This little feller, perched happily on the driver's side of my car Tribby, greeted me with a twiggy wave when I pulled into my snow-covered lane way late this afternoon. Yup, my old Mazda Tribute was humming a happy tune as it glided to a gentle stop and spied this little guy - 'bout two feet high - waving from atop a drift-covered flower bed.
This is nothing new for our household. Such things as finger-drawn hearts on snowy windshields, pink flower buds nestled beneath windshield wipers, fresh cut flowers always offering warm greetings from a vase on my kitchen island often appear randomly. May I add that most of these initiatives are from the male in our tiny family. Yes, I write about love, but Steve practices it - better than I do, anyway. (I'm still learning!)
What makes the cute little snowman super special today is that Steve is quite under the weather. He was supposed to be resting while I was out carousing (more about that later) but nope - he wandered outdoors for some fresh air and built me this little token to greet me after my afternoon escapade. This is what makes love special - the little actions that mean a lot.
Writing about love and the challenges that befall Jessie and Josh, or Kate and Ryan if you've read the excerpt from my novel A Certain Kind of Freedom, is easy. In fact, what I've discovered (and been told by a writer I highly respect) is that "I write pain really well." Why? I dunno. But it seems much easier for me to focus on the pain than it does to write about the small moments and actions that define the longevity of love. I suppose that without the pain and the ups and downs we'd have ourselves a pretty boring 'ole story. But in the realm of our normal lives, our own stories are worth our own nods to love's real truths. Sacrifice, building a cute little snowman to ease a smile onto a partner's face, making soup for your guy when he's down and out (that was me! I am not totally hopeless in the love department), getting up at three a.m. to let Oliver the tabby out (he has a cameo in Riptide, the fourth Drifters novel that I hope to release this year, so I have to take good care of him) - those are all part of our own stories. When all is said and done and our lives have been lived to the fullest, we won't recall most of those incidentals. But I bet I will remember my small but proud snowman, as well as his ancestors who mysteriously appeared in years gone by!
I want to turn left now and pen some thoughts about a repeated discussion my son and I have had over time. The most recent incarnation was last night. I would love your notes on this if any of you are inclined to weigh in. We were talking about the 'payoff', I guess you could call it, for the creative arts we pursue. I'm the writer / filmmaker of the family, he's the singer-songwriter. His band, Rebel On A Mountain from Vancouver, made an amazing EP. They play gigs as a full band as well as just a frontman Christopher / Kristian duo. They play songs that Kristian mostly writes, which my son Christopher then arranges and sings harmony for during their gigs and recording sessions. At the same time, Christopher's career in the upscale coffee biz is exploding. (He's 24, started as a barista at a Starbucks at age sixteen and is now the boss' right hand man at Elysian Coffee in Vancouver - Christopher does sales of their own roast, quality control at Elysian's three shops, and training for their own staff as well as Elysian's clients' staff). Needless to say, my son the hipster, foodie, singer-songwriter coffee nerd is thrilled. He's a super social kid (okay, young man, but kid to me) who draws people to him like a magnet. This goes for on-stage during gigs as well.
So, our heated discussions of late have gone something like this:
Me: "Uh, so how are things with ROAM?"
Son: "Well, you know, things are changing."
Me (as heart starts to race cause I love the band!): "Um, in what way?" (as an image of the new guitar with the two-year loan collecting dust in a closet somewhere slides across my brain)
Son: "Well, I feel like I won the lottery!" (He's talking about his job, and I am soooo relieved because I want him to love his work, and he does! Bonus!)
Me: "Awesome! What about the band?" (Bad mother! Bad! Bite your tongue, woman!)
Son: "Work is so great I don't know what's going to happen with the band. Anyways I want to do more of my own music…"
Me: (having a heart attack yet relieved he wants to do his own music again, which I think is just fabulous - but then again I am a little biased) "Ooohhhhh" (note: exhalation through a straw, Pilates style).
Anyways I can go on but ultimately the point we raised in our discussion was about the fact that both he and I (guilty as charged) have products lying around that we have created and not really tried to market or sell. I have a web series and two short films that I could be selling, as well as some awesome screenplays. I have novels, too, that I just need to polish (I am working on that, off and on, I guess) and market. Christopher has two terrific singles of his own that were recorded and are ready to to go, as well as the Rebel On A Mountain EP, which is really fresh and engaging. But last night my wise old son said to me:
Son: "I don't care about the selling and the marketing and the money. I am just happy making the music."
Me: (Gasp! Omigod!) "Yes, but you've growled at me for not selling my stuff!"
Son: "But in your heart you want to! I don't!" (Or something like that)
Point I am trying to make? My son is a wise old man at the ripe old age of twenty-four. As a mother and someone who worries about finances for both myself and my kid, I want him to care about selling products that I know people will love (they already do!). For myself? On some level I do care. I'm just crappy at marketing. (I'm learning! Hence the new website!)
But ultimately he is right. We do what we do because we love it. It fills a hole inside us. It makes us joyously, supremely happy to create - lovely sentences and happy songs. Isn't it too bad that our society today is so focused on money? Isn't it too bad that we have to make money to buy the material things we want? Isn't it too bad that we can't just always give our stuff away for free so that more and more folks can simply enjoy our art? As a consumer, isn't it too bad that we can't just pick and choose whatever we want for free? And share it with others?
Silly me. I dunno what world I am living in. Obviously I know nothing about economics - or the reverse. Or - perhaps I know too much.
So last note - today I was honoured to receive an award from Culture Summerside for my books and for 'helping inspire others to make their dreams come true.' Yes, crazy me wrote and published three novels in a year. Am I rich beyond my wildest dreams? No. But gosh it felt nice to know that perhaps there are other riches to be found in what I've done and continue to do. Like inspiring others. How cool is that? I never looked at my writing in quite that way before...
Today I caught myself responding to congrats with:
Me: "They are really just one book. Too big so I had to divide it up." (In other words, it wasn't that big a deal to write three novels so quickly).
Why did I write the books? Because I love the story and I wanted to see if I could put it onto the page. Did I write them in order to make money? I suppose on some level I hoped they would be financially successful. I suppose if I am being truly honest with myself I hope that they still do enjoy some financial success…they're doing okay so far! But when all is said and done I was the happiest I have ever been while I was writing those books. Happy in an unhealthy way, I suppose, because I loved my Drifters world and it was a fun place to hide. Now? Back to reality until such time as I can write more. Sneaking in bits and pieces of writing between the real world.
Ode to my son: "Thank you for reminding me that ultimately the love of creating the books (or music, in your case), will always, always, always mean more to me than any pay check - or, I suppose, lack of one. Thank you for that. Happy coffee-ing. Now go off and inspire some folks in whatever way you like. Just keep that music coming. 'Cuz however you feel like looking at it, it too - is love."