Blogger: Mary Keeley
Grandma Moses is an inspiration for any creative person. Recently, I read about her life and found that some of the traits she possessed are important for writers as well. Let’s examine a few.
She was a flexible learner. Her first art form was embroidery. Apparently, arthritis forced an end to that. But her sister, seeing Grandma Moses’s creative eye and the need to express it, suggested she take up painting. She was in her 70s at the time. What if she hadn’t been willing to adjust and learn?
It took time to develop her style. Her earliest work more closely resembled primitive art. It was over time and lots of paintings that she developed her unique folk style. It’s rare that a writer’s first book is ever published, much less becomes a best seller. Realistically, your first one or two completed books may never get a contract.
Have you practiced writing, writing, writing until you have discovered your own voice and style, perhaps even the right genre for you? If so, those first books were a success. Blogging is another practice field on which your voice and style can blossom into life.
She painted what she knew. She was a farm wife, a country dweller at heart. And she was true to her heart’s passion on canvas. Her paintings tell us much about who she was.
Don’t get lured into writing whatever is commercially popular at the time. Rather, stick to what you are passionate about, what is in your heart. That is where you will find your best writing, the kind that reaches deep into readers’ hearts.
She was industrious. At any time in her 70s, 80s, and 90s, Grandma Moses could have folded her wrinkled hands in her lacy lap and settled into a matriarchal life of leisure. Certainly into her 80s, sales of her paintings had made her financially able to retire. I have to conclude that she avidly continued to paint for the love of it. In those thirty years, she painted 1,600 canvases.
Ask yourself, have I found my sweet spot, that is, characters, genre, time period, or the topic I’m most knowledgeable and passionate about? That is the package that will continue to energize you and keep you coming back to the keyboard for the sheer exhilaration of creating more.
She seized opportunities. When Grandma Moses put her paintings in the local drug store window at $2 to $5 each, she had no way of knowing that an art collector passing through town would see them, buy them all, and drive to her home to purchase more. A year later three of her paintings were on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She began having her own exhibits in big cities like New York and Washington D.C. Imagine that…a whole new world opening up for her…in her late 70s…and she went for it!
If you were to see an opportunity to write in a different format than your original plan, would you be open to it? For example, would you be willing to adjust from writing a full-length book to writing a Love Inspired or category fiction for the opportunity to be published? Would you be willing to collaborate with another nonfiction author on your favorite topic?
She was a good marketer of her work. Grandma Moses had samples of her home baked bread, cake, and prize-winning preserves on a table at her Gimbels department store art exhibit. The marketing effort was true to who she was, and it grabbed the attention of art collectors from around the world. After her death, her art was still being exhibited in other countries.
What creative marketing efforts can you initiate that enhance your brand and your current book to attract your audience?
You are never too old to pursue your writing dream if you are industrious and can show a publisher you can write compelling books prolifically. Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her mid-sixties when her first book was published, as was Frank McCourt when Angela’s Ashes, his first memoir, was published. After being rejected by several publishers, James Hale of Macmillan took a chance on Mary Wesley’s first novel, with an unusual heroine. She was in her early 70s.
On the flip side, you never are too young to begin writing. Alec Greven published his first children’s book, How to Talk to Girls, a New York Times bestseller, when he was nine years old. By the time he was eleven, he had published four more books that are available in 17 countries. It was a joy to see a number of teens in attendance at the Writing for the Soul Conference last February and an adolescent conferee at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference in August.
Which traits resonate most with you as ones you also possess? Which traits do you struggle to achieve or maintain? Were you inspired by other authors who began later or earlier in life?
Writers, learn important traits for success from Grandma Moses. Click to Tweet.
Grandma Moses’s example is an inspiration for writers, young and old. Click to Tweet.