Thursday, February 26, 2009

Find your piece of ground

I went to hear Brian Copeland, author of Not a Genuine Black Man, at the Milpitas library the other night. He's a wonderful speaker and has a great story about how his book and the play that preceded the book, were written. Lots of serendipity and universes colliding.

Not everyone can have the mentors that Brian did, like Carl Reiner but luckily for us, he did and passes on the brilliant advice he received. Carl Reiner's advice to Brian was to find his own piece of ground. He said the wisdom came from comedian Fred Allen. Carl Reiner's particular piece of ground was writing about a TV writer and his wife and young son. That became the Dick Van Dyke Show.

It's good advice. Whether you're a quilter making a quilt, a stamper creating a card or collage or a writer, it stands up. Find out what's uniquely yours and explore that. Brian found that being an 8-year old black kid in a neighborhood that was not just whites only, but kept that way by design, was his experience. But in that experience was a universality that makes his work appeal to Holocaust survivors and Asian-Americans and anyone who ever felt different.

Because that's the way it works. You make a quilt about your dog, and people relate. Dog lovers, dog haters, cat lovers (often the same group). People tell you their story. Like yours, only different because it's theirs.

If you're any kind of an artist (and I think we all are), your work will touch people. Or at least has the opportunity to reasonate with someone. If you stick to your specific story, the one you know best, the one that represents you, you will reach a lot of folks.

1 comment:

beckylevine said...

Great post. Brian's book is wonderful--not just amazing in the info, but really well-written.

And thanks for the image of Ritchie Petrie somehow growing up to be Rob Reiner!