MESSAGE FROM THE GRAVE
Tom Thomson once said, “The way to paint is to paint.” This has certainly been true of Thomson. He never took any formal art classes. It has been said that he had “The confidence of inexperience.” He picked up techniques from other artists, but mostly he just had fun with his painting. Sure, he got frustrated sometimes like all of us, but that didn’t stop him from doing what he was called to do — paint. Within a short five year period, Tom Thomson, through his quiet strength, inner resources, and the passion to improve his craft, became a prominent artist who, along with the Group of Seven, created an art style that was uniquely Canadian.
THE CONFIDENCE OF INEXPERIENCE:
I can certainly relate to having the confidence of inexperience. When I first started writing, anything was possible. Then it seemed that the more I learned, the more things I had to consider, and it all became overwhelming and complicated. I wanted to be a good writer, so I believed what everyone else said I should do in order to achieve this goal. With the onset of social media there is a miasma of conflicting information: Write two pages every day. Write in the morning before you start your day. You can write an overnight bestseller is you follow this program. Write your first draft in three months…and so on. It’s no wonder I started to lose confidence in myself and my own choices? I decided that everyone else must be right because they are after all, published authors, and at that time, I was not.
LISTEN TO YOUR OWN VOICE:
Over time, I did manage to hear my own voice above all the noise and confusion of the “experts” out there. I read good fiction, and through the process of osmosis, determined what techniques I wanted to adopt for myself. Turns out I’m interested in character development and writing description. I took writing courses where I learned to let myself go and trust the process of writing. I read books that focused on creativity, not the “how to” of writing so I could develop my own style. I journalled everyday (well almost every day) with pen and paper to get a feel for “heart to hand” writing, in order to get in touch with my emotions, and because I just like to write about my feelings. Once everything is out there on the page, I feel more organized and free from worry.
I NEVER LEARN:
You would think I would have learned to trust myself when it came time to market my book. Na ah. I went through all the same stuff I went through when I learned to write. Social media can be so convincing, and after all, if I want to be a success, I need to listen to the “experts”. After months of struggling and worrying about how to market my book, I realized that if I was going to be happy, I needed to get back to the heart of why I write. First and foremost — because something within me is missing if I can’t write. It’s as simple as that. I needed to find some balance between writing and marketing that was manageable for me.
BACK TO BASICS:
This is where we get back to Tom Thomson. He trusted his own voice. I think this may be, in part, due to the fact that he spent a lot of time out in nature. When you spend time with nature you are able to hear your own voice because there are no distractions. Maybe that’s why so many artists, writers included, like to go on retreats — so they can hear themselves think. It is too easy to get caught up in voices of others who believe they know the right way to do things.
I now delete many emails about writing — they take a lot of time away from actually writing anyway — and read only what sounds like it may be helpful to me personally. I am learning to trust my inner voice to uncover my own style — what works for me and what doesn’t. There are, after all, many ways to accomplish the same goal. In the end, there is only one truth: “The way to write is to write.”