Before I quit working to be a stay-at-home mom, I spent fourteen years in visual merchandising for department stores. Every day was a new creative adventure, but each creation had a shelf life of only one to four weeks. Then I discovered watercolor painting. I took every class within driving distance, entered juried competitions (and even won some awards), and then eventually began teaching at a local junior college.
For well over a decade, my passion for painting obscured my other creative interests. But my favorite paintings had a common theme–they all illustrated a story. I started writing these stories, just for myself. I spent the next decade-and-a-half obsessed with writing, mostly middle grade novels. I joined several critique groups and SCBWI, attended conferences, workshops, and retreats, found an agent, and went on the nauseating rollercoaster of submissions to publishers. I got to acquisitions a few times but ultimately never found a home for my novels. I still paint, and I still write and someday may self-publish, but there are many beautiful and thrilling paths to self-expression, and I’m having a great time exploring.
I’m currently into needle felting and having a blast with it. The image on the right is one of my recent projects, a sleeping baby squirrel in a nest. This was so much fun! But I’m feeling the pull of other exciting new crafts, too. One day while web-surfing, I came across an interesting craft workshop that was far from home and coming up too soon for me to make plans to attend. So I started looking for others that were either closer or that I could put on my calendar for a major trip.
It occurred to me that this was how my blog began back when I was looking for a literary agent. I had started a list of conferences for children’s writers where agents would be attending and I shared this list on my blog. I kept the list going for many years even after I signed with an agent. Covid snuffed out the writing conferences and I dropped that feature from my blog, but I kept the list of workshops and retreats. Retreats are usually small and intimate and are a great way to learn and meet new friends and mentors. This is as true for crafting retreats as for writing retreats. An online tutorial is a great first step into a new hobby, but a deep dive into a weekend workshop can really jumpstart a new artistic obsession. So here’s a new list for the blog. Maybe I’ll see you at one of these upcoming arts & crafts retreats or workshops.