinate any longer. I do not dare to whine about it, because the spirit of Don Murray resides in my head. "Go sell junk bonds!" he'd yell if anyone even started to say something like: "I don't know what to write about." "I think I have writer's block." "My page is still blank." RUBBISH. Sit down and don't get up until you have something going!

What can I write about on this fine, sleep-deprived writing day?

I could write about last week's visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida. Here is what I wrote in the little journal I carry with me on trips:

Jacksonville - Tuesday - MOCA - First floor landing - greeted by Joan Mitchell (a tame triptych) & Helen Frankenthaler - more detailed, so it seems early for her. More from the permanent collection - a small, but powerful Picasso mask/portrait exhibit. A Hans Hofmann painting! Some small Motherwell pieces, a delightful Larry Rivers, some Calder drawings on a wall facing one of his mobiles. Two Christo drawings! I remember his lecture at the MFA/Boston, when he said that he finances his costly installations by selling his drawings. This is only the second time I have seen any. The first time, John and I saw drawings of "The Gates"/Central Park, New York in another museum (the Met?). In the next gallery, there was an exhibit by students from Florida University at Jacksonville. Several pieces caught my eye: a portrait made with crayons. Literally. Crayons standing on end, with colors arranged to create a face. Very clever. There was a painting of a young woman by an artist who was very much under the spell of John Currin, that provocative contemporary artist who once said, "You can't take a painting with a banana in it seriously." Of course at the time, he was showing a slide of his painting with a banana in it.

I could write about how I am literally watching paint dry, which may be more interesting than watching grass grow. I am in the early stages of a piece and am using oil sticks. Not wanting to work wet-on-wet this time means that the underpainting needs to dry enough to begin the second phase. I want to layer white paint in leaf patterns over the blues and greens. Five minutes ago, I touched the surface, and there are still tacky spots. Rats. It is frustrating because I am an impatient worker who wants to do it NOW! Should I get my hair dryer?

I could write about how the view outside of my studio today matches the last photograph in Judy's Journal 2009 June, "Response to the Ice Storm: A Collaboration." A rainbow of daffodils, tulips, and a lone ancient blue hyacinth are conversing with the installation of painted tree stumps. We have discovered that low light, not bright sunshine, provides the best viewing conditions. Those 200 stumps still make me smile, especially on dreary days. And there have been a few of those lately.

I could write about the chapbook of poems I am working on. Ever since taking John Yau's week-long class at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA last summer, my poetry has taken a new direction. Thank you, John Yau! I feel as if I will soon have a critical mass (18-20 pages) necessary to making a chapbook. I will dutifully send it out and get rejected a billion times, but that's what writers do!

I could…wait! I think I have just finished this month's journal! That wasn't so bad, even if I had to get help (a.k.a. inspiration) from the opening quotation.