Friday, May 25, 2012


Several years ago I began a painting (shown below) in a Sarah Shrift's oil painting class at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. After finishing the painting at home, I entered it in the student show. It was rejected. Some month's later I entered the same (unaltered) painting in a professional show and it won an award.

20" x 20" oil on canvas

It is all subjective, Dear Ones. When we do anything creative, some people will hate it, some will love it. So, what do we do with those opinions?

If someone else loves it, does that make it good? If someone else hates it should we cover it with gesso, sand it down, or put it out to the curb for the trash collectors? I think we have to use our own judgement. 

The agent rejected my book. It was a nice rejection—for a REJECTION. She enjoyed my voice and the story. She wished me well in placing it with someone else and reminded me that her opinion was subjective.

Years ago, back in the stone age, when I wrote something that got rejected, I'd address a new envelope, and immediately send it out to someone else.
Sometimes we know, or at least believe, that what we’ve done is good. Leave it as is. Submit it somewhere else. 

But sometimes there is doubt. Look at it again. It’s easier with a painting. It’s visibly right there in front of your face. With a book—58,000 words—it’s harder to know. But the truth is, I do know. The book needs more work, more thought, more time. 
Okay, so back to the laptop, which is much easier than etching in stone.
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Friday, May 11, 2012


Many years ago (36 to be exact), I worked for a small printing company. The owners hired me as a bookkeeper. They quickly realized that they better do the bookkeeping themselves, so they taught me how to keyline. If you're thinking that I'm going to explain arcane graphic design methods, relax, I won't do that to you. 

The printing business was in their home. The basement had an art department with drafting tables for keylining and design. There was a big camera in the back room, and a dark room with chemical baths for developing film. The garage had been converted into a room for the printing press.

I was newly divorced at the time and when I told my mother and grandmother that I was working for two men out of their home, they were both alarmed, frightened for my safety. 

"Don't worry," I said. "They're gay."

That's when my grandmother came up with a new worry. "Aren't you afraid you'll become homogenized too."

Yes, she did say homogenized. I assured her that homosexuality wasn't catchy.

These guys were my bosses and also my friends. They were in their fifties and sixties and had been together for thirty years. I felt honored that they were open with me about their relationship. They thought people didn't know they were gay, but everyone did. They never mentioned wanting to be married, but then again in 1976, it wasn't an option. 

I have friends and family—heterosexual couples—who have lived together for decades and never pushed wedding cake into each others mouths. They've chosen not to be married. 

My gay friends pay taxes and vote and some even defend our country, but they get no choice about marriage unless they travel to another state. 

After the President came out about his feelings about gay marriage, a black man from South Carolina called into NPR to say he would never vote for President Obama because of his position on homosexuals. "Two men or two women marrying was going against the bible," the man said.

I am no bible scholar. However, I do know that there are bible passages that condone slavery, and if someone steals from you, it's okay to chop off their hands—an eye for an eye. If folks are selective about the bible passages they want to live by, why can't it be the part about "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you"?

I am proud to be an American. I will be even prouder when we have equal rights under the law for all of our people.