Bragging Rights?

by RS on November 24, 2010

Okay, I admit it, I get a kick when someone emails me and comments they liked one of the articles I wrote. So let me take this teeny, tiny opportunity to brag a little about the Paull McKee article I wrote last week for HAND/EYE Magazine.

Truth be told, I was sitting on this piece about Paull’s work for a while. For some reason I was having a difficult time piecing it all together. When I first contacted Paull  for an interview, and he wrote back immediately I was happy for the quick response.  But afterwards I scratched my head, wondering what the hell  I would ask him. There wasn’t  much information about him, and the typical questions I ask seemed…well, a bit canned. Somehow, though,I managed to pull some decent questions out of my ever-widening tuckus, and Paull sent five pages–that’s right five pages–of very, very, very loooong responses. When I first glanced at them I thought, okay, I’ll manage to get something, it’s a lot information, but I’ll make it into something.

The issue though was to fit him into a theme that would work and I decided I would use him and his information about male artisans working with very different medias, the behind the scene theme was titled “Da Boyz”  (Real title: The Gentlemen). Then I had to write it. When I reread his responses, and Paull tends to get very philosophical, I had to somehow shape all his musings into something that everyone could understand, plus weed out the history of the wagga since the beginning of time (okay, since the 1880s). After much hair-pulling, walking away from the laptop, a little bit of crying (not really), and some false-starts, the result was: Telling Stories: Paull McKee’s Vocal Textiles.

I’m sure it could be whittled down further and tightened, but it’s still a pretty good story. But the best part (and this is where the bragging comes in) I was contacted by another textile artist who wants Paull to teach a class! I must have written something that impressed her.That’s not too shoddy! And, she wants me to write about her. So I must have done something right!

So why the insecurity? Let me tell you a little secret. Since the age of 10, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. One day when I was in the sixth grade, I wrote a story that I was so proud of that I showed it to my Aunt Maryjane. While she read it, she tore it to ribbons. She complained about my comma usage, went on and on about my run-0n sentences, remarked on my misplaced modifiers, snickered at my subject-verb agreement, then she said, as an afterthought that at at least I knew how to spell.

I was upset, but I mustered the courage and asked, “But, Aunt Maryjane, did you like the story?”

Her response, “Well, I was too distracted by the grammatical and punctuation errors to really notice what it was all about.”

Well, you can probably guess how I felt.

DEMORALIZED. INCONSOLABLE. SHATTERED.

My father tried soothe my hurt feelings. He told me that to be a good writer took practice. If I wanted to write, I should write daily. I would learn the grammar and punctuation along the way and  with more practice.

But the damage was done. After that episode, I rarely wrote unless it was for a school assignment. Every time I sat down and tried to write a story, I  heard my aunt making her comments. Yet . . . years later, I got angry. I know my grammar is not great; and my punctuation isn’t perfect, but damn you Aunt Maryjane, I want to write.  And when I sit down to write whatever it is I’m working on, I will learn and I will improve as my father said so long ago.

And there you have it. Father did know best. So listen to your dad when he offers his sage advice.

Back to Paull McKee. Read the article. It’s pretty good, if I say so myself no matter what Aunt Mary Jane would say.

7 comments
Paull McKee
Paull McKee

Hi Rebeca, I just want to thank you again for a beautiful article. I don't know how you did it but you made a clear coherent heart felt story out of my ramblings. Thank you so much. The course I have designed for the Fibre Arts Australia mob is called The Langauge of Mending and the Art of Repair. Hopefully I'll get some takers. You have assisted me in growing my art practice towars a long held goal of teaching for which I am most grateful.

Kind regards and best wishes and keep on writing you are great!!

Paull McKee

sarah morgan
sarah morgan

This is a really wonderful post, Rebeca. Your auntie sounds like a French teacher I once had. They are damaging people, and, I suspect, jealous and insecure in some way that is manifested in putting others down. Your dad was right and you have become a good writer. I went from this post and read the Hand/Eye piece, by the way. It captures the man's talent and essence, I thought. Nicely done on both counts.

Ann Hite
Ann Hite

What an inspiring post. You are so right about bad reviews. We have to grow tough skin but not so tough that we miss the good advice. You are an excellent writer and I so enjoy your work.

Ann

RS
RS

Thank you, CBdM. There's something about lambs that draw people in. My mother used to share a story about two lambs (a white one and a black one) that she and her sister (not Aunt Maryjane) had as little girls. I found Paull's recollection so sweet and it reminded me of my mother's story.

Cecilieaux Bois de Murier
Cecilieaux Bois de Murier

Your father was right. With practice you have become a fine writer. I like your choice of quote. The lamb image drew me in. It's not the sort of thing I normally would read.

RS
RS

Sarah, thanks so much for the comment. Yes, my aunt was something. The things she would say to me. Another gem was that at 21 I was getting old, and had to hurry up to finish school, get married and have kids before it got too late. And my favorite one was, after I told her that I really didn't want kids, "You're not a real woman until you have a baby." Hmm, I must have done one hell of a job fooling the men I've been lived with.

RS
RS

Ann, just saw your comment. Thank you. Coming from that's is HUGE compliment.

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