I don’t think of myself as an artist.
I should say, I don’t always think of myself as an artist, but I am accepting of myself as an artist more and more these days.
I think it’s because I haven’t always thought of myself as a real writer. Maybe a hobbyist at best, a pretender at worst. Even half way through writing my first book, I’d tell others at art events, those who’d ask what I did, that I was in sales. My response was a downplay, a deflect of attention. After all, who wants to fail or come up short despite all effort given? So I’d work tirelessly, part privately, on the manuscript of my first book while not admitting to being a writer – an artist.
Realizing (and admitting to) the value in my art and dream of being a writer began to surface after introduced to Art House Dallas. Suddenly, I felt connected to plenty of other artsy folk who learned to not merely hear the echo of dreams within, but learned to esteem creative dreams within and wield creativity realized for a greater purpose.
A forged statement repeated often in the community of Art House captures its heart and meaning: “Cultivating creative community for the common good — encouraging everyone to live imaginative and meaningful lives.”
I’m both thankful to be part of that community and honored to be this month’s Featured Artist. Read the Featured Artist interview below where I discuss my creative process, habits and upcoming book, “Earth & Sky.”
What is “Earth & Sky: a beautiful collision of grace and grief,” all about? What inspired you to write it?
In a word: life. The book is a memoir recounting the sudden, unexpected death of my wife nearly 3 years ago. Far more than a somber story remembering a life passed in the wake of inexplicable tragedy, Earth & Sky journeys into the heart of grief, grace guiding into a new day. The correlation of earth and sky lies in the connection between and interaction of human frailty (us – earth) with faith (God – sky). Sinking in deep loss, God pursued me into the darkened depths of my heart wasting away in grief.
This story is not mine alone. It belongs to my three little daughters as well. One life that we knew together suddenly ended with no warning and left us dislodged from any sense of familiar belonging. I was widowed and they were motherless and half-orphaned. Both the story and journey belong to all four of us as we learned to live life anew and rediscover happiness, joy, meaning and reason. The inspiration to write Earth & Sky sprung up in desire to chronicle our path together through grief.
Writing about loss is obviously challenging. C.S. Lewis’, “A Grief Observed,” is a sometimes excruciating classic in the genre. Were you influenced by any such works? Did you even plan to write a book at the start?
Lewis’ words echoed a strong sense of familiarity in the writing of my book. Regarding pain, Lewis poignantly wrote, “It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.” His words had a way of speaking life into my soul in the words giving witness to the dark treading through his own rebel heart.
I wrote as a means of bleeding out restless emotions swirling about my heart and head. Initially, I captured raw emotions in poetry which gave me generous boundary lines to explore and confess darker fears, thoughts and prayers without worry of much sensible literary structure. Many of these poems are built into the prose of the book. The poetic spillings served as a cathartic exercise so I continued to write as I began to shape the content into story arch.
The most helpful influence in not only writing the book, but in healing and moving forward revealed itself in Kubler-Ross‘ book, “On Grief and Grieving.” I found purpose in crafting my story after spending time in this particular book where she and David Kessler expand on her model of the 5 stages of grief.
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