I'm working on a new story for NaNoWriMo. It's had many bad titles. (Sublime Deviation and Not Yet LIght among them.) Currently it's titled, "When Light Falls Softly." My amazingly talented sister-in-law, Ariel Brandli Lee, took photos of a beautiful girl named Krystal Sauter for my book cover. This is the mock up I currently have on my NaNo page. Isn't she so pretty? More importantly, she's exactly how I imagined my character.
It's a story I've been wanting to write for about 14 years. (I'm aging myself a little, aren't I?) It was all inspired by a few roommates, a house on Albert Pike, and a painting class. I wrote about my experience in that class in Advanced Expository Writing, and it's going to be a huge help in getting this story where it needs to be. You see, the experiences that breathed life into it aren't as vivid as they used to be. Luckily, I have this paper to refresh them.
So, for the next couple of weeks, I'm going to post sections from my paper "What is an Artist?" because it will give you a glimpse into the world I'm hiding away in right now. Here is the first:
My hands smell like turpentine and I have paint on my nose. Does this make me an artist? I look nothing like any of the other people in this dark studio, but they are all artists. There is a freedom about artists that keeps them from caring what people think about them. Their hair is colored and their clothes are crazy. My hair is plain and my clothes are all wrong in a normal way. The only resemblance between us is that we are all spattered with paint. I want to look like them and talk like them because their aura somehow transfers itself onto canvas.
One of the other girls has magenta hair and glasses that don't match her face. Her backpack carries a load of bright fuzzy things so it looks like a wolf spider carrying her young. On the first day of class, she walked cockily into class, huffing because a policeman had tried to give her a ticket for jaywalking. She had crossed at an intersection the day before where it was apparently illegal to cross and today he had been waiting for her on the other side. She had defiantly crossed again, swearing to do the same every day. When she painted a roll of toilet paper, it looked like a roll of toilet paper. She was an artist.
Across the room was the kid whose shadow I had always lived under. We went to the same high school where he was considered to be an amazing artist. He had been three grades beneath me though so I didn't know him personally until this class. I hated admitting that he was actually a nice guy. I would have preferred to go on thinking that he was just a punk kid with a big head. However, I soon found myself asking him for suggestions because his bottles looked like bottles and he was an artist.
The girl next to me moved like a baby ostrich with a broken neck. None of her joints seemed to be connected as they should be but her paintings were always perfect in the smallest detail. She was the only other student besides me who got paint on her face every day. I learned how to keep from touching my face with paint on my hands. She simply brought a little mirror on a stand which she sat on one end of her palette board. She talked while she painted about her husband's child by a girl he'd had an affair with. She had been at the hospital when the baby was born. She hated the girl, her husband, and the fact that they'd made a better looking baby than any of her own by him. She took care o the baby when its mother was too high. She only finished two paintings the whole semester, but they were very good. She was an artist.
Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I sat in a dark art studio with these people to learn how to paint. It was dark because the only light came from the slanted sky light in the ceiling. It filtered down through the tangle of cassette tape tied to the supporting beams - the remnant of an art project gone wrong. The florescent lighting would have been impossible to paint in so we painted in the dark, relying only on the left over glow from the spotlights that were pointed at our subjects. There was dried paint on the floor from past semesters, but there were hidden mines of fresh stuff everywhere after the first week that you could carry out on your shoe.
The best lit part of the room was claimed by a girl named Sam. This was her second semester so she got to use paintbrushes while the rest of us could only use palette knives. I first saw her in a short black dress that had seen better days. She was sitting on the floor with her legs spread apart and her back arching down. It might have been yoga, but who does yoga in a short black dress on a paint spattered floor? On her right leg was half a tattoo of the Stature of Liberty that she had started and never finished. She just lost interest in it she told us. Her hair was short with soft spikes and her bad complexion was free of makeup. In that instant I knew she was good. And I began wondering if I was an artist.
The Trouble with Billionaires.