writer in progress: drink deep

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to see the exhibit of Carol Carter's Italian Suite. It was the perfect kind of night to begin with: great conversations with my family, all the collective excitement of an opening night, and, um, Thai food.

And then, the paintings. The paintings were exquisite.

As in, draw in as deep a breath as you can, because you think you can probably smell the Italian countryside, you can hear the voices, you feel the change in air. That kind of exquisite.

Her paintings are full of a bright, clear beauty that reminds me of the best summer evenings, the very best. You want cool white wine and your closest friends, and you don't want the night to close in, not just yet.

I thought: gorgeous.

I thought--not for the first time, either: So, when can I move to Italy?

And I also thought: she spent ten days in Italy, ten days. And produced eighty paintings for that exhibit. Eighty stunning paintings.

So, what kind of mega-inspiration can I pursue for ten days? What kind of landscape can I immerse myself in? And might I have a similar outpouring of work?

Landscape. Hm. I've been wishing to trade my landscape lately.

Maybe I'll move into the art exhibit, or run away to an art museum? Maybe I'll find a train after all? 

(Also, it is totally fun to mess around with the kids' section of an art gallery... yay for interactive paintings! Completely brilliant idea... they should do that with novels, yes?)

The exhibition opening also reminded me of this: the deep, deep value of spending time around other artists. The important exchange that happens between creators.

I love to think of us all sitting around an endless feast of inspiration, all kinds of artists, each sparking off the others. I was walking around that exhibit, drinking in the way Italy looks through Carol Carter's eyes, and it make me think of essays I could write, of a slim perfect novella of self-discovery in Italy, of food essays (shocking!), maybe a children's picture book ...

It made me think of who I am, who I've been, who I want to be. It made me want to write the way she painted--to get down the feeling of her colors, get that into words somehow... I walked around and around, and I felt like I could write forever.

I forget too easily how much I love this kind of thing. And lately, especially lately, when my brain feels like a collection of lists, it is too easy to forget the need for inspiration. The need to see things I couldn't dream up on my own, the need to hear new sounds, taste a different kind of air, to be challenged out of the way I usually think, see, imagine.

So maybe I'll hop on a plane to Italy. Maybe I will. Until then, I'll stare at the Carol Carter postcard I've tacked to my bulletin board, and I'll think, dream, and write myself there.


  1. I love when something inspires me this much. Exchange between creators can be so wonderful. Salons come to mind.

    I like the Wikipedia definition, funny and entertainingly smug. "A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation."

  2. Yes! Salons should make a comeback. ... Makes me think of expatriate life in Paris & the 1920s. Some coffee would go well with that, of course. :)