Melissa DeCarlo has worked as an artist, graphic designer, grant writer, and at one time (that time being when computers were the size of a refrigerator) a computer programmer. Born and raised in Oklahoma, she now lives in East Texas with her husband and a motley crew of rescue animals. Her first novel The Art of Crash Landing releases this week.
There was a time in my life when I became discouraged with writing, and so I stopped writing and turned to visual art. For seven years, painting and sculpting were my creative outlet. Eventually, I found my way back to writing and rarely make visual art anymore, but that time spent trying to communicate with paint and clay was an important part of my life.
Five Things Painting Taught Me About Writing
[pullquote]“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” — Kurt Vonnegut.[/pullquote]
Like everyone else, I’m a lot things: a writer, a spouse, a parent, a pet owner, an amateur artist, a reluctant doer of laundry and an enthusiastic eater of donuts. When faced with a stubborn piece of writing, I search through my collection of life-experiences for something to help me make sense of the world or at least the work before me. I don’t know that I’ve learned much from the laundry-doing or donut-eating, but there are a few things I learned from making visual art that have served me well as a writer.
Here are five things of those things.
“Indiscriminate pursuit of perfection infallibly leads to mediocrity.” — Henry Fuseli
In art classes we were encouraged to keep things loose for as long as possible, to resist the urge to perfect one area before moving to the next. There’s just nothing quite like spending hours capturing every detail on an ear only to step back from the easel and realize it should have been placed a half-inch lower. Sure, I tackle a novel one chunk at a time, but I’m learning not to tighten up too early. With my last book I spent too long perfecting scenes that didn’t make it into the final manuscript. I’ll never forget a man I once met at a writer’s conference. He was excited about his novel’s perfect first chapter. At some point in our conversation it became clear that although he’d been working on it for five years, all he had was the first chapter. Remembering that guy still gives me chills. You know those scenes I had to cut from my novel? One was my first chapter. [Read more…]