Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Inspiration: Big Fat Guy in the Art Gallery

     I've been depressed for a little while now. I've self-diagnosed myself with post-publishing blues. The Beloved Daughter was published in early April, and I've been on a rollercoaster ever since. First there was the horrible insecurities that no one would buy my book. Then sales picked up, so I turned my fretting over to the awful reviews I was afraid I'd get. Then, when reviews came back mostly positive, I really freaked out. What if my next book isn't as well received?

     I'm sure in six months I'll look back and laugh at all my petty anxieties. But right now I'm living through them, and it's been difficult. I want to make June a big writing blitz month, but I've changed my mind 325 times when I try to decide what I'm going to write next.

     Tonight, I knew I just needed some quiet time to reflect and pray. But my mind has been racing so fast since April that I sort of forgot how to be still. So I pulled up my favorite online art gallery and looked up some of my favorite artists. When I am trying to quiet my mind, I sometimes use paintings to help me focus. Tonight I looked at an 1866 work by Russian artist Vasily Perov, Arrival of a New Governess in a Merchant House. 

Arrival of a New Governess in a Merchant House, Vasily Perov
     It took less than a second for me to project myself into the painting. The young woman is timid, afraid, shy. Rejection is her greatest fear. The shadowy figures in the doorway on the left are the ones she's afraid are going to ruin her life with their rascally antics. The wide-eyed girl in the pink skirt is already enthralled by her, but all that trust only makes the hapless governess fear letting the child down. The father of the house stands stoic, deciding if he'll accept the new governess or not. As he looms, barring the entrance, do you think he understands how much one kind glance might mean to this woman? And what about the odd-looking young man standing by the father? Do you detect something a little sinister in his eyes? Does the hopeful girl know that if she puts herself in the position of a governess that's she's not only inviting attack and ridicule, but she's loosing some of her privacy to individuals who might prove less than savory?

     Unfortunately, Vasily Perov only gives us this single snapshot. What happens to the girl in the painting? Is she turned away? Hired on the spot? Does she integrate perfectly into the family, or does some shameful harm befall her before her stint as governess comes to an end?

     I can't tell her story. But I can tell mine. Mine is the story of a young writer terrified of rejection, afraid of critics, longing for acceptance, and wondering if the path stands open before her or not. But in spite of her fears, in spite of her post-publication blues, she prays for guidance, weighs her literary options, and decides what she's going to write next. She resolves not to let previous successes or failures in her writing career dictate her next novel, she lets the blogosphere know that she's taking the month of June off to focus on her first draft, and then she sits before a blank screen with an anticipation she hasn't known in years.

Blog Love: The Thursday's Children blog hop is a chance for authors to write about what inspires them. Thanks again to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting!

Random Fact: I had a professor in college who insinuated in front of our entire class that I was clearly not a gifted writer. And this after I poured my soul into a creative writing montage about the difficulties of being an artistic mind trapped in a pre-med student's body.

Blog Notice: Since I'll be first-drafting it during June, I probably won't keep up with the Thursday's Children blog hop, but I may be posting brief updates as I delve into novel number 2. Feel free to follow my blog if you'd like to give me some support, or if you'd just like to hear about what's been going on in my drafting. And if you haven't read The Beloved Daughter yet, I'd be honored if you did!


  1. I was just talking about this whole fear of rejection thing with another writer earlier in the week. How writers' egos are a strange blend of insecurity and chutzpah. Good luck with your drafting and thanks for sharing a really cool painting :)

    1. And thank you for re-teaching me the word chutzpah- it's a great one! Haven't heard it in years!

    2. Confession: I had to google the spelling.

  2. Well it looks like you proved that college professor wrong. :D Loved you in-depth perspective on the painting. It's fascinating how a single image can tell so much, and leave us wanting for more. Best wishes on your debut novel.

  3. I'm glad you kept writing even after the professor came down on you. For a fun read sometime check out "Really Rotten Rejections"--the book has actual rejection letters sent to people like Jungle Book's Kipling. :)

  4. Alana you are so hugely talented (I'm so glad you didn't listen to that professor). I'm also encouraged that I'm not the only one who has to sit still and seek guidance when there are so many possibilities it's paralysing. Praying you have an awesome and inspired June!

  5. Obviously your instructor had his/her head on backwards. What was the name? Shall I hunt him/her down and laugh in their face for you? ;-)

  6. I don't put much stock in writing professors personally. What's the saying? Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Great post, Alana!
    ~Dannie @ Left to Write

  7. Writing is an art, and all art is subjective. That's what I tell myself All. The. Time. We will never please everyone... not by a long shot, so we have to write for ourselves and only ourselves. Of course we want to be well-received (I have so many insecurities it's staggering), but not to the point where its crippling our forward movement, right? Good luck drafting the next book (I love 1st drafts!), have fun with it, and remember you write because you love it. :)