That creative bent has its own beat

An artist might think herself a diva and insist that the world fall at her feet. The dictionary says a diva is a self-important person, typically a woman, who is temperamental and difficult to please.

I’m not one of those. I don’t see myself as a diva. No one is falling at my feet. My family tells me that I am all of the above. They remind me, “Mother, it’s not always about you.”

That creative bent has its own beat and moves to its own drum. I live among artists in this family who all walk to their own beat, yet they think they are singing my song and beating my drum.

Have you noticed in every family there seems to be a certain advantage, a similar thread that moves through the members? It could be they are high thinkers, really smart with degrees and doctorates. They are professional students, consumed to gain more and more knowledge.

Some families are all about sports. Their members are built to run a marathon or play basketball or football. They live in the high school gym and volunteer to work in the concession stand. Their whole motivation is to support the Booster Club and be with those of like-mind. They follow sports like the Wylie family, an extended branch of the Slade family.

Some families know how to make money. They have that Midas touch, like Al’s brother and his son. They will gamble their last penny. Lose it all and come back and make millions again. They are risk takers.

Our side of the family has none of the above attributes. We have a creative bent, which runs through the personalities of almost everyone in our family. Even though they haven’t followed their creative bent in their careers, our children and grandchildren think like artists and act like artists. They are artists.

I lack many creative skills which my children and grandchildren possess. These skills are necessary for me to complete my projects, such as book covers, marketing and certain computer software skills. I need my children’s creative help. But, of course, they march to their own drums.

Our middle daughter grew up reading the funnies in the newspaper. I ask her to read my “Artist’s Lane” articles before they go to print. She will help me add a twist to the end, or put in the humor. She is willing to read them to make sure she preserves our family secrets, just in case I get carried away. She is very busy, but she makes time for her mother.

Our oldest daughter excels in editing and writing. I want her to read my final draft. She will find those missing commas or typos. When her family comes every summer, she sits at my computer and asks me what she needs to do for me. I always have a long list for her to do. She has the patience of Job and walks through my projects with a loving and giving heart. No backtalk, no fits, just a serving heart. That’s the kind of child you want, but not all my children are like that.

Our son, the artist, moves when he is inspired, not when his mother beckons. I want it done now, but he will get it done when inspiration comes. He excels in graphic design and he has all those things I need for my brochures, posters and marketing.

I wanted a certain feel to my book, so I asked him to design my book cover. He said yes. I told him what I wanted. He shut down. What I wanted and what he envisioned were miles apart. If I wanted him to do it, he had to do it his way.

After I let go of what I thought, and let him do his design on my book cover, I sent it to my publisher. She said she liked it and she would use it. She wouldn’t have the software to do the other three books in the series. I’d have to have my son follow through with the whole project if I was going to use his idea on my cover.

His design is what I knew I wanted for the cover. I just didn’t know how to get there. It has a southwest feeling with an artist’s influence, it’s classy and it shows the theme of a romantic suspense without overkill. It’s very subtle and absolutely beautiful. Thank God, he didn’t listen to me.

I told him what the publisher said and I asked him if he would design the other three books in the series to match his original design.

He said, “Whatever, Mother.”

Whoa! No, no, no. I explained how I wanted it done. He lost his patience with me after a minute. I wanted mockups for the other three books. I hadn’t written the books yet. I didn’t have a theme or a title for the other three. I just needed a little something to show the publisher that I had good intent. He made the background designs with different colors, but then he had nowhere else to go. I wasn’t ready for him and he wasn’t ready for me.

I pushed him for more. Slight problem — creative people only work a certain way and that’s the way it has to be. Our son is all about “less is more” and he is not going to use some cutesy image on a book cover. He doesn’t do anything half way. He spent days designing the first cover. It had to be perfect. It was and the other three must be perfect if he is going to do it.

When you tell a true artist what you want, you have to take your hands off the project. Even if the project sits on the desktop until the artist is ready and inspired, you have to let them do it their way.

Our son is busy helping his dad. My Sweet Al needs help, but I need help, too. Stephen is still in Pagosa and I want him to jump on my project before he leaves. I promised my publisher something that I can’t produce without him.

Our grandson has come home from college. He has been hanging around, taking art lessons on Fridays. I told him how to do it and offered to show him by painting on his art. He said, “No, Grandma, the last time you touched my work, you ruined it. You’re not going to touch this one.” He finished it his way and actually finished with a great painting.

He has been going to my writer’s group. He started writing a book and I couldn’t believe what a good writer he is. He is listening, but he has his own ideas. I’m pleased he wants to hang around and spend time with me. I have the creative juices flowing, but he has his vision and knows how he wants to do it and woe to me if I touch his work.

Raising creative children will take you into their world of imagination, not your world. They color outside your lines and refuse to be put into your box. They only work when they are inspired, not in your time frame. They have to have it perfect. They will not settle for less. They discourage easily. If it doesn’t go their way, they tear it up and throw it away. There are a bunch of divas in this family, and I don’t think that I am one of them. My family begs to differ.

I love the saying by Erma Bombeck: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.” I wonder if she meant using her children, too?

Final brushstroke: My family thinks it’s all about me. It’s all about my projects and how they have to do this stuff for me, whether they want to or not. They tell me they have their own lives outside of my wants. Imagine that.

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This story was posted on May 18, 2017.