#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller


My Weekend

My weekend was a personal artfest! I collaged. I painted journal pages. I recorded ideas in my sketchbook, so all those things I want to try wouldn’t get away from me. I visited BOTH Michael’s and Spokane Art Supply. I printed images on shrink plastic and shrunk them. :) (Tres cool!)

Lesson learned re: shrink plastic: don’t darken the ink, as the heat makes the colors MORE intense. With polymer clay transfers, which are reversed and printed on t-shirt paper, the opposite is true.

I feel restored, ready–no, EAGER–to dive back into “The Bridegroom”. Although my art would seem like a time-waster to the average observer, I find it sparks all kinds of ideas, perhaps because it gives the part of my brain where words live a good rest. I have a notebook brimming with material for the Texas McKettricks, a three-book series of contemporary westerns I will begin writing about the time my Montana Creeds series hits the stands. And almost all of these ideas came to mind after I’d been gluing or cutting or painting or whatever.

As I’ve mentioned, art is a form of prayer for me, too. And it’s training me to be a beginner, not such a perfectionist. (Hello. Most of my art is terrible. Of COURSE. Because I’m either totally new to the materials, or I have been away from them for a long time.) When I first lived in Scottsdale, I had a beautful studio, and I did a lot of art–collage, acrylics, some polymer clay. Then I moved to the horse property outside of Cave Creek, and there was no place for stacks of canvases, jars of paint, etc. I tried a couple of times, but it made such a colossal mess, I finally just gave up. (And invited another bout of depression, because I needed that outlet.) Now, thank heaven, I will again have a studio, where I can make all the messes I want!

My perfectionistic side says, “If you can’t do it right the first time, why do it at all?”

Stupid perfectionistic side.

When I started writing books, I wasn’t very good at that, either. (Oh, I had a certain degree of natural talent all right, but talent isn’t worth the proverbial hill of beans if you don’t develop it.) How did I learn to write? By WRITING. And then writing some more. By allowing myself to be bad at it until I developed the necessary skills and experience to create something people would want to read. (Thank you.)

Once, years ago, when I had just moved, I came across an old manuscript I’d written while I was learning–I can’t remember the title, if it ever had one, or even what the story was about. My friend Debbie Macomber was visiting, and I read parts of that terrible book to her. We laughed till we literally cried. (I wish I’d kept that bad manuscript. I could have read passages aloud to aspiring writers, when I speak at book signings, workshops, etc., and given them all kinds of new hope!)

As for art, it’s nice to be a beginner at something. Nobody really expects me to do it well–least of all, me!

Still, the perfectionist has its place in the scheme of things. It demands the best possible writing I can manage at any given time, and that’s good. (I just wish it would shut up about the art. :))

And that’s how it is, this fine, sunny morning, in Spokane, Washington. I hope things are well with you, too, wherever you may be. I hope you’ll get out some old dream, shake off the dust, and give it another shot. Let yourself be terrible at it until you’ve learned enough, through the process, to do it well.

Be blessed, this day and always.

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“Keep your ear to the ground” referred to the practice of plainsmen listening to the ground to hear hoof beats. It became the westerner’s warning to stay alert.

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