Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why I'm Not Writing the Fifth Novel

Most of you know by now that I also paint. I've bored you often enough with the little frustrations that brings - I call it Creative Duality - but it was once far more than that.

When I was much younger, I wanted to be a serious jazz singer, and performed professionally a number of times, mostly in down-at-heel pubs. I didn't care for the road trips, or my audiences, for that matter. (And my mother wasn't too pleased with my career choice.) Perhaps if I had found that perfect little club, things would have been different. In any case, I am far too private to have enjoyed that life. My thought that I quite liked the idea of being an actor was also nipped in the bud around then. Public scrutiny isn't something I long for. (I've mentioned that before.) I can handle a blog, or one of  my books in a book store, but standing on a stage? Oh, my...very scary stuff.They say most of us fear public speaking (for me, just standing) almost more than death itself. When you're very young, you're supremely brave - witness my stint at singing. These days, I'm a total wallflower. I really don't want it any other way.

Then I decided it would be great to actually play jazz, and took up the flute. (I would be part of a group, and could hide behind the trombonist, couldn't I?) I wanted so much to be a professional musician, to be part of that life, both classical and jazz. Musicians are fascinating people, truly doing what they love. That only lasted until I ran out of money and couldn't pay my rent, so pawned the flute. I have another one now (after many years) but still can't play much on it, having forgotten the Haydn that I perfected at the conservatorium. Still I promised myself that I would dedicate a regular amount of my time to practice. So why does the flute case look so dusty?

But I always kept up with my painting and writing, dividing my time fairly equally. Now I find I can't do both. It occurs to me that when I paint, I create characters and scenes just as I do with my fiction. I have the bare bones of an idea as I sit down, and then let the thing develop. Exactly the way I am with my novel-writing.

I'm told that my syndrome (because along with the arts, I'm also obsessed with the environment, history, philosophy and world affairs) is called Polymathy. It's an ugly word. A classic Polymath is extremely clever, probably qualified in all the sciences, as well as able to compose and play memorable music, write poetry...possibly turning out the odd oil painting or two when he or she has a spare hour. So not having quite that much talent, or formal education, I guess I am a Generalist with Polymath leanings.

So this is an apology of sorts. I have done no writing. Painting almost a picture a day these last few weeks means I've no inclination to switch to the novel. I jump out of bed with the same excitement I usually have when I'm deep in a book, of course. Otherwise I'd stop doing it.

I have sold a painting. One lone painting. That's okay. That's one more than I've done with any of my books. (I've heard nothing from my agent for a couple of months.)

Just wanted to stop by. You know where I am. You can always check out my art blog link if you want to know what I'm up to.