Green by Kristin Anderson


Have you ever seen an image that stirs you within? Reminds you of childhood, of longing, of romance, of hope, of nature, anticipation? I had such an experience when I encountered Catrin Welz-Stein’s digital artwork online, especially her painting The View. I looked at that painting and decided I had to order a poster.

Then, as I was working on the final draft of my debut novel, I imagined her beautiful image on the cover of my book. But it wasn’t quite right for my book. I needed a more contemporary version of this same piece. I needed to lift the melancholy out of the clouds and add anticipation and hope. 

But that was a dream, after all. I couldn’t just contact a Swiss artist in Kuala Lumpur out of the blue and ask her if I could not only use her artwork for the cover of my book, but alter it. Could I? Well, if there’s one thing I learned from Doctor Seuss, it’s that you don’t know until you try and it never hurts to ask.

So I contacted her. 

After working with her over the internet for a number of months–me sending mock-up drafts, and she providing her thoughts on composition, color, balance, we developed an idea that suited both of our needs. I called upon my husband’s graphic design skills, and got the final version approved!

Green by Kristin Anderson
Green by Kristin Anderson

I am so excited about my book launch coming up on Saturday, November 16th, 2013, when I will officially release this book into the world. Like more info? Check out my author blog: http://www.authorkristinanderson.com or Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/authorkristinanderson

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Dappled with rainwater


I subscribe to a blogger called Kristin Noelle because 1) she writes about living with trust in your life and 2) I share her name, Kristin Noelle (my first and middle name and I suspect her first and last name). My second reason is a little silly, but I think there’s something interesting about us walking around in the world with the same name, even if expressed differently.

A while ago, she sent an email entitled “Dappled Things.” If I could have a love affair with a word, this would be it. Dappled reminds me of light summer rain, of nature, of sunlight through trees, of thoughts transitioning in front of you, and of a distant poem I love about dappled rainwater.

I started writing a response to Kristin Noelle’s email, eager to share my thoughts with her, and I yarned on about an E.E. Cummings poem I loved so much that had the word “dappled” in it. I couldn’t remember the title of the poem, so I started searching through E.E. Cummings’ works, soon realizing his poems have very little to do with dappled sunshine and a lot to do with sex and his most-likely-made-up last name.

I had thrown my love affair word to the wrong poet. Then William Carlos Williams popped in my head. Oh, that’s it! I thought confidently. And I pulled up a poetry website and quickly found that beautiful poem from all those years ago. And without much further ado:

The Red Wheelbarrow
by
William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

Glazed with rainwater? Not dappled with rainwater? So much for my dappled tryst; it’s not even in the poem.

This leaves me to believe, that like Robin Williams in the 1994 film The Final Cut, my brain had somehow misremembered a crucial piece of information from my past.

Perhaps crucial is a bit strong, but I feel cheated by my own memories, and I have to agree with William Carlos; glazed with rainwater works much better.

But back to my namesake. Kristin Noelle’s email, the one that caused me to expound upon the virtues and amorous nature of dappled, also made me slow down and ponder her words:

Life is a dappled thing. The contrasts are *everywhere*. And since my goal is to learn and practice a worldview of trust – that is, a softening into, rather than a constant resistance to, what is – then my invitation is to practice saying yes to these contrasts. Practice watching for the gifts in them. Practice listening for what they’re calling me to learn or remember or do…or to release and let go of.

What if the dappled things, the many startling and confusing and even horribly troubling contrasts, are a deep sort of kindness, and learning to trust is the process of waking up to that kindness? Of learning to welcome it, and soak in it, even when we can’t yet recognize its outlines? (excerpt from an email sent out by Kristin Noelle to her subscribers on Dappled Things)

And now you can see why I subscribe to her blog; these are the sort of thoughts that make us contemplate our lives and perhaps see goodness and lessons of growth in a place where we only once saw trouble.

I often think of the internet as this wonderful, horrible thing, a dappled thing; it offers up an incomprehensible amount of information, and like an expanded Wikipedia, it represents a superhuman collective of our history, thoughts, experiences and beliefs; some horrible and dark, others refreshing and insightful.

The internet is knowledge. Harkening back to a famous story of a snake, a woman and an apple, some say knowledge is evil. But I disagree–it’s what you DO with the knowledge that makes all the difference. We can handle knowledge if we have trust in our lives–trust in our own ability to reason and differentiate, and to make decisions based on our core beliefs.

How do you live with trust when betrayed by your own memory? I can fact-check the author of a poem online or in a book, but how can I fact-check that experience I had when I was nine years old when one of my best friends betrayed my trust? I can’t.

If I got back in touch with that long-ago friend and asked for her version of the experience, would she have the same story, or something completely different? Whose version would be right? Would our interpretations be based on feelings as much as facts? Can we trust our own ability to recall an event objectively and in that moment, or do we reshape our memories with layers of new experiences?

Trust is also the ability to realize you can be wrong once in a while, and to do so with grace.

Why do you write?


I was speaking to my brother on the phone the other day about a post on a blog we both follow called Life of Johnston.
She starts her post with the following:
“I only started this online diary as a publicity stunt for my books. Yet fame continues to elude me. It seems that a genius for self-promotion requires something more than a complete lack of modesty. You have to do things, and I’m not sure what. I keep trying to think of ways to become notorious without actually ruining my life. Nothing occurs.”

She has a whole collection of books online, one of which I proudly own (kindle version). Although I have yet to publish a book, I wonder if her ruminations over that elusive fame will also play a roll in my future.

“I liked your last blog post,” my brother said.
“Then why don’t you give it a star, or leave a comment online?” I asked.
“Is that important to you? That people leave comments?” In response to my brother’s simple question, I launched into a long winded answer one might usually reserve for an essay on the importance of blogging. I originally started my blog as a means to share my thoughts and experiences as an American living in Holland. But as my ambitions as a writer have grown, so have my intentions for my blog.

I explained that the more comments and stars I get, the higher ranking my blog will receive, and thus the higher chance of attracting more readers. I told him that I have a goal to make a living from writing, plan to develop a career in that direction and that a blog is a free first step; a tool to practice writing, share your thoughts and develop a following. He promised to give my different blog posts lots of stars after we got off the phone.

Creativity runs in the family. My brother is an artist and we have four of his paintings in our flat in the Netherlands. Nevermind that the beautiful landscape paintings of Southern California painted in the rich palettes of a sun-kissed land give me bouts of homesickness. They also bring me joy in a way that flowers do–they exude beauty and remind me to take a breath, visit nature or call my family.

But in answering his question of why I write, I started to second guess myself; was I writing for myself or for other people? Or both? I have written short stories on and off my whole life, most taking a few kb of space on a computer or disc, never seen by others. Thus I write for myself. But whenever I had articles published in Food and Home magazine or regional architectural magazines, I shared them with friends and family alike, looking forward to their comments, and yes, hoping they would be impressed. There. I’ve admitted it. I like to hear what people think of my writing. I think most authors do.

Like the author of Life of Johnston, I also self promote my blog. I share certain posts on Facebook or twitter or mention them to friends. I even have a personal business card with my blog address on the back.

“Don’t you get excited when your paintings are in a show and people see them?” I asked my brother.
“Well. Yeah. Of course,” he responded. “But I don’t paint for other people. I paint because I love painting.” But a painting stands on a wall in someone’s home for years to come. It is an art piece that draws attention, changes with the light; is attached to that period in life when the painting was acquired and gains both monetary and emotional value over time. An artist’s creative work endures.

Writing on the other hand, has both ephemeral and long-lasting possibilities. An article written for a newspaper may be read the day it is printed and is soon forgotten if no online counterpart exists. But writing also has longevity. Take Jane Austen’s works, for example, which remain a staple of English literature close to 200 years after her death.

As I work on the final draft of my first novel of 300 pages that I hope to birth into the world this September, I too have hopes; hopes that people will not only read it, but enjoy it; that they will not be shy to share their comments with me and will whole-heartedly recommend it to others. One can only hope. And self-promote.