Monday, May 25, 2009

No Aptitude for Artistry

Meet Deborah Sharp! our guest blogger today.

When I met Camille/Margaret at this spring's Malice Domestic conference, she nicely invited me to join the crafty authors at Killer Hobbies as guest blogger for a day. Like the former reporter I am, I did my research on the Killer gals: reading earlier blog entries, reviewing bios, perusing their books. My conclusion: Each is a goddess of creativity. And, man, am I intimidated!

With one book under my belt, and the second, Mama Rides Shotgun, coming out this July, I'm finally starting to feel like a real author. Even so, I feel like a pretender here today. My shameful secret: I was born without the handicraft gene. I have absolutely no knack for know-how.

Having two left thumbs is bad enough. But I can't even claim a real hobby, unless you count combing thrift shops for deals and then gloating about them to full-price-paying friends. Anybody see the blue suede jacket I wore at Malice? Found it brand new at a thrift store, tags from a posh dress shop still hanging from the sleeve. I paid $4.50. Would have been $9.00, but it was half-price day.

See what I mean?

I guess it could be worse. The main character in my funny, Southern-flavored Mace Bauer Mystery series has a hobby. She watches Cops on TV to see if any of her ex-boyfriends show up.

I've always envied people who can make things. My carpenter father built beautiful wooden cabinets. My mom sewed her own clothes. Their creativity must have skipped a generation. I still remember the trauma of home ec class. Tasked with making a simple, A-line dress, I ripped out the zipper so many times, there was no fabric left in the back. The teacher finally told me to step away from the sewing project. She offered to pass me with a C if I'd scour the stove and clean the floor after cooking class.

''Gladly,'' I said, mop bucket in hand.

At Malice, I sat in the audience for a panel featuring some of the talented authors on this blog. All around the room, women's hands were busy, creating beautiful things. Knitters. Crocheters. (Is that a word?) And someone doing something called ''counted cross-stitch.'' Manual dexterity and math? Ohmigod, the two hardest things in the world for me. Talk about feeling inadequate.

I read an earlier post here by my friend Joanna Campbell Slan, who said she's tired of feeling she has to apologize to folks who sneer at crafters. It made me wonder about the source of such arrogance. Jealousy? A need to feel superior? When I looked around the room that day at Malice, I felt only admiration (Okay, maybe a little envy).

Joanna wrote: ''. . . any creative or learning endeavor should be sacred and valued, not laughed at.''

Speaking as a craft-challenged individual, I couldn't agree more.

Afterword from Camille: Deborah may think she doesn't make anything, but if you saw her at Malice, you know she can make any audience pay attention and have fun. She had me making a list of how to give a pitch and make everyone feel special. That's a lot of making!


Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Deb, you have a talent for making people laugh and feel good. You are one of the most sincere and gracious people I've ever met. As for crafts, girlfriend, come visit me. We'll find a craft you love, I promise!

Monica Ferris said...

How to make a workable pitch? Boy, could I use that "how to" right now! I'm seriously struggling with writing a pitch for a television series and I do mean struggling! The advice I'm getting is, I'm sure good, but somehow "sell, don't tell" doesn't work for an author. LOLOL, I think.

Terri Thayer said...

Welcome, Deb. Thrift store shopping is a talent, no doubt about it. I had the same experience in Home Ec but went on to make many of my own clothes, although a lot of them had no zippers.

Sewing gene does seem to skip a generation. My grandmother encouraged me (after Home Ec) and my mother didn't sew a seam until she was well past retirement age. She took up quilting. No zippers involved.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Deb, I'm like you with the lack of crafting ability. I'm soooo intimidated in Hobby Lobby or Michael's. Sadly, I'm a Brownie Scout leader and actually lead the girls in craft sessions--I always have to recruit some help.

I'm full of admiration for those who can make beautiful things. It really is an art.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, home ec! I made a skirt, and I was SO proud of it. LOVED putting in the zipper. So cool that it actually worked.

And then Mrs. Ferris showed me how the pattern on the back was going one way, and on the front it was going the other way.


I'm with you, Deb! Not worthy. (Although my Grandma Minnie did teach me how to knit and crochet, for which I am forever grateful. And it makes me think about her--whenever I see someone else knitting or crocheting. So it all works out.)

Camille Minichino said...

True story: when I buy pants that need shortening (always), I put one pin at the proper length, wrap them up and send them across the country to my talented cousin. She ships them back beautifully hemmed.

You can imagine how I'd do with something more complicated than a straight hem!

Camille Minichino said...

I was Deb's "Malice Go Round" partner. If she ever hangs out a Pitch Your Book shingle, I'll be in line for service.
For 20 tables she remained excited, on target, and open to questions from the members. All this while handing out bookmarks and candy!

MareF said...

You can write, and write well. I can crochet, and crochet well. It seems a leveler to me. I'd lose my mind if you weren't writing so there is your creativity. I love the "watching COPS to see if any old boyfriends show up." LOL

Keith Raffel said...

Deb, isn't the best thing about writing fiction being someone you can't be in the workaday world? My alter egos in the world of fiction tend to be smarter, richer, better-looking, and younger than their author. You? If it's what you want most, write about a hero who can sew.

Sherry said...

I am in awe of anyone who can write stories I want to read! That's very creative!

The Home Ec. stories sound a lot like mine - I took it my Senior yr. in high school because my Mother thought I should learn to sew. I've never enjoyed making clothes, but I do like to make quilt tops - I leave the quilting to others.

Deborah Sharp said...

I love the fact some of you shared your own ''shameful secrets.'' I guess we're all good at something, right? Thanks to everyone for the great comments. And, PS, Camille: Can I hire YOU as my publicist ;-)

G.M. Malliet said...

Re. such talent skipping a generation - this is absolutely true. My mother could sew, and I mean *really* sew: Couture-quality productions. She could also turn any barren plot of land into a showcase garden.

She couldn't really cook, though, and neither can I ;-) There is wisdom in knowing where your strengths lie.

Betty Hechtman said...

I'm late to comment. Welcome to our blog. And yes, I think crocheters in a word.